Handmade amusement in a spacious backyard.
The more I travel around Japan, the more I find myself excited about curious spots interest. In Japanese, they’re collectively known as “chin supotto” (珍スポット)—off the beaten path locations that generate interest because of an odd quality about them. They are often unpolished, somewhat outrageous, and leave you thinking, “What strange mind would come up this?” As an oddball myself, I gravitate toward strange things, and Puramu no Kuni is definitely one of them.
Orchard Turned Playground
The name “Puramu no Kuni” (プラムの国) translates to “Plum Country.” The orchard is located among many others in Gunma that offer fruit picking, and as the name suggests, they mainly offer plum. In what I could only assume as a way to attract more customers even when plum is offseason, the orchard transformed part of its lot into a playground that offers a variety of attractions, all with an unpolished quality about them.
Entrance costs JPY 400, and as soon as you get in, you are met by two bunnies in a cage. Right beside them is a pile of lettuce that you can freely feed them.
Beside the bunnies is Hana-chan, a spirited Corgi whom you are sure not to miss. She likes to bark to get your attention, and she wags her tail in greeting as soon as you approach.
From Hana’s spot, you’ll have to make your way down to Variety Plaza (バラエティー広場) where a cluster of attractions await.
You can ride a wooden swing…
…go down slides, balance your way on poles, or go through tiny boxes.
If you want to play a see-saw version of tug-o-war, there’s a game for that too.
There’s a punching bag if you have pent-up frustration to release.
And even space to play sports like basketball, golf, darts and badminton.
If you get tired of playing, the bunny house is right next to the attractions so you can surround yourself with furry friends.
Careful though, they’re eager to meet you when you open the door.
Cave of Terrors (恐怖の洞窟)
The attraction that Puramu no Kuni is most known for is the so-called “Kyōfu no Dōkutsu,” or “Cave of Terrors” in English. At a glance, it looks like the horror house you would find at a local fair, and the sheer campiness of it makes it look like it sprang out of a B-grade horror movie.
Make no mistake, however, as I actually got scared going in the cave. The route is a lot a longer than it looks from the outside, and you’re basically entering an earthen tunnel, so the temperature drops as soon as you get in. You’ll have to crouch and make your way through narrow spaces, and while there are no staff members waiting to jump from behind and scare you, plenty of surprises lie in wait. Oh, and there’s a living thing waiting to greet you, too, but I won’t spoil the surprise.
In my opinion, what makes Puramu no Kuni work is the simplicity of it. There’s a sense of adventure in finding the place as it’s not as accessible as the usual sightseeing spots. There’s an element of a nostalgia in the mundanity of the handiwork; it’s as if you’re playing in your grandparents’ backyard. Lastly, the fact that place is removed from crowds and long lines make it an excellent chin supotto, a hidden gem in the depths of Gunma.
How to Get There
Puramu no Kuni (プラムの国)
Minakami, Gunma Prefecture
Google Maps URL
Official Website (Japanese Only)
Entrance Fee: JPY 400
Business Hours: Sat to Thur 9:00-16:00, Fridays 9:00-15:00
Access: From JR JōetsuLine Gokan Station (後閑駅 ), ride the bus goes to either Sarugakyo (猿ヶ京) or Takumi no Sato (たくみの里) and get off at Imajuku Bus Stop (今宿). Puramu no Kuni is a 10-minute walk from there.