3 Hidden Spots That Kids Can Enjoy

Hi, my name is Mineko, a local from the ENN area.
I’m going to write here from time to time so feel free to visit anytime!

How is everyone doing? I have a five-year-old son, who’s super-energetic and always eager to play outside. Every weekend, I’ve been desperately trying to find a place outdoors full of nature where I can let him run around freely. Hmmm...wait a minute...Oh!! There’s a perfect place!
Yamazoe Village in Nara Prefecture! My grandmother lives there and I had the best time there as a child! Let me recommend three wonderful spots that I’m sure you’ll enjoy.

First, Shiose Jizo

“Jizo” is a stone statue of a guardian

This Jizo is located at Forest Park Konoyama in Yamazoe Village. Everyone living nearby has paid a visit at least once to this popular Jizo. This Jizo has been said to bring safety and protect the eyes of the people attending the Ise Jingu pilgrimage since the Kamakura period. A long time ago, it’s been said that a person with eye disease cleansed their eyes with the water near the Jizo and that the disease was cured.

My grandmother would always visit the Shiose Jizo and prayed when something bad happened, even prayed when nothing bad happened. My grandmother’s friend even visits the Jizo every single day. I don’t know why but I feel like my soul has been cleansed whenever I visit the Jizo. I feel something lucky is going to happen!
The Shiose Jizo is located in a slightly dim area, but becomes mystical when the sunlight shines. It’s a spot I would really like you to visit.

Shiose Jizo

Shiose Jizo in Yamazoe

Second, is Benten-ike

“Ike” means pond in Japanese

This is a beautiful pond at Forest Park Konoyama that I’ve loved since I was a little child.
Numerous water lilies fill the pond in the summer and carp swim around and it just looks like a beautiful painting. You will have to go further into the mountain to get there, so it’s sort of a secret spot. I remember my father taking me there on his pickup truck. If you go to the deeper side of Benten-ike there is a place called “Kagami-ike.” Legend says that lack of rain can be solved by replacing the water in the Kagami-ike. When villagers did replace the water there was heavy rainfall shortly afterwards, just like the legend. Villagers expressed this phenomenon as “the rise of the dragon in Benten-ike,” and was passed down among the villagers for many years.

Sign at Mt. Kono
弁天池 reads Benten-Ike

Benten-Ike / 弁天池

Last, is Wanpaku Zoo

“Wanpaku” means naughty in Japanese

This is just the place for my son. It’s located near Nunome dam, and opened recently. What’s so great about this park?

No admission fees! It’s FREE!!
You can spend the whole day there, touch and play with all kinds of animals, all free of charge!

Makes mommy VERY happy!

The park is just the right size to go around all the areas. You won’t get too tired, and even if you do, there is a cafe restaurant, called Nunome no Sato, where you can enjoy lunch made with locally produced vegetables. SUPER!!!! I watched my son have fun with the animals from the terrace seat, and relaxed with a glass of iced coffee. I’m sure you’ll have a great time as the spring comes.

Wanpaku Zoo in Yamazoe Village