Hiruzen Highlands – A Great Place To Enjoy The Nature

Hiruzen Highlands (蒜山高原), also known as Hiruzen Plateau is one of the best highland resorts in Western Japan. It is reminiscent of Karuizawa near Tokyo. While it might be less fashionable in terms of architecture, it has a lot more capacity for you to enjoy nature. At the same time, there are still stylish boutique shops for you to visit just when you start missing the urban life (´▽`*). Renowned as a summer resort, cycling through the 29-kilometre well-maintained bike road is the most enjoyable activity to avoid the summer heat!

The plateau, with an elevation between 500 to 600 metres, is located at the southern foot of Mt. Hiruzen (蒜山). This part of the Maniwa City (真庭市) has been developed for outdoor recreation. Just second to Okayama Prefecture’s most popular destination – Kurashiki, around 25 million people visit it each year! Japan’s largest Jersey Cow Farm is also on the Hiruzen Highlands. That is why the dairy products here are so famous and are a must-try during your visit!

Below is a list of places for where to go and what to do at Hiruzen Highlands!

Note there are a couple of great camping sites in the area, which are not covered in this article. If you need assistance finding the right camping site, you can contact us HERE and we will be in touch.

How To Get To Hiruzen Highland With Public Transport

To get to Hiruzen Highland with public transport, catch a JR train and get off at JR Chūgoku-Katsuyama Station (中国勝山駅). From there, change for Maniwa City’s Community Bus – Maniwakun (まにわくん). Depends on where your first destination is, get off at one of the below 3 bus stops. The bus ride will take around 80 minutes.

  • Hirusen Kōgen Sentā Mae (蒜山高原センター前) for Hiruzen Kogen Center & Joyful Park (ヒルゼン高原センター・ジョイフルパーク)
  • Yubune Guchi (湯船口) for Jersey Cow Fureai Hiroba (ジャージー牛ふれあい広場)
  • Hirusen Kōgen (Kyūkason Mae) (蒜山高原(休暇村前)) for KYUKAMURA HIRUZEN-KOGEN resort

HERE is the current timetable for the bus service for your reference. The timetable is in Japanese, so please use the Japanese characters of the bus stops’ names to read it.

Autumn Foliage Season At Hiruzen Highland

The colour of the foliage will start to change in late October with the plateau being the most vivid from early to mid-November.

Hiruzen Kōgen Cycling Road

Photo from Okayama Prefecture Tourism Federation

Whether you are an experienced cyclist or someone like us who is just too lazy to walk, if you know how to ride a bike, definitely rent one during your time at Hiruzen Highland. Biking your way through the hills, pastures, fields, and river will save you so much time to travel in between the attractions scattered on the plateau and, unlike driving a car that you need to find a car park to park before you can hop off and explore, biking gives you all the freedom you need to explore everything this part of Mt. Hiruzen has to offer!

The bike path is a well-kept loop track that goes around the plateau. With a total length of approximately 30 kilometres, the path will bring you to all the attractions on Hiruzen Highland (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Please refer to THIS MAP that maps out the cycling road for more details on what to expect at each section of the course.

Tips: As mapped out in the cycling road map, there is a section of the track that goes through the hills area. If you worry about your physical stamina, renting an electric-assisted bicycle would be a good idea. Although they are a bit more expensive, you will thank yourself for making the right decision while you cycle uphills!

Where To Rent A Bike From At Hiruzen Highland

The map also includes the facilities where you can rent a bike from. Further to the information provided on the map, the below acts as complements of what is already written on the pdf!

