Welcome to the Parks and Playgrounds category of InSaitama.com! Below you will find pages of full articles on this blog that feature parks and playgrounds in Saitama. If you know what park or playground you are looking for you can use the search function on this blog to find it easily. If you are looking for ideas you can scroll through this list, or try an area in the search function to reduce this list even further as there are hundreds of playgrounds and parks listed on this blog. If you can’t find what you are looking for, write a comment on any post and I can send you information in English if the park you are looking for isn’t featured.
Katsusehara Memorial park in Fujimi is a great park for hanami (cherry blossom picnic) and play dates with toddlers. It was one of my favourite parks for meeting my own friends for a good chat when all four of my kids were under six. The main reason is that the playground is enclosed by a colourful fence with heavy gates. The heavy gates afford an added safety for small children and allow adults to chat in peace without having to worry about children running off. It is a small park too, so you can keep an eye on children easier than in a large park.
There isn’t a lot in the playground, but just enough for smaller children. It is best suited to toddlers and preschoolers. Equipment in Katsusehara memorial park includes spring rides and a climbing/slide combo piece. There is a sandpit too, which is a big hit. There are sinks beside the sandpit to wash your hands and it also doubles as a drinking fountain with a sprout at the top of the basin. In a separate area of the small park there is a flying fox which is popular with older children. Beside that is a roller slide which is also popular with older children, younger ones too. There is a large open space in the park, which is in the middle of a residential area, which is always in use for football, soccer, throwing ball etc. The park is very well maintained and it is a popular place to picnic.
It is also a popular park for locals to celebrate cherry blossom season and enjoy “hanami”. We too enjoyed many a hanami here, with our last ever at that park in spring of 2016, as my eldest has now outgrown this park. It is a particularly good spot for hanami if you are on the Tobu Tojo line and have small children. There aren’t a huge amount of sakura (cherry blossom) trees, but enough to enjoy hanami and they are very pretty, some more mature than others. They typically bloom the very end of March and early April. Katsusehara Memorial Park is beside a cheap supermarket which sells bento boxes and onigiri which you can bring to the park and eat.
There is no official parking, some people park along the side of the road, but this is frowned upon. There is coin parking nearby. It is close to Tobu Tojo Line Fujimino station. It is open 24 hours. There are toilets in the park, right beside the enclosed playground.
A map of most of the key locations for hanami and / or sakura cherry blossom viewing in the Saitama area. Please click on the location for further information. If you have a blog post or photo of any location on the map (or indeed any location not on the map but in Saitama) that you would like added, please do feel free to contact me. I will add your photo and / or post and link it back to your website or blog. Also, if there is somewhere you feel should be added to this map and you are willing to share its location, please do leave a comment or contact me directly.
All the best for this beautiful spring and sakura season. 🙂
Sayama Municipal Museum, Saitama, is a city museum in Sayama Inari Yama Park on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line. They tend to host a lot of travelling exhibits suitable or designed for children. They have just closed the very excellent pop-up book exhibit and tomorrow the “Heros” exhibit will open. The Fairytales of Andersen will run concurrently for the first three weeks. In the past they have had a number of very successful and popular exhibits for children including a Licca Doll exhibit and a Cardboard Art and play exhibit.
The ground floor circular hall is where they hold most of their travelling exhibits. You can walk up to the second floor from this hall up a winding ramp that circumferences the hall. On the 2nd floor they have a room with their permanent displays. They have an Akebono Elephant (Stegodon aurorae) bones on display in this section. These elephant fossils are said to be between 2 and 1.2 million years old. There are also displays depicting ancient Japan, including a replica of a Jomon period house. They have a tatami tea room in the museum too.
The museum is free in for children under 15 years old. High school and university students cost 100 yen and all other adults cost 150 yen. They often have flyers in the lobby with a discount ticket: 60 yen for students over fifteen years old and a 100 yen for adults. Like most of Saitama’s municipal or prefectural buildings, this museum has a museum seal that the kids can stamp onto the back of the museum’s brochure in the allocated space, or on to any piece of paper. This museum often participates in seasonal “stamp rally” run by the prefecture, whereby you collect the seal of a number of different participating bodies in return for a small prize. The museum is buggy / pushchair friendly and they have toilets. There is also a cafe beside the museum called Kome To Cha.
Kome To Cha Café / Restaurant
The café and restaurant is located beside the entrance to the museum. It is accessible from within the museum, but it also has its own door and an entrance from the park side too. The restaurant changed its name last year from Komorei to Kome To Cha, but it is still called the former by many.
