Sole ソーレ children’s play centre | HIGASHIMATSUYAMA

Named “Sole” as in the Italian for sun, this is one of the few state run jidokan (children’s centre) you have to pay into. Children are free essentially, but they charge for adults. It is 200 yen for an adult who does not reside in Higashimatsuyama, and 100 yen for those who do. You can pay for a block of 6 months for 1000 yen for a resident, 2000 yen for those from outside the city.

Koala room for babies. Some of the big toys. Small toys need to be put away after each use.
Koala room for babies. Some of the big toys. Small toys need to be put away after each use.

You need to make a member’s card the first time you visit and bring it with you each subsequent time.  The centre is mainly geared to preschoolers and unlike other jidokan, primary school children are not allowed enter and play without supervision.  

They have a “koala” room, that only children up to 1 year old can use.  The room has an area for changing nappies, making and storing bottles, nursing, some larger equipment for mobile babies and lots of toys. You need to put the toys away after each use.

Padded area on right. Glass floor through which you can see kids using the tunnel underneath.
Padded area on right. Glass floor through which you can see kids using the tunnel underneath.


The “kangaroo” room has paper craft, colouring and play dough. The “kuma” area has some books and tables, and a small padded area for babies. Part of the floor is glass so you can see the tunnel underneath that children love to play in. There is a sink there too for making bottles.

The main hall has slides, wooden play houses, soft blocks, a piano and an area off it with loads and loads of wooden toys.  There is a rest room and a room for eating in,   “Kirin” 1 and 2. They have separate toilets for babies, children and adults.

For what you get, it is certainly worth the money. The whole centre is wooden, with high ceilings and lots of light. The majority of toys in the main hall and in the koala room are wooden. They are educational toys. They hold special events each month, usually you don’t have to pay extra for them. One of the best we saw was a father and son juggling show, which was high on audience participation. Their birthday parties for kids who had a birthday in a given month are fun and make children feel special.  The staff are nice enough, but they are quite strict and not overly friendly.  Parking is free. The parking lot is shared with the community centre next door. The entrance is a bit tricky to find. It is a laneway between the community centre and a yakiniku restaurant. You then walk down a laneway to come in the back of the centre. See access map and further information below.

Juggling show
Juggling show

INFORMATION AND ACCESS

Hours: Friday to Wednesday (closed Thursdays) 9.30 am to 4.30 pm
Costs: Outlined in the first paragraph
URL: http://www.comaam.jp/solemare/index.html
Phone: 0493-23-2231

Access:  
Approximately a 13 minute walk from Tobu Tojo Line Higashimatsuyama Station.
Approximately 2 minute drive from main route 407. Please see the Google My Map below. The red line is the parking entrance, the grey line is the walking route from the parking lot to the centre’s entrance.

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 for 9 days from the 8th to the 16th there is a special Takara Tomica event being held at Pacifico Yokohama. Not only can you see how the factory operates, but the kids can make cars and play with plarail.

Cost: Tickets bought in advance cost 900 yen for school age children and adults, 700 yen for age 2 to 6. Tickets bought on the day cost 1000 yen for school age children and adults, 800 yen for kids. Children under 2 are free.
Time: You can enter anytime between 10am and 4pm.
Place: In English – http://www.pacifico.co.jp/english/index.html

PHONE # for booking: 03-5435-0604. MOnday to Friday. It doesn’t specify they have English speakers, but its worth ringing to see.

Access and further details (Japanese only): http://www.takaratomy.co.jp/event/eventlist2/tomica2015-yokohama.html

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

Choice of play at Shinrin Park | NAMEGAWA

Shinrin park (also known as Musashi Kyuryo National Goverment Park) is vast, 304 hectares to be precise. To put that in perspective; 65 times the size of Tokyo Dome! There is an entrance fee for children over the age of 6 and parking is charged, but it is well worth the money as there are lots of things to do and see for people of all ages. They also host special events most weekends and during holidays, which often cost extra money.

Pirates ship at Shinrin Park 森林公園

Due to the size of the park there are different exits, each with their own parking lot. The adventure playground, giant ball play area and the musashi kids dome are close to each other and accessed from the West entrance. They are all walkable from the entrance and from each other. In the summer, there is a splash pool which is near the adventure playground. The West entrance adminisitration building at that entrance has a shop, seating area, nursing room, nappy changing area, microwave and toilets including a wheelchair accessible toilet. The “ponpoko mountain”, Japan’s largest trampoline, is at least a 20 minute walk away. That, the botanical gardens, restaurant and seasonal illumination are accessible from the Central Gate. The popular tree climbing event is close to this entrance too.  The plum blossom and cherry blossom groves are closest to the South Entrance. The Dog Run is closest to the North Entrance.

The adventure playground has 23 different pieces of equipment,  including the very popular pirates ship pictured above.  There is a long roller slide with sacks you can borrow to sit on. There are also lots of climbing and balance equipment and even a tightrope bridge over the river.

The Musashi Kids Dome is a colorful play area for kids of all ages. The park is worth paying into for just this playground alone. There are quirky slides, climbing chambers, a ball pool, spring rides and much more. There is also a rest area in this section with toilets and vending machines.