  • Hilzen cycling club (蒜山サイクリングサービス): they provide a variety of bikes for you to choose from. All bikes are well-maintained here to ensure you an enjoyable and trouble-free bike trip. Reservation is required. Please refer to their website HERE for the price guide and reservation method
  • Kaiyukan, Hiruzen Onsen (蒜山やつか温泉快湯館):
    • Bikes can be rented from 9 am to 4 pm daily except Wednesdays from April to November. Please return your bike by 5 pm
    • If Wednesday is a public holiday, the bike rental facility will close on the next business day
    • Bike rental service isn’t available from December to March as the track will be covered by snow
    • Mountain bike (large): 300 yen/hour
    • Mountain bike (small): 150 yen/hour
    • Normal bike: 200 yen/hour
  • KYUKAMURA HIRUZEN-KOGEN (休暇村蒜山高原): bike rental from spring to autumn
    • Normal bike rental for hotel guest: 250 yen/hour
    • Normal bike rental for visitors: 350 yen/hour
    • Bike rental service is available from spring to autumn between 7 am to 5 pm
  • Hiruzen Shiogama Camping Village (ひるぜん塩釜キャンピングヴィレッジ)
    • Cross bike, Mountain bike, and Electric-assisted bike: 600 yen/hour
    • Cross bike (small size) and Normal bike for kids (with or without training wheels): 500 yen/hour
    • Bikes rental hours are from 9 am to 5 pm
  • Michi-no-Eki Hiruzen Highlands Rest Stop (道の駅 蒜山高原)
    • Bikes rental hours are from 8:30 am to 5 pm
    • Cross bike: 400 yen/hour
    • Mountain bike (small): 250 yen/hour
    • Normal bike (large): 300 yen/hour
    • Normal bike (small): 200 yen/hour

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions at Hiruzen Highlands.

Hiruzen Kogen Center & Joyful Park (ヒルゼン高原センター・ジョイフルパーク)

Hizuren Kogen Center & Joyful Park, just as they’re named, can be largely divided into 2 sections, Hiruzen Kogen Center for you to shop and eat, and, Joyful Park for those who enjoy all different kinds of rides that are typical to an amusement park.

You can basically get all the Hiruzen Highland specialties from the souvenir shops at Hiruzen Kogen Center. From dairy products and Japanese sweet bean cakes to the salty pickles, if you can’t be bothered to travel in between all the shops in the plateau, visit the center, and your souvenir shopping at Hiruzen Highland is done!

Photo from Okayama Prefecture Tourism Federation

Tips: Many of the edible souvenirs have free samples so don’t forget to try them out before you pay! We particularly recommend lightly pickled radish. The freshly steamed Japanese sweet bean cake – Hiruzen Kōgen Manjū (ヒルゼン高原饅頭) is another popular souvenir but it contains eggs.

At their restaurants and cafes, there are a few vegetarian options. As the menu may change, please utilise the phrases in our Essential Japanese Travel Phrases For Vegetarian article to ask for vegetarian menus (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Joyful Park’s Entry Fee And Free Passes

To enjoy the rides at the Joyful Park, you have two options. You can either get a free pass that includes the entry fee to the park or, get an entry ticket and pay for each rides separately.

  • Free pass: 3,500 yen for middle school students and above, 3,000 yen for kids from the age of 3 to primary school students, and anyone who is over the age of 64
  • Entry fee: 700 yen for middle school students and above, 500 yen for kids from the age of 3 to primary school students, and anyone who is over the age of 64
  • The cost to enjoy the rides ranges from 200 yen to 600 yen. Please refer to their website HERE for more details. The website is in Japanese, but you can click on the numbers to reveal the photo of the ride

Tips: Print out THIS COUPON before your visit to get 200 yen off on free passes or 50 yen on the park entry ticket. One couple can be used for up to 4 guests.

Hiruzen Highland Rhododendron Festival (蒜山高原しゃくなげ祭り)

Another thing that Hiruzen Kogen Center & Joyful Park boasts about is its rhododendron garden. At the back of the Joyful Park, there are approximately 15,000 rhododendrons of 100 different species are in full bloom in May each year!

Note as the garden is inside the Joyful Park’s ground, you will need to pay the entry fee of the Joyful Park to see the gorgeous flowers.

In 2021, the Hiruzen Highland Rhododendron Festival is held from the 7th to the 30th of May. During the festival period, various events are on. It is probably the best time of the year to shop at Hiruzen Kogen Center because once you spend a certain amount of money, you get your chance to bring home local specialties for free by participating in a lucky draw (≧▽≦).

Hiruzen Kogen Center & Joyful Park’s Business Hours And Access Information

If you are taking a bus to the plateau, the bus stops in front of the Hiruzen Kogen Center & Joyful Park if you get off at Hirusen Kōgen Sentā Mae (蒜山高原センター前).

