Looking to step out of the concrete jungle and into the countryside? Yokota Farm in Chiba City is the perfect place to do so. From a thrilling tractor-trailer ride, to homemade pizzas using the vegetables harvested by you, a half-day spent here with friends and family is sure to take your adventures in Japan up another notch. Just about an hour train ride from Tokyo, put on some overalls, slip on some sturdy boots, and let the exploration begin!
The 4-hour tour began at 10:00am with a warm greeting from our friendly guide, Yokota Fumito san. Yokota Farm was established in 1944 by his grandfather, Yokota Kurio san, and continues to thrive with just eight employees tending to the farmland and its hundreds of visitors each season. The farm is open to small group tours all year round, and also serves as a daily farmer’s market offering fruits and vegetables such as mushrooms, lettuce, green onions, potatoes, and strawberries.
What’s a farm without greenhouses? During my visit in mid-November, we stepped inside three green houses: Fig tree, mushroom & strawberry. They were all spectacular sights to see! The mushroom enclosure was a favorite for me because it was my first time to see hundreds of mushrooms growing so elegantly on tree stumps the size of my hand. Growing season is June to October and one log can produce 1Kg. This type of mushroom can get pricey at 400yen per 200grams, but are so delicious! The tour included an opportunity to pick one large mushroom to be enjoyed later on in the day, right off of the grill topped with shoyu sauce.
Yokota Farm is on 2-hectares, so a tractor-trailer ride was fitting for the day. On the route, you will see more greenhouses, trees, and vegetable patches such as onion, carrot, lettuce, pumpkin and sweet potato fields. But, before you get to experience harvesting vegetables on your own, the tractor will stop just beyond an adorable tree house. Here you can relax on the hammock, enjoy a short swing, or climb to the top of the tree for an awesome view of Yokota Farm.
At the sweet potato (Imo-hori) field, we met with a few gentlemen from a local group called the Weekend Farmers Club. They gladly volunteer hours educating visitors on a particular field in season and will assist with digging your own bunch of fresh vegetables. A pair of cotton gloves will be provided, so be prepared to get down and a little dirty. Digging into the soil was quite fun and brought back great childhood memories of when mom didn’t mind we were playing outside all day. As soon as I uncovered my bunch of sweet potato, I felt like I won a prize. So, I held it up high and took a photo, of course. Such an exhilarating experience, especially for young children!
At the end of the tractor tour, you’ll gather in the main enclosure to make-your-own pizza with a twist! All of the ingredients for a homemade pizza, including pre-made dough, will be provided. Our toppings of the day included apple slices, cream cheese bits, caramel syrup, and fresh cut slices of sweet potato. After just a few minutes in the brick fired oven, it was time to eat. Itadakimasu! Wow, it was so flavorful with the simplest of ingredients. This is definitely making it into my personal recipe book. To top it off, strawberries were picked and blended with soymilk so we could pair our pizza with a fresh fruit smoothie. What a delight!
After your light lunch, there are a few activities left to complete the tour. Get your artistic skills flowing by painting a dry cucumber gourd for your choice of a maraca or ornament. And have you ever seen cotton in the raw? It grows from branches and has many seeds to be removed. So, have your hand at a miniature mill to see how it’s done!
Yokota Farm is also well known for Strawberry Picking (Ichigo-gari) between December to June. Depending on the season, the all-you-can-eat package can range from 1,000-1,800yen for 30-minutes. Enjoy a delicious homemade strawberry pizza and smoothie set for 1,400yen after picking.
To access Yokota Farm by train, exit JR Kamatori Station (Sotobo Line) and take a 10-minute taxi ride, which will cost about 1,000yen. By car, free parking is available on the Yokota Farm premises.