Category Archives: RELAXATION

Huge branch of Kid’s US Land beside station | FUJIMINO

After visiting Kid’s US Land in Higashimatsuyama, I was keen to try out the other branches to see how they compare. On the Internet it looked like the branch in Kamifukuoka (Fujimino) was particularly large, and a trip there this morning confirmed that is it indeed larger than the Higashimatsuyama or Kawagoe branches. It is about 1.5 times larger than Higashimatsuyama and about 3 times larger than the Kawagoe branch! It is bright, airy and spacious. This branch has a lot more equipment than the others and it has fishing and table tennis which the other branches don’t have. All in, you could easily spend at least a half day of fun at Kid’s US Land in Kamifukuoka.

About Kid’s US Land

Membership details for Kid’s US Land

Kid’s US Land is part of a franchise with over 120 stores throughout Japan. This branch is Seiyu Kamifukuoka branch, located on the 3rd floor of Seiyu shopping center. Once you become member of one, you can use any branch with the same membership card. The membership card costs 300 yen *each*, but it is an once off payment. You do not have to pay an annual renewal fee like so many other play centers. It is also quick and easy to make the card; they do not require you to fill out any form. You simply have to sign your name to the back of the card you are given. However, each family member must make a card and if you forget a card on a day that you visit, it costs 100 yen to receive a temporary membership card. If you can’t read Japanese, they have information in English at the reception desk.

Kid’s US Land Seiyu Kamifukuoka

This branch in Kamifukuoka, like the branch in Higashimatsuyama, opened in September 2016. It is on the 3rd floor of Seiyu Kamifukuoka in Fujimino, right beside Kamifukuoka station. It is open from 10 am to 8 pm seven days a week.

Facilities / Equipment

They have the archetypal Kid’s US Land Jungle gym, only its larger than the other branches I have been to. There is a netted swing in it as well as some shooters for firing out balls in a netted area. There is also an obstacle course around the top deck of the jungle gym area.

They also have bouncing castles (plural), one of which has a slide and tunnel in it.

They have a number of push along rides, such as the little Tike cars in the jungle gym area as well as a section for the type of push alongs you operate by steering the handle.

There are four plastic houses for playing house / shop / bank. Each of them has further equipment in them.

This branch has a great selection of Merry-Go-Rounds and coin operated (automated) rides, all included in the price:

There are lots of video and arcade games (not all of them are pictured);

There is also table tennis, air hockey and a small billiard table. The air hockey table is in the background of the massage chairs photo down below. You can just about make out the small billiard table on the middle left of this photo!;

They also have trampolines which are common in most branches. And fishing which they only have in a handful of branches. The latter is about the only thing that costs extra. It is 300 yen for unlimited bait. For the trampoline you have to wear helmets, which are provided.

There are large sized blocks and lego blocks for building, as well as some Ultra Man dolls and some puzzles. There is a colouring area too (not pictured). They have one zorb.

Adults can play with most of the equipment and games in the center. There are also massage chairs and a selection of magazines for parents / guardians to use.  There are also lots of chairs and tables and you are allowed bring food and drink in from outside.

They have convenience food in the Seiyu store downstairs. I didn’t see any highchairs in this branch.  The play area is beside Seiyu’s toilets, one of which has a diaper changing mat. Like the other branches, they run events and you can get up to date information on their blog.  Currently, they have a colouring events where kids can get a sweet in exchange for colouring a picture. The pictures are displayed on one of the walls. They are also running a LINE campaign; if you link with them on Line you get to do a lucky dip.

(**I have no affiliation to Kid’s US Land and /or Seiyu, I do not get anything in exchange for my endorsements, all opinions expressed are my own honest observations, the information provided was true {to the best of my knowledge} at the time of publishing).

Cost and Other Information

Everything listed and / or mentioned above is included in the price. It costs 100 yen (before tax) for 15 minutes of play. That is 100 yen for a child older than two (children under two are FREE) and another 100 yen for an adult. If you are planning to stay longer than an hour and 45 minutes on a weekday, it works out cheaper to get the “one day passport”. It is 800 yen per child and 480 yen per adult. On the weekend they don’t have an one day passport for children, just a three hour pack for 980 yen. With all packages and fees you are given a neck strap to wear to identify you have paid in. With the basic price system you pay as you leave the premises and give back the neck strap then.  With the day passport, you pay in advance and you are free to go and come as you please. You can even go home and come back if you like! If you are planning to leave Seiyu though, you can give in your neck strap and hold onto your receipt. The receipt allows you to come back at any time during the same day.

There are discounts for groups of over 10 adults and children older than 2 years old. They offer a three hour pack for groups only on weekdays. Further information is available on the Kid’s US Land brand website. If you have a child with a disability and have a caretaker notebook you (the named caretaker) can enter for free.

