Category Archives: PLAY / FUN CENTRES

We have a decent selection of fun indoor play centres in Saitama. Below you will find most of the principal and popular play areas in Saitama prefecture. There are 2 pages of fun and / or play centres featured. Please either scroll down through them or use the search function to help you find a fun or play centre near you.

Play / Fun centres detailed below include:

FREE
Aruzoland in Highashimatsuyama,
Kitamoto Children’s Centre,
Kawagoe Station East Exit Jidokan,
Sakado Jidokan,
Ageo Kodomo no Shiro
and Kawagoe Kodomo No Shiro.

KIDS FREE Sole in HIgashimatsuyama.

CHARGED
Kid-O-Kid in Cocoon City and Kidzoona in OMIYA,
Wai Wai and Cats Eye in SAYAMA,
Kids spo-cha and Niko Niko Garden in AGEO,
Team Lab Islands and Studio Cafe Zoo Adventure in Lalaport in FUJIMI,
Soyu Himitsu no Mori in Mallage in KUKI,
Kids Park in KOUNOSU,
Kid’s US Land and Sweet Fantasy Pacc’n in HIGASHIMATSUYAMA
Kid’s US Land and Hoppe in KAWAGOE

In Gunma; Toy’S kingdom and Poppo Town.

Place Review: Studio Cafe Zoo Adventure | FUJIMI

Originally appeared on City-Cost.

Studio Cafe Zoo Adventure

This is my go-to cafe for a bit of break from the kids, while with the kids. It is one of the few places I know that allow children play unsupervised, unless they are 3 years old or under. The play area is sectioned off from the cafe area, but it is clearly visible. You can sit facing the area and watch your kids while you enjoy a coffee and cake. You have to pay per child to use the play centre.

The menu isn’t very extensive, but its really only a place for a light snack or treat. The cakes are quite nice and they change the options periodically. Despite having a play area, it doesn’t have much in the line of children’s food or drinks. They do lay out a jug of water that you can help yourself to for free. It is also one of the few places I know with a dedicated work space, with laptop connections, chargers and wide desk space. The cafe area has large stuffed animals dotted all over the seating area of the cafe. Among there is a large giraffe, elephant, pig, horse and cow. The ambiance of the cafe is quite nice. The staff are friendly enough, but as far as I know none of them speak English.

It opens 10 am to 9 pm seven days a week. The nearest parking is car parks number six and seven. Both are indoors. All parking in Lalaport is free. By train you would also need to get a bus and the buses are not very frequent so when possible coming by car is much more convenient.

For more place reviews from all over the country, please visit www.city-cost.com

Review – Studio Cafe Zoo Adventure in Japan. This is my go-to cafe for a bit of break from the kids, while with the kids.  It is one of the few places I know that allow children play unsupervised, unl

Source: Place Review: Studio Cafe Zoo Adventure, Fujimi-shi, Saitama | City-Cost

 

Free climbing fun for kids at Kitamoto Children’s Centre | KITAMOTO

We’ve been spending a bit of time at the Kitamoto Children’s Centre this summer, as it is a great space for a bit of psychical activity as well as quiet play time. My older kids particularly love the climbing wall here, which is free to use once the kids are supervised.

This review was originally shared on City-Cost.com:


Kitamoto Children’s Centre is part of the relatively new Kitamoto City Hall. The facilities are public and free for anyone to use. You are required to sign into the children’s centre. There are quite a few rules that you are expected to follow and respect, more than any other children’s center I have ever been to. One standard rule they have is no eating or drinking outside the designated areas. But they also have a long list of non standard rules such as:

This play center require children to take their socks off to play. Some of the play zones within the center are specifically for children of a certain age and they are quite strict about limiting its use to that age group only. They are also quite strict about accompanying children under 8 at all times, so even if you have for example a 7 year old and a 3 year old, it is expected that they play in the same area at the same time. So while the facilities and equipment are excellent, for a family with more than 1 child the rules interfere with free play and for this reason I have given this location 4 rather than 5 stars.

The equipment they have makes up for their stringent rules. One of the more popular attractions is the climbing wall on the 3rd floor. They allow children of any age use it and they even have some climbing challenges marked out, just like they have in bouldering gyms. Beside the wall they have a zorb, which children of any age can use. The 3rd floor has a veranda with a selection of bikes and trikes. There are some push alongs indoors for children under 3.

Another popular attraction is the relatively large ball pool, with a slide into it. It is on the 2nd floor. This particular ball pool is only for the use of children under 7. They have a smaller ball pool on the 3rd floor for children of school going age. Beside the ball pool there is an open play area where they currently have kinetic sand. There is a play house in this area plus a selection of toys, including Lego and Magformers. The 0 to 3 year old zone is also on the 2nd floor. They have a nice selection of wooden toys. A lot of the toys and equipment in Kitamoto Children’s Centre are Bornelund.

