Activity packed family beach day destination SHIMODA | SHIZUOKA

I am currently researching places to bring the kids for a short holiday during the summer. During my research I keep coming across places of interest in Shimoda in Minami-Izu. There is a great selection of outdoor seasonal activities in the area, some of which are outlined below. Shimoda is a coastal area in the popular area of Izu, specifically south Izu. Apart from all the seaside activities, some of which are listed below, the area has a lot to offer on shore as well.  It takes about 3 hours from Tokyo, which is a bit further than most would travel for a daytrip, but it can be done. There are day tour and bus trips you can take from Tokyo and Saitama. We have travelled to the area ourselves before and I would personally recommend it as a short trip or overnight stay.

Currently, June 2016, hydrangeas are in bloom and there is a hydrangea festival in Shimoda Park until June 30th. More information on Shimoda Park in the Activity section below.

Each place is pin-pointed on a Google My Map, if you click on an icon it will show you more information, including a URL to the official website.

 

Beaches

Most of the beaches in Shimoda have been awarded the highest grade of water quality by the Ministry of Environment’s 4 grade water cleanliness ranking system. Like all beaches in Japan, there is an official period that these beaches are “open”. You can use the beach outside of season, but there are no lifeguards or facilities available.

A selection of beaches in the area (this is not the full list):

Shirahama Oohama Beach

From the official website

800 metres long, about 100 metres wide.

SEASON: July 1st to August 31st.

LIFEGUARDS: 4 lifeguard towers.

FACILITIES: 2 toilets, 2 showers. Beach umbrellas, sun beds, floats and other things are available for rent from the Tourist association shop on the beach. There are some shops and restaurants along the promenade.

PARKING: 400 spaces, prices vary between each parking area.

Kujyuuhama Beach

From the official website

Very picturesque beach with clear blue sea. Only 50 metres long and 40 metres wide.

SEASON: July 16th to August 21st.

LIFEGUARDS: On duty from 8am to 4pm.

FACILITIES: 3 coin showers. Beach umbrellas, sun beds, floats and others available for rent.

PARKING: 135 spaces, charges apply during beach season. Free from August 31st.

 

Nabetahama Beach

From the official website

Another picturesque beach, the closest to Shimoda city area.  130 metres long, 50 metres wide.

SEASON: July 16th to August 21st.

LIFEGUARDS: On duty from 9am to 4pm.

FACILITIES: 1 shower and 1 unisex toilet.

PARKING: None. 20 minute walk from Shimoda Station.

 

Touji Beach

Near a lot of pensions. Rarely crowded. 410 metres long, 50 metres wide.

SEASON: July 18th to August 31st.

LIFEGUARDS: On duty from 8.30am to 4pm.

FACILITIES: 2 unisex toilets. No other facilities, but near a park and sand ski school (see below).

PARKING: 120 spaces, charged.

 

Yumigahama Beach

Official address is in the neighbouring town of Minami-Izu. 1.2 kilometre arched beach. Popular  water park on the sea in the cove.

SEASON: July 9th to August 31st.

LIFEGUARDS: 1 lifeguard tower.

FACILITIES: 4 toilets, no showers. Between 3 and 5 beach huts. Splash Water park with athletic play equipment on the sea for children over 6 years old, see more details in the Activities section below.

PARKING:  300 spaces, charges apply.

 

Tatadohama Beach

Please see “BEACH YOGA” listed below in “Activities”

 

Dolphin Beach

Dolphin beach is part of Shimoda’s Sea Aquarium. Please see below for details.

 

Activities

Below is a small sample of some of the many activities available in the Shimoda and greater Shimoda area this summer.

Beach Yoga

On Tatadohama Beach; a 450 metre long and 70 metre wide beach, with various facilities including 6 showers, beach huts, toilets and rental of beach equipment.

SEASON: 16th of July to the 18th of September, except for rainy days.

TIME: 6.30 to 7.30 am

URL: http://izu-concierge.jp/yoga-2/

TEL: 0558-36-4541

PARKING: 129 spaces, charges apply.

COST: 1500 yen, includes rental of a yoga mat (Summer 2016 prices).

See map for location.

SUP (Stand Up Paddle)

Line Surf

TIME: 8am to 6pm

URL: http://rinesurf.jp/rine-surf-school/

TEL: 080-3655-0155

PARKING: 15 spaces

COST: From 7000 yen (Summer 2016 prices)

See map for location.

 

Surfing

Please see Turtle House in the accommodation section below.

Sea Kayak

Kai’to Sea Kayak School

SEASON: April to November

TIME: 10am to 1pm

URL: http://www.seakayaking.jp/

TEL: 050-3786-6779

PARKING: 3 spaces, you need to reserve

COST: 6700 yen for adults, 3300 yen for primary school aged children (summer 2016 prices)

See map for location.

 

Sand ski

From official website

At Touji Beach detailed in the beaches section.

URL: http://www2.shimoda-city.info/shimoda/FMPro?-db=shimoda_kan1.fp5&-lay=web&-format=page_look2.html&NO=149&-find

TEL: 0558-22-1531

PARKING: 10 spaces. Free out of season, charged during summer.

COST: From 1000 yen (Summer 2016 prices).

See map for location.

 

Sea Aquarium

SEASON: The aquarium is open most of the year, but during December it only opens at weekends and there are other changes to the opening hours for most of winter. DOLPHIN BEACH is only open from June to September.

TIME: 9am to 4.30pm on weekdays, to 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays, and to 5.30pm during summer holidays.

