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 Kitamoto Children’s Centre, Kawagoe Station East Exit Jidokan, Sakado Jidokan, Kidzoona in Omiya, Ageo Kodomo no Shiro and Kawagoe Kodomo No Shiro.
KIDS FREE Sole in HIgashimatsuyama.
CHARGED Cats Eye in Sayama, Kids spo-cha in Ageo, Team Lab Islands in Lalaport in Fujimi, Soyu Himitsu no Mori in Mallage in Kuki, Studio Cafe Zoo Adventure in Lalaport, Fujimi

In Gunma; Toy’S kingdom and Poppo Town.

Toy’s Kingdom, おもちゃの王国、Karuizawa

We visited the Toy’s Kingdom during the summer, while staying in Karuizawa. They have a huge marketing and advertising campaign this year and its working; I would never have known about the place otherwise. It is a nice place for young children and it’s quite reasonably priced.

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They have different packages you can avail of. We wanted to stay in one of their hotels with unlimited access to the Toy’s kingdom amusement park, but as they were booked up we stayed in another hotel nearby. We bought two free passes and two entrances, our one year old was free. The free pass does not cover all activities and the rides it does cover weren’t of particular interest to my toddlers, so I would actually recommend for children under 4 that you just purchase the entry ticket. The entry ticket covers the playrooms and small outdoor play areas. You can then purchase tickets separately for the rides you would like to try.  One turn on a ride is approximately 300 yen; some are 200 and some are 400.  An entry ticket and paying for 4 or 5 rides works out cheaper than buying a free pass.  Fishing is not covered by either an entry ticket or a free pass.  … Yes, their system is a little confusing!  This year there are lots of discount tickets available in many different places, including online. Keep an eye out for flyers in shops, they usually have a coupon attached.  The normal price for an entry ticket is 1000 yen for adults and 800 yen for children 2 years old and up.  Discounts are usually 100 to 200 yen off this price. The free pass price for adults is 2,800 yen and 2,600 yen for children.  Most of the coupons offer 500 yen off these prices.

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The kids loved the playrooms.  Then 3-year-old son loved the “Tomica” room; wall to wall of cars and trains. 2-year-old daughter loved the mamagoto (playing house) room; kitchens, cookers, shopping, dolls etc.

 

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My one year old also enjoyed the mamagoto playroom as it has a section suited to small babies with Anpanman toys. She also enjoyed the little play area outside this playroom with small slides and push-along-cars.

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There is an athletic area that is suited to older preschool and primary school children. This is covered by the free pass, but not by the entry ticket. The kids have to put on elbow and knee pads and helmets for this area.  My kids tried it out too, but it was a little beyond their level and they packed it in fairly quickly.

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They have a number of different amusement rides, most of them are suited to children of all ages. The one thing I found hard is that even with safer rides such as the carousel they require children younger than 4 be accompanied by an adult per child. At one point, my husband had gone for a roam and my son and daughter both wanted to get on the carousel with me, but they wouldn’t allow it. We had to wait for him to come back. When we were in FujiQ earlier in the year, both children were allowed come on the carousel with me and that was a bigger and faster carousel.  There are also a few battery cars, a paddling area (in the summer), a sandbox, beetle “fishing” and other activities dotted throughout the park.

There are a number of eateries, all over priced and drenched in fat! You can bring in your own food and there is open green areas where you can picnic.  There is only one feeding room and designated baby changing room. There are quite a few toilets, some with smaller toilets for children.  There are coin lockers. You can rent a buggy for a day.

One thing I really liked is that you can come and go from the facility once you have your ticket. We left the park after lunch to go for a drive and we were able to go back in on the same ticket.  Parking is free.  The surrounding area is also very pleasant and there is a little shop and bakery as you come into the resort with a lovely lake out back.

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One thing to note is that this amusement park operates VERY differently during Winter.  Please see the website for further details.

URL

http://www.omochaoukoku.com/karuizawa/index.html

Address

2277 Omae, Tsumagoi, Agatsuma District, Gunma 377-1512

群馬県吾妻郡嬬恋村大前細原2277

Phone

0279-86-3515

Opening hours

Monday to Friday 10.00 -17.00

Saturday/Sunday 9.30 – 17.00

GW/ Summer holidays 9.00 – 17.00

 

Poppo Town, Railway Village in Gunma

Poppo Town in Annaka City
Poppo Town in Annaka City

To be quite frank I was a little disappointed with Poppo Town, a Railway Cultural Village in Gunma, but I had high expectations due to the excellence of the Saitama Railway Museum which we visit often. There is no comparison between the two. The Saitama Railway Museum is in a league of its own. So taking Poppo Town for what it is rather than comparing it to possibly the world’s greatest railway museum, it was a fun day out with enough to keep a preschooler, a toddler and a baby entertained.

D51 498 SL train
D51 498 SL train

Poppo Town is located in Annaka City near the Nagano border. The location is very scenic and there are other attractions in the area, the most famous being the steam locomotive (SL). The steam locomotive runs through the city and the terminal is beside poppo town. We could see train-spotters set up with their cameras all along the train route as we came off the highway. We didn’t know at the time they were waiting for the D51 498 that would arrive later that day and we were very lucky to serendipitously spot the infamous SL oursevles. The train was removed from an amusement park 2 years ago for repair and restoration and now runs for special occasions in the Annaka City area of Gunma.

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Within Poppo Town itself there are various amusement rides for children which cost extra to use. There are also some train experiences, such as a mini-SL and an English train that laps the town, that you can try out also for an extra cost. You can pay for a return ticket on a train that goes out of the theme park to a hot spring.  You can book to operate a real train on real tracks, this too costs extra. Some of the things you can do are for free, like try pulling a train with a rope or sitting behind the controls of a train. As most of the things cost extra it can add up to quite an expensive day. Also, in high season the train rides and simulators are often booked up by 10am. Another thing to note is there is little in the way of food so you might want to bring your own.

