Saitama’s #1 free children’s centre? Ageo Kodomo-no-Shiro

Saitama has a large number of superb free children’s (community/ play) centres, called jidokan or jido centre “jidose” (児童館・児童センター). Many mothers agree that Ageo’s kodomo-no-shiro, “children’s castle”, is among the best. In terms of size, equipment and diversity, I would personally rank it as number 1. My children go regularly and they have never tired of it. There is plenty of play equipment, toys and games as well as various rooms including a library, a gym hall and a workshop. Each floor has a rest area with vending machines and toilets. There is a dedicated baby room on the ground floor with free guidance on scheduled days. Also on the ground floor there is a play area restricted to babies and toddlers two and under. There is a large space outside to play as well as a playground in the adjacent park.




Ageo’s Kodomo no Shiro, Children’s Castle in Photos

As you come in from reception the ground floor boasts lots of climbing equipment and slides.

Tree house slide More climbing and slides Climbing frame and train play equipment

Off to the right of this is a rest area where there are vending machines and bathrooms, including a family bathroom. There is also a space to play games that you can borrow from reception.
Games area One of the many games you can borrow Family bathroom

The baby room with consultancy is located beside the game and rest area. The baby and toddler play room is at the back of the ground floor on the left handside.

Baby and toddler play room For crawlers in the baby play room Baby and toddler room slide

Also, on the ground floor is a gym hall (not pictured) and the exit to the open space and sandpit. From the car park you can see an outdoor playground, but you need to go out of the community centre to access it.
Sandpit outside Public playground at the car park

One of the rooms upstairs changes toys periodically. For example, one week they might have “mamagoto” (playing house) toys, another they might have baskets of blocks and foam jigsaw.
Toys for playing house Boxes of blocks at Ageo kodomo no shiro Dinosaur blocks at Ageo kodomo no shiro

There are other rooms including a library and a workshop upstairs that are not pictured.

FURTHER DETAILS

URL:

http://www.ageo-kousya.or.jp/kodomo/

ADDRESS: Japan, 〒362-0047 埼玉県上尾市今泉272
272 Imaizumi, Ageo City, Saitama 362-0047

PHONE NUMBER: 048-783-0888

ACCESS: Located near the Ario in Ageo. Free parking.  By public transport; you can get a bus from JR Takasaki line West exit for 西上尾第二団地 (Nishi Ageo dai ni danchi) and alight at the “Kodomo no shiro mae” bus stop.

Playground at Ichigo no Sato | Yoshimi

Ichigo no Sato is a “roadside station” in the prefecture of Saitama, North west of Tokyo. A roadside station is a type of rest and service area with a large parking area.

There are toilets and benches as well as a gift shop, a vegetable shop, a farmer’s market, a shop selling rice, a strawberry greenhouse, an udon restaurant and a coffee shop with rest area. There are also some eateries in log cabins along one walkway.  One of the popular products on sale is “Ichigo Nama Dorayaki”, which is like a type of strawberry filled pancake. There is an information stand with information for Yoshimi in the building behind the ice-cream van, it also provides a list of all strawberry picking greenhouses in the area. We go for the playground and the ice-cream!

 

Update November 2016

The roadside station has added some really fun and colourful equipment to the playground this year.

INFORMATION

Address: 1737 Kubota, Yoshimi, Saitama 355-0137

Phone: 0493-53-1530

Access: 7 kilometres from Kanetsu Expressway’s Higashimatsuyama Interchange.

Hours: Playground is open all year round, but shops are open 9 am to 5 pm, restaurants are open 11 am to 3 pm on weekdays and until 4 pm on weekends.

Other attractions in Yoshimi

Very near to this playground is a strawberry picking area:

Strawberry Picking in Yoshimi, Saitama

Other attractions a short drive away:

A park with 2 playgrounds

Yoshimi Town Friendship Athletic Ground

100 Caves of Yoshimi

100 Caves of Yoshimi, Saitama

Iwamuro Kannon

Iwamuro Kannon | YOSHIMI

 

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

13-PIC_3140On our most recent visit to Tokinosumika we tried the self catering (with breakfast buffet included) option, for the first time, in the Blueberry Lodges. The Blueberry Lodges are one floor houses essentially. There are four to a block. Each lodge has a Western bedroom, a Japanese bedroom, a toilet, bathroom, vanity unit, dining room with kitchen that has a fridge, kettle and microwave. I was very reassured by the friendly feel of the lodge area at the back of Tokinosumika resort. Probably augmented by the “Welcome Friends” sign in English as we approached reception!

The reception area is for both the Blueberry Lodges and the Slow House Villas. It is also the reception area for the Ringo no Yu onsen (hot spring) and for renting bikes. There is a small shop in the reception that sells some drinks and snacks. There are 2 computers there, connected to the Internet, for patron’s use.

01-P1000694

Like so many places in Japan, the Blueberry Lodges have something small, but special to offer. You can ask at reception to borrow life-size stuffed toys of the characters Bitzer and Shaun, from the British stop motion animation “Shaun the Sheep“! Shaun the Sheep is aired on Japan’s national educational channel “E-TV” on Saturday mornings, so my children are familiar with the characters and were delighted to find them in reception.

03-DSCF2583

The lodges are quite big. They have a kitchen/dining area, a living room / bedroom in the form of a tatami room (futons are stored during the day and taken out at night), and a Western style bedroom with 2 semi-double beds. There is also a toilet, a bath/shower room and a vanity area with sink and storage. Each lodge has either a balcony or a patio.  The kitchen area has a hob, a sink, a microwave, a kettle and a fridge. YOU NEED TO BRING YOUR OWN UTENSILS AND COOKING IMPLEMENTS.

10-Blueberry Lodge

The are 4 lodges to a unit. My one complaint is that the walls and floors are quite thin so you can hear your neighbours. However, I also think we were unfortunate on our first night, that the people in the lodge above us were particularly noisy. On subsequent nights we had different neighbours and we rarely heard a thing. The lodges are so named due to the blueberries that grow on the trellis in the courtyard.  Within the central courtyard there is a rest area and some vending machines that sell drinks and ice-cream.

More photos at bottom of post.

For more information on the resort of Tokinosumika please see the blog post

 

Shizuoka, Gotemba. Family resort with Accommodation, Hot springs, Dining, Shopping, Sports & Much much more

or visit the official website

http://www.tokinosumika.com/

(Japanese only).  You will also find up-to-date room charges on their website.

02-P1000695

14-PIC_3145

16-PIC_3151

17-PIC_3153