Awashima (Awa Island) is on the North West coast of the Izu Peninsula. Is is a very small island and you can easily walk the perimeter in less than an hour. The island is home to my toddler’s favourite aquarium, Awashima Marine Park, and an exclusive hotel that the Emperor has stayed in. The island is open to anyone who pays to enter it, but the hotel facilities are only open to paying guests. However, when we entered to inquire about costs and availability the staff were exceptionally friendly and professional. Rates, incidentally, start at 60,000 yen per person per night, supposedly worth every yen for the waterfront view of Mount Fuji, but we decided to catch the last boat back to the Peninsula!
Awashima island used to be linked to Numazu by a ropeway. The ropeway still exists, but it is not in operation. So the only access to the island is by boat. The boat ride is included in the 1,500 yen per adult admission cost to the marine park. That’s 400 yen cheaper than the nearby Mito Sea Paradise, which frankly is not as toddler friendly and has less to offer than Awashima. Both Mito Sea Paradise and Awashima are free to children up to 3 years old, but they both charge 500 yen for parking.
You can bring buggies and strollers on to the boat without having to fold them down, but you do need to take the children out of the buggy to do this. The journey only takes a few minutes. The island is buggy friendly and there are changing units in the toilets. The island has one restaurant in the middle of the sea, overlooking the dolphins play area! The staff on the island are very friendly and helpful. There are play areas on the island and opportunities for the kids to get up close and personal with some of the animals!
This post was first written in 2012 and has been updated on a number of occasions to reflect the changes in the resort, which is always modifying and upgrading.
A wide variety of accommodation choices with babies and toddlers free
A number of different types of eateries, both Japanese and Western
A selection of hot springs including ones that are toddler friendly
An abundance of sports facilities and sporting options. Some require booking in advance
Activities and Crafts for people of all ages
Playground with mountain trampoline, bouncing castles, carousel
Indoor play area with goldfish aquarium, projection mapping, wooden toys
Events such as seasonal illumination, travelling exhibitions and Gotemba Kogen Fireworks Display in August
A water, light and projection mapping show in the evenings
Swimming pool and paddling pool in the summer
Segways & bikes available for rent
A pet hotel
Coin Laundry and Vending Machines
A doctor and clinic on the grounds
The Tokinosumika resortis one of the few places I know in Japan that has a huge selection of things to do and see all available in the same complex. It also has great views of Mt Fuji. It is an ideal location to travel with family. It has plenty to do for a day out, and even more available to patrons of it’s accommodation, but please note there are charges for some facilities and activities. They are a very child friendly establishment with a huge selection of attractions some of which are listed below. It is also pet friendly and has a pet hotel on the premises. They have self catering accommodation as well as a choice of hotels.
The first time we stayed in Tokinosumika, also known as GotembaKogen, was when I was pregnant with my eldest. We had never heard of the resort; we just came across it by Providence when looking for somewhere to stay to break up a journey. It was the best accidental find ever! We arrived at night and the resort had quite a romantic feel thanks to the illuminations. We chose not to have dinner included in our stay and thankfully were in time to try out some of the restaurants on site, which, due to the family friendly focus of the resort, close quite early. We had a light dinner in the GrandTable followed by dessert in the BooksandCafe only a short walk away. The Books and Cafe is home to an Art Aquarium since 2015. On subsequent visits we have dined in the hotels and in some of the other restaurants on site. On each visit we have had our breakfast included and all the breakfast restaurants are buffet style. If you opt to stay in the self catering Blueberry lodges (which have a cooker, microwave, and fridge) or Slow House villas you can still avail of a buffet style breakfast in a delegated breakfast hall. The cheapest accommodation option within the resort are the tepees. The tepees have futons, but nothing else, and sleep up to 6 people. There are toilet and bathing facilities for people who stay in the tepees, and you can rent/buy necessities (e.g toothbrush, facecloth) from the reception. (2015 Teepees no longer available for private hire). A list of the hotels and accommodation options are listed below.
The initial highlight for me when we stumbled across this resort was the hotsprings. On that first visit to the Gotemba Kogen Hotel in 2009 (update 2014 now divided into two hotels; Gotemba KogenBu Hotel and Hotel Brush Up) we visited the hot springs in the hotel. These particular hot springs are only available to guests staying at the hotel, but there are other hot springs in the resort which are open to the general public. The hot springs in the Gotemba Kogen Hotel are okay (they may have improved when the hotel split into 2), but not as nice as the springs in the neighbouring hotel Hotel Tokinosumika. The springs in this hotel are larger and are toddler friendly. They have a number of relaxation services, such as massage and body care, that you can pay for as well as free relaxation rooms with TVs and reclining chairs. There are other spas on the resort which we hope to try out on our next visit!
