Category Archives: Higashimatsuyama

>60 Privately Run Indoor Play / Fun / Amusement Centers in Saitama

A list of 64 of the Play / Fun / Amusement Centers (excluding Jidokan community play centers) in the prefecture of Saitama.

**I have no affiliation to any of these companies, nor do I receive any reward or benefit for sharing their information. Insaitama.com is a not-for-profit blog. The ads you see on the blog are there in an effort to contribute to the cost of self-hosting. To date they have covered less than 1% of the cost! A click on an ad "earns" about one yen (to the best of my knowledge.) **
  1. Saitama City
  2. Seibu (Western) Saitama
  3. Tobu Tojo Line
  4. Ageo City
  5. Kawaguchi City
  6. Koshigaya City
  7. Misato City
  8. Kasukabe City
  9. Other Areas in Saitama

SAITAMA CITY

Molly Fantasy’s Kidzoona in Omiya

Molly Fantasy’s Kidzooona (English) – Omiya Aeon, Omiya

Kid-O-Kid in Cocoon 2 Saitama Shintoshin

Bornelund Play World Kid-O-Kid (English)  – Cocoon 2, Saitama Shintoshin, Omiya

The Railway Museum in Omiya

Saitama Railway Museum (English) – Omiya

Ofura Cafe Utatane (Japanese) – Kita Ward

Taiko Athletic (Japanese) – Namco, Stellar Town, Kita Ward

Ultra Athletic** (Japanese) – Namco, Stellar Town, Kita Ward
** Pop up play center available until June 11th

Molly Fantasy (Japanese) – Aeon Mall Urawa Misono, Urawa

Molly Fantasy (Japanese) – Aeon Yono, Aeon

Kid’s US Land (Japanese) – Seiyu Yono branch, Yono

SEIBU (WESTERN) SAITAMA

Kid’s Spocha (Japanese) – Round 1 Stadium, Iruma

Wai Wai Park (Japanese) – Aeon Mall, Iruma

Cats Eye Sayama

Cats Eye (English) – Sayama

Wai Wai Park Sayama

Wai Wai Park (English) – Aeon Mall, Sayama

Tobu Tojo Line

&Nursery (Japanese) – Wako

Kid’s Spocha (Japanese) – Round 1 Stadium, Asaka

Trampoland (English & Japanese) – Niiza

Kid’s US Land (Japanese) – Marui Family, Shiki

Studio Cafe Zoo Adventure

Studio Cafe Zoo Adventure (English) – Lalaport, Fujimi

Team Lab Islands

Team Lab Islands (English) – Lalaport, Fujimi

Kid’s US Land Kamifukuoka

Kid’s US Land (English) – Seiyu, Kamifukuoka, Fujimino

Wanpaku Land (English) – Maruhiro, Kawagoe

Hoppe Kawagoe

Hoppe (English) – Kawagoe

Kid’s US Land (English) – Modi, Kawagoe

Shidax (English) – Shingashi, Kawagoe

Halos Garden (English) – Tsurugashima

Shidax Tsurugashima

Shidax (English) – Tsurugashima

Kid’s US Land in Higashimatsuyama

Kid’s US Land (English) – Seiyu, Higashimatsuyama

Aruzo Land

Aruzo Land (English) – Aruzo Net / Matsubori Real Estate, Higashimatsuyama

Sweet Fantasy Pacc’n

Sweet Pacc’n Fantasy (English) – Peony Walk Mall, Higashimatsuyama

Children’s castle slide

Children’s Castle (English) – Saitama Children’s Zoo, Higashimatsuyama

Shidax, Higashimatsuyama

Shidax (English) – Higashimatsuyama

AGEO CITY

Kids Spocha

Kid’s Spocha (English) – Round 1 Stadium, Ageo

Niko Niko Garden

Niko Niko Garden (English) – Festa, Ageo

Saitama Ice Arena (Japanese) – Ageo

Maneki Neko (Japanese) – Ageo

 