URL:
Official US Land website: http://www.kidsusland.com/store/view/66
O
fficial blog: http://ameblo.jp/usland-kamifukuoka

Access

By car: Parking in the Seiyu car park’s number 1 and 2 is free for the whole day, if you validate your ticket in Kid’s US Land. If you park in the Seiyu Car Park’s further away you can’t get free parking without spending an additional 1,000 yen in Seiyu, which will then allow three hours free parking.

By train: Minutes walk from the Tobu Tojo Line Kamifukuoka Station. From Tokyo the quickest way to Kid’s US Land in Kamifukuoka is to get an express Tobu Tojo Line train from Ikebukuro to Fujimino and transfer on the same platform to a local train to Kamifukuoka. According to Hyperdia it takes 29 minutes this way.

 

By bicycle: There is a large bicycle park where you can lock a bicycle or bike. There is a bicycle shed within the area.

 

 

Another Kid’s US Land opened recently in Kawagoe:
Kid’s US Land opens in Modi | KAWAGOE

Kid’s US Land in Marui Shiki:
http://ameblo.jp/usland-maruishiki/

Kid’s US Land in Seiyu Higashimatsuyama:
Fun for kids of all ages at Kid’s US Land | HIGASHIMATSUYAMA

Kid’s US Land in Koshigaya
http://ameblo.jp/usnankoshi

Kid’s US Land in The Price, Kawaguchi
http://ameblo.jp/uslandkawaguchi/

 

 

 

 

Fun for kids of all ages at Kid’s US Land | HIGASHIMATSUYAMA

We are largely an outdoor family, but there are times of the year that we relish indoor play. By and large, summer is spent indoors, first to avoid the rain, then to escape the heat.  As my eldest son (7) and daughter (6) get older it gets harder and harder to find a play center that engages them as much as their younger siblings. Kid’s US Land is one of the few play centers that we can still go to for an extended period as a family. The other is Spocha in Ageo. And like Spocha it has something for everyone in the family. However, I will say that Spocha has more for parents, is much better value for money and five times the size.

Membership details for Kid’s US Land Higashimatsuyama

Kid’s US Land is part of a franchise with over 120 stores throughout Japan. This branch is Seiyu Higashimatsuyama branch, located on the 2nd floor of Seiyu shopping center. Once you become member of one, you can use any branch with the same membership card. The membership card costs 300 yen *each*, but it is an once off payment. You do not have to pay an annual renewal fee like so many other play centers. It is also quick and easy to make the card; they do not require you to fill out any form. You simply have to sign your name to the back of the card you are given. However, each family member must make a card and if you forget a card on a day that you visit, it costs 100 yen to receive a temporary membership card. If you can’t read Japanese, they have information in English at the reception desk.

All rides and games included in the price. My 2 year old and 4 year old’s two favourites in the one photo: whack a mole, only you whack Ishi-chan! And a small train ride on rails that you can ride as often as you like.

The first and best known branch of Kid’s US land in Saitama opened in Koshigaya in February 2013. It was the one of the first of this type of play center to open in Saitama, but many have popped up since. It became particularly well known only months after opening as it was featured on NHK television. It has enjoyed great success since. I remember hearing about it and wishing we could visit, but it would take us two hours one way and so we never did. Now we have not just one, but FOUR Kid’s US Land in the West area of Saitama. This branch in Higashimatsuyama opened mid-September 2016.

Not just for kids: parents can relax as US Land too. You can use Massage chairs freely as they are included in the price for adults.

Kid’s US Land is not as suave or charming as nearby Sole or Omiya’s Kid-o-kid or Kidzooona, which have wooden and educational toys. Kid’s US Land is for the most part plastic and so it looks ‘cheaper’, for want of a better word. But it is great fun for kids of all ages and relaxing for parents.  The branch in Higashimatsuyama is not as big as the flagship branch in Koshigaya, but it has plenty for this family of six. It is split into three areas. One large area with most of the play equipment, video arcade games and massage chairs. There is a medium sized area beside the reception counter and a small area beside Seiyu’s branch of Libro Store. Here’s what the areas combined have to offer for children (click on the photo for description):

And for older children (or indeed younger children and parents) there is a good choice of video arcade and coin operated games, which you don’t actually need a coin for as they are included in the price! There is also air hockey and a small billiard table (the latter is not pictured):

For adults:

There are also lots of chairs and tables and you are allowed bring food and drink in from outside. They have convenience food in the Seiyu store downstairs, as well as a couple of take aways in the food court, also on the first floor. Kid’s US Land has a couple of highchairs for babies and toddlers. They also have a buggy that can be used to put a sleeping child. The play area is beside Seiyu’s nursery with changing mats and a nursing room. It is also beside toilets. There is an event space in the medium sized area that has the trampolines and push along rides.  Their events are listed on the branch’s blog. Currently, they have a pin ball event as well as a colouring events where kids can get a sweet in exchange for colouring a picture. The pictures are displayed on one of the walls.

