One of the largest agricultural farms in Nagano Prefecture is Miharashi Farm (link). It is situated 900 meters above sea level which gives the area a significant difference in day and night temperatures; as a result, these conditions help make delicious farm produce all year round in their vast estate filled with 19 greenhouses.
To date, there are over thousands of visitors who come and visit Miharashi Farm to do fruit picking — may it be strawberries, apples, blueberries, grapes or corn. But more than that, the farm also provides other hands-on activities such as making soba (Japanese buckwheat noodles), oyaki (a local sweets), bread, or tofu. For those who are rather looking for relaxation, Miharashi Farm also has several restaurants, an onsen (hot springs), and a hotel.
All in all: it’s an incredible place to visit — so I did just that as I tried my hands on picking fresh local strawberries and making soba noodles!
» Fruit Picking
Miharashi Farm offers an array of fruit and vegetable picking activities depending on the goods that are available in the season. Since I visited sometime in June, I was able to pick (and eat with NO time limit!) the 3 different kinds of strawberries that they grow: Beni Hoppe, Akihime, and Nyoho.
AVAILABLE: The first week of January to early June, open 9:00AM to 3:00PM
PRICES: ¥1,100 to 1,800 for 6 years old and up, ¥900 to ¥1,100 for 3-5 years old (prices vary depending on the month).
The other fruit and vegetable picking activities are as follows:
- Asparagus: from mid-April to June, 10:00AM to 1:30PM
~ ¥660 at the greenhouse / ¥550 at the open fields
- Blueberries: from early July to middle of August, 9:00AM to 3:00PM
~ ¥1,100 for 13 years old and up, ¥600 for 6-12 years old
- Sweetcorn: from mid-July to mid-August, 10:00AM and 1:30PM
~ ¥500 for 5 corns
- Grapes: early September to late October, 9:00AM to 3:00PM
~ ¥1,200 for 6 years old and up, ¥600 for 3-5 years old (all for 1 hour, eat and fruit pick)
NOTE: Booking is required.
» Cooking classes: making soba noodles!
One of the other hands-on activities that Miharashi Farm offers to its visitors is soba-making.
Soba is the Japanese name for buckwheat and it typically refers to thin noodles made from such. These are NOT the same as thick wheat noodles called as udon. Once made, they are served either chilled with a dipping sauce or in hot broth as a noodle soup.
I was first ushered into a workshop inside the Miharashi farm’s Meijin-tei noodle restaurant, and after putting on my apron, I was introduced to their Soba Master. For about an hour, he instructed us on how to make soba noodles as we go through the phases of kneading, rolling, and cutting the dough.
Truth be told, when we reached the cutting phase, I thought: “Aah, now it will be just cutting.” BUT I was so wrong — trying to cut the dough uniformly into one-eighteenth-inch slices was NO joke! Apparently, there is a certain art and rhythm that goes with cutting the dough into perfect soba noodle strips. It was quite tough to do, but later on, I thankfully managed to get into the rhythm (but not enough, since most of the noodles were a failure haha).
Either way, after the cutting was done, the kitchen made use of the noodles we made and whipped up a hearty meal for us!
PRICE: ¥4,200 for 5 sets of soba dough (price includes meal, and it may vary depending on the number of people)
As for the other cooking classes that you can do, see below. We also actually made fruit jam with the strawberries we picked and that was also a fun activity!
- Japanese Bread: lasts for about 2 hours
~ ¥1,000 per person (4 pieces)
- Japanese Traditional Tofu: lasts for about 2 hours
~ ¥1,700 for 2 cups of Daizu Beans
- Oyaki: this is a dumpling snack typical in the Nagano Prefecture and the class lasts for an hour
~ ¥800 only for 2 pieces per person
» Other Activities
Miharashi Farm’s location makes it an ideal place for trekking or bushwalking. Truth be told, apart from the grand views of the Southern Alps along the trails, you can also witness about 100 kinds of birds (since the area is also called “Bird Paradise).