URL: http://shimoda-aquarium.com/

TEL: 0558-22-3567

PARKING: 200 spaces, free.

COST: 2000 yen for adults, 1000 yen for children over 4 years old.  (Summer 2016 prices). An additional cost is applied for dolphin beach where you can swim/play with dolphins. Children younger than grade 4 elementary school age are required to have an adult accompany them.

See map for location.

 

Water park

Splash Water Park, is a travelling water park of inflated slides, towers, climbing and more. It will be available at Yumigahama Beach again this year. The popular water park started opening seasonally in the area from 2014. It will July 16th this year. Children need to be over 110cms to play in the playground above the sea. You can see more information in English on their website: http://splashwaterpark.jp/home/

Parks

There are a selection of parks in Shimoda, some of which are near the seaside. Perhaps the most famous is Shimoda park in the Shirahama area, which is known to many for its 3 million beautiful hydrangeas that are currently in bloom. http://www.shimoda-city.info/eve11.html

 

There are even more activities you can enjoy in Shimoda including, but not limited to, “Treeing”, Nordic Walking, Scuba Diving, Snorkelling as well as sightseeing spots and local culture and cuisine. You will find more information in English on the official website of Shimoda: http://www.shimoda-city.info/index_e.html

 

Accommodation

There is a huge selection of accommodation in the Shimoda and neighbouring areas. An Internet search in English will bring up plenty of information, but if you do read Japanese you will find even more information in the Japanese language. I will just mention one that caught my eye as they offer a surfing lesson package.

TURTLE HOUSE, a “pension” (B&B) right on the sea in the Shirahama area of Shimoda city, have a stay package for one night, two days, two meals and a 2 hour surfing session.

URL: http://turtle-house.net/

Access

By car: 75 kilometres from the Tomei Expressway Numazu Interchange using R83, R246, R1, R136, R414.

By train: Between 48 minutes and 1 hour and 3 minutes from Ito Station to Izu-kyuukou Shimoda Station on the Izu-Kyuukou line.

Some other WORDPRESS blogs about Shimoda:

Priya the magical dog, killer hornets and stone grilled food |Kawagoe

I was living in the Kawagoe area many years before I stumbled upon a curious little shop off the beaten track, which has intrigued and enthralled me ever since. The name of the shop is as ambiguous as the products and services they offer. The kanji over the door 浪漫 can be called “Roman“, the Japanese version of Romantic, but nowhere on their webpages is this name used. So I call it Kasumi, which is the most common name I can find associated to the shop.

Kasumi Kawagoe Honey shop and Priya magical dog (2)

Kasumi (or Kasumi Flower) seems to have originally been set up as a management shop for some of the rickshaws in the area. However, one of the many signs over its door says its a “stone grill” restaurant. This indeed seems to be one of their better trades, serving hungry customers, but here’s the curious bit, its stone grilled… curry?? Just another conundrum of this unique and mysterious shop near the tourist area of Kawagoe.

Kasumi Kawagoe Honey shop and Priya magical dog (3)

 

One of their key products is honey and I have to say its about the best I’ve ever tasted. The beekeeper seems to be the owner of the shop, he is certainly the key character there.  He is a formidable and charismatic man, albeit slightly egocentric, but he reminds me of the Moore Street traders.  He delights in talking and prides himself on his produce. He has excellent English so he can explain quite a lot about beekeeping and the killer hornets he displays in jars at the front of the shop. He is also the owner of the famous healing dog Priya.

Famous dog in Kawagoe "Priya", said to have magical powers!
Famous dog in Kawagoe “Priya”, said to have magical powers!

Priya is said to have healing and magical powers. In exactly what way I do not know. The signs above and outside the shop brag of the Goddess Dog of Good Luck Priya. Inside the shop, cum restaurant cum rickshaw depot, they sell Priya goods and amulets.  If you buy lunch or purchase honey you get to have your photo taken with Priya. There are a number of photos of Priya with famous people and she has been on the TV and in the media a number of times. All I can say for sure is that she is a very lovely and placid dog. I can’t attest to her powers. She does fascinate me though, they way she sits up in the chair almost regally, perfectly poised and ready for a souvenir photo.

All in all, Kasumi (aka Roman Ishiyaki aka Kawagoe Jiryokuya) is worth a visit if you enjoy bantering with shopkeepers, like something a bit quirky, want to try stone grilled curry or delicious honey, are fascinated by killer hornets and/or want to meet a (maybe) magical dog!

KASUMI / ROMAN ISHIYAKI / KAWAGOE JIRYOKUYA

HOURS: 11am to 5pm. Please note that while they don’t have an official day off, they tend to take days here and there. Especially after a busy weekend. There are quite a lot of shops like that in Kawagoe.

TEL: 049-225-1015 (Shop)

WEB:

Shop:
kasumiflower.co.jp

Priya the magical dog: http://www.kasumiflower.co.jp/priya/index.html

Rickshaw company Kawagoe Jiryokuya: http://www.kasumiflower.co.jp/jinrikiya/index.html

Beekeeping and honey: http://www.kasumiflower.co.jp/honey/index.html

JULY Festivals and Fireworks 2016 | KANTO (TOKYO)

Kanto is the area around Tokyo, comprising Saitama, Kanagawa (Yokohama), Chiba, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Gunma.  This is a calendar displaying festivals and fireworks in this area for the month of July. If you hover over the event it will give you more information including time and place, and a link to either the official website or to a webpage with more information in English. You click into the event for more information too. If you are viewing the 2nd calendar, Google version, please view as AGENDA.