Although the Seiyu Higashimatsuyama Branch of Kid’s US Land might not look as impressive as other play centers and is lacking in “educational” toys, it is tons of fun for kids. I have rated it high as it is suited to children of all ages and has some nice add on’s for parents too. It is suited to families or a group of friends or a Mother (or Father) and child date. The equipment is clean and for the most part well kept (there was one coin operated machine that wasn’t working).  I was also very impressed by the staff member on reception today, she was about the nicest and most helpful staff member I have ever met in any play center ever! (**I have no affiliation to Kid’s US Land and /or Seiyu, I do not get anything in exchange for my endorsements, all opinions expressed are my own honest observations, the information provided was true {to the best of my knowledge} at the time of publishing).

Cost and Other Information

Everything listed and / or mentioned above is included in the price. It costs 100 yen (before tax) for 15 minutes of play. That is 100 yen for a child older than two (children under two are FREE) and another 100 yen for an adult. If you are planning to stay longer than an hour and 45 minutes on a weekday, it works out cheaper to get the “one day passport”. It is 800 yen per child and 480 yen per adult. On the weekend they don’t have an one day passport for children, just a three hour pack for 980 yen. With all packages and fees you are given a neck strap to wear to identify you have paid in. With the basic price system you pay as you leave the premises and give back the neck strap then.  With the day passport, you pay in advance and you are free to go and come as you please. You can even go home and come back if you like! If you are planning to leave Seiyu though, you can give in your neck strap and hold onto your receipt. The receipt allows you to come back at any time during the same day.

They have discounts for groups. If you have a caretaker notebook you, the adult, can enter for free.

Hours: They are open from 9 am to 8 pm, seven days a week.

URL:
Official US Land website: http://www.kidsusland.com/store/view/65
O
fficial blog: http://ameblo.jp/usland-higashimatsuyama

Access

Parking: In the Seiyu car park and is free.

By train: the nearest train station is Higashimatsuyama Station on the Tobu Tojo Line. Unfortunately, it is a bit far taking at least 20 minutes.  You can take a My Town Meguri 「マイタウン巡回」 bus from the station or a bus bound for Kumagaya 「熊谷」and alight at Kaminuma 「上沼」bus stop. It is about a 3 minute walk from the bus stop.

Another Kid’s US Land opened recently in Kawagoe:
Kid’s US Land opens in Modi | KAWAGOE

Kid’s US Land in Marui Shiki:
http://ameblo.jp/usland-maruishiki/

Kid’s US Land in Seiyu Kamifukuoka:
http://ameblo.jp/usland-kamifukuoka/

 

 

Must visit shop and foot spa cafe “Tsubaki No Kura” | KAWAGOE




Tsubaki no Kura is a Kura Dai-kukan (Traditional Japanese storehouse space) that has been transformed into a shop that sells Japanese condiments, souvenirs, textiles, sake, Power stones, shrine goods and has a FOOT SPA CAFE and displays art. It is one of my personal favourite spots in Kawagoe and always a stop off when I am bringing people on guided tours of the area.   I also like to stop into the cafe, detailed below the shop guide, even when I am on my own to bathe my feet as I enjoy a quiet drink.

This storehouse has one of the tallest heights of the Japanese warehouses in Kawagoe at nine meters high. You feel the impact as you enter the store where the front section is the original storehouse height. To add to the majesty there is some beautiful traditional Japanese art from Mr. Eiki Kimura on display in this front lobby area and you can see the red torii on the renovated second floor behind. Tsubaki no Kura is home to three unique stores and the reception for the outdoor foot spa cafe and zen garden.

Kura the Japanese for the traditional type Japanese warehouses. The tourist area of Kawagoe is famous for the amount of ancient warehouses they have. This particular warehouse is named after camellia “Tsubaki“.  It is a really unique, colourful and fun space to explore. The art, the indoor torii as well as a shinto tree add to the ambiance and colour.  There is such a mix of products and over hundred different types of souvenirs that you could easily spend a couple of hours exploring all the shop has to offer.

Tsubaki No Kura Shops

①Kaya sells a number of different type of modern Japanese souvenirs made from traditional Japanese textiles. The large textile banners you see in the shop with classic depictions of Japanese art by modern methods, are made by Kaya. They sell wash cloths, clothes, tapestry, purses, Japanese loincloths, rain covers, socks, even smart phone covers. And that is to name but a few of their original goods.

Official site: http://www.wa-kaya.jp/

Tsubaki Ya Shouten sells regional Japanese food stuff such as sauces and snacks. Both Kaya and Tsubaki Ya Shouten are on the first floor.