Each floor has toilets and kids toilets with a changing mat. The 2nd floor has a rest room where you are allowed eat. There is a drinks vending machine on each floor. Parking is free and plentiful. They hold events. No information in English and no English spoken. Below the children’s centre, there is a children’s library.
Review – Kitamoto Children’s Centre in Japan. Kitamoto Children’s Centre is part of the relatively new Kitamoto City Hall. The facilities are public and free for anyone to use. You are required to sign into

Source: Place Review: Kitamoto Children’s Centre, Kitamoto-shi, Saitama | City-Cost

More articles on climbing:

Monolith bouldering gym in Kawagoe

Tree climbing in Shinrin Park

 

 

Kawagoe Station East Exit Children’s Centre | KAWAGOE

Kawagoe Eki Higashi Jidokan, or Kawagoe East Exit play center, is located on the 4th floor of a civic center for citizens, Kurasse.  Below it there is a library and above it there are meeting rooms and citizen services. On the 2nd floor there is also a rest area with vending machines. You are allowed eat here, but you are required to bring your rubbish home with you.

Anyone can use this play center and it is free to use. You just need to sign in on entering. They require your name and the name and age of your child, and the city or town you live in if you are from outside the Kawagoe area. The play center isn’t particularly big, but it has enough to entertain young children. There is a main hall with some play equipment including climbing boxes and a slide. They hold events here including an English language event three times a month. Beside the office of the children’s center there is a smaller room with quite a few toys including a play kitchen. There are a selection of books in the hall, including some English books. There are even more English books in the library below the play center. You need to make a membership card to borrow books. As it is a municipal library you can only borrow books if you are from Kawagoe or another town or city that has a mutual book lending agreement, such as Kawajima Town.

The staff are very helpful, but to the best of my knowledge none of them speak English. They have some pamphlets and information for living in Kawagoe, but they are all in Japanese only. They have clean and well kept toilets divided into ladies and men’s, and they also have a wheelchair accessible toilet that has a changing mat. There is an elevator and stairs you can take to each floor.

The centre is open from 9.30 am Wednesday to Monday, closing on Tuesdays except when its a public holiday. It is conveniently located within minutes walk of JR and Tobu Tojo line Kawagoe station. There is parking down a narrow alleyway beside the centre, but parking is charged. I previously drove an American car (Chrysler, Voyager) which was too big to turn into the car park! I have an 8 seater now too, but it is a Japanese model and therefore a bit narrower and it can navigate the turn no problem. The parking is quite expensive, but the nearby coin parking are even more expensive.

This is the play center where Saitama Tots English Playdates (STEPS) group met for the first year of play dates. And we still meet here from time to time. If you are eligible to become a member of STEPS you can find us on our Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/saitamasteps/

Abbreviated version originally appeared on City-cost.com: Place Review: Kawagoe Station East Exit Children’s Centre, Kawagoe-shi, Saitama | City-Cost

 

Cats Eye Play and Sports Centre | SAYAMA

Cats Eye play and sports centre is very like Spocha in Round 1, just not as classy or clean, and the limited number of staff leave a lot to be desired. There is a smell of stale smoke in the areas outside the play area and a damp smell in part of the play zone. The area outside the play area feels quite run down and many of the areas are dark and dingy. However, for all its faults, I think it has great equipment for young children and is good value for money.

 

 

The system was quite confusing as a first timer, but once you get in to the play area it all makes a bit more sense.  You have to become a member the first time you visit, which involves spending a bit of time inputting data into a computer. It also costs 315 yen per person over the age of 6. Then you move to reception to show proof of identity and to request which package you want. There are a few different types, but with young children you basically need to just choose a 3 hour or all day pack. You pay on the way out.

After getting your membership card at reception you can enter the play area. There are a number of facilities including, but not limited to, the kids park, play house area, costume dress up, fishing, amusement games (which are included in the cost), sports areas with soccer, baseball, archery, golf etc.  There are even bowling lanes that are included in the cost, but you need to pay extra for shoe rental. They have karaoke rooms too. You can pay for drink bar, where you can help yourself to unlimited drinks. They have a selection of soft drinks and some coffee too.

INFORMATION:

Classification: Indoor play area, Indoor sporting facilities, Bowling, Fishing, Karaoke, Children’s play centre, Table Tennis, Dance Studio, Darts, Archery, Batting practice, Costume dress up, Bicycles, Shooting, Computer Games, Trampoline, Billiards, Value for money

Hours and Cost: The hours are 10 am to 5 am.  The cost depends on the package. They currently (2016) have a summer package for 3 hours of play on weekdays for 720 yen for school aged children. There is a restaurant in the play area. The selection is limited,  but it is reasonably priced.

 

ACCESS:

The nearest stations are Sayamashi and Iriso on the Seibu Shinjuku line.  They are both about a 20 to 25 minute walk from Cats Eye or you can take a bus from Sayamashi station.  Parking is free. See Google Maps below.

URL: http://www.hku.co.jp/catseye/sayama/

On Iko-yo.net: http://iko-yo.net/facilities/15962

Google Maps:

 

Saitama Children’s Zoo | HIGASHIMATSUYAMA

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.

Highlights

Petting area

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.

 

Other Experiences

  • 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.

Seasonal attractions

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:

Capybara Onsen @ Saitama Children’s Zoo | HIGASHIMATSUYAMA

 

Children’s castle

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.