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions at Hiruzen Highlands.

Jersey Cow Fureai Hiroba (ジャージー牛ふれあい広場)

At the centre of the entire Hiruzen Highland is the Mikigahara (三木ヶ原). An amusement park, a winery, bike tracks, and a well-maintained ranch can be found here!

The Jersey Cow Fureai Hiroba is where you get to observe the Jersey cows up close from spring to autumn. The cows are most likely just chilling at the ranch when you get there. They are quite friendly and if they notice you approaching the fence, they might approach you too and even lick your hands (≧▽≦).

Whilst the grazing usually starts from late April, in 2021, it will start from mid-May instead.

Next to the ranch, there is a red-crowned crane breeding facility – Hiruzen Tanchō no Sato (蒜山タンチョウの里). If you are lucky, you might be able to see the smaller cranes following their mothers!

The Hiruzen Tanchō no Sato is opened from 9 am to 5 pm daily.

How To Get To Jersey Cow Fureai Hiroba

If you are taking a bus to Hiruzen Highland, then get off at Yubune Guchi (湯船口). It is just a 4 mins walk from the bus stop.

Hiruzen Winery (ひるぜんワイナリー)

For all the wine lovers, or if grape juice is your favourite drink, make sure you drop by Hiruzen Winery before you depart the plateau!

It is the only winery that produces high-quality wine from Japanese wild grapes locally grew in Hiruzen Highlands. Just the process of selecting and cultivating the grape trees with high sugar content and low acidity took them 10 years!

The wines produced by Hiruzen Winery have won several awards and are now distributed throughout the country (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Photo from Okayama Prefecture Tourism Federation

At the wine tasting corner, you can try out the wines that you are interested. Whilst some of them will incur a cost of 100 yen, it is just around USD$1!

There is also a cafe that serves a menu that fits perfectly with their wine. The menu changes seasonally so please utilise the phrases in our Essential Japanese Travel Phrases For Vegetarian article to check if they can provide you a menu that suits your dietary requirements.

For more information about the winery, please refer to their website HERE!

Hiruzen Winery’s Business Hours And Access Information

  • The winery opens from 10 am to 5 pm between Apr and Nov. From Dec to Mar, it closes earlier at 4 pm
  • The cafe opens from 10 am to 4 pm but lunch is only served from 11 am to 2 pm
  • The winery is closed on Tuesdays unless it is a public holiday. In which case, it will close on the next business day
  • If you are taking a bus to Hiruzen Highland, then get off at Yubune Guchi (湯船口). It is just a 3 mins walk from the bus stop

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions at Hiruzen Highlands.

Hiruzen Jersey Land (ひるぜんジャージーランド)

Speaking of Hiruzen Jersey Land, you definitely can’t miss out on the Jersey cow grazing. Meet the 400 adorable cows living freely on the plateau! If you come at the right time, you can even milk one of them (=゚ω゚)ノ.

The grazing season usually starts from late April to early November. During this time, your photos of Hiruzen Highlands will be more lively with the cows in them as well! The tan of the Jersey cows with the greenery in spring and summer, or the warm colours of autumn in the background, is just simply a better scenery for photography (*´ω`).

Photo from Okayama Prefecture Tourism Federation

Hiruzen Jersey Land is operated by the Hiruzen Dairy Agricultural Cooperative (蒜山酪農農業協同組合). Apart from having a relaxing stroll on the farmland, feeding the horses on the Hiruzen Horse Farm located next door will be really fun and, you might also be able to tour the dairy factory!

The cafe/restaurant is where you can get your lunch sorted. If you are looking for some sweets for your morning or afternoon tea, their soft-serve ice cream and yogurt have a rich taste that will tempt you for a second or even a third serve (≧▽≦). It’s worthwhile mentioning that their non-homogenized milk is so good that even those who don’t normally like milk find it delicious!

