All posts by L M N

Halloween Event Saitama; Trick or Treat in English

Halloween trick or treat

There is an English school in Kawaguchi holding a free Trick or Treat event, with free candy, for upto 20 families on the 27th of October from 14.00 to 15.00. It is for children from 3 years old to grade 6 of primary school. The contact name is Chisaka Ninomiya and the contacts given are

Tel : 090-5416-7460
Email address:
Address: 1541 Tsuji, Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture 334-0004


Home remedies for mosquito bites and repellent in Japan

Mosquito treatment and repellant JapanFurther to my daughter having a bad reaction to multiple mosquito bites, I have learned a lot about treating mosquito bites and repelling the annoying pests over the last few days. I wanted to share the most effective treatments easily purchased here in Japan.

For treating a severe bite;

I found massaging aloe vera gel on to the aggravated areas really helped relieve the itch for my 2-year-old (2yo) daughter. If, like me, you do not have an aloe vera plant yourself, aloe vera products are readily available in Japan.  I had a gel to hand as I had bought one as after sun in Tokyu Hands in Ikebukuro.  I thought seen as it cools a burn it might help a bite. I subsequently read on many websites after, that it is a known “home remedy” for bites. The one I bought is Banana Boat Soothing Aloe After Sun.  You can find information and access details for Tokyu Hands in English, Chinese and Korean here.

While the aloe vera was great for relieving the itch instantly, it didn’t do anything to reduce the size of the bite and the effects wore off after a couple of hours. The next time I tried straight vinegar applied to cotton wool and I held it to each bite for about 5 minutes. This seemed to sting on impact, but then relieved the itch and brought the swelling down a little.  I read after to reduce the sting effect you should dilute the vinegar with some water. Thankfully, vinegar is very easy to come by in Japan as it is something most people have in their home. It is stocked in supermarkets and large drug stores.

Baking soda with water to form a paste was a popular suggestion online. I tried it and it was good for the itch, but it wasn’t ideal at nighttime as its messy.  The baking soda in Japan is different from what we have at home (essentially Arm & Hammer), so you need to be careful that you don’t get the wrong one. Here there are 2 products; one for cleaning purposes (juusou 重曹) and one for baking (tansan タンサン or 炭酸). The good news is that you can get Arm & Hammer baking soda at Kaldi, yes the “coffee farm”! I believe other stores with a good selection of worldwide foods also stock this particular baking soda.

Another way I relieved the itch and ache for her was by cooling it with ice packs wrapped in gauze.  Ice packs are also something readily available in Japan. You often receive them free when you purchase refrigerated or frozen goods.  I hold onto them and store them in the freezer for picnics / bentos and bumps on the head!

Of course, the cream I subsequently got from the chemist worked the best. You can find information about that in the post about 2yo’s bites. (blog post here)

For repelling mosquitoes

I have a number of store-bought purpose designed mosquito repellents, but at night I don’t like to have anything like that in the kid’s bedroom. So I researched online and made my own child friendly mosquito repellant with ingredients I had in the house.  I mixed one cup vinegar, with one cup water and 2 drops of Tea Tree oil.  I get my Tea Tree oil at Muji.

Most articles I read suggested being more liberal with the tea tree oil, but with a baby in the house I didn’t want to take my chances as tea tree oil can be harmful if ingested and occasionally it can cause an allergic reaction when applied on skin.  I sprayed some in the room and put a few drops on 2yo’s pyjamas and bedding.  I frequently spray tea tree oil around the outside of the sliding doors and windows as it deters ants and cockroaches. I did not know it is a popular home remedy for deterring the mozzies too, but it makes sense as it is the smell that deters them all.

Vinegar on its own and / or Tea Tree oil on its own seem to be very effective too. My husband often uses a homemade lemon concoction that is a popular home remedy in Japan, but I think it is less effective than vinegar or tea tree. I put a few drops of vinegar in 2yo’s hair today as she often gets bit on the face, she had some of the store-bought stickers on her clothes as well as drops of tea tree on her shoes and socks. Between the combination of the home-made concoctions and the store-bought wipes and stickers I will be amazed if she does get bit again!

