Children’s shoe fitting, Saitama

I remember the joy of finding a Clarks shoe shop in Tokyo, Omotesando, only to find out that they don’t do the children’s range in Japan. Like so many Irish (and British?) I grew up, figuratively and literally, in Clarks shoes! I wanted to be able to give my children the same start in life with the right fitting shoes, but lo and behold in Japan proper shoe fitting is something that is severely lacking. Yes, you can measure your child’s foot in some stores with a measuring board, but it’s not the same as having a Clarks’ clerk measuring both the length AND breadth of your child’s feet.

HOWEVER, the new lalaport with all its paraphernalia, is bringing us a step closer (pun intended!) to good fitting shoes for children. They have a contraption (pictured) that electronically measures the length, breadth and circumference of feet.  They even print out the results and hand them to you with the recommended shoe size for your child and information on the back about feet and shoes sizes.  The only thing is, that unlike Clark’s shoes, their shoes do not come in different width sizes, just length. The free print out, and the double points I received on my member’s card for having a Lalaport Kids Club card, made up for that little misdemeanour!

The website for the chain store is http://www.genki-kids.jp/

Moonstar 2

Graffiti In Japan

One thing you rarely see in Japan is graffiti.   I have seen it only a handful of times in my 14 years in Japan. Today, was one of those rare days.  In Kofu.,, Yamanashi prefecture.



Paddling pools and wading streams; the round-up for Saitama 2015/6

Parks with waterplay
Paddling or splash pools are a great way to cool down in the summer heat. Saitama has quite a few wading pools and other waterplay areas on offer throughout the prefecture. Many are easily accessible from Tokyo. Below is a list of some of the more popular ones, sorted alphabetically by area. This is just a basic list, for further details on the park, please click on the link for that park.

If you have any you would like to add, please do share in the comment section below the post. Thank you! 🙂

AGEO CITY
Kamihira Park – Free. No shade.
https://www.city.ageo.lg.jp/page/46-kamihira-kouen.html
On this blog in English; Kamihira Park

Maruyama Park – Featured image. Free. Shaded.
http://www.ageo-kousya.or.jp/park/park1/
On this blog in English: General information Maruyama Park

CHICHIBU
Water Park Shirayama – Free.
http://www.yokoze.org/shisetsu/waterpark_shirayama/

Lalaport splash pad FUJIMI CITY
Lalaport – Free with free parking. Outdoors. Opened April 2015. Splash pool and splash pad. There is also a water jet show each hour beside the pool.
http://www.lalaport-fujimi.com/

HANNO CITY
Akebono Children’s Forest (aka Moomin Valley).  Free. Free parking. Some shade.
http://www.city.hanno.saitama.jp/0000002658.html
General Information in English on this blog.

HASUDA CITY
West Jonuma Park
https://www.city.hasuda.saitama.jp/shisetsu/koen/25.html
http://www.go2park.net/parks/saijonuma.htm

HIDAKA
Hidaka Park. Free. Free parking. Mostly shaded.
http://www.city.hidaka.lg.jp/6,998,24,105.html
General Information in English on this blog.

HIGASHIMATSUYAMA CITY
Saitama’s Prefectural Children’s Zoo. Included in the entry fee to the zoo. Slightly shaded. Parking charged.
http://www.parks.or.jp/sczoo/
General information in English on this blog.

HONJO CITY
Wakaizumi Exercise Park
http://www.city.honjo.lg.jp/kurashi/shogaigakusyu/koen/kouenannai/1393562666078.html

INA TOWN
Ina Memorial Park
http://www.town.saitama-ina.lg.jp/0000000123.html

KAWAGOE CITY
Isanuma Park – opens during Golden Week. Free. Shaded.
http://www.city.kawagoe.saitama.jp/kurashi/sports_koen/koen/isanuma.html
On this blog: General Information in English
Wading river in Heisei No Mori parkKAWAJIMA TOWN
Heisei No Mori Park – Free with free parking. Shaded. The wading river winds through Japan’s longest rose tunnel.
http://www.town.kawajima.saitama.jp/kankou/heisei.htm
Information in English on this blog.
KITAMOTO CITY
Kitamoto Children’s Park – Free. Shaded at certain times of the day.
http://www.city.kitamoto.saitama.jp/kanko/shop/1419505898424.html?cat=3
On this blog: General Information in English

KOUNOSU CITY
Kamiya Park – Built 2015/6. Free with free parking. No shade in the river, but there’s a Gazebo nearby.
http://www.kamiya-sk.ecnet.jp/
Information in English on this blog.

