We all need to stay outdoors for many good reasons. We need to get some sun, take a break, be with nature and really step away from our daily grind.
Harvard Health Publishing in July 2010 for instance emphasized that on top of the many obvious mental and physical benefits of staying outdoors, one “will be happier, will have improved concentration, and will heal faster.” In its article entitled ” A Prescription for Better Health…Go Al Fresco,” the benefits go beyond simply having a good time.
“You will be happier. Light tends to elevate people’s mood, and there’s usually more light available outside than in. Physical activity has been shown to help people relax and cheer up, so if being outside replaces inactive pursuits with active ones, it might also mean more smiles.”
“Your concentration will improve. Children with ADHD seem to focus better being outdoors. It might be a stretch to say that applies to adults, but if you have trouble concentrating, outdoor activity may help.”
“You will heal faster. In one study, people recovering from spinal surgery experienced less pain and stress and took fewer pain medications when they were exposed to natural light. An older study showed that the view out the window (trees vs. brick wall) helped recovery in the hospital. ”
So when we were thinking of a special way of celebrating our only daughter’s 7th birthday, we thought of doing something fun outdoors, without spending too much and also allowing me and Pido to relax, take a break and do something new. I got across a feature about THE FARM in Chiba. So after a few phone-calls and e-mails about what to expect and a few other inquiries, we were on our way to our small surprise for the little girl.
Everything about this glamping experience exceeded our expectations. Nestled in the quiet part of Chiba, away from the popular Disneyland and Disney Sea, this is the perfect getaway for those who want to experience the joy of camping, right in the middle of a farm, without the stress of bringing tents, and camping tools, and with the luxury one would get in a nice hotel or “ryokan.”
We were led to its main lobby which had comfortable seats and a good view of the camping site. With a glass of fresh lychee juice, an English speaking staff welcomed us, checked us in smoothly and advised us of all things we needed to do for two days.
Walking into our junior suite, which is right next to the reception office, our little girl was all giddy and couldn’t wait to see the big and sturdy tent, sitting atop what seemed like an elevated balcony, hanging to the side of the mountain. She ran to the hammock, while I checked the al fresco dining, with sink and water supply, and just about anything a camper would need.
The family tent had two comfortable beds, even better than the beds in some hotels. It also had lamps, towels, a heater, electric blankets, tooth brushes/tooth paste, coffee, tea and chocolate drink. It felt like staying in a nice hotel with a camping vibe, and being surrounded by nature.
To complete the camping experience, a camping bag was delivered right before it got dark. Inside the bag were food items for dinner, individually wrapped, ready to be cooked, exactly the way campers would grill the meat, or have some soup and a few other things. We had a big cut of Australian steak, bread, some veggie salad, hot soup, crackers, cheese and marshmallows, complete with sauces and dressing. And as a special treat, we got a birthday cake for the birthday girl, free of charge. We then had a campfire, made smores and enjoyed a lot of family time.
My husband, Pido is a seasoned camper, serving as a boy scout for years and spending the rest of his teenage years camping outdoors. But I and the little girl, loved the idea and fun of camping without all the fuss. So this was a good way of satisfying the husband’s need for a getaway and our excitement for an adventure of something we have not done before.
What sets this apart from a regular camping site is the availability of other things to do. The package includes harvesting vegetables from their farm, which one can cook or take home. It also includes a good spread of breakfast of mainly veggies, soup, bread, fruits and some coffee and tea. There is an adventure area, with a zip line both for kids and adults. There are slides and swings for children. One can also enjoy seeing some ponies and goats. There is also an onsen, where one can enjoy Japanese food and relax in their indoor and outdoor onsen facilities. They offer massage services, too. For an additional fee, one can try kayaking as well. For those who would rather bring their own tent, there is a special spot where they camp out through the night.
Overall, it was a wonderful experience. We had the experience of camping, without the stress and the inconvenience of bringing everything with us. I consider it as one of my most special experiences in Japan, something that I would love to do all over again. Unlike other kinds of vacation where one would need another vacation after a stressful vacation, I felt totally refreshed being able to experience something new, with the people I love. Being that close to nature, enjoying quiet moments, loving the free nature play and having that rare, unhurried time to pray, reflect, and to appreciate the simple joys in life were the true luxury of this glamping experience. I realized that taking a break like this, allows us to never lose that childlike wonder and curiosity, to see the world through the fresh eyes of our inner child. We let our little girl have the time of her life in hours of unstructured play, and we let ourselves embrace this childlike joy of playing in the puddle, laughing out loud, running because of our fear of snakes and bees, and remembering that despite our busy, crazy life out there, we can always intentionally choose to create spaces like this in our lives. We had a super awesome time the first night that both my husband and the little girl were almost begging for another night.
THE FARM is the best kept secret of Chiba. I wish more and more people will find it and discover the fantastic feeling of camping like they have never had before. After all, we all need that chance to get away from it all once in a while and be in that perfect place to appreciate the luxury of doing nothing amidst the quiet sounds of the gentle wind blowing through the trees, with birds singing in a distance.
With our birthday girl sound asleep, I chose to stay awake a little longer and with a small lamp in hand, I walked around the campsite quietly with the love of my life, under the Spring night sky. Haruki Murakami was so right when he wrote, “Silence, I discover, is something you can actually hear.” I have never heard such eloquent silence in a very long time.
For more information, check out THE FARM’s website at http://www.thefarm.jp