Giant Ball play area

Giant Ball play area

Giant balls are put out on a fine day. They are beside the Musashi Kids dome and close to the athletic / adventure playground. They are free to use.

Ponpoko Mountain
Ponpoko Mountain

Japan’s largest outdoor mountain trampoline is quite a walk from any entrance, but the central gate is probably the closest. Kids must be over 3 years old to play on the main trampoline, but they have a smaller one beside it that even smaller kids can play on.

The walk between entrances is quite long, so if you prefer to use an easier mode of transport, the park has some on offer. You can’t bring your own bikes into the park, but you can rent a bike. It is 410 yen to rent an adult bike or mamachari for 3 hours, 200 yen for children. They have designated cycling courses.  The easiest is the park bus that goes between the gates of the park and stops at popular spots en route. It costs 210 yen for an adult per ride or you can buy a day pass for 400 yen.  Small buggies / strollers are available to borrow for free. They have segway tours too, but you have to be over 16 to use them and must use them in a tour group.

During the summer there is a 2500m2 paddling and wading pool as well as mist and fountains. The water depth ranges from 5 to 30cm.  You can enjoy as early as April and they run to mid October. They close the water play area some Tuesdays and Wednesdays for cleaning. They have lockers, but no changing rooms. Nappies (diapers) are allowed, but the pool type, water nappies, are not. There is a tuck shop beside the wading pools, that sells ice cream and kaki-kori. There is a separate wading river half way between the West and South exits.

This park is beautiful all year round, but especially during cherry blossom and autumn foliage seasons.

There are many activities and attractions on offer all year round as well as seasonal attractions and events. During January the park closes the 3rd and 4th Monday. Opening hours are 9.30-17.30. The phone number is 0493-57-2111. Please visit their website, for further information in English about access and entrance and parking fees; http://www.shinrinkoen.jp/english/

 

Check the plum blossom and cherry blossom schedule and find some events in Shinrin Park in this schedule of events for Saitama.

 

“Books and Cafe” at Tokinosumika, Gotemba

From the website www.tokinosumika.com
From the website www.tokinosumika.com

 BRIEF UPDATE 2016: “Books and cafe” has undergone some changes and it is no longer free in. More details to come in the coming days.

There is a lovely cafe in the Tokinosumika resort, aptly called “Books & Cafe”! It’s one of my favourite spaces actually, due to the ambience and wooden structure. It’s a nice place to relax over a coffee and a book. Now I enjoy it on our annual visits as it is also an interesting space for children. There is a wooden ball pool that babies and toddlers enjoy as well as wooden toys for toddlers and young children. There are books too for people of all ages. The cafe and the book area are slightly separate, so you can hang out in the “books” part without eating. They’ve a great selection of photo books as well as a good selection of kids books. There are seats, benches and cubby holes in the book area.
URL: http://www.tokinosumika.com/restaurant/bookscafe.php
Opening hours: 10.00-19.00

More information on the Tokinosumika resort:
http://insaitama.com/?s=tokinosumika

Detailed information on Tokinosumika on this blog: http://insaitama.com/shizuoka-gotemba-tokinosumika-family-resort/

Hidaka Sougou Park

The Japanese sougou 総合 is used to indicate a multi-purpose park and that is exactly what Hidaka Sougou park is.

The park is free in, with free parking.  Here is some of the attractions it has to offer.

Playground

This playground was installed in March 2013, replacing a wooden athletic playground.  Now it is a colourful combination equipment playground that suits children of many ages. There are climbing nets, monkey bars, balancing beams, slides, spring rides and sand pits.  All, but the sand pits, displayed in photos hereafter.

The playground in Hidaka Sougou Park
The playground in Hidaka Sougou Park

Waterplay

This park boasts a 165 metre long “babbling brook” (せせらぎ水路) with a paddling pool at the base.

Paddling pool available in the summer
Paddling pool available in the summer

The wading river is protected by the trees, which afford shade during the hot summer.

Exercise Equipment & Flying Fox

There is also exercise equipment and a flying fox in the wooded area beside the playground.

Sporting facilities and club house

There are tennis courts, a baseball pitch, a soccer pitch and 400 metre running track, that can be used at a charge. The club house manages bookings. There is a shower room and toilets in the club house.  The website and contact details are here: http://www.city.hidaka.lg.jp/6,998,24,105.html

Club house
Club house
Soccer Ground and 400 metre long running track
Soccer Ground and 400 metre long running track

Seasonal Activities

  • Hanami / Cherry Blossom Viewing Picnic Area

Hidaka Sougou Park is a popular spot during Japanese Cherry Blossom season. There is a long line of trees alongside the river with dedicated space for setting up picnic mats under the trees.

Hanami area
Hanami area
  • Bug Hunting

The wooded area in Hidaka is ripe with wildlife during the summer. It is possible to catch beetles and stag beetles to keep as pets; a popular hobby of young Japanese children.