KUKI CITY
Secret Forest, Mallage – Charged. Indoors. Open all year round.
http://soyu-am.jp/himitsunomori/On this blog: General Information in English
KUMAGAYA CITY
Kumagaya Sports Culture Park
http://www.parks.or.jp/kumagaya/index.html
NAMEGAWA TOWN
Shinrin Park. Entrance fee. Shaded at certain times of the day.
http://www.shinrinkoen.jp/english/
Some more information in English on this blog.
OKEGAWA
Shiroyama Park. Partly shaded. Free.
http://www.city.okegawa.lg.jp/shisetsu/55/251/p000694.html
On this blog: General Information

SAITAMA – URAWA
Bessho Numa Park. Free.
http://www.stib.jp/info/data/besshopark.html
On this blog in English: General Information about the park
YORII TOWN
Museum of rivers – OPEN from March until Autumn. Entrance fee. Shaded areas.
http://www.river-museum.jp/
YOSHIMI TOWN
Yoshimi Friendship Athletic Park – Free. Shaded.
http://www.town.yoshimi.saitama.jp/shisetsu_fureaihiroba.html
On this blog in English.
See also the category splash-wading-paddling-pool
 

Mamas Club Theater at Toho Cinemas, Lalaport | FUJIMI

Another first that the new Lalaport has brought for West Saitama, is that of a “Mamas’ Club Theatre”. Twice a month on the 3rd floor of Lalaport, Fujimi, in the Toho Cinemas, they have a special baby and toddler friendly showing of a movie. The movie is shown at 9.30am in their biggest theatre, screen 1, with lights on and volume down. Babies and parents are allowed to talk, cry, sing along and just chill out and enjoy a movie in the big screen.  This service was started in Tokyo a few years ago. Here is the Japan Times article about it at that time: Babies at the cinema need not be a recipe for disaster | The Japan Times

This coming Thursday the Mamas’ Club Theatre in Lalaport, Fujimi, presents Cinderella. You cannot book in advance for this service. Tickets can be purchased that morning. Parking areas 6 and 7, which are the Kawagoe side of route 254, are beside the cinema. If you park on the 4th floor of either of those lots, you can just walk down a ramp into the 3rd floor of Lalaport. Please be aware that until 10 in the morning you can only access the cinema on the Kawagoe end and the area around Yaoko on the Fujimi end.

Please see Toho Cinemas homepage for up to date prices and information on what is showing. http://www.tohotheater.jp/service/mamas_club_theater/

Steam Locomotive Cafe in Lalaport | FUJIMI

One of the many fun and unique attractions of Lalaport in Fujimi is the Steam Locomotive Cafe on the 3rd floor. The cafe, which is also a train shop, features a number of different model railway towns and a plarail display. You can enjoy the displays as you eat your lunch or have a coffee (see the video at the bottom).

2015051313250001On weekdays, the children’s plate (800 yen in 2015) comes on a bullet train plate, as pictured below. They also have a “Nori Tetsu Meat” dish served with a train made out of seaweed. That comes with a half cooked egg though, so if you are buying for a child you might want to request they fully cook the egg! They have a bullet train cake on the menu too. They provide bumper chairs, and crockery and cutlery for children. You help yourself to water. They don’t have toilets in the cafe itself, but you can use Lalaport’s toilets, 2 of which are close by.

Lifelike model railway town
Lifelike model railway town

The Steam Locomotive Cafe is open daily from 10am to 9pm, last order for food is 8pm and for drinks it is 8.30pm. The nearest parking is probably car park lot number 2 or 3. The latter is outdoors. All parking in Lalaport is free. TEL: 049-257-6801

For more information in Japanese you can visit their official page here:http://popondetta.com/blog/cat83/steam_locomotive_with.html

2015051313130000

Realistic model railway town
Realistic model railway town
Very detailed model railway town
Very detailed model railway town


Team Lab Islands | Lalaport Fujimi

Little Miss 2 year old chases the turtle she coloured, in an aquarium of children’s art, in the first picture below ⬇. This is a sketch aquarium where children colour pictures of sea life that are then scanned and projected onto a wall display. It is a virtual sea where the fish the kids coloured in can swim. Just one of the unique activities in the Fujimi Lalaport branch of Team Lab Islands, which is paving the way in modern children’s fun centres. They use projection and other technology to engage the minds of little ones.

