Stay at a Local Farm, Learn about Life on the Mountainside
Run by a local couple, Yokoya Farm offers you the chance to experience life in a traditional Japanese house with its own orchard. They are located just down the street from Alps Park. You can stay in their modern wooden guest house or together with the family in a Japanese-style room.
Not only do you get to enjoy their warm hospitality and home cooking, but you can also pick apples from their orchard. Their apple season typically starts sometime in October and ends sometime in December. You can usually pick apples from their orchard in October. Japan’s apples are top notch, and Nagano is particularly well-known for their apples. Yokoya Farm lets you pick apples for one hour. The ¥1,500 fee includes two apples that you can take with you. You can check their calendar online and make reservations on their website or over the phone (080-6938-7654).
The Mountain and Horse Project
Exploring the nearby area, you’ll find a close-knit community that launched the Mountain and Horse Project (Facebook). Hoping to breathe new life to the forested mountainside, locals including the company Yanagisawa Forestry worked together to clean up a part of the Okada area. They wanted to make a space for the community centered on forestry, farming, and the outdoors. It’s still in the works, but if you pay them a visit, you’ll get to meet Yamato!
Brought from Hokkaido, Yamato can sometimes be seen clearing felled trees. Yamato loves having visitors and is even trained to have people ride him. Nearby residents often get together where Yamato is kept at Yamato Bokujo (Ranch) in Shimo Okada. You might also be able to try some pizza from the outdoor brick oven and meet up with locals enjoying the outdoors. Please note that staff may not speak English, so try asking if you’re staying at Yokoya Farm.