The forest in Hidaka Sougou Park, ideal for bug hunting in the summer and acorns in the winter
The forest in Hidaka Sougou Park, ideal for bug hunting in the summer and acorns in the winter
  • Acorn Collecting

Kids love to collect acorns in Japan. This is one of many parks in Saitama, where you can find acorns.

Other facilities

There are toilets in the park, two of which are right beside the playground. There is a drinking fountain. There are changing rooms and showers in the Club House, which can be used at a price.

Access

URL: http://www.city.hidaka.lg.jp/6,998,24,105.html

Address: 1500 Takahagi, Hidaka City, Saitama

Phone: 042-985-7161

By Car: Off route 407, near Musashi Takahagi train station, right beside Hidaka Country Club.

By Train: 15 minute walk from Musashi Takahagi Station on the Kawagoe line.

A DAY OUT IN HIDAKA

There are other nice parks and play areas near this park in Hidaka. I recommend Chikozan Park in neighbouring Sayama, with a small zoo and fun playground, and Saiboku Ham, which has a free play area, plus you can pay to enjoy an onsen there. The Saiboku onsen was recently reopened after a big reform.

 

Parks with Waterplay in the Greater Tokyo Area | K-A International Mothers in Japan

My latest contribution to the KA Japan website; kajapan.org. A round of parks where the kidlets can play with water in the Greater Tokyo Area, which includes Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama.

via Parks with Water Play in the Greater Tokyo Area | K-A International Mothers in Japan.

PREVIEW:

Summer has started and the heat is already on! Thankfully, there is a huge selection of parks with water play areas in the Greater Tokyo Area to help us cool down.

Water play includes such things as spray pads, spray pools, paddling pools, wading rivers, splash pools, spray grounds, lazy rivers or other recreational water environments. It does not include swimming or bathing pools.

The Greater Tokyo Area refers to the metropolis of Tokyo and its surrounding highly populated prefectures of Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama.

Parks with water play are introduced by area, quoted by KA Mother who introduced or recommended them, with some additional information added.

TOKYO

Amy N recommended some wonderful parks with waterplay, suitable to young children:

Hikarigaoka Koen; Exit A3 of “Hikarigaoka (end of Oedo line). Fountain is open year-round! The park itself is huge and has an excellent playground (10 min walk from the fountain). There is a kiosk near the fountain that sells ice cream and other treats.”
URL: http://www.tokyo-park.or.jp/park/format/index023.html
This park was also featured in our cherry blossom viewing round-up article. You will find further information and access details in that article.

PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK TO READ MORE: http://kajapan.org/general/parks-with-water-play-in-the-greater-tokyo-area/

Saitama Museum of Rivers | YORII

Saitama Museum of Rivers is located in Yorii town. It is home to the largest water mill in Japan. It has a number of facilities available under the general admission price including their main educational hall where children can learn about rivers in general as well as river dams, transport,
trivia, the role of rivers through history and specific information about the rivers in Saitama.  You can also pay extra to enjoy the “waku waku land“, water adventure park, or watch a film in their adventure theater, which is a virtual simulated theater.

 

Music Splash Pad

General admission gives you access to the museum itself (including outdoor displays and some events), the small aquarium on the lower ground floor, wading and splash pools and a unique music pad that jets water as you play with your feet. The museum runs a number of events and interactive displays as well as housing a library. The workshop room in the main display area often has free crafts for the kids to enjoy.

In the aquarium the children are free to touch and hold turtles. The water in the splash pool is only 5 cm high so suitable for small children.  They are allowed enter with nappies / diapers.  The splash pools are open from the last week in March until mid- November. There is plenty of green space to rest or set up a picnic. They added a climbing wall in the area in front of the turtle aquarium this year. There is a shop and restaurant on the premises. There are changing cubicles and lockers beside the free splash pool.

General admission is reasonable at 410
yen per adult and 200 yen for children over the age of 15. Young children and teenagers up to 15 years old are free in.

WAKU WAKU LAND
For an additional charge you can enjoy the water adventure park for one hour.  About half the equipment is on water, but the kids don’t necessarily have to get wet, but I do recommend you bring a spare pair of clothes.  It  costs 210 yen per adult, 100 yen per child from 4 to 15 years old. Children under 4 years old are free.  The times are fixed. There are 7 sessions during the summer at 9.30, 10.40, 11.50, 13.00, 14.10, 15.20 and 16.30.

Photo Gallery of some of the equipment in the water adventure playground.

For further information and up-to-date prices and schedules please see the official website –

URL: http://www.river-museum.jp/

For those coming by car the phone number for your Satnav is 048-581-733 or the address is 39 Kozono, Yorii Town, Saitama. It is 7 minutes from the Hanazono exit of the Kanetsu expressway.  Parking is 300 yen for the day.

Another interesting museum in the Kanto area centered around a water theme is the Tokyo Water Science Museum in Koto-ku. From “Best Living Japan”:

The Tokyo Water Science Museum – Free Hands-on Educational Fun!

The Tokyo Water Science Museum is a great FREE hands-on, educational museum – a great spot to take the kids on a hot, rainy or cold day. The museum takes

Source: bestlivingjapan.com/tokyo-water-science-museum/