The cafe is not particularly big, but it is comfortable and my favourite feature is the large floor to ceiling windows which afford a lovely view of the park. Most of the tables are positioned in such a way that they have a view of the park. Probably their most popular item is the kaki-kori, a typed of shaved ice dessert flavoured with syrup. They have ice-cream too. Their menu is quite limited, but I thought the food was rather nice. They have children’s meals too. They are a little on the small side, but easy for children to manage. The rice was served as rectangle shaped origami with nori on the underside and furikake sprinkled on top. I think the kids meals are best suited to younger children or children that don’t have a great appetite. My preschoolers and toddler really enjoyed their meals.
The museum is open Tuesday to Sundays from 9 am to 5 pm. It is closed on Mondays. Cafe / restaurant Kome To Cha is open from 10 am to 4.45 pm, Tuesday to Sundays. Closed Mondays and the fourth Friday of the month.
23-1 Inariyama, Sayama, Saitama
The museum is a 3 minute walk from the Inariyama kouen station on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line or you can get a bus from the west exit of the Seibu Shinjuku Line Sayama City Station to Inariyama koen.
It is about a 15 minute from the Sayama Interchange of the Ken-o expressway or 20 minutes from the Kawagoe Interchange of the Kanetsu expressway. The museum and the restaurant share parking and it is free. Spaces are quite limited in the car park beside the museum, so it is not uncommon to have to wait for a parking space to come free. However, you can also use the park’s car park and walk over.
This morning after a sudden change of plans, I decided it was time we check out one place on the summer wishlist: the JAXA earth observation centre. As we departed the house I had planned to just go to JAXA, but when the three girls (5, 3 and 1 years old) weren’t too enamoured with my choice, I improvised a day trip. The result, a pretty amazing summer drive with lots of fun for all, and educational to boot. Another bonus; it was pretty much free – the only cost (other than transport and food) was the parking and entry fee to the zoo. I adapted our actual route for this blog post, to make it more time savvy.
Sakado Nishi Smart Interchange
B. Peace Museum of Saitama
I’ve known that the Peace Museum is there ever since I moved here, but I never made an effort to go see it. To be honest, it sounded boring. So I was very pleasantly surprised to find it is far from boring and a really fun place for kids set in beautiful surroundings. The main exhibit hall boasts a recreated school house and world war II bunker. You can walk into both. They have traditional toys, colouring and the all important stamp rally in the reception area. They have a great observation tower too. They host events and show movies during summer vacation.
If you have preschoolers, I recommend skipping this point of interest, or just planning a half hour maximum at this location. I found it very interesting and my almost 7 year old enjoyed a couple of the exhibits, but it is best suited to older children. They have some interactive exhibits and plenty of visual exhibits. Some of the educational video clips have English subtitles and there are some bilingual brochures, but this JAXA is most suited to proficient Japanese speakers. You need to pull into the reception office as you enter the gate to sign in to the premises.
A steep climb up many steps is rewarded with amazing panoramic views. There is a park you can access from this point, or from the Peace Museum, but in summer it is just too hot. The free parking is shared with Shoboji Temple (Iwadono Kannon) on the Shoboji Temple side, so you don’t have to cross over the road if driving from Jaxa Earth Observation Centre.
You walk through a cool tunnel to get to this hidden temple with the most amazing Gingko tree I have ever seen. I did not know before I went that it is an acclaimed power spot, but I definitely sensed an atmosphere. There are great views from the bell platform of the temple. There are a couple of swings and some horizontal bars for kids to play with.
During the summer, the children’s zoo tends to be a degree or two cooler than surrounding areas, especially on a breezy day. Plus it has a great splash pool that the kids can cool down in. During the month of August they have a Night Zoo on 6 different dates, you can get that information here: CLICK HERE FOR SAITAMA EVENT LIST For more general information please see the entry on this blog: Saitama Children’s Zoo
Hours: 9.30 am to 5 pm. Closed on Mondays except for national holidays Charge: Adults 510 yen, Primary and Junior High school children 210 yen, Preschoolers and below FREE, Parking 600 yen for the day URL: on this blog – Saitama Children’s Zoo
Offical (Japanese only): http://www.parks.or.jp/sczoo/
HOME with tired, but satisfied kids. 🙂
One thing to note is that there isn’t much in the way of food once you get into the mountain region. Therefore, if you are planning to do this drive or a variation of it, I recommend you bring a packed lunch / purchase something on the way or schedule to eat at the zoo.
Have you created or followed any Saitama day trip and / or drive routes you’d like to share? Input is always welcome. 🙂
We have only been to Hanasaki Water Park once, due to the distance from our house, but it made quite an impression on me. It isn’t a huge park, but there is a lot to do in the relatively small area. So much so, I recommend it as one of those parks that it is worth a journey to, even just once. That is, if you are in Saitama!
