Where can my kids experience playing in the snow near Tokyo?
The Seibu Amusement Park runs a snow park every winter from mid December until the start of March. Kids can enjoy sliding down the snow on snow tubes, sledges and / or giant inflated slides. They also have buckets and spades for digging tunnels or striders for use on the snow.
Hours and Cost
The schedule varies a lot, but generally speaking it is open Thursdays to Mondays, closed Tuesday and Wednesdays. Hours are 10 am to 4 pm. Please check the official website to make sure the snow park is open the day you hope to go: http://www.seibuen-yuuenchi.jp/guide/snow/
Information for this year has not yet been released, but last year’s prices were 1,100 yen for adults, 500 yen for children, 2 years old and under are free.
Access information below the photos.
5 minute walk from Seibu Tamako Line Seibu Yuenchi Station and Seibu Line Seibuen Station.
Parking for 1200 cars (Charged).
Sat nav/ GPS: phone number 042-922-1371
Address: 2964 Yamaguchi, Tokorozawa City, Saitama 359-1145
The area of Hidaka is so rich in nature and a beautiful place to enjoy a scenic drive and even some hiking with children. Many years ago, my husband and I used to visit the area often on our way to Chichibu to escape the summer heat. We often stopped at a shrine with a preserved house that I never realised, until our visit last week, is the famous Koma shrine. To be honest, it is not a shrine I rank highly, but they do have great events and if you are in the area it might be worth a quick stop off. I do, however, recommend either walking or driving (on the way to/) from there to the truly magnificent Shoden-in Temple, which is much more aesthetic, especially in Autumn.
On our most recent trip to Hidaka the stops to the afore mentioned religious institutions were last on our route. We had actually started out in neighbouring Hanno with a short hike followed by a splash in the river. Next stop was the Gojyou Waterfalls. Coming from Hanno as you cross over the city border into Hidaka, just at that Seibu Ikebukuro Line Musashi Yokote station is the almost miss-able turn for the Gojyou Waterfall. If you are coming by train, you alight at this station and it is approximately a 30 minute walk sans kids, with them (depending on their age) it could possibly take double due to the steady incline of the 2 kilometre walk. By car, the tricky part is parking. The nearest car park is quite a distance away. We actually drove quite close to the waterfall, but I definitely would not recommend that at all. We made a mistake as we did not realise just how narrow and dangerous the road was, and we actually had to reverse back down the mountain as the car was not able to manage the steep incline as you near the waterfall. The incline at that part is at least 20%, but I would guess nearer 30% and our car literally conked out in defiance. It was terrifying backing down an old narrow mountain road. We ended up parking in a verge on the side of the road much further down the hill. I am not even sure if it was an actual car spot, but it looked like it had been used for the same purpose before.
The sign for the waterfall is posted to a tree, just as the road steepens severely. You come off the easy to walk and/or push an off-road buggy, to a beautiful hiking trail. I recommend you park the stroller at the verge on the other side of the road. You cross a make-shift bridge made from a fallen tree with wood slabs screwed on. The waterfall is not far at all, so young kids can manage it, but they do need to be careful. There is a lot of moss on the ground and on the tree roots and stones. There is a sign to watch out for boar too and we saw a mamushi (poisonous snake) further down the road. There are occasionally bears in the area too. It is not a huge waterfall and the trail back to the road is ridiculously short, but the beauty of the area was worth it for us and it was an easy trail for my kids who are 2 (this month), 4, 5 and 7 years old. We passed many families on our walk as well as a group of boy scouts.
The Kawajima branch of Tsutaya re-opened today after a “renewal”. Unlike other “renewal open”s in the area, the shop has actually changed quite a bit. To mark the day they had a number of special offers, events and a very special guest star.
Crayon Shin-chan is Saitama’s most celebrated anime character. (Totoro is the most famous anime movie.) Much to the delight of unexpecting kids, and even those of us who knew of his scheduled visit, his presence caused a stir and a thirty minute frenzy of kids going wild. True to his anime form, he was mischievous and even demonstrated some of his trademark moves, including his famous Buri Buri butt shake. The kids were all too happy to join in on that one. I have to say though, I was quite impressed by how much he actually played with the kids. He was down on the floor rolling around at one stage, he was running around with them, even tickling them; generally he lived up to their expectations of him being a fun character. This week they will have other events to mark the renewal opening. Tomorrow, Sunday the 12th, they are having a Doraemon event.
