Break formation from the well-trodden tourist trail to Nikko's Toshogu shrine and discover a new adventure a little to the east up in the Nikko Kirifuri Highlands.
Ozasa Farm offers a great getaway for families with a wide range of activities and things to do. In the winter months, perhaps the big draw for many might have to be their snowmobiles. Visitors can rent one of their vehicles and immediately hit the slopes, with prices starting from 2,000 yen for 10 minutes.
You can also join a workshop and secure your own Yamaha license to take home on the same day. Courses cost 7,000 yen, last for around 2 hours and are great for groups – though advance booking is essential. Whilst instruction is only in Japanese, you could easily participate nonetheless if accompanied by a Japanese-speaking friend willing to assist.
You'll get to learn all the tips and tricks, and will soon be enjoying the thrill of zipping along the slopes at speed. With the cool alpine breeze and panoramic views of the Nikko highlands inviting you onwards, it can truly make for a refreshing experience.
To secure your license, of course you'll need to learn about the safety procedures, including what to do and how to react if you get stuck on an uphill incline. I can testify turning round a ~200 kg machine in the snow is no easy task, but does offer up an exciting challenge!
Snowmobiles aside, there's something for everyone at Ozasa Farm – with a host of family-oriented outdoor activities and experiences to try, as well as their on-site farm shop and restaurant. Activities are aimed at kids but include making ice cream, caramel and butter – a great way to showcase where dairy products originate using fresh milk from the farm's Brown Swiss dairy cows. Naturally the Brown Swiss soft-serve ice cream served in the shop is a real highlight too.
Other activities include horse riding and camping facilities at a nearby site.
The restaurant, Jingisukan House, specialises in jingisukan-style yakiniku. The naming ("Ghengis Khan") refers to grilled lamb cooked over a convex skillet, allowing the fats and liquids to drain away from the cooked meat and vegetables. It's fairly enjoyable and sounds deceptively healthy enough.
After a tiring but enjoyable morning of snowmobiling and with hard-earned license in hand, it might just be the best thing ever.