For most Japanese, the chance to see a cow in its "natural habitat" is quite a rare occasion. Which is why the tour buses pour in on a regular basis to the Aso Milk Farm for encounters with the area's barnyard residents. Despite the crowds (which really only appear on weekends), the Aso Milk Farm is a fun family outing in a pastorally impressive setting.
Aso Milk Farm is a working dairy, counting such animals as cows, hogs, sheep and goats among its livestock. Visitors to the farm are welcome to roam the grounds - stop in and watch the cows crunching their hay, buy some carrot sticks for the sheep both in and out of the enclosure and enjoy the ducks cavorting in the pond. Horses offer short rides for youngsters in a back paddock. Several times a day, animal "races" are held in a large amphitheater, pitting various animals in short races, a sort of interspecies track meet.
The farm covers several acres and while there are paved paths that link all corners of the property, a black and white motoized "cow cart" also makes the rounds. If animals start to lose their appeal, there is a play area in the farm's back corner with a roller slide and some great climbing equipment. There are also a number of tractors parked around the property for kids who want to explore the equipment up close.
If you get hungry, the farm boasts both a bakery with sweet and savory breads and a buffet restaurant with local products at the base of most of the dishes. If you'd rather bring your own bento lunch and picnic on the grounds, you are absolutely welcome to spread out your blanket anywhere on the property. On fair-weather weekends and holidays, the lawns of the Aso Milk Farm are the perfect place for a relaxing picnic.
Entrance to the Aso Milk Farm is an affordable ¥300, though you will have to pay extra for animal feeding and tractor rides. Parking is free if you have your own vehicle (highly recommended as public transportation is limited). The Aso Milk Farm is also a short drive from the southern slopes of the Mt Aso Volcano region so you can easily combine some additional sightseeing with a trip to the farm.