The Kawajima Branch of Tsutaya is a small to medium branch. The staff are extremely helpful, friendly and brilliant with kids. When you visit with children, they often give you free colouring pages or out of season campaign goods. They have a great selection of magazines, a moderate selection of books, a fair choice of stationery, a reasonable selection of toys, a sizeable selection of rental CDs and DVDs, but only a small selection of CDs and DVDs to buy. The kids corner is very nice and my kids really enoy it there. It has been extended in the renovation with new indoor climbing frames with slides. They don’t mind kids making a mess of the books and you can spend as much as you like there (within opening hours). The renewal opening also brought with it a small adult only DVD area. Its tucked away in the corner out of sight, but only a curtain separates it from the main section. If your kids are like mine, a curtain might intrigue them, but thankfully the children’s selection isn’t near the corner. They currently have a nice Halloween display with a good choice of Japanese Halloween books and a Halloween Tree!
The store is located on route 254 close to the Kawajima Interchange of the Ken-O expressway heading towards Kawagoe. There is a Starbucks coffee shop across the car park from it. They hold an event together every 3rd Sunday of the month at 3 pm. Parents can enjoy a Starbuck‘s coffee while the kids enjoy storytelling. Parking is free.
Hours are 9 am to 11 pm, but there is a drop box for leaving back rented goods out of hours.
Earlier this year a new Kimono Rental shop opened on the main tourist strip of Koedo (little Edo) Kawagoe. It is housed in a refurbished building down a quaint alley, beside an open fronted wooden amulet craft shop.
There are quite a few rental shops in Kawagoe, but the demand for rental kimonos has increased over the years. Part of the reason for the increase in popularity is the KIMONO DAY campaign run on the 18th of the month which offers kimono or yukata wearers either a discount or a present in participating shops, restaurants and tourist attractions. This rental shop is particularly accessible, easy to find and reasonably priced. I went to visit it, but I have yet to use their services.
A waterfall in Kimitsu, Chiba, made famous by an Instagram post last Autumn.
Recommended visiting period: early morning in September and October.
Access: If you are coming by train, the nearest station is JR Kazusa Kameyama, but you need to use a taxi (approx. 15 minutes drive) to get to the area, or on a weekend you can use the free shuttle bus to the relatively nearby Katakura dam until the end of October. If driving, the car park is Shimizu Keiryu Hiroba marked by a golden turtle out front.
ALL IMAGES FROM JALAN which I have no affiliation to, but I am a big fan!
The kids are fairly exhausted after seven weeks of play dates, play centres, day trips, weekends away, special treats and seasonal activities. For their last day of holidays I wanted to treat them without physically exerting them, before the older three go back to school and preschool tomorrow. So rather than a play centre or physical activity, I settled on treating them to food pleasures and their first visit to a cat cafe. We had a dentist visit slotted in between too, but that proved to be quite a pleasure for them with the play area and toy to take home.
In this article:
Clean Bread Bakery Kawagoe Raku Raku Bakery
Family and child friendly Lion Dentist
Rescue Cat Cafe Neko Katsu
Retro American Diner MDT Cafe and Dining
KAWAGOE RAKU RAKU BAKERY
Our first stop after a leisurely walk through the always pleasurable Sweet Street (Candy Alley / Kashi Yokocho) was at the Raku Raku Bakery for a spot of light lunch before the dentist. This bakery is known far and wide for its homemade clean bread and flour based food. Raku Raku bread, cookies, cakes, pastries, and pies are made from 100% Hokkaido wheat flour. They don’t use any artificial additives, colouring or preservatives. They provide allergy information and have some bread and pastries that are dairy free. An excerpt from City-Cost reviews;
They have a fantastic selection of flour-based food baked in an oven and even have some dairy free goods, which are quite hard to come by in this area of Saitama. They have lots of fruit and vegetable flavoured breads and cakes. My kids particularly enjoy the melon pan and sweet potato bread. Most of their business is take out by locals and tourists, but you can eat your take out on site in the small garden at the side of the bakery. The garden has some wooden tables and chairs and is protected from the sun by groves and sun umbrellas. During this hot season they have a mist spray that cools the entrance to the bakery and the seating area, too. You can help yourself to complementary tea or coffee from self service machines. They are just little cups, but the coffee is quite good. If you prefer sitting in to eat, they have just opened a sandwich deli on the opposite side of the laneway. For purchases exceeding one thousand yen, you can receive a 10% discount with a Saitama Mama and Papas card. There is a little bit of English available in store.
