The first thing you see when you drive up is the absolutely magnificent view. I'm telling you, it's stunning. It's the best view of Kurobe that I've seen so far (so fantastic, in fact, that my dweeby little iPhone camera couldn't capture it properly). I haven't had a lot of excuses to travel up into the mountains, but the Moo Garden looks out over the entire valley--all the way to the ocean--and it's worth the drive just for that.
There's something peaceful about farms. I know they're dirty and smelly and a ton of hard work to maintain, but there's still something about them that sets you at ease. Maybe it's the fact that you have to divorce yourself from the madness of the city to get there. Either way, it was a very pleasant afternoon.
Perhaps the best part about the farm was the hokey American Bluegrass-style music coming from the loudspeaker. It made me feel like I'd just stepped into O, Brother, Where art Thou? and should whip out my banjo and stay awhile. I'm not sure if there is such a thing as Japanese Bluegrass (something I would love to hear if it actually existed) but it was certainly all English all the time at the Moo Garden. It was nice.
Inside, they had your usual dairy farm fare--gelato and soft serve, milk, various types of pudding, and a small selection of meat. We got soft serve, and boy was it tasty. More than anything else, it tasted like frozen whipped cream. Decadent? Yes. But so worth it. I also picked up a quart of fresh milk while I was there. It's not often that you can get milk from a farm that you know treats its animals well, and just because I'm not eating a vegan diet in Japan doesn't mean my morals have dried up.
While we were there, we also got treated to a mochi pounding demonstration--something very Japanese that I've always wanted to try. Mochi is a type of super-mashed, gelatinous rice that you can form into balls and stuff with various fillings, and while you can get the factory-made kind at any grocery store here, making it by hand it a serious process. The hardware: some cooked rice, a thick, heavy wooden bowl, and a big wooden hammer. You make mochi by pounding the rice, one strike at a time, into a single mass rather than individual grains.
Side note: for those of you who haven't seen it yet, please take a moment to look through the photos I've posted under the "Photo Gallery" tab at the top of the page. I posted additional pictures from my day at the farm, as well as a variety of others. I hope you enjoy them!