The girls zorb! | Sakado Jidokan

Giant inflatable tunnel

Zorb tunnel with balls in the balloon

In the spirit of play-a-day, or basically trying something new everyday, I brought my daughters to a different prefectural paid and run Children’s Community Centre today. It had lots of fun things for the kids to do, but 2yo was most excited by the giant inflatable roller or zorb as I believe it’s called.

This is at Sakado Children’s Community Centre. Sakado Children’s Community Centre is most famous for its planetarium. It’s 10 metre dome is part of Ohira Tech’s research facilities. They are conducting next generation application research which people can enjoy at Sakado before they become available elsewhere. We are saving the Planetarium for another visit when 3yo son can come.

Other facilities in the centre include a trampoline, climbing rope, push along cars, a make-believe kitchen, walls of toys, a baby and toddler room, a library room and a ping pong table. Outside there is playground equipment and right beside it is a little park with playground equipment.

Address of Sakado Children’s Community Centre:

23 Ashiyama cho, Sakado City


2 minutes by car from the School for the Deaf intersection on route 407.  Four minute walk from KitaSakado Train Station on the Tobu Tojo Line.

Sakado Jidokan in photos:

A day out in Tokyo with toddlers: Moomin Cafe and Asobono



It took us two hours to reach our final destination, Tokyo Dome City, but it was completely worth the wait. First, we went to the Moomin Bakery and Cafe and we escaped having to queue to be seated by opting to have a light snack rather than lunch. Then, we went to Asobono fun centre. We took a break to go across the corridor to the food court and then back for even more play, a free event and a free gift…

It was the kids first time to Tokyo Dome City. I have been a few times, but given the length of the journey I have waited to bring the kids until now. Three year old was well able for the journey, but two-year old was irritable for most of the travelling. I’m glad I left the baby with Baba, because some parts of Kourakuen (aka Tokyo Dome City aka TDC) and the train stations are not buggy friendly. At least with 2 year old I could get her to walk the steps while I carried the buggy down or up them. In spite of a few hitches and tiredness from the travel, they both indubitably and without doubt had a blast!

First stop, Moomin Bakery and Cafe on the first floor of the LaQua building. It was just before 11am and people were already queuing for the lunch menu. I had only planned elevenses and that worked out nicely, because we could be seated straightaway. We chose bread from the bakery and ordered a drink with it as a set. The bread you get yourself, the drink is delivered. It was quite costly given what it was, but it was worth it to have a life-size Moomin character teddy sit with us and for the fun character bread we could choose. The kids were also impressed with my character Latte.

The character that sat with us was Sniff. The kids don’t even watch Moomin, but they are familiar with the characters. They were just happy to have a visitor at our table! They also enjoyed reading the books that you can borrow while dining.

Sniff joins us for lunch Moomin books

After the cafe we went to Asobono, a mega play centre in the heart of TDC. As luck had it, they had a special discount available if you signed up for a TDC member card. So I did! We got an all day “free pass” for 1,200 yen per child instead of the usual 1,500 yen. The adult flat rate of 900 was also discounted by a 100 yen. For children older than two the free pass is probably better value than the hourly rate. An hourly rate is 900 yen regardless of age and 400 yen for every half hour you stay over. You have to be aware of the time you are supposed to leave with an hourly rate too, they don’t tell you when your time is up, but will charge you for any additional time you spend. My kids played for 4 hours and would have played for longer if we didn’t have a train to catch.1 Map of play areas in Asobono

When you pay for a daily “free pass” you can come and go with your children as you please, so long as you let the front desk know. We took a small break for lunch. I had intended to bring the kids to the Baseball cafe, but I knew they just wanted something quick to eat and go back to play asap. So we just slipped across to the food court, very conveniently located to the play centre. We were back in time for a mini-event, when the staff did some exercises and songs with the kids. At the end of it, they gave each child a kyoryu poster, much to the delight of my kids who are big fans of the TV programme. It was a struggle to get the kids leave before it was dark and before the trains were too packed. I think I bribed them, I actually can’t remember; I was fairly beat from all the play myself!

I would recommend Asobono in a heartbeat and Moomin Cafe if you aren’t on a budget or a time frame. There is too much to say about Asobono, so hopefully a few photos will suffice…


Market area   Wooden food toysMore wooden food toys

Kitchen areaPlay houseDolls

Sylvanian familyBouncing CastleBuilding area

Two player games


Slide into ball pool Climbing in ball pool

Moomin Bakery and Cafe opens from 8 am to 10.30 pm.


Asobono opens from 10 am on weekdays, 9.30 am on weekends and closes at 6 pm on weekdays, 7 pm on weekends.


If you are looking for some other things to do in Tokyo with children:

Places to bring children to visit animals in Tokyo | GREATER TOKYO AREA

2017 version. This is a master list of the zoos, farms, aquariums and other places with animals in the Tokyo area that are suited to children. You will also find a handful of locations that are act…


“Multi-training wall” at Miyoshino Children’s Centre, Sakado


Yesterday, we went to our local children’s centre to participate in a free event for toddlers.  Half way through the hour long event, DD1 decided she’d had enough.  It is very relaxed at these events for preschoolers, so there is no problem leaving the room during the event to do other things.  DD1 had her eye on the training wall on the ground floor; an opportunity to use it all by herself.

