Category Archives: PARKS & PLAYGROUNDS

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.

Visit real life scenery from Yama no Susume “Climb of Encouragement” Anime in Hanno, Saitama

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.

 

Anime

Real life

 

 

Anime

 Real life

Anime

Real life

 

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.

 

 

You can find other scenes with information in English on this blog here: https://ramenshojo.wordpress.com/tag/yama-no-susume/

You can rent season 2 of Climb of Encouragement on Amazon video. This is an affiliate link**.

Don’t forget to check out http://insaitama.com/moomin-valley-akebono-forest-in-hanno-city/ if you want information in English on how to get to Moomin Valley.

(Originally posted on Blogger)

Thanks for viewing, leave a comment if you have the time. 🙂

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Japan’s longest rose tunnel at Heisei no Mori | KAWAJIMA

“This way to Japan’s longest rose tunnel”

Heisei no Mori is a park in West Saitama in a town that has recently become better known, due to its exit on the Ken-o Expressway.  Kawajima town, also referred to as Kawashima town,  is beside the cities of Sakado, Kawagoe,  Higashimatsuyama and Okegawa.

The park has started to make its mark and become more popular and famous due to its claim on having the longest rose tunnel in Japan. It is 330.5 metres long. 日本一長いバラのトンネル. Their annual park festivals are also becoming more known and popular in the last few years. The wading pool and river is often listed in summer travel magazines for kids, adding to it’s increasing popularity. The drive-thru Starbucks I pass on route, is an added attraction for me.  However, lack of public transport to the park and it’s distance from a train station ensures that the park is never too crowded.

Rose Tunnel Gallery

Heisei no Mori has a large playground with combination equipment including, but not limited to, a long slide, climbing walls and nets, and smaller slides. There is also a sandpit, spring rides, a flying fox and a smaller combination unit for young children.  Beside the rose tunnel there is also a small playground for younger children. There is no shade in the large playground and limited shade in the small playground. However, they also have a particularly nice splash pool and wading river,the latter of which is shaded in many parts.The wading river starts running at the weekends first, during the month of May and eventually is available daily.

Playground gallery

There is no restaurant or shop on the premises, but there is a cafe at one exit of the park. There is also a library and public hall beside the park. There are 3 toilets in the park.  Parking is free.  The park holds three annual festivals. One on boys day, May 5th, one toward the end of May in celebration of the roses, and one on the 23rd of November.  Apart from the rose garden, there is a lotus pond and many flowers including the flower of Kawajima town, the Iris Ensata. The park is quite pretty throughout the seasons.  You will see artists and photographers alike capturing the beauty of the flowers in this park.  There are some sporting facilities in the park including a running track, soccer field and fishing.

Wading River and Paddling Pool Gallery

Access:
By train and bus – Take a bus, from East exit of Tobu Tojo line Kawagoe station, bound for Konosu. 20 minute walk from 「川島農協前」(Kawajima Nokyou mae) bus stop.
By car – 5 minute drive from the Kawajima exit of the Ken-O expressway.

 

Contact:
TEL: 049-297-5701

URL: http://www.town.kawajima.saitama.jp/

The Iris of Heisei no Mori

THIS POST WAS ORIGINALLY POSTED ON ANOTHER BLOG.

Preschool playgrounds in Japan

In my experience of Gunma, Ibaraki and Saitama, most preschools in suburbia Japan, have some form of outdoor play area. Most of them have at least a slide and/or swings, and some are a full on playground with a combination of equipment.  Thankfully, our preschool is one of the latter.

The main piece of equipment in my kid’s preschool’s playground was designed and made by Dino World in Fukui prefecture, hundreds of kilometres away. It is a combination piece for kids in the preschool age range. The Dino World brand is part of the Dinosaur museum in Fukui, which is said to be one of the best dinosaur museums in the world. We have yet to visit, but at least a little part of the museum has come to us. 🙂

Apart from the Dino World combination unit, there are swings, monkey bars, horizontal bars, tunnels and a sand pit. Hours of fun guaranteed.

Has anyone a post like this for another country? I’d love to see what preschools are like around the world.  What are the playgrounds like in your kid’s preschools?

Preschool playground

Crunching colourful leaves at a Shinto Shrine

Saitama is abundant with free playgrounds. You can find them in the most random of places. Some are huge play jungles with elaborate equipment and others are small minimalist nooks with basic equipment. On our cycle today, we found the latter.

A lot of shrines and temples in rural Saitama have some sort of community facility attached to them. The one we visited today, has both a community centre and a playground. The community centre is locked up, as this type normally are, and only opened for special occasions. It is probably used mostly for the local summer festival.  I often think its such a waste, that it would be great, if they could be used more openly. The playgrounds at shrines and temples, thankfully, tend to be open 24 hours as they have no gated fences around them.

Today, the trees greeted us with the first hints of the splendidness that is to come with the changing of the leaf colours. There were also more leaves carpeting the ground than I had expected. The kids delighted (and I’ll ‘fess up; I did too) in crunching through the green, red and orange leaves decorating the sacred grounds.  It’s been a while since I did a snippet of life type post, so to speak, and with the trees so beautiful today, I was inspired to share!

The Autumn leaves in Japan are absolutely magnificent. 紅葉 ・kouyou Autumn leaves are tracked, reported on and celebrated up and down the country. I never truly appreciated the beauty of Autumn colours, until I had spent a couple of Autumns experiencing their beauty here in Japan.  Have you any recommendations of places to enjoy the splendid colours of Autumn? Please do share in the comments below.

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to share or comment. 🙂

Shinrin Park’s winter illumination

Every year, Shinrin park in Namegawa Town, Saitama, offer night illumination in the central gate area of the park.

This year, 2015, Saturday 24th saw the start of this year’s night illumination , called “The Story of the Forest and Lights“. From the 24th to the 31st there is a special Halloween treat, with ghosts and pumpkins displayed in the trees on the walk to the Botanical Garden centre. If you arrive in a really good costume, they will gift you original goods. There is a stamp rally for kids. The Botanical Garden Centre is where the main illumination can be enjoyed. The hours for this week are 5pm to 8.30pm. The rest of the park closes as normal, so you have to make your way down to the central area before 5pm. All of the car parks except for the one directly beside the central gate close at their usual time, please take this into consideration when parking. If you do park at another gate, you must get a “re-entry ticket” 再入園券 as you are leaving so that you won’t be charged for parking again.

After Halloween, the focus is on “Kouyou” 紅葉, the changing of the Autumn leaves colour. The extended hours of Shinrin Park central gate for the month of November are 4.30pm to 8.30pm. However, you can not enter the park after 8pm. The Starlight Christmas display starts from December 12th and ends on the 27th. The hours for that period are 4pm to 8pm.

Shinrin Park is a national government park. You can find up-to-date information in English about their hours and charges on their english webpage: http://www.shinrinkoen.jp/english/

Phone number: 0493-57-2111

Address: 1920 Yamada, Namegawa Town, Hiki District, Saitama

BONUS INFORMATION: Shinrin park is free in on November 1st. 🙂

More on Shinrin park on this blog:

Source: イベント情報 | 国営武蔵丘陵森林公園

Yoshimi Town Friendship Athletic Ground

We hadn’t visited Yoshimi Town Friendship Athletic Ground for a while, so I was surprised to discover some of the kids’ favourite equipment in this park has been removed. They have put in one new slide, but I am hoping that they are going to add even more new equipment.  This is what happened in Heisei No Mori park about 6 years ago; they removed an old wooden playground and replaced it with a colourful combination playground.

REMOVED EQUIPMENT

REMAINING EQUIPMENT

NEW EQUIPMENT

New slide in the cornered off playground

SEASONAL FACILITIES

In the summer the paddling pool and wading river in Yoshimi Athletic Grounds are quite nice, although I don’t think it is as well maintained as other parks.

Wading River (out of season) in Yoshimi Sports Park
Wading River (out of season) in Yoshimi Athletic Ground
Paddling pool (out of season) in Yoshimi Sports Park
Paddling pool (out of season) in Yoshimi Athletic Ground

For older children and adults there are some sports facilities, including the running track. For us the main incentive to visit Yoshimi has always been more about the wildlife than the playground equipment, so all was not lost today. We call Yoshimi Athletic Ground the “frog park”, because of the amount of frogs we have caught (and released) there.  We also regularly find praying mantis, grasshoppers, beetles… even a snake once. While 6yo searched for insects, 4yo and 3yo enjoyed picking up acorns and pine cones. This park is great for acorn collecting in particular. The pine cones were a bonus.

WILDLIFE!

Lots of wildlife in Yoshimi Sports Park
Lots of wildlife in Yoshimi Athletic Ground
Picking up acorns and pine cones in Yoshimi park
Picking up acorns and pine cones in Yoshimi Athletic Ground

While Yoshimi Athletic Ground might not be the best park around for small kids, it’s not too bad either. Another draw for us is that it is close to other points of interest, so we can make a day out of our visit to Yoshimi. Less than 5 minutes in the car is Ichigo No Sato, a  roadside station, that has a farmer’s market, stalls and booths, some of which are eateries, an Udon restaurant, a bakery and a lovely little playground. Between both parks is a strawberry picking area. And not far off you can enjoy the unusual 100 Caves of Yoshimi sightseeing spot, which is across the road from Iwamuro Kannon.