Mosquito bites ;-(

Skeeter syndrome

My eldest daughter, the 2 year old (2yo), got bitten alive the night before last. She had at least 20 mozzie bites all over her body. I suspect it was a brown mosquito (/es). They tend to bite more, and are bigger and faster than the mosquitos you see in the height of summer. It’s not the first time she’s got bitten, she gets bit often, but its the first time she got so many at once and got a bad reaction. On one area of her leg the area around the bite became hard, red and very swollen. I searched online for information in English about mosquitoes and bites specific to Japan, to put my mind at rest until the morning, but alas I could find nothing specific to Japan… And so here I am, for the next poor English speaking parent fretting about a young child’s mosquito bites in Japan.

Reaction to mosquito bite

I brought 2yo to the pharmacist this morning, to get some treatment and also to get a professional opinion on whether a trip to the Doctor was necessary. She appears to have skeeter syndrome, which is a reaction some children get to a bite resulting in red hard swelling. He checked that the bite areas didn’t have a “fever”, which I found out later can be an indicator of complications from a bite. He gave me a cream and advised me to bring her to the Doctor in three days if there is no change or a change for the worse in her bites.

Enkuron Ointment Ex Cream by Shiseido for bites

The cream he gave me is エンクロン軟膏EX (Enkuron Ointment Ex) by Shiseido. It contains Prednisolone valerate acetate which I understand to be a type of hydrocortisone. It also contains antihistamines, including diphenhydramine which my research has indicated is in line with treatment for a severe reaction in many other countries. Below is a photo of the bite after just one application of the cream.
Mosquito bite post ointment

I also talked to the pharmacist about likely complications from the bite. He assured me that the mosquitoes in most parts of Japan do not carry illnesses that are a threat to humans. He said that cases of Japanese encephalitis are extremely rare in this part of Japan. This is in line with what my kids paediatrician told me on a previous occasion. He also told me it is highly unlikely that she will develop a delayed reaction of swelling in another part of her body, such as the throat. I felt a lot more at ease after talking to him, I will be keeping a close eye on 2yo for the next few days.

Coccolo “Parent and child” restaurant in Omiya CLOSES

Saitama’s first oyako (parent and child) restaurant Coccolo has closed permanently.


There is a wonderful 親子 (oyako = parent and child) restaurant in the Ito Yokado near the Saitama Shintoshin Station, East exit. The play area is free for children of dining customers. The play area includes a large ball pool with slides and a padded play area for young children. They also have an area that shows children’s DVDs. The food, Italian, is quite good too and the service is excellent. They have some allergen free food and food suited to weaning babies. The phone number for reservations and information is 048-650-9335. For Japanese speakers, you can find out more on their website;

This restaurant closed permanently for business.

Milking cows at Saitama Children’s Zoo

I love the Saitama Children’s Zoo, so much so we go weekly Autumn through Spring. Summer is too hot. The weather has finally cooled down this week, so we made our first visit of Autumn. There is so much to do at the Saitama Children’s Zoo in Takasaka, Higashi-Matsuyama.

My kids hang out mostly in the petting zoo, where you can hold small animals, such as chicks, snakes, rabbits and guinea pigs, at certain times of the day. You can walk among the farm animals there at anytime of the day and brush them down, pet them and clean up their poo! At feeding time you can give the goats their leaves. Today, however, for the first time ever they milked the cows. We have queued up numerous times to do this over the years, only for them to chicken out last-minute. I don’t know what was different about today, maybe because its been a while since we’ve been there, but they finally took on the challenge. They were delighted with themselves.

Milking cows at Saitama Children's Zoo

All activities listed above and much more are included in the 500 yen entrance fee. Parking costs 600 yen for the day. An annual pass is only 1500 yen. You can pay to ride a train and there are amusements in the park you can pay to use as well. There are restaurants on site, but there is also lots of open spaces to picnic. There are playgrounds on the grounds too, the one near the koala enclosure is an adventure playground that is very popular with kids of all ages. It is also included in the entrance fee.