The reason my kids enjoyed this dentist so much from my Lion Dental Clinic review on City-Cost.com
It is located within minutes walk of the West exit of Kawagoe station. There are free parking spaces for up to 15 cars. They have a kids play area. Kids also get a toy on leaving the dentists. One of the dental booths can fit a buggy or stroller. The booths are bright and colourful and have flatscreen TVs which plays cartoons for kids, news programmes for adults. If you need any work done, you can get it done then and there, or you can make an appointment for another day. They do implants. They have equipment for taking scans. Every patient can receive fluorine coating for free. They are open until 8.30 pm. I have saved the best for last: the dentists and dental nurses are very skilled, very patient and thorough, and some of them speak English. One has international accreditation. My 3 year old was terrified of going to the dentist and wouldn’t open her mouth at first. I was suitably impressed by her dentist’s patience and technique. She even said after, she wants to go again.
If only I had a video of my 22 month old child’s reaction when she entered this cafe. It was classic. She squealed with delight and danced on her toes. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who doesn’t have any pets at home, but want to give their kids an experience with animals or animal therapy. An excerpt from my Neko Katsu City-Cost Review;
There were more cats than I had expected and they all seemed quite placid. Because they are rescued cats they do ask that you don’t force a cuddle with them. If the cat is in the mood for a cuddle then it is fine to hold them. They have some toys that cats enjoy that you can use to play with the cats. The room is quite basic with only one or two seats and a few poufs, but it is not a cafe in the typical sense. You do get a drink included with the charge. Due to the fact that it is a cat cafe they are bottled drinks or juice packets. You help yourself from a decent selection in a fridge. Children under twelve are half price. They have a decent stamp card, one stamp per visit and if you get 5 stamps you get an hour free. You can actually adopt a cat if you become attached to one.
MDT Cafe and Dining
We finished the day with an ice-cream sundae for the kids and a latte art for me, in a 1950s style American diner. It looked like a nice place for drinks with a couple of friends. Unfortunately, due to its size it wouldn’t be suited for a big group. An excerpt from my MDT City-Cost review:
The rock and roll music adds to the ambience. I quite enjoyed listening to half the Grease film album and classics such as Footloose, Johnny Be Good, Shake Rattle and Roll to name, but a few. The menu is mixed. The billboard outside says that it is a taco rice cafe. They offer a lunch menu, a cafe menu and a night time menu. They have a good selection of beer, including locally brewed Coedo Beer and some foreign beer such as Heineken. We went for a Ice-cream sundae to share, and boy am I glad we were sharing; it was huge. Myself and 2.5 kids (the 1 year old didn’t eat much) struggle to finish the delicous Berry Sundae we ordered. I also ordered a latte art. They have a selection of latte flavours and I think you can also get art on other coffee based beverages. I was very touched, by the picture the Barista drew for me. He drew my 3 girls on the coffee around the words “Welcome” with today’s date. A small, but very touching gesture. They do plate art for birthdays. Within the shop there are lots of collectible toys.
The kids were on a high coming home, but not too tired thankfully. They agreed they want to go back to all the places we visited today… including the dentists! For hours and average costs, please visit the City-Cost.com articles linked.
How did you spend your last day of summer holidays? Please do share in the comments below.
There is a huge choice of cafes in Kawagoe, too many for one article. Part 1 introduces THREE of my favourites, simply chosen for the first article as they are the ones I visited most recently. The featured photo with the parasols is the last entry; Tsubakiya. Each of these 3 cafes are mapped in a My Map at the bottom of the article.
1. Hatsuneya Garden The Cafe
For a bit of peace and quiet off the beaten track awaits a chic cafe with a terrace at the front and a garden from the Edo period at the back. The cakes are delicious and the coffee strong. It is a place you can visit alone or on a date or with friends. Take out is also available.
Average price: about 600 yen per beverage or cake Hours: 11 am to 6 pm seven days a week
Shimano Tea Room has won a place in my heart as it reminds me of tearooms I visited with family during my childhood in Dublin. The servers are dressed in the old traditional wear of black tights, black dresses and white frill aprons. They even wear the white laced head piece. The selection of tea is fantastic too and their sandwiches are decent. I recommend trying the tea here, but if it’s not your thing they also have coffee and soft drinks.