July 2016

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1
  • Paper doll throwing Water Festival @Torigoe Shrine | TOKYO
2
  • Kunitachi "Morning Glory" City Festival | TOKYO
  • Wind chime festival @ Nishiarai Daishi | TOKYO
3
  • Kunitachi "Morning Glory" City Festival | TOKYO
  • Wind chime festival @ Nishiarai Daishi | TOKYO
4
  • Wind chime festival @ Nishiarai Daishi | TOKYO
5
  • Wind chime festival @ Nishiarai Daishi | TOKYO
6
  • Iriya Morning Glory Festival
  • Wind chime festival @ Nishiarai Daishi | TOKYO
  • Shitamachi Tanabata Festival | TOKYO
7
  • Iriya Morning Glory Festival
  • Wind chime festival @ Nishiarai Daishi | TOKYO
  • Maebashi Tanabata Festival | GUNMA
  • Shitamachi Tanabata Festival | TOKYO
8
  • "Rain Doctor" Fair | SAITAMA
  • Wind chime festival @ Nishiarai Daishi | TOKYO
  • Fukaya Tanabata Festival | SAITAMA
  • Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival | KANAGAWA
  • Shitamachi Tanabata Festival | TOKYO
  • Narita Gion Festival | CHIBA
9
  • Narita Gion Festival | CHIBA
  • Wind Chimes @Hikawa Shrine | SAITAMA
  • Wind chime festival @ Nishiarai Daishi | TOKYO
  • Fukaya Tanabata Festival | SAITAMA
  • Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival | KANAGAWA
  • Shitamachi Tanabata Festival | TOKYO
  • Ueno Summer Festival | TOKYO
10
  • Tennou usai @ Yasaka Shrine | KANAGAWA
  • Wind chime festival @ Nishiarai Daishi | TOKYO
  • Fukaya Tanabata Festival | SAITAMA
  • Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival | KANAGAWA
  • Shitamachi Tanabata Festival | TOKYO
  • Ueno Summer Festival | TOKYO
  • Narita Gion Festival | CHIBA
  • Kounosu Summer Festival | SAITAMA
  • Satte Summer Festival | SAITAMA
11
  • Wind chime festival @ Nishiarai Daishi | TOKYO
  • Ueno Summer Festival | TOKYO
12
  • Wind chime festival @ Nishiarai Daishi | TOKYO
  • Ueno Summer Festival | TOKYO
  • Kuki Lantern Festival | SAITAMA
13
  • Mitama Festival | TOKYO
  • Wind chime festival @ Nishiarai Daishi | TOKYO
  • Ueno Summer Festival | TOKYO
14
  • Mitama Festival | TOKYO
  • Wind chime festival @ Nishiarai Daishi | TOKYO
  • Ueno Summer Festival | TOKYO
  • Satte Summer Festival | SAITAMA
15
  • Mitama Festival | TOKYO
  • Wind chime festival @ Nishiarai Daishi | TOKYO
  • Sawara Grand Festival | CHIBA
  • Ueno Summer Festival | TOKYO
  • Okegawa Gion Festival | SAITAMA
  • Floating Lantern Festival | TOKYO
16
  • Sakado Yasaka Festival
  • Wind Chimes @Hikawa Shrine | SAITAMA
  • Mitama Festival | TOKYO
  • Wind chime festival @ Nishiarai Daishi | TOKYO
  • Sawara Grand Festival | CHIBA
  • Yosakoi Festival in Hikarigaoka Park | TOKYO
  • Ueno Summer Festival | TOKYO
  • Satte Summer Festival | SAITAMA
  • Yoshikawa Summer Festival | SAITAMA
  • Summer Carnival Tsurugashima | SAITAMA
  • Okegawa Gion Festival | SAITAMA
  • Sugito Summer Festival | SAITAMA
  • Honjo Gion Festival | SAITAMA
  • Yono Festival | SAITAMA
  • Fukiage Summer Festival | SAITAMA
  • Kazo Festival | SAITAMA
  • Kurihama Perry Fireworks | KANAGAWA
  • Yokohama (Fireworks) Sparkling Twilight | KANAGAWA
  • Lake Rindo Fireworks | TOCHIGI
  • Tamamura Fireworks | GUNMA
  • Hakkejima Sea Paradise Symphony of Fireworks | KANAGAWA
17
  • Sakado Yasaka Festival
  • Yoshikawa Summer Festival | SAITAMA
  • Wind chime festival @ Nishiarai Daishi | TOKYO
  • Satte Summer Festival | SAITAMA
  • Sawara Grand Festival | CHIBA
  • Yosakoi Festival in Hikarigaoka Park | TOKYO
  • Ueno Summer Festival | TOKYO
  • Honjo Gion Festival | SAITAMA
  • Sugito Summer Festival | SAITAMA
  • Omiya Summer Festival | SAITAMA
  • Yono Festival | SAITAMA
  • Fukiage Summer Festival | SAITAMA
  • Kazo Festival | SAITAMA
  • Yokohama (Fireworks) Sparkling Twilight | KANAGAWA
  • Lake Rindo Fireworks | TOCHIGI
  • Kronenberg Fireworks | GUNMA
  • Hakkejima Sea Paradise Symphony of Fireworks | KANAGAWA
18
  • Wind chime festival @ Nishiarai Daishi | TOKYO
  • Yosakoi Festival in Hikarigaoka Park | TOKYO
  • Ueno Summer Festival | TOKYO
  • Kuki Lantern Festival | SAITAMA
  • Lake Rindo Fireworks | TOCHIGI