Iwakura is on the second floor. The shop is decorated with torii (red shrine gates) and there is a tree in the centre of a room presented like the sacred trees at shrines with white shinto paper adorning it. They also have a mini shrine and a place to tie fortunes, just like at a shrine. This floor sells power and precious stones as well as goods made from the same; mainly bracelets but some necklaces too. They have lacquered goods such as chopsticks and mirrors, small bags made in traditional Japanese fashion, and glass ware too.  There is a little theater down the back of the area with seats to watch educational videos.  There is  stairs from this seating area which leads to the back of the first floor where the reception for Tsubakiya is.

Official Site: http://www.iwakura-stone.jp/

 

 Tsubakiya Foot Spa Cafe

Tsubaki No Kura (11)

This is a great spot to take a break and “refresh”, as the Japanese say, while touring around Kawagoe. Enjoy a foot spa with your tea, coffee, soft drink or beer outside in a tranquil zen garden with beautiful Japanese parasols.  You can taste a speciality of Kawagoe, sweet potato, in the form of a light treat, or an original ginger ale made from kochi ginger. The beer is also the famous local Coedo beer.  They have cocktails too. The small cafe, seating only 8 people, is very popular so it is very common to queue to enjoy the experience and the view.

Average Price: from 400 yen for a beverage, from 680 yen for alcohol, from 350 yen for a snack

Tsubaki No Kura Contact and Hours

Phone Number: 049-227-7030

Official site (English available): http://tsubaki-kura.jp/

The main URL (above) has some English, but information in store and the websites for the individual shops within the warehouse are all in Japanese only.

Hours: 10 am to 7 pm on weekdays and until 8 pm on weekends

Tsubaki No Kura Access

This shop is on the main tourist strip and is serviced by tourist and public buses. There is no parking for the shop, but there are plenty of coin parking lots in Kawagoe.

Getting to Kawagoe from Tokyo / Omiya

  • 31 minutes from Ikebukuro on a express train on the Tobu Tojo Line. 470 yen
  • 44 minutes from Seibu Shinjuku on a Red Arrow Limited Express. 420 yen for the express ticket, plus base fare.
  • 66 minutes from Shinjuku or 62 minutes from Takadanobaba on Seibu Shinjuku Line.  You can buy one round trip ticket for 700 yen for either of those stations.
  • 54 minutes from JR Shinjuku on a rapid train of the Saikyo/Kawagoe line. 760 yen.
  • 28 minutes on a regular train from Omiya on the Saikyo/Kawagoe Line or 22 minutes on the rapid train.
  • The Fukutoshin and Yurakucho subways connect to the Tobu Tojo line at Wako-shi. Some of them go all the way to Kawagoe (and beyond) too.
  • About 40 kilometres from Hinode using the Ken-o highway. The toll is about 1400 yen.
  • About 21 kilometres from Nerima to Kawagoe using the Kanetsu Expressway. The toll for the expressway is about 840 yen.

From Kawagoe Station

If you are walking it takes about 20 minutes from Kawagoe Station and about 10 minutes from Hon-Kawagoe station. You can also take a bus:

Koedo Kawagoe bus one day pass allows you unlimited travel on the Koedo Kawagoe buses. It costs 300 yen. In the bus they have a monitor with sightseeing information.  Some tourist places give discounts on souvenirs or entrance tickets to people with a one day pass.
Koedo Kawagoe Loop BusKoedo Meguri (Loop) Bus from Kawagoe station. You can buy a one day pass that allows you unlimited travel on the Meguri Bus. It stops at 16 different locations. 104 different shops, offer discount services such as souvenirs, food, and entrance fees to facilities for holders of this day pass. There are announcements in English and Chinese as well as Japanese so foreigners can feel at ease. More information here:
http://www.new-wing.co.jp/koedo/index_e.html

Shidax Karaoke with kids | VARIOUS LOCATIONS




The Shidax are a family friendly Karaoke chain that offer many different packages for an affordable few hours of fun with family or friends.  As it is a franchise, each branch is independently run and has its own system. Prices, packages and facilities differ between each branch. Some branches offer a kids room with extra facilities for young children. Other branches have party services. Most branches have reasonably priced  “drink bar” and serve food; those that do, don’t allow you bring in food (other than birthday cake) from outside. The selection of songs also varies by branch, but generally speaking I have found Shidax to have a decent selection of English songs and nursery rhymes for children. Most branches have a large selection of Japanese songs for children.