Vegetarian Options At Hiruzen Jersey Land’s Restaurant

Photo from Hiruzen Jersey Land
  • Cheese Fondue (you have to order at least 2 courses)
    • A Course – 2,000 yen: including bread for fondue, salad, and yogurt
    • B Course – 2,550 yen: including bread for fondue, vegetables, sausage (please let Hiruzen Jersey Land know in advance by emailing [email protected] to replace the sausage with other vegetables), salad, and yogurt
  • Cheese Fondue For One Person – 2,700 yen: including bread and salad
  • Camembert cheese spaghetti – 1,100 yen

Tips: Despite its price tag, the cheese fondue is super popular at Hiruzen Jersey Land. So we would advise you to head to the restaurant as early as possible to avoid being stuck in the massive queue!

Milking Experience At Hiruzen Jersey Land

Important: This activity is currently not available due to COVID-19 restrictions.

With just 700 yen, you will be able to milk the Jersey cow! There are 3 sessions that you can choose from each day that the event is on, at 10:30, 1 pm, and 2:30 pm. As they currently don’t take any reservations, when you arrive at the farm, apply at the Milking Experience Tent (ちちしぼり体験テント) as early as possible. The tent is just at the back of Jersey Land’s buildings.

Photo from Hiruzen Jersey Land

Also, note that you don’t be able to drink the milk that you just milked as it will require some processing for it to be safe to drink. But, you will get a free bottle of milk that is also sold at the shop!

Important: The event may be cancelled due to the weather and the cow’s condition.

Sunflowers At Jersey Land

From late July to early August, another reason for you to visit Hiruzen Jersey Land is the sunflower field. During this time of the year, you will be surrounded by approximately 80,000 sunflowers and a lot of them will tower over you!

If you happen to miss out on the sunflower season in Jersey Land, head to the Roadside Station Michi no Eki Kaze no Ie (道の駅 風の家) in mid-August, the sunflowers there are blooming a little bit later than Jersey Land. It is a great place to source local fresh produces as well (^_-)-☆.

Hiruzen Jersey Land’s Opening Hours And Access Information

  • The farm is opened from Mar to Dec from 9 am to 5 pm daily and 10 am to 4 pm daily except Tuesdays and Wednesdays in Jan and Feb
  • The restaurant will take your order until 4 pm between Mar and Dec and until 3:30 pm in Jan and Feb
  • Lunch will be served from 11 am onwards in the restaurant
  • From either of the 3 bus stops on Hiruzen Highland, it is around a 60 – 70 mins walk
  • From Yonago City (米子市) in Tottori Prefecture, it is around a 30 mins drive
  • From Okayama City, it is around 60 mins drive
  • From Hiroshima and Osaka, it is around 2.5 hours and 2 hours and 40 mins drive respectively

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions at Hiruzen Highlands.

Hiruzen Horse Park (蒜山ホースパーク)

After having fun with the Jersey cows, the horses in the Hiruzen Horse Park might want your attention too (or maybe they’re just hoping you will get their favourite snack – a cup of carrots, to feed them (´▽`*))!

At the horse park, you can get a cup of carrots at 100 yen to feed the horses that come up to you. Their eyes will focus on the carrots in your hands, but it is a great photo opportunity for you to get a selfie with these beautiful creatures (^_-)-☆.

Tips: If the carrot is too short and you are scared the horse might bite your fingers off, please the carrots on your palm!

You can check out the photos of all their horses HERE on their website. Note there is one dog at the end of the list (≧▽≦).

For the horse riding activities here, however, we would only recommend to those who want to put their small kids (from 3 years old) on the horseback, or, it is your first time to experience horse riding that you want a staff member to lead the horse for you. Because unless you have a Japanese horse riding license, they can’t allow you to wander off with one of their horses into the wild.

Cost Of Horse Riding At Hiruzen Horse Park

  • Horse riding on the horse trek (available from 3 years old): from 1,320 yen per person
  • Horse riding around and close to the park’s ground (available from 4 years old)
    • 2,420 yen for 500 meters course
    • 3,630 yen for 1 kilometers course

Hiruzen Horse Park’s Opening Hours And Access Information

  • The park is opened from 10 am to 4 pm daily except Wednesdays from Mar to Nov. In Jan and Feb, the park also closes on Tuesdays
  • If Wednesday is a public holiday, the park will close on Thursday instead
  • The park is just next to Hiruzen Jersey Land

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions at Hiruzen Highlands.

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