KAWAGUCHI CITY

Molly Fantasy (Japanese) – Aeon Mall Kawaguchi Maekawa

Yu Kids Island (Japanese) – Aeon Mall Kawaguchi Maekawa

Rainbow Coloured Train (Niji Iro Train) (Japanese) – Kawaguchi Station

Wai Wai Park (Japanese) –  Aeon Mall Kawaguchi

Kid’s US Land (Japanese) – The Price Kawaguchi

Kid’s US Land (Japanese) – Aeon Mall Kawaguchi

KOSHIGAYA CITY

Kid is... (Japanese) – Aeon Lake Town

Molly Fantasy Skid’s Garden (Japanese) – Aeon Lake Town

Bornelund Tot Garden (Japanese) – Aeon Lake Town

Asobi Park Plus  (Japanese) – Namco, Aeon Lake Town

Flystation (English) – near Aeon Lake Town

Kid’s US Land  – Rakuen Town

MISATO CITY

Thomas Town (Japanese) – Lalaport, Shin Misato

Smaland (English) – Ikea, Shin Misato

Graffiti Kingdom (Japanese) – Ito Yokado

Kid’s Castle Misato (Japanese) – Piala City

Kid’s Spo-cha Round 1 Stadium (Japanese on a personal blog) – Lalaport Shinmisato {Spo-cha information in English}

KASUKABE CITY

Kasukabe Yumoto Hot Spring (English) – Kasukabe

Wai Wai Park (Japanese) – Aeon Mall, Kasukabe

OTHER AREAS IN SAITAMA

Wai Wai Park (Japanese) – Kumagaya

Soyu Himitsu No Mori

Soyuu Himitsu No Mori (English) – Mallage, Kuki

Kids Spocha (Japanese) – Round 1 Kurihashi, Kuki

Nicopa Soka Toneri  (Japanese) – Shimachu Homes Soka Toneri, Soka

Nicopa Satte (Japanese) – Maruetsu, Satte

Sweet Fantasy Pacc’n (English) – Benibana Walk, Okegawa

Kid’s Park

Kid’s Park  – Elumi, Konosu

Molly Fantasy Skids Garden (Japanese) – Aeon Kita Toda, Toda

Molly Fantasy Skids Garden (Japanese) – Aeon Mall Hanyu

Play Kingdom Peekaboo (Japanese) – Aeon Mall Hanyu

Wai Wai Park (Japanese) – Aeon Town, Kamisato
All information was correct, to the best of my knowledge, at the time of publishing; May 31st 2017. Please do check with the official site for up-dates.  If you know of any other indoor play center (excluding jidokan community play centers) please do leave a comment or send a private message through the Saitama With Kids Facebook page. Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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/

 

 

Cherry blossoms and Swimming School | HIGASHIMATSUYAMA

Beautiful cherry trees + cleanest pool water in Saitama

Price: Approximately 5150 yen per month

When we were starting our oldest in swimming classes we looked at a number of pools in the Ageo – Kawagoe – Hiki district – Higashimatsuyama area of Saitama. We settled on one of the swimming schools in Higashimatsuyama. There are two with the same name: “Higashimatsuyama Swimming School”. The one we attended is easy to recognise from its brightly coloured detached building with a rainbow motif.

The reason we chose this school over the others is threefold:

  1. The building is a bright, airy building with lots of windows and natural light. The high ceilings and glass walls on 2 sides with the large rainbow motif in the center wall do a lot to calm the most nervous of children and creates a comfortable setting for them. The changing rooms are also colourful . There is a sauna in the women’s changing rooms so that the kids can keep warm while they change. There are lockers with keys and open lockers for storing your belongings. There is a sauna in the women’s changing room. There are ports for a hair dryer, but you need to bring your own. The school buses are also brightly painted with a rainbow on the side.
  2. They claim the water is the cleanest in Saitama and it is not disputed. In our experience it is very clean and the kids never picked up any water related skin conditions. The changing rooms, the upstairs viewing area and toilets on both floors are very clean and well maintained.
  3. My kids really loved it here, whereas other swimming pools we went to they weren’t keen. The front desk staff aren’t overly friendly, but they are courteous and professional. Most of the coaches are very nice, helpful and personable. None of the front desk staff speak English and everything is conducted in Japanese, but one of the coaches speaks a little English.  There is a higher number of administration staff here than in other schools we’ve been too.

Other things that I personally liked about this school is that it is reasonably priced and they often have campaigns for zero yen entry fee (without this campaign it costs a month’s fee to sign up). You can watch your children swimming from the 2nd floor or through the windows from the main car park. There are vending machines selling drinks and ice-cream on the 2nd floor in the spacious viewing area.   They decorate the school for seasonal holidays such as Christmas and Halloween. Santa visits for Christmas and gives the kids presents. Once a year they take professional photos under water and poolside that you can opt to buy.

My main complaint about this swimming school, is (that bar the very 1st level) there are 8 kids to 1 teacher in the preschool class, which I think is too much for young beginners. For the very first level there is 4 or 5 to a teacher. In the elementary school age group there are even more. It averages about 12 to one instructor. Depending on the instructor sometimes kids spend almost as much time out of water as they do in it.