Karaoke is a great activity to do with young children on a rainy day. It is also a great spot for a children’s party. However, depending on the number of guests you might not be able to secure a kid’s room, you might have to get a regular room. To combat this, I ask parents to drop their kids off and pick them up after the party so that there is only kids and a couple of adults and we can fit in a larger sized kid’s room. The branches I use have food platters and drink bar which I get for the kids and I bring in my own cake. Some branches kid’s rooms have a better capacity than others and some may have even more services for parties. Do ask about deals when you are booking, sometimes we get it as cheap as 100 yen per child with drink bar included!

kids room at karaoke in shidax higashimatsuyama

 

In three of our local branches we are very lucky to have kids rooms.  I have found that the kid’s room size and services differ between branch. Most kids rooms have some extras for kids in them, such as play equipment and / or toys. You can borrow musical instruments from the front desk to add to the fun for the kids.  In any karaoke room it is possible to adjust lighting and sound to make it more suitable for children.  Higashimatsuyama branch, Shingashi branch and the Tsurugashima branches of Shidax have fairly decent sized kids room with a slide and toys in the room.  Each of these branches have an okay collection of children’s English songs, but a much greater selection of Japanese songs.

SHIDAX SAITAMA BRANCHES

Official URL (no English unfortunately): http://www.shidax.co.jp/sc/

Hours vary by branch, but generally speaking they open at 11 am.

A selection of Shidax branches in Saitama mapped on Google:

If you are interested in the Tsurugashima branch, I recently reviewed it on City-cost.com, below is a preview, you can click for more information.  It is just one of many Saitama branches of Shidax:

Review – Shidax Tsurugashima in Japan. Shidax is one of the largest chain karaoke stores in Kanto, but each branch is independently run. You won’t find a price online, because each store charges diff

Source: Place Review: Shidax Tsurugashima, Tsurugashima-shi, Saitama | City-Cost

Last day of summer food treats, dentist and cat cafe | KAWAGOE

The kids are fairly exhausted after seven weeks of play dates, play centres, day trips, weekends away, special treats and seasonal activities. For their last day of holidays I wanted to treat them without physically exerting them, before the older three go back to school and preschool tomorrow. So rather than a play centre or physical activity, I settled on treating them to food pleasures and their first visit to a cat cafe. We had a dentist visit slotted in between too, but that proved to be quite a pleasure for them with the play area and toy to take home.

In this article:

  • Clean Bread Bakery Kawagoe Raku Raku Bakery
  • Family and child friendly Lion Dentist
  • Rescue Cat Cafe Neko Katsu
  • Retro American Diner MDT Cafe and Dining

*All mapped on a Google MyMap at the bottom of the article.

KAWAGOE RAKU RAKU BAKERY

Our first stop after a leisurely walk through the always pleasurable Sweet Street (Candy Alley / Kashi Yokocho) was at the Raku Raku Bakery for a spot of light lunch before the dentist. This bakery is known far and wide for its homemade clean bread and flour based food. Raku Raku bread, cookies, cakes, pastries, and pies are made from 100% Hokkaido wheat flour. They don’t use any artificial additives, colouring or preservatives. They provide allergy information and have some bread and pastries that are dairy free. An excerpt from City-Cost reviews;

They have a fantastic selection of flour-based food baked in an oven and even have some dairy free goods, which are quite hard to come by in this area of Saitama. They have lots of fruit and vegetable flavoured breads and cakes. My kids particularly enjoy the melon pan and sweet potato bread. Most of their business is take out by locals and tourists, but you can eat your take out on site in the small garden at the side of the bakery. The garden has some wooden tables and chairs and is protected from the sun by groves and sun umbrellas. During this hot season they have a mist spray that cools the entrance to the bakery and the seating area, too. You can help yourself to complementary tea or coffee from self service machines. They are just little cups, but the coffee is quite good. If you prefer sitting in to eat, they have just opened a sandwich deli on the opposite side of the laneway. For purchases exceeding one thousand yen, you can receive a 10% discount with a Saitama Mama and Papas card. There is a little bit of English available in store.

Lion Dentist

The reason my kids enjoyed this dentist so much from my Lion Dental Clinic review on City-Cost.com

It is located within minutes walk of the West exit of Kawagoe station. There are free parking spaces for up to 15 cars. They have a kids play area. Kids also get a toy on leaving the dentists. One of the dental booths can fit a buggy or stroller. The booths are bright and colourful and have flatscreen TVs which plays cartoons for kids, news programmes for adults. If you need any work done, you can get it done then and there, or you can make an appointment for another day. They do implants. They have equipment for taking scans. Every patient can receive fluorine coating for free. They are open until 8.30 pm. I have saved the best for last: the dentists and dental nurses are very skilled, very patient and thorough, and some of them speak English. One has international accreditation. My 3 year old was terrified of going to the dentist and wouldn’t open her mouth at first. I was suitably impressed by her dentist’s patience and technique. She even said after, she wants to go again.

 

Neko Katsu

If only I had a video of my 22 month old child’s reaction when she entered this cafe. It was classic. She squealed with delight and danced on her toes. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who doesn’t have any pets at home, but want to give their kids an experience with animals or animal therapy. An excerpt from my Neko Katsu City-Cost Review;

There were more cats than I had expected and they all seemed quite placid. Because they are rescued cats they do ask that you don’t force a cuddle with them. If the cat is in the mood for a cuddle then it is fine to hold them. They have some toys that cats enjoy that you can use to play with the cats. The room is quite basic with only one or two seats and a few poufs, but it is not a cafe in the typical sense. You do get a drink included with the charge. Due to the fact that it is a cat cafe they are bottled drinks or juice packets. You help yourself from a decent selection in a fridge. Children under twelve are half price. They have a decent stamp card, one stamp per visit and if you get 5 stamps you get an hour free. You can actually adopt a cat if you become attached to one.

MDT Cafe and Dining

We finished the day with an ice-cream sundae for the kids and a latte art for me,  in a 1950s style American diner. It looked like a nice place for drinks with a couple of friends. Unfortunately, due to its size it wouldn’t be suited for a big group. An excerpt from my MDT City-Cost review:

The rock and roll music adds to the ambience. I quite enjoyed listening to half the Grease film album and classics such as Footloose, Johnny Be Good, Shake Rattle and Roll to name, but a few.  The menu is mixed. The billboard outside says that it is a taco rice cafe. They offer a lunch menu, a cafe menu and a night time menu. They have a good selection of beer, including locally brewed Coedo Beer and some foreign beer such as Heineken. We went for a Ice-cream sundae to share, and boy am I glad we were sharing; it was huge. Myself and 2.5 kids (the 1 year old didn’t eat much) struggle to finish the delicous Berry Sundae we ordered. I also ordered a latte art. They have a selection of latte flavours and I think you can also get art on other coffee based beverages. I was very touched, by the picture the Barista drew for me. He drew my 3 girls on the coffee around the words “Welcome” with today’s date. A small, but very touching gesture. They do plate art for birthdays. Within the shop there are lots of collectible toys.

The kids were on a high coming home, but not too tired thankfully. They agreed they want to go back to all the places we visited today… including the dentists! For hours and average costs, please visit the City-Cost.com articles linked.

How did you spend your last day of summer holidays? Please do share in the comments below.

The local guide to cafes in Kawagoe: Part ①





There is a huge choice of cafes in Kawagoe, too many for one article. Part 1 introduces THREE of my favourites, simply chosen for the first article as they are the ones I visited most recently. The featured photo with the parasols is the last entry; Tsubakiya. Each of these 3 cafes are mapped in a My Map at the bottom of the article.

 

1. Hatsuneya Garden The Cafe

For a bit of peace and quiet off the beaten track awaits a chic cafe with a terrace at the front and a garden from the Edo period at the back. The cakes are delicious and the coffee strong.  It is a place you can visit alone or on a date or with friends. Take out is also available.

Average price: about 600 yen per beverage or cake
Hours: 11 am to 6 pm seven days a week

Official Site (A little bit of English)http://www.hatsuneya.jp/cafe

A full review features on  City-cost.com:
https://www.city-cost.com/reviews/wk4ZM-Chic_cafe_A_bit_of_piece_and_quiet_in_bustling_Kawagoe_Food_Drink_Kawagoe_shi

More on insaitama.comHatsuneya Garden Cafe【from Google Maps & City-Cost Reviews】 | KAWAGOE

 

2. Shimano Tea Room

 

Shimano Tea Room has won a place in my heart as it reminds me of tearooms I visited with family during my childhood in Dublin. The servers are dressed in the old traditional wear of black tights, black dresses and white frill aprons. They even wear the white laced head piece. The selection of tea is fantastic too and their sandwiches are decent. I recommend trying the tea here, but if it’s not your thing they also have coffee and soft drinks.

Average price: Tea averages at 580 yen a pot (about 3 cups to a pot)
Hours: 10 am to 6 pm on weekdays and 9 am to 7 pm on weekends

Official Site (Japanese only): http://www.kawagoe.com/shimano/
You can read a detailed review on City-cost.com:
https://www.city-cost.com/reviews/GW4ew-A_proper_tea_room_complete_with_servers_in_tea_maid_outfits_Food_Drink_Kawagoe_shi

 

3. Tsubakiya

Tsubaki No Kura (11)

Enjoy a foot spa with your tea, coffee, soft drink or beer in the small zen garden with beautiful Japanese parasols.  You can enjoy a speciality of Kawagoe, sweet potato, in the form of a light treat, or an original ginger ale made from kochi ginger. The small cafe, seating only 8 people, is located out the back of Tsubaki no Kura, a colourful and unique souvenir, trinket and amulet store.  This shop is on the main tourist strip and is serviced by tourist and public buses. It is mapped on the Google map at the bottom of the article.