We had a fun day, but we’ve been, we’ve seen, we’ve tried and once was enough for us. The unexpected view of a real steam locomotive was probably the highlight of the day.

UPDATE 2016: Walker Magazine has listed Usui Touge Tetsudo Bunka Mura aka Poppo Town and the area of Annaka as a recommended spot to enjoy Autumn leaf foliage in the Kanto Area.


Poppo Town or Usui Touge Tetsudo Bunka Mura (碓氷峠鉄道文化むら)

URL: http://www.usuitouge.com/bunkamura/

Address: 407-16 Yokokawa, Matsuida Town, Annaka City, Gunma. Tel: 027-380-4163

Access: 2 minute walk from the Yokokawa Station on the JR Shinetsu line.

4 kilometres from the Matsuida – Myogi Interchange on the Joshin Etsu Expressway. Parking is free. 220 parking places.

Entrance fee is 500 yen for adults, 300 yen for children over 6, preschoolers, toddlers and babies free. Train rides and amusement rides cost extra. Sometimes you can pick up flyers with a discount coupon of 100 yen.

The Castle at Saitama Children’s Zoo

What do you get when you pay a 100 yen into the Castle in Saitama Children’s Zoo?

Answer: In photos!

For more on the Saitama Children’s Zoo:

Saitama Children’s Zoo

Toddler friendly Hakone Open Air Museum

Hakone Open Air Museum was the first of its kind in Japan and today it remains one of the most popular due to its harmonious balance of art and nature.  The Museum is most known for its outdoor sculptures, but it also has a number of indoor museums with paintings, prints, ceramics and sculptures.  One of the indoor museums houses their Picasso collection, which has more than 300 items.

What I love about this museum is that it is great for children, even toddlers.  Below are some photos of the activities available to children;

The “Garden of Stars” is a life-size maze for all ages. You can watch from the top or go down into the maze and try it for yourself.

The “Woods of Nets” is a fun space for kids of all ages. The floor beneath the swings and the climbing maze of the nets is padded. There are low down entrances into the climbing maze, that even toddlers can climb into.

The “Curved Space – Diamond Structure” is another type of climbing space. Smaller children would need to be accompanied by older children or adults.

The “Symphonic Sculpture” is a tower in the centre of the museum.  There are great views of the surrounding landscape from the top of the tower.

Other facilities

They loan out baby strollers and wheelchairs for free, subject to availability of course.  They also have free lockers, for storing small items of luggage, available. There is a foot spa located beside the Gallery Cafe and Shop. There are two restaurants as well as two cafes. We ate in the “Bella Foresta” restaurant, which is an all-you-can-eat buffet style restaurant. There wasn’t a huge selection, but it was big enough to have something for everyone. There are at least six male and female bathrooms throughout the museum and three multi user toilets which have baby changing facilities.

Information

The museum is open all year round from 9am to 5pm, last entry at 4.30pm.  Children up to five years old can enter for free.  For up to date entrance fees for older children and adults, please see their website.  When we went in 2011 we accessed the museum by car and it was well sign posted and easy to find.  The parking at that time was 500円 for the day.  The museum is a two minute walk from Chokoku no Mori station on the Hakone Tozan Line.   There is also a bus that goes from JR Odawara Station or Odakyu Hakone Yumoto Station to Ninotaira Iriguchi Station which is a five minute walk from the museum.

Address and contact details

Ninotaira, Hakone-Town, Kanagawa-Prefecture, 250-0493 Japan
Tel: 0460-82-1161 Fax: 0460-82-1169
Restaurant and shop information: 0460-82-1141
www.hakone-oam.or.jp

Kawagoe’s “Children’s Castle” free kids community play centre

Written on August 27th 2012

One of the many things I love about life in Japan, is the multitude of free playgrounds, play centres and activities available to all children.  Below is a photo of my son climbing at Kawagoe Kodomo No Shiro or Children’s castle, a free community play centre in Kawagoe.  This free play centre also has a planetarium on it’s second floor which has a cover charge, but all other facilities at the centre are free.

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There is a large open space on the first floor, where free baby and toddler classes are conducted.  When there is not a class in action the kids can play with toys, but you have to request the staff get them out for you, unlike in other play centres where they are readily available.  There is also a smaller playroom on the first floor suited to infants and toddlers. In this room the toys are laid out for you to use freely. There is a cot in this room for sleeping babies.

On both floors there are toilets designed for children and on the first floor there is a nappy changing unit in the special needs toilet. There is a lunch room on the second floor that can be used for those who’ve brought their own lunch between 12.00 noon and 1pm.  You need to clean up after yourself and bring home your own rubbish.

 

Like all jidokans and jido centres in Saitama, there are a handful of teachers  on duty, who are there to keep the environment safe, run the classes and make sure that adults and children alike are respecting the rules of the jidokan.  They are not their to mind your children, but they are usually very helpful and friendly.  Some more than others! Parking is free. It’s separated from the building itself, just a few metres, but you can walk in from the back which is safe from traffic.

This particular jidokan is not as nice or well equipped as many others in the surrounding cities, but the classes are great. Also, if you live in the area, its nice to have somewhere to hang out.  I highly recommend these type of play centres in general and the free children’s play groups and classes they run.

The centre is open from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm Tuesday to Sunday, closed on Mondays. It is quite a distance from the nearest station, so a bus is advised. There is free parking a little bit away with a ground beside it that you can park in on busy days.

Update 2016:
Review on City-cost.com:
https://www.city-cost.com/reviews/Mg6mw-Serves_its_purpose_but_lacking_oomph_Services_Support_Kawagoe_shi