There are lots of toys and activities that the children can use for free at the various children’s centres around Japan. This is just one at our local centre; a マルチトレーナ which translates to multi-trainer. The ceramic tiled wall has a number of buttons surrounded by a light that flashes, one button at a time, to indicate which button to press.  The activity runs on a timer and the aim is to hit as many of the targets as possible.


I haven’t seen this type of wall at the other centre’s we go, each seems to have its own unique special activity.  This seems to be our centre’s unique activity and it’s popular with all ages. When the trampoline is out it goes against this wall so its not available for use every visit, which adds to its appeal.

Miyoshino Children’s Centre is located in the Miyoshino area of Sakado.

Address 150-5 Kouya, Sakado City

Access A 10 minute walk from Higashi Sakado Danshi busstop on the bus bound for “Kawagoe Station” via Higashi Sakado Danshi which goes from Wakaba station on the Tobu Tojo line. For residents of Sakado there is free city shuttle bus; the “higashi” (East) course’s busstop number 12 “Miyoshino Jido Centre” stops right outside the Children’s Centre.

A kamishibai performer in the making?


My son is using a stage and Kamishibai; a type of illustrated story, or “story card theater drama”, that is popular for children in Japan.  Kamishibai dates back to the 12th Century Japan (*some say 8th Century) when supposedly it was used by Buddhist monks to convey stories with moral lessons, not unlike parables. The storyteller (gaito kamishibaiya) uses a stage to prop the illustrations. It enjoyed a rebirth in the depressions of the 1930s when kamishibaiya would entertain the masses with their portable kamishibai stages. They used just illustrations and performed the story to the attentive crowds.

Nowadays, the illustrations come with the text of the story. Each illustration is sequenced and the text for the first illustration will be on the back of the last illustration. When the storyteller removes the first illustration to show the 2nd illustration, the 2nd illustration moves to the back of the stage and it will have the text for the 2nd slide on the back of that, and so on.

The back of the stage, with the text of the story showing

Pictured below, my son tells the story of an Indian boy who was saved by his trained falcon, only for the falcon to be shot down by an arrow as he is flying the boy to safety.  The boy and the falcon are injured, but survive and the boy sets his falcon free.

Kamishibai; picture illustration in story telling stage



Some of the stories are more lighthearted, such as the one pictured at the bottom of the article without the stage; the tale of the giraffes whose necks get twisted watching butterflies dance.  A favourite with my two toddlers. They also have a lot of contemporary stories and most of the Western fairytales (in the Japanese language) in this Kamishibai style. You can even get Thomas the Tank Engine Kamishibai, pictured below, and other children’s favourites too.

My kids love books anyway, but they went through phases when they wouldn’t sit still for a full story. This way of storytelling can be used to attract the attention of toddlers who aren’t into books that much yet. It is even more captivating and interactive for them the sitting on an adults lap with a picture book.  My kids love to sit and listen to me translate the stories into English, or ad-lib my own stories.  They also love to use the stage and make up their own stories.  What made me write this today, was watching 3 year old and 2 year old simultaneously regale two kamibashi to each other!

The stories and the stage can be borrowed from most libraries.  There are hundreds, if not thousands of stories available.  I have yet to find one that I can borrow in English, but a reader commented to say you can buy the bilingual story cards online here (I have no affiliation to this site):

Now just to find somewhere that sells the stages! If you know of anywhere that sells a kamishibai stage… 🙂

Choucho musubi kubi


Day 238. Baby Salon and Tomato planting

Republishing as got stuck in “drafts” after the move over to self-hosting. Apologies to subscribers who will receive a notification.

Today is day 238 of having three children under four. My eldest has started Montessori since I last posted properly. They start mid April here in Japan. So nowadays its “team Onna” as my husband calls it mixing English and Japanese to say “the girls” basically. Life is notably quieter since Chonan (=eldest son) went off to Montessori. My middle daughter is a very easy, low maintenance child. My youngest daughter is high maintenance, but once I put her in the Ergo on my back there isn’t a peak out of her. So our adventures continue.

Today we went to the local free Children’s Centre (called Jidose in Japanese). It was our first time in almost a year to this particular jidose. I love the place and so do the kids, but when we were doing play-a-day we had so many other places to check out. Today, was the youngest’s first time to a “Jidose” and also her first time participating in one of their free events. The toys, facilities and events at a Jidose are free to use while on the premises, you just have to sign in, providing names and telephone numbers, and respect the rules of the centre. Some centres, like the one we were at today, also have a library room and you can borrow books for a period of a week.

Today at our local centre there was one of their weekly “baby salons”, salon taking from the French expression for a gathering. The baby salon is for children under one year of age. It is led by one of the employees of the centre and usually involves some songs, finger play, interaction and story books. Today’s gathering was themed around bees and the teacher had made bees out of plastic cups. We sang bee songs and did bee finger play much like “round and round the garden”. My youngest delighted in it and chased (on all fours as she’s still only 7 months old) after some of the baby boys in the group! O-ne-san (=older sister in Japanese) was happy to play with some of the millions of toy food and kitchen goods they have. She also played on the trampoline which they take out randomly; they rotate toys and activities so that the kids don’t get bored. We bored some books before heading home for lunch with Daddy, who comes home for lunch everyday.

