Surrounded by lush greenery, Mini Oze Park in Minamiaizu is a wonderful place to visit to get away from the rush of city life.
Despite its name, this park is not mini in size. You can happily spend a few hours wandering around the park – which includes differently themed areas with a range of plants.
Mini Oze Park was designed as a miniature-sized version of Oze National Park, which spreads across Fukushima, Tochigi, Gunma and Niigata Prefectures.
While Oze National Park is a great area for trekking, Mini Oze Park offers the flexibility of shorter walks, matching a range of fitness levels. There are also cafés, galleries and museums nearby.
Exploring the Park
I visited Mini Oze Park in September. Coming here reminded me of going on walks with my family as a child. I would definitely recommend it for families and group trips.
There are typically Japanese aspects to this sightseeing spot, such as a nearby shrine, and gallery with a permanent exhibition of Japanese calligraphy .
The flowers and foliage on display in the park depends on the season, but summer offers a variety of eye-catching plants and unique photo opportunities! You may even be lucky enough to spot some animals and insects that you can’t see back home!
I’m interested in calligraphy, so I enjoyed visiting this gallery, even though I couldn’t read most of the art!! Even my Japanese coworkers struggled to read the kanji depicted in this local artist’s work.
Japanese is famous for its delicious and unique combinations of flavours, and also for its weird and wonderful snacks.
My coworker told me I definitely had to eat something called “Sansho Ice Cream” when I came here, but refused to tell me what it was.
After a visit to the gallery and walking around for about an hour, we stopped by the café. I couldn’t see “Sansho Ice Cream” on the menu, so I asked a member of staff.
She told me that unfortunately the season for “sansho” was over, but that I could come back next year to try it… I finally got my friend to explain what it is…
Sansho is a type of small lizard that can be dried and eaten as a snack. Mini-Oze Park sells it as a topping for ice cream!
As well as strange dried lizards, Minamiaizu is also famous for soba.
The winters in Minamiaizu are very harsh and snowy, making it difficult to grow rice here, so the staple food has become soba noodles. There are various new soba festivals every year to celebrate the autumn harvest season.
We got to try a range of interesting and unique ramen dishes made with soba noodles during our trip, including salad ramen and tomato ramen.
The noodles in the above recipes are made from a blend of soba flour and asparagus. We ate these at a restaurant called Bono, inside Tajima Station, but there are many restaurants serving delicious food all around this area.
Public transport access to Minamiaizu is not very regular and the bus stops are difficult (with no English), so I recommend hiring a car.
Here is a recommended route that you could explore on your trip to Fukushima Prefecture: