Category Archives: Higashimatsuyama

Aruzo Land: Free play center in a Real Estate Agency | HIGASHIMATSUYAMA

It was certainly a first for me to discover a free play center in a Real Estate Agency. Sure, lots of real estate agencies (plus car sales showrooms, dentists, phone shops…you name it), have play areas in Japan. But this is a full on PLAY CENTER, not just a play area. Please scroll down the bottom for information about the Real Estate Agency Matsubori.**

After reading about Aruzo Land online, I went to check it out with my youngest today. I chose today when my eldest was at primary school, as one of the stipulations of use is that children of school going age (over six years old) can’t use the play area. I wasn’t sure what to expect, the photos look great but sometimes photos can be misleading. Thankfully, they weren’t, nor were the raving reviews the play center gets online. I figured if something is too good to be true, it probably is, but I was wrong. I had fully expected to have to give my contact details and receive Aruzo  Net Real Estate information in the post or via email, in exchange for free access to a play center. But thankfully there is none of that. It is what it is; a play center that is entirely free to use with no strings attached.

The space is on the 2nd floor of the Matsubori Retail Agency. I went in the wrong door by mistake and the staff were very friendly and kind. One of them explained to me that it was the next door and up the stairs; she even escorted me all the way and told us to “have a nice time”. The man in the office beside the center was as equally nice and told us to “take your time and enjoy” and waved us in. You don’t have to write your name like you do in a jidokan (community play center), you just walk on in freely. You do need to take your shoes off beside the mats that mark the start of the play area.

The space is really large, open and airy. As you come in the front door there is a large air trampoline. Beside it on matted flooring there are three zorbs and large shapes for playing and / or building. To the left of this area is a spacious play room with a large play kitchen, a play shop, a kids sitting area, a beaded maze, a wooden car, a wooden train play table, a drawing table, books / magazines collection, small trampolines, a rocking horse, a variety of building toys and a wall of cogs. It is a very comfortable space and lots of room for kids to run around. The ceiling is even painted like the sky. There is a “high-lo” chair you can borrow for babies. It is in the hallway outside the play space where there is also a bench and vending machine. If you want to eat or drink this is where you do it as you can do neither in the play center. There are toilets and a nappy changing unit off this hallway.

I have mentioned that children over six can’t enter the play center and that you can’t eat in the center, but there are also two other rules or stipulations you must follow in using this center. One is that on busy days you only stay an hour so that other families can also have an opportunity to use this space. The other is that if you accidentally come to visit on a day that the center is closed and have paid to park in the coin parking that they will not reimburse your money. Both very fair rules really in my humble opinion.

I was torn between giving this play center four or five stars, but in fairness given that it is FREE and provided with no strings attached the company really do deserve the five stars. I know that it is genius marketing, but still – to provide an area with a such a decent FREE play center with no expectations from its users says a lot of good about this company. And the staff definitely reinforce this positive image. Also there is free wifi. So thank you Aruzo Net! However, why I contemplated taking a star away is twofold.  One, I do think children up until 8 years old would really enjoy this play center for a short play, and it is a pity that the cut off is 6 years old. Of course, I am thinking of my own family situation, but I genuinely think that children of 7 and 8 years old could play here happily for an hour and without being a danger to other children.  Two, if you come by car you have to use coin parking that costs 100 yen for 40 minutes, so essentially it is not entirely free. However,  I personally do not think this is a lot of money and I feel it is totally worth it. For me an hour and 20 minutes play for 3 children and myself works out at a very cheap 200 yen total.

Opening hours

The center is available Thursdays to Tuesdays, from 10 am to 4 pm. It is closed every Wednesday. They close another couple of days a month too. You will have to check online or ring in advance to find out when. For this month the dates of closure are Thursday the 16th of March and Saturday the 25th of March (2017).

Access

The Higashimatsuyama branch of Aruzo is located close to Tobu Tojo Line Higashimatsuyama Station. It is about an eight minute walk.

Edited to add: on a subsequent visit I noticed there is an elevator in the front lobby on the left hand side. I also noticed that some people had parked their buggies in the lobby and others parked their strollers in the entrance area of the play center.

MAP AT VERY BOTTOM OF ARTICLE.

Play Center URL: http://www.aruzo-navi.net/aruzoland/top.html

Phone number: 0493-81-3112


Aruzo Net / Matsubori Real Estate

Aruzo Net are a Real Estate Agency renting / letting apartments in Saitama with branches on the TOBU TOJO Line, TOBU OGOSE Line and TAKASAKI line.