Average Price: from 400 yen for a beverage, from 680 yen for alcohol, from 350 yen for a snack
Hours: 
10 am to 7 pm on weekdays and until 8 pm on weekends

Official site (English available): http://tsubaki-kura.jp/

 

You can read a full review on City-Cost.com:
https://www.city-cost.com/reviews/zayoz-Souvenirs_Textiles_Power_stones_shrine_goods_and_a_FOOT_SPA_CAFE_Shopping_Entertainment_Kawagoe_shi

 

There are many more fun, unique, quaint, chic and cozy cafes in Kawagoe. I hope to feature more over the coming weeks. If you have a favourite or a place you’d like to share, please do comment. Comments are always welcome. 🙂

 

NEWS: Ofuro Cafe Bivouac | KUMAGAYA

Opening day for the new super hotspring in KUMAGAYA Saitama is drawing close. This is one to get excited about folks, because apart from being a state of the onsen, it has lots of extra services AND hammocks and a climbing wall! Please note, this onsen is not suitable to children under 7 years of age. Update September 1st: Opening day has been set for September 10th.

From the official website: http://ofurocafe-bivouac.com/
From the official website: http://ofurocafe-bivouac.com/




They use the word glamping in their public relation articles, which has me intrigued. However, I don’t think they offer glamorous camping, but rather are using the concept of glamping to offer an outdoor feel to their luxury hot springs.

Bivouac is just the latest offering from the hot spring chain Onsen Dojo, who take relaxation to the next level.  There most famous of their hot springs is probably Cafe Utatane in Saitama’s Kita-ku. That has a hotel as well as many great extras including a lovely play area for kids. However, Bivouac is for adults or older children only.

The Bivouac hot springs are set to open for business early September, but the official date has not been released yet. They will open 23 hours a day from 10 am to 9 am. Entry to the onsen costs 1380 yen. There is free parking for 195 cars.

You can receive updates and preview photos from their active Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ofurocafe.bivouac/
They are also active on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ofurocafe_bivo  
The official website is: http://ofurocafe-bivouac.com/

This is one to bookmark for the rugby players and anyone coming to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Kumagaya Saitama. Relax and regroup in comfort while experiencing a truly unique Japanese tradition.

Mamas Club Theater at Toho Cinemas, Lalaport | FUJIMI

Another first that the new Lalaport has brought for West Saitama, is that of a “Mamas’ Club Theatre”. Twice a month on the 3rd floor of Lalaport, Fujimi, in the Toho Cinemas, they have a special baby and toddler friendly showing of a movie. The movie is shown at 9.30am in their biggest theatre, screen 1, with lights on and volume down. Babies and parents are allowed to talk, cry, sing along and just chill out and enjoy a movie in the big screen.  This service was started in Tokyo a few years ago. Here is the Japan Times article about it at that time: Babies at the cinema need not be a recipe for disaster | The Japan Times

This coming Thursday the Mamas’ Club Theatre in Lalaport, Fujimi, presents Cinderella. You cannot book in advance for this service. Tickets can be purchased that morning. Parking areas 6 and 7, which are the Kawagoe side of route 254, are beside the cinema. If you park on the 4th floor of either of those lots, you can just walk down a ramp into the 3rd floor of Lalaport. Please be aware that until 10 in the morning you can only access the cinema on the Kawagoe end and the area around Yaoko on the Fujimi end.

Please see Toho Cinemas homepage for up to date prices and information on what is showing. http://www.tohotheater.jp/service/mamas_club_theater/

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


A fun day out in Saiboku; Hot springs and Ham! |HIDAKA

Written in November 2012, updated February 2015 and 2017.

Saiboku is often described as a food theme park, but for me that conjures up images of an amusement park… with sausages! Which it is not. I am not sure how to describe it: it kind of feels like an outdoor mall or maybe a themed village. Whatever way you want to describe it, there is no denying it is a fun day out for a family with young kids.

The brand name Saiboku is most famous for its award-winning ham and sausage meat. It is processed in a factory in this complex, the head office of Saiboku. Many of their products have received food awards over the years, even on an International level.  The resort in Hidaka is as known for its onsen (hot springs) as it is for the selection of shops and eateries. There are a number of eateries on the premises mostly serving pork products, but there is also a vegetable shop and bakery, as well as a selection of fast or finger foods and desserts. On top of all that there is an adventure playground, pig sty, pitch and putt, garden, pond with carp fish and craft workshops.  They often have temporary  market stalls too, that sell anything from jewelry to clothes. The hot springs have further facilities, but that’s a post for another day!

