Category Archives: Ageo

Ario in Ageo is now open and very toddler friendly

 

I was suitably impressed with Saitama’s latest mall in Ageo and have found a new hang out for my toddlers and baby. Ario in Ageo has a real modern feel to it and I think it’s the most toddler friendly mall in this area. Peony Walk in Higashi Matsuyama has long been our haven for hot or rainy days, but I will be switching it to Ario in Ageo due to the free facilities and services for young children.

Today, I parked in the “Giraffe” parking area, because I had read on their Japanese website that there is a playground beside it. Upon arriving I noticed there are actually two. One playground has nothing to do with the centre itself, but is just off the back of the carpark. The other playground opposite the entrance/exit to the Giraffe parking zone is part of the mall. It has the unique feature of a designated area to draw with chalk, provided for free for the children’s use.

Writing on the chalk paving area

It isn’t a huge playground, but there is more than enough to entertain young children for a half hour or so. Slides are always a favourite with my kids and this playground has six as well as climbing activities, stepping stones and a little hut.

Tunnel slide at Ario AgeoStepping stones at Ario Ageo

The fun continued indoors in the “Kids Labo” on the first floor, beside the entrance near the playground. It is a rest space with a magnet wall and large padded magnets to make shapes. It also has a decent selection of books for toddlers and children of kindergarten age.

Rest area for toddlers with books and large magnet pieces and magnet board Magnet wall

Upstairs there is a large amusement area (games, slot machines, anpanman machines, purikura etc), which could be costly except that my 2 year old is still happy to play with the machines without money in them. What I like about this amusement area is that they have a free space they use for different events. This week they have tables out with cute little fish seats, with colouring books and crayons for younger kids to use for free. Last week they had a large pool with play fish and kids could do a fishing activity. There is also a mini aquarium, think large fish tank, beside that area and a large screen showing the Aqua World aquarium in Mito, Ibaraki that is associated with the amusement area.

This week's free activity is colouring
This week’s free activity is colouring

Mini "Aquarium" Amusement area complete with a mini aquarium!

UPDATE 2015: A new play centre opened opened as part of this amusement park, called Mama Smile. You can find more details on this blog: Mama Smile in Ario, Ageo. Also, in 2015 a restaurant on the 1st floor renovated its interior and re-opened with a play area: Kid friendly Pomme Cafe in Ario, Ageo.

Mama smile4  Pomme Cafe Ario Ageo (3)

I’ve saved the best for last; also on the 2nd floor there is a free play area for younger children. One part is for 2 to 6 year olds. It is a padded space with a padded (fake) tree in the centre and soft blocks for building. <UPDATE 2016>They renovated and upgraded part of the free play area and it is now a Chugginton play area. <End update> The other part is a crawling area for babies with a tunnel and mirrors. There are also educational activities on the walls and at a table and a free standing activity too. This play area is beside the “baby rest area”, a nursery, changing facilities (both the tape nappy and pull up type), children’s toilet, feeding area complete with high chairs with straps (a rarity in Japan), baby weighing scales and a height chart, a microwave, two burcos (clean boiled water for bottles) and 3 sinks for washing hands. There is also a “baby consultation room” there, but I’ve yet to check that out.
Free standing educational activity Big hit with the 9 month old

"Baby Rest Spot" Inside the baby rest spot

There are other facilities dotted here and there, like character trolleys that keep the kids entertained as you shop, small toilets for children and changing stations in the main toilets. There are also some events coming up, like a bus train this weekend (July 20th/21st 2013). The parking is free and most shops have opening sales until this week. The traffic wasn’t bad today, but I don’t know what its like at the weekend. It’s off route 17 and route 323 and near route 51. It’s a ten minute bus ride from Ageo station.

Hanami with toddlers, Maruyama Park, Ageo

Our cherry blossom viewing in Western Saitama continues.  Maruyama Park is a great park to view cherry blossoms with children.    It is one of many parks in Saitama that has various different things to do and/or see.  Walker magazine listed Maruyama Park in Ageo, Saitama, in its top three parks to visit as a family in Tokyo and the greater Tokyo area.




We had our elevenses by the waterfall, near the cement slide, which was abuzz with elementary school students on holidays.   We hadn’t found a free tree to sit under at that point, but the scenery was beautiful all the same.

Most of the cherry blossoms line the pathways and it was hard to find a tree suitable to sit under in true hanami fashion, but we did eventually find one in the open space behind the general playground in the South end of the park or in the photo below; the bottom left! You can see some of the blossom trees marked on this map too. Below the map there are some photos of the cherry blossoms.
Map of facilities in Maruyama Park Sakura at Maruyama Park

Cherry blossoms by playground

Sakura at the playground in Maruyama ParkSakura behind the duck pond in MaruyamaComing down the slide!Sakura at the waterfall

P1003680 P1003681

Open area by the cement slides
Open area by the cement slides

ACCESS

3326 Hirakata, Ageo, Saitama Prefecture, Japan

TEL: 048-781-0163

From JR Ageo Station;

Tobu bus for terminal “Maruyama Park”; West Exit No. 6 bus
City bus “Gurutto-kun” for hirakata-zyunkan; West Exit. Alight at “Maruyama Koen
Minamiguchi” bus stop or “Shizen gakusyu-kan iriguchi” bus stop

Hanami spot with toddlers; Enomoto Farm, Ageo

Another favourite spot for cherry blossom viewing in Western Saitama, with small children, is Enomoto Farm in Ageo City. The majority of the cherry blossoms are at the back of the farm, past the BBQ area, but with young toddlers the best place to enjoy the blossoms is in the main courtyard.