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

URL: http://www.parks.or.jp/sczoo/index.html

Access: 554 Iwadono, Higashimatsuyama, Saitama 355-0065

【Spo-cha】|Ageo

I’ve been talking favourites on the Facebook page this week and today’s showcase is very much up there on the best of the best list. Indeed, Kids Spo-cha is actually my children’s favourite indoor play area in the whole of Saitama. I love it, because it is part of the regular Spo-cha so even adults can play. An added bonus is that even for a family of 6 it is cheap, if you avail of their special packages.

So what is Spo-cha?


Spo-cha is a sports and play centre area within some of the ROUND1 sports entertainment centres. ROUND1 is synonymous with bowling, but in fact even their most basic centres have a variety of actitivies on offer. Then there are branches with Spocha and a select few with Kids Spocha and some with a kids corner. Kids Spocha is a whole centre of fun for young children, within the regular spocha.  Spocha is available in about 46 branches of ROUND1, of which just over half have a kids spocha and another 16 have a kids corner throughout the whole of Japan. We are very lucky to have THREE Kids Spo-cha here in Saitama. Our nearest one is in AGEO, beside Hiratsuka park. It has 3 floors of sports and entertainment with relaxation areas. Some of the sports you can enjoy at Ageo’s Spo-cha include rollerblading, tennis, billiards, putter golf, archery, shooting, bubble soccer, batting practise, darts and rodeo, to name but a few. The play area for young children has an athletic zone with climbing slides, ball pools, tricycle track and yu-land cubic balloons, a dream bomber and even a karaoke room.  There is something for all my kids who are 6, 5, 3 and 1 years old.

 

The system seems confusing at first, but once you physically get there it all makes perfect sense. I recommend the 3 hour package for your first time. And the great news for anyone with a child aged between 2 and 6 years old is that they offer the whole family the same price of 680 yen per person for 3 hours.  If no-one in the family is aged between 2 and 6 the price is about 500 yen more per person, but they do have other special offers, some included below. Kids under 2 are free. Apart from all the sports and amusements you can enjoy without limit within the 3 hours, access to the relax rooms and a reading room are included. For an added fee you can get drink bar too and there is a restaurant there if you want to purchase food. You are also welcome to bring in your own food. They have lockers for storing your belongings.

More information in English including how the system works, is available on their website (linked Round1 English PDF). Some of their current special offers (January 2016):

Access: Free shuttle bus from the East exit of JR Takasaki Line Ageo Station.

For more information please see:

ROUND1 WEBSITE【ラウンドワン】スポッチャ|スポッチャ早朝割


 

#saitamawithkids #archery #shooting #rollerblading

Answers to “Where can I play archery in Japan?” “Where can I rollerblade in Japan?”

Mama Smile Making Mama Smile UPDATED

Update Summer 2016.

Mama Smile was in Ario as a “pop-up” play centre.

I regret to inform you it has now closed.  🙁

 


 

NaBloPoMo_2015My Tuesday feature during the month of NaBloPoMo could win the cheesiest title award; “Choose-day”, EEK!! Showcasing a place of my choice in Saitama.  Today, it is one of my favourite play centres for the wee ones, my 3 year old and 1 year old.  This post was originally posted on blogger.

Mama Smile is the, very aptly named, latest play centre addition to Ario in Ageo. It opened June 20th of this year, 2015.  They have an hourly or daily rate for kids. Babies over 6 months old are charged, but there is plenty for them to play with, it’s worth it.  The charges change depending on package and day of the week, so please check the website for up-to-date prices. Parents are fixed at 300 yen in, BUT included in that is all you can drink tea/coffee and a selection of soft drinks. You can bring your own food in and there are little tables where you can sit and relax while the kids play. They even have a microwave for heating your food. AND they offer free charges to your phone…  Now you already know why it is called Mama Smile. 🙂

Below are photos of most of the things on offer to kids, not pictured is a play house, a large screen TV showing kids programs, the books, colouring table and some of the individual toys. Scroll right down for our 2 favourites; both not present in any other play centre I have been to.

Our favourite two. The horse moves if you move as you would on a horse. It’s pretty cool. As is the fuelling station.

The day I went my eldest was in preschool and I had my three girls, who at the time were 4.5 years old, 3 years old and 10 months old.  I opted for the hour package which at the time was 500 yen per child. It was great value. My 4.5 year old thoroughly enjoyed herself, but I know that the novelty helped keep her entertained. For her age group a couple of well spread out visits in a year are ideal.  However, for the 3 year old and now 1 year old, I envision us going quite often. There is a lot to keep their age entertained and engaged. They also have events and seasonal colouring pages that change each month.  More information is available on the official website (Japanese only) http://mamasmile.jp/

For the Ario branch (Japanese only) http://www.ario-ageo.jp/web/event/8a320ddf-6aeb-41dc-ba94-e0bcd4c84b60.html

**This was originally posted on my blogger in September**

NaBloPoMo Post #2: Manhole Monday

NaBloPoMo Post #1: NaBloPoMo

 

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.

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/