Exploring Japan: Mother Farm in Chiba great family fun!

Photos by Ichiro Katayanagi
Photos by Ichiro Katayanagi

Exploring Japan: Mother Farm in Chiba great family fun!

by Ichiro Katayanagi
Stripes Japan

Take a break and leave behind the hustle and bustle for the simple life.

Mother Farm, a dude ranch in Chiba Prefecture, is where city slickers can head for a taste of the wild west.

Getting there requires about a two-hour drive from most Kanto Plain bases to Futtsu City. The farm promises fun for children big and small, so make plans to get some fresh air and enjoy a day outdoors.

The farm offers great views, seasonal flowers, fruit picking, and a bunch of activities including bungee jumping, ziplining and more!

About the farm
The farm opened in 1962 by  Hisakichi Maeda, founder of Tokyo Tower. Originally, the land on which Mother Farm sits was intended for Tokyo Tower, which instead was constructed in Minato in downtown Tokyo. High above on Mt. Kano in Chiba, Mother Farm is surrounded by great views of the mountains in Chiba, Tokyo Bay, and Yokohama, and Mt. Fuji, if the weather cooperates. This working farm is spread across over 600 acres and is home to 16 different types of animals.

How to get there
There are various ways to get to Mother Farm. Public transportation, if you are able to take, is probably the quickest. Ferries depart from Port Kurihama to Port Hamakanaya in Chiba daily. From the port in Chiba, there is a direct bus to the farm, which will bring your total transit time to about 90 minutes. Buses run on weekends and Japanese holidays from February to November only.

From around Kanto, taking the Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line by car will get you there in a few hours’ time. I live in Chiba and do not have a car, so I took a train to JR Kimitsu Station, one of the nearest stations to the farm, and took a bus from there. It was an about half an hour ride. The bus runs about every two hours, so plan ahead.

Shows and Events
When I arrived at Mother Farm, I was surprised at just how many shows and events they have to entertain their visitors. I looked over the schedule and made a plan for what I wanted to watch and when so I could take in as much as possible.

First, I took in “Ducks’ Parade,” a cute show featuring 20 waddling ducks trained to parade around at the sound of the MC’s bell. Part of the show involves the ducks walking through the audience. It was exciting that the flock of the ducks was marching toward me.

After the cute ducks, I headed to a comedic show in the Agrodome section called “The Sheepdog and His Friends” featuring 12 animals, including an alpaca and llama. Then, I caught “Sheep’s Grand Parade,” which was the best of the shows and featured a sheepdog herding no less than 200 sheep.

At the end of the show, the audience was allowed to touch sheep. Surprisingly, none of the sheep were afraid of the audience or tried to escape. Though I expected a sheep’s coat to be soft like a sweater, it was the complete opposite.

Still sheeping around, I caught the “Sheep Show,” where a shepherd introduced the 19 different types of sheep they have at the farm. Part of the show included a sheep-shearing demonstration where the shepherd skillfully completed a shearing in under five minutes.

Mother Farm Tour DX
This 1.5-mile course requires an extra admission fee and a reservation when you arrive at the farm. I was lucky enough to get a reservation, so I enjoyed a tour of the entire farm. First, you hop on a tractor which zigzags up a slope, allowing you to see the farm’s cows, some of which, like Scottish Highland Cattle, are unfamiliar in Japan. On the hill, you’ll see farm hands milking calves and another little sheepdog show. Here, visitors can also feed sheep, goats, and alpacas.

Feeding the animals was my favorite part of the tour. When they ate feed, their tongue touched my palm. It was ticklish and funny, but the animals were all business. As soon as licked the feed from my hand, they’d move to the next person. This was also my first time meeting alpaca up close, but I avoided feeding them because they spit a lot. 

Mutton BBQ
Spending a day on the farm more than likely means you’ll also be eating there. Fortunately, Mother Farm has three restaurants for hungry visitors. The most popular dish served at all three restaurants is the mutton BBQ, which, I’m not sure why, is called Ghengis Khan, after the first emperor of the Mongol Empire.

The Ghengis Khan is a Hokkaido dish cooked in a slotted dome grill featuring mutton flavored with the farm’s secret soy sauce-based sauce recipe. They use a soy sauce from Miya Soy Sauce Brewery, a long-established Futtsu City institution founded back in 1834.

I enjoyed my Ghengis Khan from my table at the Café & Genghis Khan Farm Diner with a beautiful view of Tokyo Bay and Kanagawa. The scenery made the food even more delicious. The sauce had a good body and was well matched with the mutton. Avoid going there at peak lunch hours, as the restaurants tend to get crowded. 

While I waited for my bus to the station at the end of my time on the dude ranch, I checked out the gift shop. Among the many items for sale, I found some made from milk produced on the farm, including the milk cookies and milk candies I purchased to enjoy at home later.

There was much more to see and do at Mother Farm that I couldn’t fit into a one-day visit. If you’re traveling from far, the farm offers cottages and camping so you can take full advantage and really enjoy the simple life.

Mother Farm

Location: 940-3, Tagura, Futtsu City, Chiba
Feb – Nov
9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (weekdays)
9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (weekends and holidays)
Dec – Jan
10 a.m. – 4 p.m. (weekdays)
9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. (weekends and holidays)
TEL: 0439-37-3211
Note: Check or call ahead of your visit, as some of the shows and admission may be affected due to the on-going State of Emergency.

Website (Japanese only)

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