Average price: Tea averages at 580 yen a pot (about 3 cups to a pot) Hours: 10 am to 6 pm on weekdays and 9 am to 7 pm on weekends
Enjoy a foot spa with your tea, coffee, soft drink or beer in the small zen garden with beautiful Japanese parasols. You can enjoy a speciality of Kawagoe, sweet potato, in the form of a light treat, or an original ginger ale made from kochi ginger. The small cafe, seating only 8 people, is located out the back of Tsubaki no Kura, a colourful and unique souvenir, trinket and amulet store. This shop is on the main tourist strip and is serviced by tourist and public buses. It is mapped on the Google map at the bottom of the article.
Average Price: from 400 yen for a beverage, from 680 yen for alcohol, from 350 yen for a snack
Hours: 10 am to 7 pm on weekdays and until 8 pm on weekends
There are many more fun, unique, quaint, chic and cozy cafes in Kawagoe. I hope to feature more over the coming weeks. If you have a favourite or a place you’d like to share, please do comment. Comments are always welcome. 🙂
This is my go-to cafe for a bit of break from the kids, while with the kids. It is one of the few places I know that allow children play unsupervised, unless they are 3 years old or under. The play area is sectioned off from the cafe area, but it is clearly visible. You can sit facing the area and watch your kids while you enjoy a coffee and cake. You have to pay per child to use the play centre.
The menu isn’t very extensive, but its really only a place for a light snack or treat. The cakes are quite nice and they change the options periodically. Despite having a play area, it doesn’t have much in the line of children’s food or drinks. They do lay out a jug of water that you can help yourself to for free. It is also one of the few places I know with a dedicated work space, with laptop connections, chargers and wide desk space. The cafe area has large stuffed animals dotted all over the seating area of the cafe. Among there is a large giraffe, elephant, pig, horse and cow. The ambiance of the cafe is quite nice. The staff are friendly enough, but as far as I know none of them speak English.
It opens 10 am to 9 pm seven days a week. The nearest parking is car parks number six and seven. Both are indoors. All parking in Lalaport is free. By train you would also need to get a bus and the buses are not very frequent so when possible coming by car is much more convenient.
Review – Studio Cafe Zoo Adventure in Japan. This is my go-to cafe for a bit of break from the kids, while with the kids. It is one of the few places I know that allow children play unsupervised, unl
Opening day for the new super hotspring in KUMAGAYA Saitama is drawing close. This is one to get excited about folks, because apart from being a state of the onsen, it has lots of extra services AND hammocks and a climbing wall! Please note, this onsen is not suitable to children under 7 years of age. Update September 1st: Opening day has been set for September 10th.
They use the word glamping in their public relation articles, which has me intrigued. However, I don’t think they offer glamorous camping, but rather are using the concept of glamping to offer an outdoor feel to their luxury hot springs.
Bivouac is just the latest offering from the hot spring chain Onsen Dojo, who take relaxation to the next level. There most famous of their hot springs is probably Cafe Utatane in Saitama’s Kita-ku. That has a hotel as well as many great extras including a lovely play area for kids. However, Bivouac is for adults or older children only.
The Bivouac hot springs are set to open for business early September, but the official date has not been released yet. They will open 23 hours a day from 10 am to 9 am. Entry to the onsen costs 1380 yen. There is free parking for 195 cars.
Recently, we paid our annual summer visit to the Tokinosumika resort, also known as Gotemba Kogen, in Shizuoka. This visit we split our stay between the Blueberry Lodges and the Hotel Tokinosumika, just two of the accommodation choices available at this activity and attraction packed resort. This year, as always, the night illumination was stunning and the fountain show, which originated in Tokinosumika, was as breathtaking as ever.
This year the central walkway that links the Blueberry Lodges to the village area, have the lights done like the Milky Way. Among the lights are windchimes and tanabata wishes written on prayer plaques.
Tokinosumika was the first place in the world to create a fountain performance using light and projection mapping, set to music. The show is held 3 times a night at weekends, twice on weekdays, beside the Bell of Love at the Big Bang Playground. This year the show started out like fireworks. At one point the water shoots 70 metres into the air.
There are night illumination displays in many other areas of the resort. My favourite view, which unfortunately I didn’t capture very well on my camera with my 1 year old vying for my attention, was the view of the Blueberry Lodges set behind the merry-go-round:
You won’t read much about Tokinosumika in guide books in Japanese or English, as they have such a regular custom from loyal customers they have little need for print advertisement. Most of their custom comes from word of mouth.