  • Yugawara Hot Springs' Fireworks | KANAGAWA
19
  • Wind chime festival @ Nishiarai Daishi | TOKYO
  • Ueno Summer Festival | TOKYO
  • Chichibu Kawase Fireworks & Festival | SAITAMA
20
  • Kumagaya Uchiwa Festival | SAITAMA
  • Sumomo Festival @ Okunitama Shrine | TOKYO
  • Wind chime festival @ Nishiarai Daishi | TOKYO
  • Chichibu Kawase Festival | SAITAMA
  • Kawasaki Wind Chime Festival | KANAGAWA
  • Ueno Summer Festival | TOKYO
  • Kamakura Fireworks | KANAGAWA
21
  • Wind chime festival @ Nishiarai Daishi | TOKYO
  • Ueno Summer Festival | TOKYO
22
  • Funabashi City Festival | CHIBA
  • Wind chime festival @ Nishiarai Daishi | TOKYO
  • Ueno Summer Festival | TOKYO
23
  • Wind Chimes @Hikawa Shrine | SAITAMA
  • Wind chime festival @ Nishiarai Daishi | TOKYO
  • Mashiko Gion Festival | TOCHIGI
  • Shibukawa Belly Button Festival | GUNMA
  • Edogawa Local Goldfish Festival | TOKYO
  • Ueno Summer Festival Parade | TOKYO
  • Ogawa Tanabata Festival | SAITAMA
  • Kyodo Festival | TOKYO
  • Mita Noryo Carnival
  • Ogawa Tanabata Fireworks | SAITAMA
  • Hachioji Fireworks | TOKYO
  • Mooka Fireworks | TOCHIGI
  • Futtsu Fireworks | CHIBA
  • Tatebayashi Tezutsu Fireworks | GUNMA
  • Adachi Fireworks | TOKYO
24
  • Urawa Yosakoi Festival | SAITAMA
  • Ebina City Festival and Fireworks | KANAGAWA
  • Wind chime festival @ Nishiarai Daishi | TOKYO
  • Mashiko Gion Festival | TOCHIGI
  • Edogawa Local Goldfish Festival | TOKYO
  • Ueno Summer Festival | TOKYO
  • Kawaba Festival Fireworks | GUNMA
25
  • Wind chime festival @ Nishiarai Daishi | TOKYO
  • Mashiko Gion Festival | TOCHIGI
  • Ueno Summer Festival | TOKYO
26
  • Wind chime festival @ Nishiarai Daishi | TOKYO
  • Ueno Summer Festival | TOKYO
  • Katsushika Noryo Fireworks | TOKYO
  • Tako Gion Fireworks | CHIBA
27
  • Boat Float Festival & Fireworks | KANAGAWA
  • Wind chime festival @ Nishiarai Daishi | TOKYO
  • Ueno Summer Festival | TOKYO
  • Iruma Air Base Noryo festival fireworks | SAITAMA
  • Kagurazaka Festival | TOKYO
  • Funabashi Citizen Festival | CHIBA
  • Hayama Beach Fireworks | KANAGAWA
28
  • Wind chime festival @ Nishiarai Daishi | TOKYO
  • Ueno Summer Festival | TOKYO
  • Kagurazaka Festival | TOKYO
29
  • Wind chime festival @ Nishiarai Daishi | TOKYO
  • Mobara Star Festival | CHIBA
  • Ueno Summer Festival | TOKYO
  • Hula Festival in Ikebukuro | TOKYO
  • Kagurazaka Festival | TOKYO
  • Haneda Festival | TOKYO
  • Kamogawa Noryo Fireworks | CHIBA
30
  • Wind Chimes @Hikawa Shrine | SAITAMA
  • Wind chime festival @ Nishiarai Daishi | TOKYO
  • Mobara Star Festival | CHIBA
  • Ueno Summer Festival | TOKYO
  • Shinjuku Eisa Festival | TOKYO
  • Odawara Lantern Festival | KANAGAWA
  • Haneda Festival | TOKYO
  • Kashiwa Festival | CHIBA
  • Noda Mikoshi Parade | CHIBA
  • Kanagawa Yamato Awa Dance | KANAGAWA
  • Oiso Fireworks | KANAGAWA
  • Kagurazaka Festival | TOKYO
  • Ageo Fireworks | SAITAMA
  • Sumida River Fireworks | TOKYO
  • Koshigaya Fireworks | SAITAMA
  • Showa Memorial Park Fireworks | TOKYO
  • Uruyasu Fireworks | CHIBA
  • Sanmu Summer Carnival Fireworks | CHIBA
  • Saitama City Fireworks | SAITAMA
  • Sakai Furusato Festival Fireworks | IBARAKI
  • Ooarai Fireworks | IBARAKI
  • Mother's Farm Fireworks | CHIBA
  • Asahi Iioka (fireworks) YOU PLAY Festival | CHIBA
  • Festival Walk Dreams | CHIBA
  • Summer Festival in Kaminokawa
31
  • Haneda Festival | TOKYO
  • Wind chime festival @ Nishiarai Daishi | TOKYO
  • Mobara Star Festival | CHIBA
  • Ueno Summer Festival | TOKYO
  • Odawara Lantern Festival | KANAGAWA
  • Kashiwa Festival | CHIBA
  • Kanagawa Yamato Awa Dance | KANAGAWA
  • Nikko Summer Fireworks | TOCHIGI
  • Oyama Summer Festival Fireworks | TOCHIGI
  • Misato Furusato Summer Festival | GUNMA
  • Mother's Farm Fireworks | CHIBA
  • Lake Ashi Summer Festival & Fireworks | KANAGAWA
  • Meiwa festival fireworks
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GOOGLE VERSION

Experience Asakusa

Information Share

“Where can I try some unique Japanese cultural experiences in Tokyo?”

