My partner's niece is an energetic 3-year-old that likes to run around for hours. Tokyo may be green by big city standards but a flat in even the most kid-friendly neighbourhood is not exactly the little house on the prairie. Tokyo's wildlife is limited to rats, birds, bats and the occasional raccoon dog or snake (yes, I saw one in Yoyogi last year). So what do you do when your kid likes animals and you don't want her making friends with the pigeons in the park? You take her to a farm in Chiba, where she can pet bunnies and chase sheep.
Yume Bokujo is one such place in Narita. Visitors can see farm animals up close, pet them and in some cases milk them. I am not a big fan of cows so I did not stand in line to try and squeeze a few drops of milk out of her but I do like fluffy animals so I spent some quality time with a sheep called Raichi and a couple of unidentified bunnies.
The little one, on the other hand, was busy running after a cat and when that go old she turned her attention to the playground. Slides, swings and enough space to run, it doesn't get much better than that for a child her age.
The farm's facilities also include a restaurant that uses dairy products make at the farm, rest areas and nursing rooms for young children, horse stables, a balance beam for goats, an enclosed areas where dogs can run around freely.
After a few hours full of excitement and surprise (remember this is a city kid that has only seen drawings of farm animals), the little one is bored. Luckily there are so many kids around that it doesn't take her very long to make some friends and start running around with them. When than novelty wears off it's time to feed the goats so it's back to their enclosure.
Next up, the pigs nearby. It's late June and the weather is nice so the are enjoying it by taking a nap outside. Having grown up in a rural area, I can't help laughing when I hear two young people behind me having this exchange:
"Do you think these are a special breed? Or do all pigs get so big?"
"I don't know what to tell you, I didn't even realise these were pigs until I saw the sign. I thought they would be pink."
I'm about to say something but as I turn around I can see the same bewildered look in the eyes of everyone else in our group so I decide against it.
On the way out we stop at the restaurant. Pizza with some locally produced mozzarella cheese is exactly what we need after an entire day in the sun. Everywhere around us parents of exhausted young children are finally able to sit down and relax. Our little one has fallen asleep in her mother's arms, still holding an empty juice box. We finish our meal and get back to the car. The drive to Tokyo is long and we've had a lot of excitement for one day so on the way out we grab some coffee to go. Perhaps the milk in the latte is from the farm.
Address: 730 Nagi, Narita-City, Chiba
Access from Tokyo Station: Sobu Line to Narita. Change to the Narita Line and get off at Namegawa Station.