Aruzo Land is in Higashimatsuyama and this branch has a Portuguese (for Brazilians) language page:
http://www.aruzo-navi.net/portugues/pt_top.html

This branch also has a Chinese language page:
http://www.aruzo-navi.net/chinese/chn_top.html

On the Tobu Tojo Line they have branches in Kawagoe, Kawagoe City, Kasumigaseki, Tsurugashima, Wakaba, Sakado, Kita-sakado, Takasaka, Higashimatsuyama, Shinrin Koen, Tsukinowa, Musashi Ranzan and Ogawamachi. On the Tobu Ogose Line they have offices in Ipponmatsu, Nishi-oya, Kawakado, Bushu Nagase, Higashi-moro, Bushu-karasawa and Ogose. On the Takasaki line they have branches in Omiya, Miyahara, Ageo, Kita-Ageo, Okegawa, Kitamoto, Konosu, Kita-konosu, Fukiage, Gyoda and Kumagaya. I can’t vouch for the condition of the apartments they rent or the value for money or anything to do with their Retail Agency, BUT I can say from the experience I have had with their staff in Higashi matsuyama and the cleanliness of the branch there, that it is a company I would consider should I ever find myself in need of a renting a property.

Their real estate website is: http://www.aruzo-navi.net/index.html

**I have no affiliation to this play center, Matsubori Real Estate Agency or its online sites, nor do I receive anything in return for this review. These are my personal honest opinions.

 

Yakyu Inari Shrine, the Baseball Shrine| Higashimatsuyama

Yakyu Inari Shrine is located in Higashimatsuyama, Saitama, just 1 hour and 10 minutes from Ikebukuro on the Tobu Tojo line.  It is one of many shrines to the God Inari. However, what makes it special is that its Chinese characters (“Yakyu” 箭弓) are pronounced the same as the Japanese for baseball (野球).  It has thus come to be known as the baseball shrine.

Photos from the official website:

Lots of baseball fans visit the shrine to pick up a baseball shaped amulet or write on a baseball prayer plaque (Ema 絵馬) to bring good favour to their own skills or to a baseball team they support. Even famous baseball players visit the shrine to pray for a good season. Another reason Japanese tourists visit Yakyu Shrine is to see the pine trees and in the spring to see the peony, azalia and wisteria that bloom around mid April. You can read more about the shrine and flowers in English in this tourist leaflet from Higashimatsuyama city: http://www.higashimatsuyama-kanko.com/SP_EN.pdf

Shrine in photos (access and general information below this gallery).

INFORMATION

Open all year round.

TEL: 0493-22-2104

URL: (Japanese only) http://www.yakyu-inari.jp/index.html

ACCESS: 5 minute walk from the west exit of Higashimatsuyama. Parking for 50 cars.

On Google maps:

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.

Tanabata Festival Higashimatsuyama

From the Higashimatsuyama website
From the Higashimatsuyama website
Are you looking for something to do with kids today in Saitama? There is a small festival being held near Higashimatsuyama station today and tomorrow, August 6th and 7th, from 4pm to 9pm. The festival is being held around the area of Ichibangai shopping arcade (ichibangai shoutengai | 一番街商店街)

URL: http://www.city.higashimatsuyama.lg.jp/kanko/event/8/1351822315468.html
TEL: 0493-21-1427

Saitama Firework Displays August 2014

Taken from the Nagatoro website http://www.nagatoro.gr.jp/en/events/index.html
Taken from the Nagatoro website http://www.nagatoro.gr.jp/en/events/index.html

AUGUST 2ND

Ageo
Bus from in front of Risona Bank at the West exit of Ageo Station
Time: 19.00-21.00
URL: http://www.ageo-kankou.com/
Phone number for inquires: 048・775・5917

Toda
20 minute walk from Toda Kouen Station
Time: 19.00-20.30
URL: http://www.ageo-kankou.com
Phone number for inquiries: 048・431・0206

Hanno
20 minute walk from Hanno Station
Time: 19.30-20.30
URL: http://www.city.hanno.saitama.jp/0000001569.html
Phone number for inquiries: 042・974・7900

Sayama
20 minute walk from the west exit of Sayama City Station
Time: 19.30-20.00
URL: http://www.city.sayama.saitama.jp/
TEL: 04-2953-1111

Shiraoka
20 minute walk from the Shiraoka Station (Utsunomiya line)
Time: 20.00-20.30
URL: http://www13.ocn.ne.jp/~shiraoka/
TEL: 0480-92-8151

Soka
Bus from East exits of Matsubara danchi and Shinden stations
TIme: 19.00-21.00
URL: http://www.city.soka.saitama.jp/
TEL: 048-922-0151

Osata Gun, Yorii
10 minute walk from Yorii Station
Time: 19.00 – 21.00
URL: http://yorii-kanko.jp/tamayodo.html
TEL: 581-2121 Extension 441

AUGUST 3RD

Asahi
5 minute walk from (Tobu) Asahi Station.
Time: 19.15-20.15
URL: http://saikasai.com/
Phone: 048-463-2645

Kawaguchi
Shuttle bus from Kawaguchi Station.
Time: 19.45-20.30
URL: http://www.tatara-matsuri.com/
Phone: 048-258-8225

Fukaya
7 minute walk from Takekawa Station on the Chichibu Main Line
Time: 17.00-21.30
URL: http://www.fukaya-ta.com/
TEL: 048-583-2222