We often get asked a variation of “where can I enjoy some real Japanese experiences in Tokyo?” on the Facebook Japan Travel, Friendly Discussion Group. Unfortunately, the search field and files section of Facebook Groups is still somewhat limited and the information cannot be easily found.  I’m sharing suggestions here, that I have given, in the hope that it is more easily accessible for future queries of a similar nature. These places advertise that they have English speaking staff.

This is for the Asakusa area only. If you would like to share other places for the benefit of others,  that would be greatly appreciated. 🙂  Please scroll down to the bottom of the article to see each place mapped on Google with address and other information.

Disclaimer: I have NO affiliation to any of these establishments, nor do I get anything for promoting them! All images are taken from the official websites for each shop or service.

Taiko Drums

Image taken from the official website: http://www.taiko-center.co.jp/english/class/images/tokyo/tokyo-class_03.jpg

The traditional drum in Japan is called a Taiko.  For many the sound of a taiko drum is synonmous with summer festivals.  The Taiko Lab in Asakusa offers a rare chance to experience Taiko drums without signing up for months of classes.  You need to book in advance and they will try to cater to the date and time that suits you best. The application for this is handled by the Taiko Centre (English information): http://www.taiko-center.co.jp/english/class/tokyo-class.html

Information about Taiko Labhttp://www.taiko-center.com/taiko-lab%E3%81%AE%E3%81%94%E6%A1%88%E5%86%85/ Choose the English option from the drop-down box on the right.

Kanji

Kanji is the Japanese writing using Chinese characters.  At Kanji House in Asakusa you can get your name written for you, or join a class, or even take a guided tour. The tour involves a local guide and a kanji calligraphy writing of your name to take home! They have staff and guides who speak English  and most of their clients are foreigners.

Image taken from the official website: http://kanji-house.com/assets/images/top3.png

If you want to try your hand at writing a kanji of your choice you can do a calligraphy class for 30 minutes.  They do require that you make  a reservation at least 24 hours in advance. They have full information in English on their website: http://kanji-house.com/service_price.html  and the reservation form is here: http://kanji-house.com/contact.html

Origami

The age old and majestic paper folding craft is a fun (and therapeutic) activity, offering a glimpse into the Japanese custom of precision and detail.  The afore mentioned Kanji House also offers an origami class for just 500 yen (summer 2016 price) for 30 minutes. Information available in English on their website: http://kanji-house.com/service_price.html . Reservation form: http://kanji-house.com/contact.html

Dressing up in Kimono

Dressing up in a kimono is something unique to Japanese culture. Kosode near to Asakusa subway station offer kimono rental, dressing and hair styling for both men and women. They have yukata (summer kimono) in the hot months too. They have information and a booking form in English on their website: http://paull.jp/asakusa/english/index.php

Moku Hanga Print

Moku Hanga is a technique used in ukiyo-e, a genre of art. Mokuhankan is a relatively new shop offering woodblock prints. The owner is a England born Canadian. You can experience his tutelage in an hour long workshop. You can book from a calendar on their English content website: http://mokuhankan.com/parties/index.php

Replica Food Production Workshop

Showroom of Replica Food made from wax

Replica Food are wax samples of what a restaurant’s (/shop’s) food looks like, displayed in the restaurants window. Ganso Shokuhin Sample Shop Kappabashi Showroom displays a great selection of replica food. Even better: you can book to try your hand at making your own replica food samples. Information in English on their website: http://www.ganso-sample.com/en/shop/kappabashi/

However, you need to book for the workshop by phone at 0120-17-1839.  The workshops are held at 11am, 2pm and 4pm and take between 60 and 75 minutes. It costs 2,160 yen per person (summer 2016 price).

Jidaiya

Jidaiya is a fantastic service offering a range of typical and age old Japanese experiences. Here is a list of some of them;

Rickshaw Ride

Photo taken from the official website: http://www.jidaiya.biz/taikenmono_e.html#taikenmono0

Kago (basket palanquin) Ride

Photo taken from the official website: http://www.jidaiya.biz/taikenmono_e.html#taikenmono0

Tea Ceremony

Paper Lantern making

Photo taken from the official website: http://www.jidaiya.biz/taikenmono_e.html#taikenmono0

Fan Throwing Game

Photo taken from the official website: http://www.jidaiya.biz/taikenmono_e.html#taikenmono0

Japanese Traditional Entertainment and Performances

Information for all of these can be found on their English webpage:

http://www.jidaiya.biz/taikenmono_e.html#taikenmono2

 

All of the places listed above are perfect, if you want to try some real hands-on experiences during your stay in Japan.  Most of these places advise booking in advance.  Below you can see the locations of each place marked on a google map.

**IF YOU ARE TRAVELLING TO OR WITHIN JAPAN AND HAVE QUERIES ABOUT TRAVEL HERE, PLEASE DO SIGN UP TO JAPAN TRAVEL, FRIENDLY DISCUSSION GROUP  https://www.facebook.com/groups/2307368624/ **

Hanasaki Water Park | Kazo

Facility Map of Hanasaki Park
We have only been to Hanasaki Water Park once, due to the distance from our house, but it made quite an impression on me. It isn’t a huge park, but there is a lot to do in the relatively small area. So much so, I recommend it as one of those parks that it is worth a journey to, even just once. That is, if you are in Saitama!