POOLS AND BIKES
There are two main attractions of this park. One is the water park, which is available from mid July to end of August. It has a number of different pools, including one for kids, and a Jacuzzi . You can also rent floats, pool beds and a boat for a separate charge. The other main attraction is the bike hire which includes some pretty unusual and fun bikes. The bikes are charged by the hour for the number of people that can ride them. They have quirky bikes for one, tandems for two (of course!), even a car bike, for want of a better description. Its a bike in the shape of a car, or maybe a car that you cycle! Oh…maybe we call them pedal cars – please comment if you know the answer! Whatever you call it; its great fun. The kids loved this the most.
The park has a lot to offer other than the most popular attractions. The playground has a great big combination piece of equipment. Beside it there are some spring rides and small slides suited to small children. They also have stepping stones, climbing rungs, a little house and other pieces of equipment. There is a large gasebo beside the play area with benches and a couple of tables. Nearby is a wading river that opens early June. The BBQ area can be used during that time too. There is also a scenic river on the far side of the park lined with magnificent conifer (meta sequoia) trees. There is a walkway beside with a wooden path over a type of lotus pond, with other beautiful scenery in different seasons. There is a lake with pedal AND swan boats for hire. The pools are used as fishing ponds out of season (don’t want to think about that too much!). The battery cars in the pool area are accessible most of the year. They have putter golf and sports grounds. There is a small flower garden maze and a wide open grass area. There is even a restaurant, but it closes during off season. You can find up-to-date costs for each activity on the website, which is linked below.
So you see, it is a park worth visiting at some point, even out of summer season. If you do plan to go during the summer, please see the up-to-date charges on the website, linked below. The park also recommends that you arrive early to get a parking spot, particularly on Saturdays when the park is at its busiest.
**Please note that some of the services are not available on Mondays, except during the 6 weeks of summer holidays**
Train: About a 15 minute walk from Tobu Isesaki Line Hanasaki Station
Car: Approximately 3 kilometers from Kazo Interchange of the ken-o expressway. Parking: Free out of pool season, but once the pool opens it costs 820 yen for the day. Spaces for up to 1,200 cars. Between April and September the car park is open from 8am to 6.30pm. From October to March it closes at 5.30pm.
Isanuma park in Kawagoe is a popular spot with locals. It also attracts professional photographers and bird lovers from further afar, who come to capture the wildlife on the lake. It is not a big park, but it has good facilities for its size.
In summer, the trees of the wood and its position by a river and lake make it a little cooler than central Kawagoe. There are some Gazebos in the woods too, affording extra shade. The main attraction for families is the water play: a splash pool and wading river. The paddling pool part is only partly in the shade, but the wading river enjoys good cover from the burning sun. Another attraction during summer is the BBQ facilities. However, you need to have a local in your group to be allowed book a coveted BBQ spot. In mid-July, every other year Kawagoe’s fireworks display are launched from this park.
Parking: Parking is available on two sides of the park. The most convenient and largest is the parking lot opposite the lake. There is also parking along the west side industrial area and by the small hotel and tennis courts on the North West side of the park.
By Bus: Take a bus for Kawagoe Green Park and alight at Isanuma Bouken no Mori, approximately 5 minutes walk from bus stop.
Isanuma park in Kawagoe is a popular spot to enjoy Hanami for locals. There are cherry blossoms along the river at the playground as well as cherry blossoms lining the street that separates the lake from the park. We have enjoyed hanami (picnic under the cherry blossom) along the river under the beautiful blooms. End of March and the first week of April is usually a good time to see the cherry blossoms and enjoy hanami in this park in Kawagoe.
Ever wondered where you can skateboard legally and safely in Saitama? One place I know of is Kamiya Park in Kounosu, which has a designated skateboard park. This multi-use park has a number of sporting facilities, it even has a stadium. The best part: it also has a brand new playground and a wading river which are almost completed. Although, the park is still under construction you can use the playground freely.
The skateboarding area costs money, but for residents of Kounosu it is only 200 yen for school aged children and adults and 100 yen for preschoolers. For people who do not reside in Kounosu it costs 400 yen for adults and students and 200 yen for preschoolers. They have skateboards and helmets to rent for an additional charge. They have skateboard lessons available too. It is open from 8am all year round (except New Years holidays) until 4pm in the winter and until 6pm in the summer. The official website for the skate park (Japanese only): http://kamiyaskatepark.com/
Other sporting facilities in the park include a stadium, baseball pitch, tennis courts, a soccer pitch, street basketball court and a multi-purpose ground. The baseball pitch, soccer pitch, multi-purpose ground and tennis courts need to be booked and there is a small fee. General facilities include a club house, free parking, walking paths, a lawn, toilets, vending machines, a wading river and a playground. The playground is beside the skate park and wading river.
The playground is suited to smaller children. There is something in the playground to engage my younger kids aged 5, 3 and 1. However, although my 6 year old enjoyed it the first and only time he has been, I am not sure he would find the playground as enjoyable a second time. It is best suited to preschoolers.