CONTACT

RESOURCES

 

More attractions in Yoshimi

Playground at Ichigo no Sato | Yoshimi

100 Caves of Yoshimi, Saitama

Iwamuro Kannon | YOSHIMI

Strawberry Picking in Yoshimi, Saitama

 

Akihanomori Park in Nishi Ward | SAITAMA CITY

We stumbled across this park by accident while taking a respite from visiting a relative in nearby Saitama Iriyo Center.  Unless you find it by accident as we did, you would need a car and a satnav (GPS) to get to this rural park in Nishi-ku (Saitama). It is a relatively new park, but the access roads are very old and very rural. If you are in the area with young kids, or are looking for a place to barbecue, it is worth a visit.

There are two areas with playground equipment. As you come in to the main parking, in front of the baseball pitch, there is a combination equipment piece with climbing and slides among other things. There are also spring rides. In the picnic area there is another combination unit with climbing and a slide. There is also a sand pit. There are also some net climbing equipment. Near the main parking there is the “Center House” which manages the park. There are meeting rooms there that you can book to use. There are clean toilets there. The barbecue area is very popular. It costs 700 yen to book a pit / seating area for one day. The barbecue area is open for use from April to November. They have a multi-purpose ground, which is marked out for baseball, and a soccer pitch. You can book either of them. The latter costs money.

Parking is free and abundant. It is spread out though. There are a few spots in front of the baseball pitch and front playground, but the main car park is past the pitches. This parking is a bit of a walk to the barbecue area. The car park is open from 9 am to 5.15 pm.

The park is located in Nishi Ward of Saitama City, but it is close to both Ageo and Kawagoe.

URLhttp://www.city.saitama.jp/004/006/003/003/p033548.html

 

SUMMER POOL SEASON IS HERE! Kawagoe Water Park

(Update Summer 2016 – opening full time from Saturday July 16th). Today (2015), our local summer pool opened for the season. Kawagoe Suijo Kouen, or Kawagoe Water or Aquatic Park, is one of the bigger summer pools in Saitama. Like all the other seasonal pools, it only opens for 7 weeks over the summer holidays. Last year we spent most weekends there. It’s a great way to get the kids to go to bed early, have a deep sleep and sleep later than normal in the morning! All that water play really tires them out and they really really love it.

One of the main attractions of Kawagoe’s water park is the pool with waves. It is inclined; the shallow end starts at 0 and the deep end is 1.6 metres. The waves come every 10 minutes.
http://www.parks.or.jp/kawagoesuijo/common/img/pool/category06.jpg

Another popular feature of the water park is the large ship in the centre of the park. (photo from the official website).

http://www.parks.or.jp/kawagoesuijo/common/img/pool/category03.jpg

Of course, the various slides are very popular too. (These photos taken from the official website).

For small children there is a pool that is only 30cm and it has 2 small slides. My kids are in this one, somewhere!  Nappies/ Diapers are ok in this pool.

Children's pool, 30cm deep with two slides
Children’s pool, 30cm deep with two slides

There is also a 60cm pool with a fountain that my older two kids (5 and 4) can enjoy and my 2 year old with a float.
Kawagoe Suijo Koen Children's pool 60cm fountain

Other features include fountains, jets, sprays and a wading river at different points in the park. There is also a simple pool. You can use a small pop up tent in the park, in fact, most Japanese people do. We may have been the only ones without, the first time we went! There is limited shaded areas in the park, so these pop up tents are very practical and for my Irish skin 100% essential!

A sea of tents
A sea of tents

During the summer there is a special bus that runs to the park from Kawagoe and Honkawagoe stations. There are 2 restaurants, 2 kiosks and a number of vans that sell food and drink. There is also a shop that sells pool goods. There is a shower and locker room and plenty of toilets. There is also tennis, futsal and soccer. There are a number of events held over the summer including snorkelling classes. There is a no tattoo policy (see photo below). You can get a full list, in Japanese, plus more information on the official website: http://www.parks.or.jp/kawagoesuijo/  Update July 2016 – new website: http://www.saitamasuijo.com/

Please check there for up-to-date charges. The prices last year (2014):

2014/ 8/17 10:40

Additional information:

Outside the aquatic park there is a free public park with a small playground and a lake with swan boats for hire. On this blog:  紅葉 Autumn leaves at Kawagoe Water Park

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.

 

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.