POOLS AND BIKES

There are two main attractions of this park. One is the water park, which is available from mid July to end of August. It has a number of different pools, including one for kids, and a Jacuzzi . You can also rent floats, pool beds and a boat for a separate charge. The other main attraction is the bike hire which includes some pretty unusual and fun bikes. The bikes are charged by the hour for the number of people that can ride them. They have quirky bikes for one, tandems for two (of course!), even a car bike, for want of a better description. Its a bike in the shape of a car, or maybe a car that you cycle! Oh…maybe we call them pedal cars – please comment if you know the answer! Whatever you call it; its great fun. The kids loved this the most.

ATTRACTIONS GALORE!

The park has a lot to offer other than the most popular attractions. The playground has a great big combination piece of equipment. Beside it there are some spring rides and small slides suited to small children. They also have stepping stones, climbing rungs, a little house and other pieces of equipment. There is a large gasebo beside the play area with benches and a couple of tables. Nearby is a wading river that opens early June. The BBQ area can be used during that time too. There is also a scenic river on the far side of the park lined with magnificent conifer (meta sequoia) trees. There is a walkway beside with a wooden path over a type of lotus pond, with other beautiful scenery in different seasons.  There is a lake with pedal AND swan boats for hire. The pools are used as fishing ponds out of season (don’t want to think about that too much!).  The battery cars in the pool area are accessible most of the year. They have putter golf and sports grounds. There is a small flower garden maze and a wide open grass area.  There is even a restaurant, but it closes during off season.  You can find up-to-date costs for each activity on the website, which is linked below.

So you see, it is a park worth visiting at some point, even out of summer season.  If you do plan to go during the summer, please see the up-to-date charges on the website, linked below. The park also recommends that you arrive early to get a parking spot, particularly on Saturdays when the park is at its busiest.

INFORMATION

**Please note that some of the services are not available on Mondays, except during the 6 weeks of summer holidays**

Bicycle costs at Hanasaki Park
Costs to hire the bikes, Putter Golf and Table Tennis at Hanasaki Water Park in 2015

Please see the website for up-to-date costs.

Address: 1722 Mizubuka, Kazo, Saitama

Tel: 0480-65-7155

URL: http://www.parks.or.jp/kazohanasaki/about.html (Japanese only)

Access

Train: About a 15 minute walk from Tobu Isesaki Line Hanasaki Station

Car: Approximately 3 kilometers from Kazo Interchange of the ken-o expressway.
Parking: Free out of pool season, but once the pool opens it costs 820 yen for the day. Spaces for up to 1,200 cars. Between April and September the car park is open from 8am to 6.30pm. From October to March it closes at 5.30pm.

Summer in Isanuma Park | Kawagoe

Isanuma park in Kawagoe is a popular spot with locals. It also attracts professional photographers and bird lovers from further afar, who come to capture the wildlife on the lake. It is not a big park, but it has good facilities for its size.

In summer, the trees of the wood and its position by a river and lake make it a little cooler than central Kawagoe. There are some Gazebos in the woods too, affording extra shade. The main attraction for families is the water play: a splash pool and wading river. The paddling pool part is only partly in the shade, but the wading river enjoys good cover from the burning sun. Another attraction during summer is the BBQ facilities. However, you need to have a local in your group to be allowed book a coveted BBQ spot.  In mid-July, every other year Kawagoe’s fireworks display are launched from this park.

Scroll down for address and access details.

 

Other articles about Isanuma Park

PLAYGROUND INFORMATION:

 

SPRING: Cherry Blossoms at Isanuma Park

AUTUMN: Fall leaves in Kawagoe Isanuma Park

 

Information

Address: 584 Numata, Isanuma, Kawagoe 〒350-0855 埼玉県川越市 大字伊佐沼字沼田町584

TEL: +81 49-222-1301

Parking: Parking is available on two sides of the park. The most convenient and largest is the parking lot opposite the lake.  There is also parking along the west side industrial area and by the small hotel and tennis courts on the North West side of the park.

By Bus: Take a bus for Kawagoe Green Park and alight at Isanuma Bouken no Mori, approximately 5 minutes walk from bus stop.

URL: http://www.city.kawagoe.saitama.jp/kurashi/sports_koen/koen/isanuma.html

NEARBY PARKS

Special Takara Tomy summer event in Yokohama

Takara Tomy 1
FROM THE TAKARA TOMY WEBSITE http://www.takaratomy.co.jp/event/eventlist2/tomica2015-yokohama.html

This August the special Takara Tomica event is back by popular demand. It is being held at Pacifico Yokohama again. Not only can you see how the factory operates, but the kids can make cars and play with plarail.

Dates: August 11th to 21st.

Cost: Tickets bought on the day cost 1000 yen for junior high school age children and adults, 800 yen for kids. Children under 2 are free. As part of a special summer campaign “Minato Yokohama Yukata festival “, if you are dressed in Yukata you receive a 100yen discount on the price.
Time: You can enter anytime between 10am and 4pm.
Place and access in English – http://www.pacifico.co.jp/english/index.html

(Last year there was a 100yen discount for tickets bought in advance. The PHONE # for booking was: 03-5435-0604. MOnday to Friday. Its not open yet for this year. I will update when it is. )

The event has not yet been added to the site : http://www.takaratomy.co.jp/

You can see last year’s details here:

http://www.takaratomy.co.jp/event/eventlist2/tomica2015-yokohama.html

In English : Special Takara Tomy summer event in Yokohama

Takara Tomy 2
FROM THE TAKARA TOMY WEBSITE http://www.takaratomy.co.jp/event/eventlist2/tomica2015-yokohama.html
Takara Tomy 3
FROM THE TAKARA TOMY WEBSITE

Summer Festivals in Saitama July 14th – 20th 2016

What an absolutely fabulous selection of festivals on offer the first weekend of the summer school holidays. There is something for everyone in Saitama the weekend of July 16th to 20th. From the very traditional, history rich Japanese festivals, to a taste of Brazil in a Summer Carnival. From family friendly children processions to beer garden alcohol laden adult friendly festivals!  The choice is as extensive as it is diverse.