The adventure playground is on the West side of the hot spring and it is free. The playground is actually quite small, with one big combination unit, but it is surprisingly engaging for children playing together up to about 8 years old.  It might be less engaging for a child older than five there on his/her own.  The likelihood of a child playing there on their own is quite small though, as even on the coldest winters weekday, there is always a couple of families knocking about. The play unit has a lot of climbing features and 2 wide bumpy slides. It is beside the pig pen; home to three popular pigs.  There is a tunnel beside the pig sty that kids enjoy running through. This area also has some gazebos, one of which has a table. Both have benches. You can eat food in the gazebos. There is an array of drink vending machines beside the one with tables. There is no smoking in this area, but there is at least one smoking area in the complex.

One of the kid’s favourite eateries in the complex is the “Saiboku Cafeteria” as it sells ice-cream.  They have two different types of ice-cream: soft cream and scooped ice-cream. The latter you can get on a cone or in a cup.  They have vanilla, strawberry, chocolate, green tea and sweet potato flavour. On the weekends you get the ice-cream from a window on the outside of the building (pictured below) where they also sell popcorn. Can you spot the flying pig in the picture!?

The indoor section is quite small and not particularly exciting, but they have high chairs with safety straps in the indoor section of this cafeteria. I so rarely see safety straps on high chairs in Japan that they really stood out to me. They are like the Stokke stepped high chairs.  They also have a hand basin with a step for children to use. In the special needs toilet beside the cafeteria they provide a child’s toilet seat that can be placed on top of the regular toilet seat. I found these little extras to be very convenient for my toddlers. They don’t have a family toilet like in so many places these days, but they do have a changing mat at the entrance to the women’s toilet.  A man could use it too, without having to go right into the women’s toilets. There is a great outdoor seating area outside this cafeteria. It can be used to eat any food bought on Saiboku premises.

One of the places I like to buy a quick and cheerful lunch for the kids on a day out in Sayama is the bakery which is at the back of the meat shop. It isn’t huge, but there is a good selection. They sell nice sandwiches as well as a choice of baked breads. The pig shaped bread filled with chocolate is popular with children. My kids like the sausage roll on a stick.

According to Saiboku themselves their spare ribs are their best selling food. Google reviews confirms this! The spare ribs are sold in one of the many kiosk type eateries; the one nearest the vegetable shop. The building is currently undergoing renovations, but they are open for business. There is always a queue there, but on weekdays it isn’t too bad. On weekends the queue can be very long.

People queuing for spare ribs at Saiboku Ham and Onsen resort

The award winning restaurant, which is near the playground, often has a queue at lunch time on the weekends too. Beside it is a food van with a funny name, Hareru Ya or Hallelujah, that sells crepes. The van’s bonnet is designed like a dog.  Other eateries include  window boothes that sell a variety of pork products such as katsu and skewered pork.

Saiboku has a point card system. Any adult can sign up for a card. It costs 200 yen for a new member, but they have days that the new membership fee is wavered.  A card is valid for a year after your last purchase. You can earn points in the shops, restaurants and hot spring.  For every 200 yen you spend (not including tax) you earn 1 point. Every Monday you can earn double points.  You can also earn “eco points”; 2 points per visit, for not using a plastic bag when you purchase more than two items. If you collect over 500 points you get a 500 yen discount coupon. They occasionally have double points on other days too.

Saiboku also runs cooking and crafting events. They have special plans as well such as entry into the onsen, with a meal and 500 yen shopping ticket for a set price. They also sometimes organise tours that leave from Saiboku to do, for example, fruit picking. The onsen has live music performances a couple of times a month. Each month you can pick up a flyer with the month’s events at Saiboku, or you can check for information on their website (Japanese only):

http://www.saiboku.co.jp/

It can be a little bit tricky to get there the first time, but if you’re using an up-to-date GPS it will guide you. Phone number in the Google Map below.  The bus system seems to be very good and they have the times on their website.

ACCESS

Car

From the Hidaka Interchange, facing Kawagoe, it takes about 5 minutes. Saiboku’s phone number 042-985-0869.

Train and bus

From the West exit of SAYAMA CITY station on the Seibu Shinjuku line take a bus to Saiboku onsen.  It takes approximately 17 minutes.

From the West exit of TSURUGASHIMA on the Tobu Tojo line a bus to the terminal of the hotspring takes about 25 minutes.

 

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS

Approximately a 5 minute drive from Saiboku is the Botanical Garden parking lot of CHIKOZAN PARK:

Best of Saitama: Chikozan Park | SAYAMA

Multi-purpose park with Campsite, BBQ, Zoo, Fishing, Sport facilities, Athletic Playground, Multi-use Playground, Beautiful Flora and Fauna. Chikozan Park in Sayama is close to the controversial pr…

Source: insaitama.com/chikozan-park-sayama-saitama-best/