The pool opens Monday to Saturday for classes. The classes are at set times depending on age group. There are 2 periods for preschoolers and 2 for primary school aged children. Children of school going age can sign up to use the swimming school bus, for a fee. There is no public bus stop near the school. By car: it is off route 407. There is plenty of free parking. One of the car parks is beside the school’s lake with beautiful cherry blossom trees.

Cherry Blossoms at Higashimatsuyama Swimming School

There is a lake beside the swimming school with stunning cherry trees on all four sides. The trees are quite mature and really magnificent. One of my all time favourite cherry trees is in this small lake area beside the school.  The swimming school’s car park is right by one side of the lake. You often see people parking there just to roam around the lake and admire the cherry blossoms. While the area might not be worth a trip to all by itself, it is a nice place to stop off on your way to or from Yakyu Inari which is 5 minutes up the road in the car.

The most beautiful cherry blossom tree I have seen to date. The photo doesn’t do it justice.

 Nearby:

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 spec…

Source: insaitama.com/yakyu-inari-shrine-the-baseball-shrine-higashimatsuyama/

The abbreviated version of this review appears on City-Cost.com

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.

 

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

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

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

Family Friendly local mall Peony Walk | HIGASHIMATSUYAMA

1st published August 2012, updated June 2017.

Peony Walk is a large mall in the city of Higashi Matsuyama.  It’s nearest station is Takasaka, which is probably best known as the station for Saitama Children’s Zoo.  Until the mall was built a few years ago, there wasn’t much in the area at all. Now there are a number of other stores and services popping up, as well as a huge number of housing developments.

There are a few free play areas in the mall. Apita which is split over two floors has a play area on each floor.  There is one on the first floor beside the toy department of Apita. They provide free toys for the kids to play with at two small play stations, plus sample toys kids can play with in some of the aisles. There is also a permanent display of Tomica cars and Plarail trains.   The other free play area is on the second floor, beside the baby and maternity area of the clothes department. It is a padded area with soft blocks suited to babies and toddlers. The Xebio Sports and camping shop beside Apita also has a free play area. It is a fake tree with a counter around it and cubby holes with toys for the kids to play with. It also has two TV screens playing DVDs.  The Libro Book store and Village Vanguard, also on the 2nd floor, both have some sample books and toys out for kids to play with for free. There is also a small playground outside in the overflow car park beside K’s Denki. In the extension outdoor mall “Life Garden” there is a Tsutaya with a play area with some sample toys and books for kids to play with, plus a screen showing Anpanman cartoons.

Apart from these free play areas, there is an amusement area, Sweets Fantasy Pacc’n Kids Park, on the 2nd floor. It has two sections; one with amusements and the other is a fun center suitable to toddlers.  In the amusement area they have coin operated rides for children as well as UFO catchers, slot machines, purikura machines and other coin operated attractions. The rides for children cost between 100 and 200 yen.  The fun center fees start at 300 yen for 20 minutes.

Amusement area of Sweets Fantasy Pacc’n on the 2nd floor of Peony Walk Higashimatsuyama

Peony Court on the 1st floor hosts a number of free and paid events suited to toddlers.  This month, for example, they have a Euro Bungee Trampoline, a giant cardboard maze and a popular clown.  For further information on events in Peony Walk and in Saitama in general, please have a look at the events section of this blog.

What I like about this local mall with a family feel is that it is easily accessible, with lots of free parking including wider car spots and priority parking for wheelchair users and lower mobility patrons as well as for pregnant women and those with small children. Inside the family friendliness continues with family toilets and rest areas, baby friendly shopping trolleys, free and paid play areas for toddlers, and an area in the food court with low tables and colourful decor for small children to eat in. There are also a number of other kid friendly eateries on the 1st floor.  There are a number of places you can change a baby’s nappy as well as nursery rooms with a microwave  and burco.

There is also a good selection of shops with baby or infant products and clothes. There is a bakery, Grano Grano, that sells allergen free bread. You can pick up international food and drink from the Kaldi Coffee Farm store. And there is a Karuizawa Farmer’s Market for delicious jams, preserves and sauces.  The malls corridors and aisles are wide and it is easy to navigate with a stroller. However, on the 2nd floor one side of the mall is carpeted and it is more difficult to push a shopping trolley in that section. The signature shop of the mall is Apita. They are a reasonably priced department store with ladies, mens, kids, babies, maternity, funeral and business wear and shoes as well as baby goods on the 2nd floor. They also have a supermarket and toy store on the first floor.

Access

The mall is only a kilometer from the Takasaka station and about six kilometers from the HigashiMatsuyama 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.