Kita-Katsushika Gun, Sugito Town
1 minute walk from Tobu Dobutsuen Koen Station (Tobu Zoo)
Time: 20.30-21.00
URL: http://kankou.sugito.info/
TEL: 0480-32-3719

AUGUST 9TH

Koedo Kawagoe
20 minute walk from Minami Otsuka and Kasahata Stations.
Time: 19.15~
URL: http://www.koedo.or.jp/event-info/
Phone number: 049-227-8233

Saitama City, Higashi Urawa
Time: 19.30-21.00
URL: http://www.stib.jp/hanabi/index.shtml

Kumagaya
5 minute walk from the south exit of Kumugaya Station (JR Takasaki Line, Chichibu Tetsudo)
Time: 19.00~
URL: http://www.kumagaya-kanko.jp/
Phone: 048-524-1111

AUGUST 15TH

Iruma
10 minute walk from Bushi Station on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line
Time: 20.00-20.30
URL: http://www.iruma-kanko.jp/
TEL: 04-2964-4889 (weekdays only)

Kodama Gun, Misato
20 minute walk from Yodo Station on the JR Hachiko Line
Time: 19.30-21.00
URL: http://www.misato-kanko.com/index.html
TEL: 0495-76-5133

Chichibu Gun, Nagatoro, Funadama Festival
5 minute walk from Nagatoro Station
Time: 19.30-21.00
URL: http://www.nagatoro.gr.jp/en/events/index.html
TEL: 0494-66-3311

From the Nagatoro Tourist website

AUGUST 16TH

Saitama, Iwatsuki
Forty minute walk from Iwatsuki Station
Time: 19.30-21.00
URL: http://www.stib.jp/hanabi/index.shtml
TEL:  0180-99-3144

Chichibu Gun, Ogano
40 minute bus ride from Chichibu Station
Time: 20.00-21.00
URL: http://www.town.ogano.lg.jp/menyu/kankou/maturi/maturi/8tuki/8tuki.html
TEL: 0494-75-1381

AUGUST 23RD

Misato
10 minutes walk from Misato Station
Time: 18.00-21.30
URL: http://www.tonbi.biz/
TEL: 048-952-1231

Higashimatsuyama
15 minute walk from the Takasaka station on the Tobu Tojo Line
Time: 19.00-21.00
URL: http://www.city.higashimatsuyama.lg.jp/soshiki/kankyosangyobu/shoko/kanko/event/8/hanabitaikai.html
TEL: 0493-21-1427 (weekdays only)

Kita Adachi Gun, Ina Town
8 minute walk from Uchijuku station on the New Shuttle
Time: 20.00-21.00
URL: http://members3.jcom.home.ne.jp/inakanko/
TEL: 048-724-1055

AUGUST 30TH

Iruma Gun, Moroyama
25 minute walk from Moroyama Station
Time: 19.00-21.00
URL: http://www.moronet.com/
TEL: 049-294-1545

Letter to Santa event, Peony Walk

Peony walk letter to santa

Update 2015 – Available again this year.

Yesterday, Peony Walk in HigashiMatsuyama opened a “letter to Santa” corner on the 2nd floor in “Peony Court”. It is open from 10am to 9pm. Postcards and pens are provided for the children to write their requests to Santa, then tie them to a Christmas tree.

Access

The mall is only a kilometre from the Takasaka station and about six kilometres from the Higashi Matsuyama Interchange on the Kanetsu expressway.  You can get a bus from Takasaka station for 100 en per adult and 50 yen per child, although walking is just as quick as the bus stops twice.

URL

http://www.peonywalk.com/ (Japanese only)

Milking cows at Saitama Children’s Zoo

I love the Saitama Children’s Zoo, so much so we go weekly Autumn through Spring. Summer is too hot. The weather has finally cooled down this week, so we made our first visit of Autumn. There is so much to do at the Saitama Children’s Zoo in Takasaka, Higashi-Matsuyama.

My kids hang out mostly in the petting zoo, where you can hold small animals, such as chicks, snakes, rabbits and guinea pigs, at certain times of the day. You can walk among the farm animals there at anytime of the day and brush them down, pet them and clean up their poo! At feeding time you can give the goats their leaves. Today, however, for the first time ever they milked the cows. We have queued up numerous times to do this over the years, only for them to chicken out last-minute. I don’t know what was different about today, maybe because its been a while since we’ve been there, but they finally took on the challenge. They were delighted with themselves.

Milking cows at Saitama Children's Zoo

All activities listed above and much more are included in the 500 yen entrance fee. Parking costs 600 yen for the day. An annual pass is only 1500 yen. You can pay to ride a train and there are amusements in the park you can pay to use as well. There are restaurants on site, but there is also lots of open spaces to picnic. There are playgrounds on the grounds too, the one near the koala enclosure is an adventure playground that is very popular with kids of all ages. It is also included in the entrance fee.

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

For more information on Saitama Children’s Zoo:

Saitama Children’s Zoo

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