The main courtyard, at the front of the famous ice-cream shop, is home to dozens of push along rides. All free to use. There are a few benches and a couple of picnic tables you can sit at, but I don’t know if you can picnic here. You can of course eat their delicious ice-cream. Prices start at ¥262 for a cone or cup of fresh ice-cream. We stopped off for dessert after a picnic at the nearby Maruyama Park. Other than the cost of the ice-cream this was a cheap “date” as my 3 and 2 years old children played for 2 hours on the push alongs. They also played in the small play area past the pig pens. They would have played for longer, if we didn’t have to go home. For older children you can pay to milk the cows among other things.

The free push alongs at Enomoto Farm are quite old as are the play things in the BBQ area and its lacking in some areas, such as accessibility and baby facilities, but for a nice view of the cherry blossoms while your toddlers tire themselves out (FOR FREE!) it’s ideal! The family feel and the relaxed atmosphere make it an enjoyable place to visit any time of the year.

Cherry blossoms at Enomoto Farm
Cherry blossoms at Enomoto Farm

Push along toys at Enomoto Farm Cherry blossoms at Enomoto Cherry blossoms at Enomoto Farm

ACCESS:

Kamihira Park, Ageo City

Bucket Crane TruckKamihira Park Ageo
My overwhelming impression of today’s new park is that it is the most used park I’ve been to this month. A friend commented to me recently that Japanese people don’t bring their kids to play outdoors in January. I hadn’t given it much thought until then, but it really does seem to be true in a lot of areas. However, Kamihira park in Ageo City defies that theory as there were plenty of people making use of the park’s facilities.

Kamihira park has, what seems to be, a very popular tennis club. There is also a jogging course, not to mention the baseball pitch and stadium. All, but the latter were getting full usage today. I couldn’t believe the buzz in the park, I haven’t seen a park that busy since late November. The patrons were largely pensioners and mothers with young children.  You often see retired people walking or playing gate ball in parks in Japan, but I have never seen so many of the older generation in one park at one time.  And I haven’t seen so many young children in the playground since Autumn.

One of the pieces of playground equipment is a bucket crane truck.  My son (3 years old) was in playground heaven! I think this may even be a contender for a coveted position on his top ten playground list.

GENERAL INFORMATION
Address: 16 Sugaya, Ageo, Saitama 362-0003
Phone: 048-776-8986
Access:

Best of Saitama | Maruyama Park, AGEO

Maruyama park is frequently listed in Saitama’s top 3 list of parks. It is personally one of my favourites.  I love that although the park isn’t massive, there is so much to do and see that you can spend a full day there. I particularly like that they have swings that toddlers can sit into with back and stomach support, which is a rarity in this area of Saitama.  The facilities and attractions in the park, even the zoo corner, are completely free.  Another benefit for families with young children is that the (free) parking is off road and right beside the toddler friendly playground. The only downside is that unless you drive, access is a bit difficult.  There is a bus from Ageo station (details below), but it is infrequent and often packed.

 




 

2013/11/18 13:41It is very pretty in the Spring, first with plum blossoms then with cherry blossoms. It is a popular place to do “Hanami” (Flower viewing picnic).  In summer the wading streams, fireflies and beetles draw families from afar. In Autumn many photographers come to capture the leaves vibrant colours.  You can collect acorns in early winter. On a rainy day you can enjoy free access to the nature education hall. The activities you can enjoy all year round are listed below.

 

 

 

Features

  • Lake, pond and other water features
  • A small “zoo” with petting hour
  • Playground
  • 23 metre roller slide
  • Adventure playground
  • Climbing wall
  • Large cement slide
  • BBQ Area
  • Fishing
  • Firefly dome
  • Nature Education Hall

2013/ 9/21 11:16Facilities

  • ☆Toilets in 3 different locations, each with a special needs toilet with changing mat
  • ☆Water drinking fountains
  • ☆Taps for washing your feet beside the wading river and ones for washing your hands in the petting zoo area
  • ☆A small shop that is open on weekends and holidays

Information

  • The park is open permanently
  • The zoo corner is open from 9am to 4pm; closed on Tuesdays
  • Petting hour is Wednesday through Sunday from 10 to 11am and 13.30 to 14.30 on Saturdays and holidays. In Winter (Dec through Feb) it is from 13.30 to 14.30 Wednesday through Sunday.
  • Free Parking for 500 cars

Access

3326 Hirakata, Ageo, Saitama Prefecture, Japan

TEL: 048-781-0163

From JR Ageo Station;

Tobu bus for terminal “Maruyama Park”; West Exit No. 6 bus
City bus “Gurutto-kun” for hirakata-zyunkan; West Exit. Alight at “Maruyama Koen
Minamiguchi” bus stop or “Shizen gakusyu-kan iriguchi” bus stop