Sketch Aquarium

My 2 year olds favourite was the virtual stepping stone path you create yourself on a touch screen panel. You can choose which shapes and colours to make your stepping stones. When you are finished creating your stepping stones it is projected onto a simulated river and the kids have great fun walking on their own creations.

Team lab stepping stone touch screen

Team lab stepping stones

 

The most physical activity is the Illuminated Ball Orchestra, where kids push along large balls that change colour and make music.

Team Lab

Other activities include tabletop touch screen panels where kids can make their own railroads. Another wall simulates various images according to movement. You can touch images to make them move or grow in size. When we were last there it was animals. There isn’t a huge selection, but what they have really engages the children and time flies by for them. More information and images available on their website.

URL: http://island.team-lab.com/event/lalaportfujimi/

Phone: 049-257-5662

Opening hours: 10am t0 6pm, last entry 5.30pm

Cost: Children under 2 are free. 30 minute 500 yen (2015). “Free pass” which can be used all day, you can come and go, 1200 yen (2015). Please see the website for up-to-date information.

Parking: Lalaport parking for 4600 carspaces. FREE. Parking lots 6 and 7 third floor are close.

For information in English about the Team Lab products (not all of the products on this website are at Fujimi):

https://www.team-lab.net/products/

Japan’s 1st Lego School and Store

The Lego Store

Japan’s 1st lego school, an after school education programme, opened in Lalaport, Fujimi, last month.

The “school” runs a number of different programmes, by age group. A lesson costs 3,000 yen.

Next door is the lego store.  The lego store sells lego sets as well as individual pieces by a pick and mix option. There are two small play tables and a wall area that kids can use and play with lego for free.

More information is available on their website: http://www.legoschool.jp/locations/fujimi/access.php

The lego store Wall lego play area Pick and mix

The bell of love! Japan’s 2nd heaviest bell. Tokinosumika

Mt Fuji under the Love Bell
Mt Fuji under the Love Bell

We went to Tokinosumika in Gotemba, Shizuoka, this past Golden Week. To be honest, I love discovering new places, but with 4 young children it is easier just to go somewhere we are familiar with. Tokinosumika never disappoints and each year they have something new there.

Something that is not new and is somewhat of a symbol of the resort is their “Bell of Love”. This year I thought to get a snap of it in the daylight, as I only had old photos taken in the dark. It was a clear day and you could see Mt Fuji under the bell. Bonus! The bell, at 36,170 kilograms, is the 2nd heaviest in Japan and 5th heaviest bell in the world.

There is a quote beside it in English

The bell calls the living
Mourns the Dead
And overpowers the thunder

Mount Fuji echoes
the bell on the morning
of cherry blossoms”

With all the volcanic activity in nearby Hakone,I hope it’s not a forewarning!!

The bell is situated next to the children’s playground, which got an upgrade since we last visited.

For more on Tokinosumika, also known as Gotemba Kogen, please see: http://insaitama.com/?s=tokinosumika
or visit the official website http://www.tokinosumika.com/.

The Love Bell's message at Tokinosumika
The Love Bell’s message at Tokinosumika
Japanese explanation of the love bell
Japanese explanation of the love bell

Asu Sports Park, Hanno City

Asu Sports Park in Hanno City is just across the road from the very unique Akebono Children’s Forest. It has a nice playground for younger kids as well as a spider web climbing frame for all ages. The area around the spider web climbing equipment and the toddler play equipment is a giant sandpit.

The very popular spider web climbing frame.

Spider web climbing frame Asu Park Hanno
The popular spider web climbing frame at Asu Sports Park in Hanno City

Combination playground equipment with slides, swings and climbing activities.

Combination Play equipment at Asu Park Hanno
Combination equipment including 3 slides, 2 swings and climbing activities

Equipment for smaller children, suited to toddlers, with slides and climbing. The foreground area of the photo is all sand.

Toddler slides at Asu Park Hanno

DIRECTIONS:

BY CAR

Approximately 20 minutes from both the Sayama-Hidaka and Iruma Interchanges of the Chuo expressway. The park is situated across from Hanno’s city public gym and hockey courts and the Akebono Children’s Forest. There is a Cainz across the road too, which is probably the best landmark. They are on prefectural route 195; 9 kilometres from route 16 if you come of the Chuo Expressway at the Iruma Interchange.

BY TRAIN

A 20 minute walk from Motokaji 元加治 Station on the Seibu Ikebukuro line.