Some of the trails you can do are as follows:
- Botanical garden course: 2.5km for 60 minutes
- Chusen-Ji Temple course: 2km for 50 minutes
- Full course: 5km for 2.5hrs
If you’re rather a golf aficionado, Miharashi Farm also has a golf course with a total of 36 holes.
- Tenryu Course: 18holes / Par72
- Semjo Course: 18Holes / Par72
PRICE: ¥300 for 13 years old and up, ¥200 for under 12 years old (¥100 for equipment hire)
» Relaxation and Dining Facilities
With the vast expanse of Miharashi Farm, you could also find the following establishments:
- Miharashi-no-yu Onsen (natural hot springs): it offers an outside bath (rotenburo) that gives you a spectacular view of the Southern Japan Alps. This would be a great spot to relax in after you do some fruit picking or cooking classes!
~ Opens from 10:00 to 8:30, ¥600 for 13 and up, ¥300 for 6-12 years old, and FREE for children under 6
- Habiroso: if you want to stay the night and do more in Miharashi Farm, they have this accommodation building that has over 18 rooms (14 Japanese rooms and 4 Western-style rooms).
~ 1 night with 2 meals (breakfast and dinner) = ¥8,250
- Tomato-no-ki (buffet): there are more than 30 different kinds of food here!
~ ¥1,400 for lunch and ¥1,700 for dinner
- Meijin-tei: this is the farm’s soba noodle restaurant where you can taste 100% local buckwheat soba noodle meals.
~ spans from ¥700 to ¥1,200
- Habiro-So: this restaurant specialises in assorted bento or boxed and bowl meals.
~ Their katsudon (rice topped with deep-fried pork cutlet) is very popular! Range: ¥500 to ¥2,500
- Toretate Ichiba: for all other kinds of noodle meals like ramen (noodles in broth)
~ Range of ¥350 to ¥900
Travel Guide to Miharashi Farm
» How to get to Miharashi Farm?
To get to the farm, you need to get to Matsumoto Station. From there, you can ride any of the following lines: Shinonoi, Chuo, Iida — in order to get to Inashi Station. Hail a taxi and it will only take you 15 minutes to get there.
Full address: 3447 Nishiminowa, Ina City, Nagano 399-4501 (Email: [email protected])
To get to Matsumoto Station…
From Tokyo. Ride the Chuo Line-Limited Express to get to Matsumoto Station (¥7,100 one way).
From Nagano. Ride the Shinano Line (¥3,040 one way).
If you need further help, just use the directions feature in Google Maps — I find this as a very helpful tool if I want to reach a certain place from a particular location. (However, Google Maps doesn’t work offline if you want routes or transportation schedules, so I recommend that you get a pocket WiFi or a SIM Card to stay connected online).
» Should I get a visa to visit Japan?
If you’re NOT a citizen of any of Japan’s exempted countries, you are then required to avail a visa beforehand. If you’re from the Philippines, you can read my guide on how to get a Japan visa in Manila.
» Helpful Japanese phrases
Hello: Konnichiwa (Kohn-nee-chee-wah)
Thank you (normal): Arigatō. (Ah-REE-gah-tohh)
Thank you (less formal): Arigatō gozaimas (Ah-REE-gah-tohh goh-zahy-mahs)
Thank you (informal): Dōmo (DOHH-moh)
Yes: Hai (Hai)
No: Iie (E-eh)
Goodbye (long term): Sayōnara (Sah-yohh-nah-rah)
Goodbye (informal): Ja ne (Jahh neh)
Excuse me: Sumimasen (Soo-mee-mah-SEN)
I’m sorry: Gomen nasai (Goh-men-nah-sahy)
Is there someone here who speaks English?: Dareka eigo ga hanasemasu ka? (Dah-reh-kah ey-goh gah hah-nah-seh-mahs kah?)
Help!: Tasukete! (Tahs-keh-teh!)
Cheers!: Kanpai! (Kan-pie!)
• • •
Once you’re in Nagano Prefecture, stopping by Miharashi Farm is a must to do! With an array of activities that will to any age group’s fancy, this is sure to be a fun getaway for you and your friends and family.
And so… what are you waiting for? Don’t forget to include this on your Japan itinerary!