Sweet Potato Theme Park Offers Taste Of Things To Come

Sweet potato theme park offers taste of things to comeA theme park dedicated to all things sweet potato has opened in this city, where the root vegetable is a local specialty.
The Namegata Farmers Village celebrated its grand opening on Oct. 30.

"We want to create a brand for sweet potato and turn (Namegata) into the world's top sweet potato town," said Toshikazu Nagao, 52, head of the facility's operator Namegata Shirohato Farm.

The agricultural attraction offers a hands-on experience--"seeing, eating and growing"--for visitors.

The complex includes a market selling sweet potatoes and other locally grown vegetables, a restaurant and the Yaki-imo (baked sweet potato) Museum, housed in an old elementary school building. Visitors can tour a factory where candied sweet potatoes are made.

Visitors can also join an owners club, in which members are provided with a plot of farmland to grow plants under the guidance of farmers and eat vegetables fresh from the field.

The theme park was built by Namegata Shirohato Farm at the cost of about 4.5 billion yen ($2.44 million). It is operated by about 40 regular employees and more than 160 part-time workers living in the area.