Hiruzen Grasslands in Okayama – A Summer Resort of Western Japan
Japanese summer is so hot that it occasionally reaches over 35 degrees during the season. In areas that are Bonchi (basin), the intensity of the heat is even greater.
In the Kanto region (Eastern Japan) many people flee to summer resorts such as Karuizawa in Nagano to escape this burning heat. On the other hand, people of Western Japan seek a chill in the area of Hiruzen located in Okayama prefecture where the average temperature is only around 30 degrees or lower throughout summer.
The ultimate reason for why the area of Hiruzen is so cool compared to other parts of Western Japan is the altitude of where this place is located along with all the mountain ranges and dense forests which help block off rays from the sun.
In particular, Hiruzen Highlands, located 500-600m in altitude and surrounded by mountain ranges that are over 1000 m in height, is a popular area of Hiruzen that is highly acclaimed for its pleasant climate.
Here, I would like to introduce you to some recommended sites from Hiruzen Highlands that are cool and full of fun, perfect for a family vacation.
Hiruzen Jersey Land
Did you know that only 0.7 percent of dairy cattle in Japan are pure Jersey breed?
This estate located north of Hiruzen Highlands covers approximately 40ha and about 500 of this minority breed are farmed here. At Hiruzen Jersey Land you can interact with these cows and experience actual milking. Be that as it may, the number of groups the facility can accommodate for these activities are limited, thus prior bookings are essential.
Another major spotlight of Hiruzen Jersey Park is most undoubtedly the fresh dairy produce you can try at the facility.
There are fresh yoghurts, soft serves, ice creams, cheesecakes, latte, cakes, cheese, fondue … and the list just goes on.
You can try these delicious varieties of food at the adjacent restaurant or take it out to eat at the benches located within the grounds. Either way, you can enjoy your delicious meal with a panoramic view of Mt. Hiruzen!
The Herbill Garden is located south of Hiruzen highlands and at this facility you are able to enjoy beautiful blooms of seasonal wild flowers and fruit trees which color its grounds.
During July until early August the premises of Herbill is covered in wild lavenders. The sea of purple lavenders not only create beautiful landscapes but fill the place with a dreamy aroma which lets you unwind from the blaze of summer.
You can also pick these gorgeous lavenders to take home with you for 500 yen per cup.
In addition to the lavender picking, there are bushes of blueberries growing here during July and August which you can also pick and try (in rational amount) without any cost. The taste of freshly picked fruits are non-comparable to any others.
There are seasonal events held on ad hoc basis throughout the year so even if you miss the lavender or blueberry picking, there will be plenty of activities for you to make your visit worthwhile!
There are also cafés and restaurants inside the facility and so you can also enjoy your meal in a romantic herb garden along with a panoramic view of Hiruzen.
Furthermore, there are also Omiyage (souvenir) shops which sell all sorts of herbal goods so that you can bring home the soothing aroma with you.
The intense summer heat of Japan can be harsh at times, so a retreat to these lesser known summer resorts during your summer holiday is something I would highly recommend, especially for those with kids!
In order to access Hiruzen Jersey Park or Herbill, it is strongly recommended that you come by car as there are limited public transports to access these venues.
It takes approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes from Osaka, 2 hours and 30 minutes from Hiroshima and 1 hour and 10 minutes from Okayama.
For both of the venues, there are large car parking spaces available to visitors free of charge.
However, if you decide to take public transports to these venues you will need to board the bus to Kuse station (久世駅) from JR Okayama station then change to a community bus called Maniwa kun (まにわくん) which heads to Hiruzen Highlands. Nonetheless, if in case you choose to take this route, it is highly recommended that you check the bus timetables in advance as they are prone to changes.