General Information

Hours: 9.30am to 5pm except winter when it closes at 4.30pm. Costs: 510 yen for adults, 210 yen for children between 6 and 15. Free for children under 6. CLOSED ON MONDAYS all year round (except national holidays) and on Tuesdays too during the month of January.
Parking: For 800 cars, costs 600 yen per day. At weekends during peak season, there is an overflow car park. There are also some unofficial parking areas beside the overflow car park that open on busy days and cost 500 yen a day.

TEL: 0493-35-1234


Access: 554 Iwadono, Higashimatsuyama, Saitama 355-0065

For more information on Saitama Children’s Zoo:

Saitama Children’s Zoo

Saito Goma Fire Walking Ceremony in Kazo

Walking on fire at kazoEvery September in the City of Kazo there is a fire walking ceremony, 柴燈護摩火渡り式, steeped in ritual and history, held at Sougan-ji Temple in Kazo City. It is a public and free event.

This year it will be held on September 28th from 1pm.

Address: Sougan-ji Temple, 2 Chome-9-18 Fudooka, Kazo, Saitama Prefecture.

Phone: 0480-61-0031


24 minute walk from the North exit of Kazo Station , on the Tobu Isesaki line, or take a bus from the North exit toward Kazo garage.

The Autumn Keyaki Beer Festival

2013 Autumn Beer Festival

Coming up in Saitama…

The Keyaki Hiroba is hosting one of its annual beer festivals. It opens on the 2nd of October at 11am. Wednesday through Friday it is open until 9pm, Saturday till 10pm and on the last day, October 6th it closes at 7pm.  Access to the Hiroba is free, you can purchase beer and food. There is an excellent choice of beer and Bacardi as well! The event will be cancelled in event of rain. For further information, in Japanese, please visit their website at


Saitama Super Arena is a 2 minute walk from JR Saitama shintoshin Station, about a 7 minute walk from JR Kitayono Station and there is parking available. However, the car parks are often crowded and costs 400 円 for the first hour and 200 円 for every subsequent hour.

September Scarecrow Showcase

Every September, for as long as I’ve been living in Saitama (7 years), the rice fields behind the Kawagoe Toys-r-us on Route 254, have a fine display of scarecrows. This is the first year I’ve managed to do more than view from a distance and drove through the small ricefield roads to get a few photos. I had a sleeping baby in the car so we didn’t get out of the car to see them up close and personal. You might get some ideas for Halloween Costumes…

A friendly oni (demon)
A friendly oni (demon)
Shaun the Sheep Scarecrow
Shaun the Sheep Scarecrow

Monsters Inc Scarecrow
Monsters Inc Scarecrow

The kids favourite was this friendly demon, called an oni in Japan, 鬼さん. Many children in Japan are terrified of this type of demon, which is usually depicted angry and menancing. They liked that he was smiling and waving. They also appreciated the Shaun the Sheep Scarecrow. It looks like an easy enough Halloween costume too. Pity I didn’t bring an Aran Sweater from Ireland! The Monsters Inc costumes look a little more time consuming.

Samurai Scarecrow / Halloween Costume
Samurai Scarecrow / Halloween Costume

After seeing this Samurai Scarecrow I am inspired to make a samurai costume. It doesn’t look too hard.

Tending to flowers

I love the grey hair on the Obachan (granny)!

Her skirt is made out of crisp packets!
Her skirt is made out of crisp packets!

Good idea to make a skirt out of crisp packets, just not very practical!

Spiderman Scarecrow/ Halloween Costume
Spiderman Scarecrow/ Halloween Costume

Spiderman isn’t the easiest costume to make, top points for effort on this one.

A Japanese high school student
A Japanese high school student

School girl costumes were very popular in Ireland when I was growing up. They are easy to make if you have a high school student in the house.

Your guess is as good as mine!
Your guess is as good as mine!

This scarecrow is bent over, so son remarked how it was like he was leaning in the window to give us directions. Maybe that was the aim!

Obachans and Ojichans hanging out in the fields!
Obachans and Ojichans hanging out in the fields!

This is my personal favourite. From a distance it looked like a group of Obachans and Ojichans taking a break from a hard day in the rice fields.

Incidentally, the scarecrows weren’t doing much scaring. There were blackbirds everywhere. I wish I’d thought to take a photo of them! A few more photos hereafter;