The Saitama Children’s Zoo in Takasaka, Higashimatsuyama, is fantastic value for money and one of the best days out for children in Saitama prefecture. The zoo is spread over a large area and there is so much to do, see and experience, that you would definitely need to allocate a full day for a trip to this zoo. Apart from the animals, they have a large athletic playground beside a smaller playground, a Beatrix Potter museum with a small playground, a dinosaur corner, a small amusement area with battery cars and rides, a splash pool in the summer and there is an indoor play area with a climbing area outside (please see Children’s Castle below). Throughout the zoo they have photo props, interactive educational corners with quizzes and challenges for the kids, as well as plenty of rest areas, toilets and places that sell food.
In the petting area the children have an opportunity to get up close and personal with farm and domestic animals. Three times a day at 10.30am, 1pm and 3pm they bring out guinea pigs and rabbits for the children to hold and pet. Sometimes they have baby chicks or snakes, too. When the hour long session is over they have an animal parade where the guinea pigs walk down a long bridge back to their home. Outside of petting hour there is still an opportunity to get to close to farm animals as you can walk freely among pigs, goats and ducks. They provide brushes so you can brush down the animals and there are pooper-scoopers so that the kids can sweep up the animal’s poop. This is all included in the entrance price to the zoo.
Next to the petting area is the cows. At 11am, 1pm and 2.30pm it is possible to try milking the cows under the supervision of the zoo staff. It is included in the price.
Passed the cows there is the penguin area which is relatively new. For 300 yen you can feed the penguins, but they limit the number to 30 people a day. You can buy a ticket from 30 minutes before the feeding times which are 10.15am and 1.30pm.
For 200 yen children over the age of 4 can ride a pony in the paddock beside the stables, which is close to the main entrance of the zoo. This experience is possible between 10.30 and 11.30 am and again between 1 and 3pm. For adults the price is 300 yen.
On weekends it is possible to feed the goats between 2.30 and 3.15pm, it costs 100 yen for a cup of feed.
On weekends it is possible to feed the ponies between 3.15 and 3.45pm, it costs 100 yen for a cup of feed.
On the first Sunday of the month they have a class about animals from 2.30pm.
Every month on the 2nd Sunday you can try your hand at butter making for just 200 yen. You need to book in advance.
Every month on the 3rd Sunday they have an “Enrichment day”. Each time they discuss a different animal in detail.
Every Saturday they have a craft class.
On weekends they have tours of the giraffe’s paddock.
On the 2nd Saturday of each month they have story time; please see the “Children’s Castle” below.
Zoo train which costs 200 yen to ride once or 300 yen to use throughout the day.
One thing I really love about this zoo is that even though we go quite a lot, there is always something different to try. Throughout the year the classes mentioned above as well as the special events change quite frequently. It is best to check the website for up-to-date information and a full list of what’s on offer. Here are some of the more regular seasonal attractions:
Capybara onsen – Winter
2016 the Capybara onsen will start from November 19th until the end of March 2017. The first 12 people there at 14.30 will be able to get up close and personal and dip your feet in a foot onsen. On December 18th they will be giving gifts to the animals.
Australian animal Fair – Spring
Sheep shearing – Spring
Cherry blossoms – Spring
Splash pool – Summer
Night zoo – Summer
Autumn leaves – Autumn
New Year cards photo opportunity – Autumn / Winter
2016 Capybara Onsen, Art Festival and Gift giving day information:
For an extra 100 yen the kids can enjoy an indoor play area with a library room and talking tree. On the 1st floor they have a special tree that tells stories and plays music. Behind that is a ball pool with boats on top of the balls. Beside that is a cinema room with educational videos. There is a climbing tunnel from the 1st floor to the 2nd floor and also a ramp that is wide enough for a wheelchair and strollers. The kids can take a slide back from from the mezzanine to the first floor. On the 2nd floor there is a padded play area with wooden toys and building toys. There is a snake slide and frog cave in the padded area too. Beside it is the library room. Here is where they have the story time once a month.
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.
In the 20th episode of the second season of the anime Yama no Susume, “Climb of Encouragement“, you can see a beautiful park with quirky buildings, that looks completely fictional. Fortunately, for all of us, it’s an actual park in the rural area of Hanno, right beside Tokyo. The park is called Akebono no Mori or “Akebono’s forest“, but it is also called Moomin Valley due to it’s connection with the Moomin characters. You can find more about that as well as general information about the park here on one of the first posts written in English about the park: http://insaitama.com/moomin-valley-akebono-forest-in-hanno-city/. Here are some scenes from the anime, with a real life photo for comparison.
There are other scenes from the anime within walking distance of Akebono’s Forest. I even found a map online of the route you can take to see them all. Unfortunately, it is in Japanese only.