I have not been to many zoos in my life, so I thought I’d seen a lot when I met a pretty okapi (aren’t they amazing freaky creatures of nature!), dilettante lemurs, dopey large-headed capybaras, and tapirs whose poo has an explosive shooting range of 5 meters, all at the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo. But I realized that one of the cutest animals was missing though: the alpaca! Alpaca have very thick fleece and like sheep, their wool is farmed and prized because of its hypoallergenic property. This essentially means that it is safe for anyone to wear because it is naturally free of allergens and no one can be allergic to it.
I previously likened alpaca to camels, but they are much smaller in size even though they both have the same genteel composure (when in captivity). Alpaca may sometimes be confused with llamas, but the latter are usually more than twice as heavy and are very provocative and offensive. Llamas are the ones who spit in people’s faces and it’s definitely not a sneeze. So when one of our friends invited us to go to an alpaca farm, we agreed in a heartbeat. The alpaca farm is called Family Bokujou 永取沢ファミリー牧場 and is located near Yokohama, Kanagawa. We met at Kanazawa-Bunko (金沢文庫) station, where we would board the bus to the farm. We rode it for 15-20 minutes, and then walked about 10 minutes to the farm. There were many other farms around that had a myriad of produce including eggplants, tomatoes and corn! Some plots were doukoukai (同好会), which meant that you could get a membership to join in on the farming activities.
All of a sudden we spotted an alpaca’s furry head sticking out from behind the picket fence. We had arrived! The entrance fee to the farm was just ￥100. The farmhouse was painted a beautiful forest green and had 3 pens in the yard for the 5 alpaca.
Two of the pens were for the alpaca to rest in and the others, which we could enter, were for playing! The playpen had a pair of one-year-old alpaca.
They were so fluffy that I could die!
The brown one had an afro and was uber cute, while the black one had a streak of white hair and seemed goofy! These two had long fur and looked like fluffy clouds with necks. I had seen some photos of alpaca with their bodies shaved and heads unshaven and it’s hilariously adorable.
We bought some capsules of alpaca kibble to play and feed them. The older white one who was alone in his pen munched on my hand. No wonder this alpaca-san was put on time out! The younger two were very friendly and were excitedly trotting around the pen. In the farmhouse, we could see the alpaca stable and bathing area, and there were also rabbits and mice in cages on the other side. The bunnies were all very fat and round! The way their cheeks and noses wiggle when they’re munching is cute beyond any measure.
We went back out and sat on the verandah overlooking the alpaca pens. A gentle breeze was blowing; the air was fresh, clean and crisp. Birds were singing their occasional song, accompanying farmers’ efforts on their plots in the background. C’est la vie couldn’t be more apt. Back in the pen, a kid was getting terrorized by an alpaca that was teasing and chasing him for food. The friend who brought us there said she saw a baby alpaca that was still nursing the previous time she was here. How adorable! After saying bye to the alpaca, we took a short walk in the forest behind and found some Japanese acorns and chestnuts, called donguri (団栗) and kuri (栗) respectively. Just over an hour away from Tokyo, where better to go on a laidback weekend than here for some fluffy, furry fun?!
Yokohama Alpaca Farm website *Automatic translation
・50 Things to Do in Ueno, Tokyo’s Fusion District of the Old and the New, in 2018
・Play with Kangaroos, Penguins, and Capybaras in Kobe Petting Zoo
・Learn about Japanese animals in Ueno Zoo, Tokyo