Below is a list of the some of the larger, more famous or well attended festivals you can enjoy this weekend, with links to more information in Japanese. Please note, that if there are any typhoons there maybe changes to the planned schedules and possibly cancellations, too.

Satte Festival

July 14th, 16th and 17th

The large lantern floats are one of the major attractions of this annual 4 day festival. You can see them this year on the evening of the 17th from about 6pm.  Over the 4 days there are different events happening around the exit of Tobu Nikko Line Satte Station.  More information here (May 2016 – online information for 2016 festival has not been updated yet).

 

Okegawa Gion Festival

July 15th and 16th

The Okegawa Gion Festival has about 400 festival stalls and attracts about 100,000 people over the 2 days of festivities. Both days the festival runs between 3pm and 9pm approximately. The festival is close to the East exit of JR Takasaki Line Okegawa station. More information here. 

Summer Carnival in Tsurugashima

July 16th

SUmmer Carnival tsurugashima
Image taken fom the Saitama Tourist Office

This colourful carnival, just a minute from Tsurugashima station, is quite different from the traditional festivals at this time of year, but just as fun and vivacious.  This event will take place even it is raining. Image taken from the Saitama’s Tourism Bureau.  More information from the Tsurugashima City Official website here .

Fukiage Festival

July 16th and 17th

From the Kounosu City Official website

This local festival in Kounosu is not as well-known or well attended as the Paper Lantern festival, but its a fun day out all the same. There is a portable shrine during the day and an illuminated float at night. You can also enjoy a beer garden. It is held near the Fukiage station on the JR Takasaki line. More information here.

Sugito Festival

July 16th  and 17th

Awaiting updated flyer from the official page.

2014 Flyer from the official website

Sugito is most famous for the Tobu Zoo and amusement park. The town really bands together for their annual festival. There is a fantastic line-up of events over the 2 day festival, including child friendly attractions, even a children’s parade. From the official website: More information here.

 

Honjo Festival

July 16th and 17th

From the Honjo Tourism website

This festival occurs every year on the 2 days preceding “umi no hi”, an annual holiday in Japan. It attracts about 40,000 people. There are 70 stalls. One of the unusual features of this festival is the 雨乞獅子“rain begging lions” or lion dancers performing rain dance; a very unique twist on a shishimai performance, which is most common at New Year. There is a children’s portable shrine procession and parade from 3.30pm on the Saturday, at the community plaza public space.

You can find more information and the schedule on the official website.

Yono Festival

July 16th and 17th

There are a couple of local festivals in Yono this weekend. You can get more information on the Saitama Tourism and International Relations Bureau website here.

Yoshikawa Summer Festival

July 16th and 17th

Awaiting for an updated flyer from the official website.

From the offical Yoshikawa website

This 400 year old festival is the pride of Yoshikawa city. It is quite different to other festivals in that it is spread out geographically and does not take place in one central location.  You can find out more on the official website here.

Kazo Festival

July 16th  and 17th

Image taken from Kazo City’s website

Mikoshi, portable shrines, floats with traditional music and masked dancers performing sacred dances. The official website:Kazo City festival

Sakado Festival

July 16th – 17th

It is not as big as some of the other summer festivals this weekend, but there is dance and parading floats. Please check out the official website for more detail on this local Sakado Festival.

Omiya Summer Festival

July 17th

Taken from Saitama Tourism and Internationl Relations Bureau (STIB)

The festival officially starts at 3pm, but the portable shrine progression will start around 5pm. It takes place to the south exit of Omiya station. This event will most likely NOT take place in the event of rain.

Information on the official website; Saitama Tourism and International Relations Bureau.

Kuki Lantern Festival / Tenno Festival

July 18th (also held on July 12th)

This festival celebrates local folklore and is famous throughout Japan. Huge floats of paper lanterns are carried through the town. From the official festival website: http://kuki.jpn.org/main/kankoukyoukai/maturi/

Chichibu Kawase Firework Festival

July 19th – 20th

Chichibu Kawase Festival

This festival is quite hard to get to, but people still come from far and wide to enjoy the cooler temperatures and the celebrations at the 2000 year old Chichibu shrine. It attracts about 40,000 people and there are about 300 stalls.  There are also fireworks on the 19th from 20.00. 1300 fireworks will be launched.

This is NOT the official website, but it has the most detail: http://navi.city.chichibu.lg.jp/p_festival/1273/

Kagohara Summer Festival

July 19th to 20th

From the official Kumagaya City website

Held on the 19th and 20th each year, even if they are weekdays. This festival in Kumagaya is much lesser known than the famous Kumagaya Uchiwa festival. It is held near Kagohara station. More information on the official site here.

ENJOY WHICHEVER FESTIVAL YOU ATTEND TO KICK OFF THE SUMMER HOLIDAYS, and be sure to let us know how you got on.

MORE FESTIVALS COMING FOR THIS SUMMER IN SAITAMA.