The list of activities available a the Tokinosumika resort is impressive. On our first visit we enjoyed a travelling exhibition that was been shown at the SakuraTemple. We walked through the nature trails enjoying the number of water features in the resort. We visited the Giant Bell, observed some tennis games and soccer matches, relaxed in the Wood and Tree Museumand stopped in to watch potters at work. With the kids, as they were only toddlers, they were just happy to play outdoors and go for walks. There are playgrounds and a playroom available for guests of the resort. There are also a number of sports facilities available such as tennis, basketball and badminton courts. They also have fishing, a mountain trampoline, some shops and in the summer you can use the outdoor pool. You can rent segways or bikes. You can pay to try your hand at pottery or pitch and putt or even ice skating. They even have a doctor and clinic on the premises during certain times. I’ve tried to summarise their facilities below.
A one stop shop for accommodation, play, eating and HOT SPRINGS. From November to March it boasts night illumination. It also houses the Kogen Brewery. There is a water and projection mapping show set to music in the evening. Sports facilities include a tennis court, badminton courts, softball grounds, pitch & putt, soccer grounds and even an ice rink. Please see separate blog on this resort. http://insaitama.com/shizuoka-gotemba-tokinosumika-family-resort/
Grinpa is an amusement park at the foot of Mt Fuji. It is most suited to children, but there are attractions for adults too. The amusement park is known for its Sylvanian family themed area. It also has an Ultraman zone with giant statues, shop, restaurant and games dedicated to Japan’s most famous heroes. Information in English can be found at their website, here.
Kodomo no Kuni
A massive and very reasonably priced adventure park with lots of activities to keep children of all ages entertained for a full day. Among the popular attractions are the canoe rides, waterplay area and crochet playground. Further information, in Japanese only, can be found on their website here.
Japan’s largest outlet mall!
We didn’t know of it’s existence the first time we visited, which was probably just as well. You can find all you need to know, in English, about Gotemba Premium Outlet here.
There are numerous equestrian clubs in Gotemba. There is one a 5 minute away from Gotemba station where you can do anything from beginner classes right up to courses to become a certified intsructor. It is called Club New Season Gotemba. They have a separate “pony class” for 3 year olds through to 3rd grade primary school students. There phone number is 0550 82 8520. If you book in advance there is a 20% discount.
Said to be one of the best passes to view Mount Fuji. The Otome climbing route can be found beside the Gotemba Municipal Hot Spring Resort;
Gotemba Municipal Hot Spring Resort
Open from 10am to 9pm. 500 yen for adults, 200 yen for elementary school children. Half day rate available. Ten minutes from the Gotemba Interchange by car. There is a free shuttle bus service available from the JR Gotemba station at specific times of the day. Parking available. Information in Japanese http://onsen.gotemba-otome.jp/
Please note you will have to carry younger children, if they are not steady on their feet. I am glad I saw these caves, but I did find them overrated. Please see their location on the tourist map here.
My favourite park / playground to bring my toddlers to in the Hiki District of Saitama is Kitamoto Children’s Park. Click here to be brought to the Japanese official park website. I love it, because it has something for children of all ages. I like that, in the summer, the playground suited to small children is in the shade and, in the winter, they have an indoor playroom for babies and toddlers. My two year old loves the giant outdoor mountain trampoline and my one year old loves the swings you can sit in to with safety latch.
Features (please scroll down for photos);
Playground suitable for toddlers
Playground suitable for preschoolers
Playground suitable for older children
Giant outdoor mountain trampoline
35 metre roller slide
A water area (summer only)
A small zoo; two areas with animals including peacocks and monkeys
A stage with seating
A nature trail
A baby room for nappy changing and breast feeding
A family toilet with miniature toilet for children, a baby keep, a nappy changing area, a clothes changing area
Three separate ladies toilets with multiple cubicles
Two separate mens toilets with multiple cubicles
On site staff
A tuck shop on the weekends and holidays
70 minutes from Tokyo by car. Approximately 15 minutes from the Okegawa – Kitamoto Interchange on the Chuo expressway
Address: 3-225 Ishitoshuku, Kitamoto City, Saitama Tel: 048-592-4050