I pick my son up from Montessori at 2pm. When we got home we snacked and read some stories before heading in to the in-laws next door. Baba (Japanese for Grandma) had a nice surprise; some tomatoes for the kids to plant in our garden. THey got stuck in. Son in particular loves shovelling up mud. I just realised it is the first thing any of them have ever planted in our garden in Japan, but son and eldest daughter have planted things elsewhere (son in Ireland, both of them in Baba’s allotment). They were fairly wrecked at this point of the day, 4pm, having been up since 5.30ish. They used to go to bed at 6.30pm, but the last few weeks its 5.30pm. So I start the night-time routine at 4pm! The older two were fast asleep by 5.35pm and the youngest by 7pm. She takes longer to put to sleep normally, so tonight was as good as any to try a more personal type blog.

Tomorrow we are off to a puppet show in the morning and who knows what the afternoon will bring. In the meantime its bedtime for me! Oyasumi as we say here in Japan…

Theme cafes, restaurants and buffets for kids in Tokyo


Odaiba is a popular sightseeing spot and shopping area in Tokyo. There are numerous restaurants to cater to most tastes, below is a small selection of child friendly eateries.

Fuji TV chocolate fountain and buffet menuFuji TV Kids Cafe “Mamatoko”

This cafe is popular with all ages from small babies to 6th grade. There is a play area for each group too, but its the buffet that attracts the crowds. There are over 60 variety of foods and 3 chocolate fondue fountains.

Special Information:

♥Strollers / Prams / Buggies Ok
♥They have a feeding area, changing room and baby room
♥Child’s toilet
♥Child seats and children’s cutlery
♥Private room
♥You can order a birthday cake in advance
♥There are “service” hours; check their website
♥Discounts available on their website

Location:  On the 6th floor of Aqua City Odaiba

Hours:  11am to 8pm weekdays, till 9pm weekends


5 different menus with prices ranging from 180 yen for babies to 1,780 for adults.  Please look at their website for details.


Ramen kokugikan matsuri odaibaRamen Kokugikan Gotoramen Matsuri

This is like a ramen theme park where there are a number of ramen shops, with a variety of noodles, clustered together.

Special Information:

♥Strollers / Prams / Buggies Ok
♥Child seats

Location: On the 5th floor of Aqua City Odaiba

Hours: 11.00 to 23.00, LO 22.30


odaiba decksOdaiba Takoyaki Museum

This is another themed type collection of restaurants in the one area.  This time its takoyaki or Octopus dumplings.  Not ideal for smaller children, but popular among primary school children.

Location: Odaiba Decks

Hours: 11.00 to 21.00


Access to Odaiba Restaurants

  • All are on the Yurikamome line
  • Accessible from Shuto Expressway number 11’s Daiba Interchange

Tokyo Dome City

There are a huge selection of eateries in Tokyo Dome City, Tokyo Dome Hotel and the general Tokyo Dome area. You can find a list of the restaurants in English here.  I have chosen some of the more unique or popular places for young children.

Moomin cafe and bakery in tokyo dome cityMoomin Bakery and Cafe

Location: In LaQua, one of Tokyo’s largest hot spring resorts, Tokyo Dome City

Access:  Approximately 3 minute walk from Kourakuen Station on the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line

Hours: 8.00 to 22.30 (LO 22.00) on weekdays, 8.00 to 22.oo (LO 21.00) on weekends and holidays


Baseball cafeBaseball Cafe

This American style restaurant themed on the major league, has a kids menu that comes with a hero figure.  Currently (May 2013), there are discount coupons available on their page on Tokyo Dome City’s website.

Special Information:

♥Strollers / Prams / Buggies Ok
♥They have changing facilities
♥Child seats
♥They will mark a birthday or special celebration
♥They have performances between 18.45 and 21.15
♥Discounts available on the Tokyo Dome City website

Bikkuri Donkey menu at tokyo dome cityBikkuri Donkey

Bikkuri Donkey is a chain restaurant that is popular among children. It has a 43 year history. It serves mainly burgers.  There are a number of branches in Tokyo.   You can find details of the opening hours in the Tokyo Dome City branch here.

Rilasse in Tokyo Dome HotelRilassa

Usually when I go to Kourakuen or as its most commonly called Tokyo Dome, I eat in the city and as yet I have not had the pleasure of dining in the Tokyo Dome Hotel. I first read of this Buffet in Rilassa, in Tokyo Dome Hotel, in a popular Japanese magazine.  I have since seen it mentioned in many (Japanese) “guides” to Tokyo with children.  You can get full information in English on their website here.

Coming up

Teddy Bear Tea time at the Ritz Carlton Tokyo
Princess Heart Restaurant in Ginza
Alice in Wonderland themed restaurants

and more…

Things to do and places to see during the Tokyo Olympics in 2020