Peter Rabbit lodgings during Golden Week trip

A welcome sign in English "Welcome Friends Slowly Smiling"
A welcome sign in English “Welcome Friends Slowly Smiling”

For the last 7 years we’ve been going to a resort in Gotemba every Golden Week.  The resort has a choice of accommodation ranging from hotel rooms to self catering lodges. This year we stayed in the “slow house villa” area in a yurt or パオ (Pao) as they are called in Japanese.  The yurts in the complex are designed on a theme. Our room was one of the Peter Rabbit themed lodgings.

The Peter Rabbit influence may well have gone beyond the interior of the yurts, as the slow house villa area is reminiscent of a rabbit’s burrow. It was great fun for the kids to find their way around the maze like paths. Management makes good use out of the design too, laying out a scavenger hunt challenge of sorts for guests of the slow house villas. The kids followed clues to find letters which, when all were discovered, spelled out a word. On presenting the word to reception they got a prize of Peter Rabbit stickers. Another treat for guests of these particular lodgings is a fluffy bunny rabbit (soft toy) hidden in the room – if you find it, you get to bring it home. (You can also borrow teddy bears and soft toys from reception to keep in your room during your stay).

The view of the maze of Peter Rabbit lodgings taken from the Big Bang playground, with Mt Fuji in the background
The view of the burrow of Peter Rabbit lodgings, taken from the Big Bang playground, with Mt Fuji in the background

The yurt itself was also a great source of excitement for the kids. They aren’t the most practical, but between the Peter Rabbit paraphernalia and the spacious loft, it was a dream come true for the kids to stay there. They are also the lodgings closest to the big playground, which turned out very convenient for us. They have a hot spring in the villa area (one of many in the resort) and it is where the pet hotel is too. This is also the area with the resort’s badminton court, games room (billiards and table tennis), reception for some activities (such as fishing and segways) and where they have the magnificent night time water, illumination and projection mapping show.  The breakfast hall is a little bit far away, but it is a nice walk, with some great views of Mt Fuji.

While I enjoyed the novelty, I did think the room was quite dingy, dark and hard to regulate temperature. I did enjoy staying there and the kids certainly did, but once was enough for me. There are other accommodations within the resort that are more practical for big families and people with young children. My top two in the resort are the Blueberry Lodges and the Western/Eastern fusion room in the Tokinosumika hotel.  For anyone who is interested in more information about the resort it is linked below the photos from the playground.

The Resort

Information about accommodations and attractions: –
Shizuoka, Gotemba. Family resort with Accommodation, Hot springs, Dining, Shopping, Sports & Much much more

One of the hotels within the resort

Hotel Tokinosumika, Gotemba, Shizuoka

Lodges within the resort

Blueberry Lodge at Tokinosumika, Shizuoka (And Shaun the Sheep!)

Some of the attractions within the resort

 

 

Attractions in Tokyo that have FREE entry days during Golden Week

On Children’s Day, May 5th, most zoos, parks and museums throughout Japan are free in for children. Apart from that day, there are other days in Golden Week that some places offer free entry for all visitors. Here is a list of some of the places in the Tokyo area, with the free entry dates specified. These are free in for all visitors unless otherwise stated. The links provided are to the English webpages of official sites, with the exception of Yumenoshima park which is in Japanese.
**Copyright ©2016 Insaitama.com **

NHK Studio Park  NHKスタジオパーク

Free for the whole of Golden Week, April 29th to May 5th.
http://www.nhk.or.jp/studiopark/guide/pamphlet/stp_pamph_en.pdf

 

Showa Memorial Park  昭和記念公園

Free entry on April 29th, May 5th and May 15th for children under 16.
http://www.showakinen-koen.jp/html/english/

 

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden  新宿御苑

Free entry on April 29th, May 4th and May 5th for children under 16.
http://www.env.go.jp/garden/shinjukugyoen/english/index.html

Inokashira Park

Free entry for all visitors on May 4th. Free entry for kids on May 5th.
http://www.tokyo-zoo.net/english/index.html

Tama Zoo

Free entry for all visitors on May 4th. Free entry for kids on May 5th.
http://www.tokyo-zoo.net/english/index.html

Ueno Zoo

Free entry for all visitors on May 4th. Free entry for kids on May 5th.
http://www.tokyo-zoo.net/english/index.html

Tokyo Sea Life Park

Free entry for all visitors on May 4th. Free entry for kids on May 5th.
http://www.tokyo-zoo.net/english/index.html

Gardens of the former residence of Iwasaki  旧岩崎邸庭園

Free entry on May 4th.
http://teien.tokyo-park.or.jp/en/kyu-iwasaki/index.html

Gardens of the former residence of Furukawa 旧古河庭園

Free entry on May 4th.
http://teien.tokyo-park.or.jp/en/kyu-furukawa/outline.html

Kiyosumi Gardens  清澄庭園

Free entry on May 4th.
http://teien.tokyo-park.or.jp/en/kiyosumi/index.html

Yumenoshima Park  夢の島熱帯植物館

Free entry on May 4th.
(Japanese only) http://www.yumenoshima.jp/index.html

The Shiba Detached Palace Garden 旧芝離宮恩賜庭園

Free entry on May 4th.
http://teien.tokyo-park.or.jp/en/kyu-shiba/outline.html

Jindai Botanical Gardens  神代植物公園

Free entry on May 4th.
https://www.tokyo-park.or.jp/english/park/detail_03.html#jindaibotanical

Mukojima Hyakka Flower Garden  向島百科園

Free entry May 4th.
https://www.tokyo-park.or.jp/english/park/detail_07.html#mukojimahyakkaen

 

 

 

 

 

LocalGuide showcasing the Greater Tokyo Area of Saitama

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