Category Archives: Konosu

Kamiya Park Play&Sports ground + Skateboarding | Kounosu

Ever wondered where you can skateboard legally and safely in Saitama? One place I know of is Kamiya Park in Kounosu, which has a designated skateboard park. This multi-use park has a number of sporting facilities, it even has a stadium. The best part: it also has a brand new playground and a wading river which are almost completed. Although, the park is still under construction you can use the playground freely.

The skateboarding area costs money, but for residents of Kounosu it is only 200 yen for school aged children and adults and 100 yen for preschoolers. For people who do not reside in Kounosu it costs 400 yen for adults and students and 200 yen for preschoolers. They have skateboards and helmets to rent for an additional charge. They have skateboard lessons available too. It is open from 8am all year round (except New Years holidays) until 4pm in the winter and until 6pm in the summer.  The official website for the skate park (Japanese only): http://kamiyaskatepark.com/

Other sporting facilities in the park include a stadium, baseball pitch, tennis courts, a soccer pitch, street basketball court and a multi-purpose ground. The baseball pitch, soccer pitch, multi-purpose ground and tennis courts need to be booked and there is a small fee. General facilities include a club house,  free parking, walking paths, a lawn, toilets,  vending machines, a wading river and a playground. The playground is beside the skate park and wading river.

The playground is suited to smaller children. There is something in the playground to engage my younger kids aged 5, 3 and 1. However, although my 6 year old enjoyed it the first and only time he has been, I am not sure he would find the playground as enjoyable a second time. It is best suited to preschoolers.

Information

Park Website: (Japanese only) http://www.kamiya-sk.ecnet.jp/index.html#
Skatepark Website: (Japanese only) http://kamiyaskatepark.com/

Access
Address: 707 Kamiya, Kounosu, Saitama 365-0027

Konosu Bikkuri Hina Matsuri / Surprising Doll Festival

The doll festival is celebrated on March 3rd, annually, for girl’s day in Japan.  Each household with young girls display hina dolls from early February for the health and prosperity of their daughters. The dolls are also associated with marriage and there is a belief that if you display the dolls past March 3rd it will adversely effect your daughter’s future marriage potential.  Traditionally dolls were tiered on platforms, but nowadays, the dolls are sold in cases. Most businesses and services, such as preschools and hospitals, display the traditional type tiered hina matsuri dolls from early February.


One of the largest displays of the traditional dolls, featuring Emperor, Empress and all the figures of the Imperial Court, as well as the ancient paraphernalia, is in Konosu, Saitama. The title of Konosu‘s famous girls day displays of dolls is very apt.  Bikkuri Hina matsuri literally means “surprising doll festival“.  When I walked into where they were hosted in 2015, I literally let out a very audible “WOW!” The displays are indeed surprising and also very impressive, easy to access and free to view. They will be open to the public from February 17th.

Konosu Bikkuri Hina Matsuri (3)

The municipality of Konosu celebrated its 60 year anniversary in 2015, but the area has a long doll making history,  dating back  approximately 380 years.  Coupled with the famous hina doll displays, this has earned Konosu the nickname of “Doll Town”.  There are different sites in Konosu displaying the tiered dolls of an Imperial court and/or palace. In 2015, we visited the largest at the Konosu City Hall. In 2016 the display was moved to Elumi mall beside the station and that is the current location to view the displays annually.

According to the offical website, the Konosu prefectural doll’s pyramid display is the tallest hina matsuri dolls display in the whole of Japan. There are 31 platforms and it is 7 metres high.  There is also a display outside in the courtyard,  some in cut bamboo, as well as a large display on a staircase inside and you can view hina dolls throughout the lobby and hallways of the ground and 1st floor of the City Hall. (You can also view other displays in the mall beside the station and  other locations, which may change each year.) Even the toilets of the city hall are marked with pictures of an Emperor for men and Empress for the lady’s toilet!

Men's toilet signKonosu Bikkuri Hina Matsuri (12)

 

It is free to view the dolls. The main display opens to the public annually on February 17th.  The new location at Elumi shopping mall beside the Kounosu train station (Takasaki line) is much easier to access as it is near the station:   http://www.elumikonosu.com/

The official event website is

http://kounosubina.main.jp/

Hina Matsuri activities and crafts:

Points of interest in Konosu:

ELUMI KONOSU

 

2015 information – there is also free parking for upto 200 cars.  Konosu City Hall is an approximate 20 minute walk from JR Takasaki Line Konosu Train Station or you can get a bus bound for the Driving license Centre 免許センター行き. The address is Chuo1-1, Konosu City, Saitama 365-8601. The telephone number is 048-541-1321. Viewing is until the 7th of March from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday and until 4pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Disaster Training | An earthquake, a typhoon and a fire all in one day…

… all simulated, thankfully! Friday, in our ever enjoyable quest to try something new everyday, we ventured to the Saitama Prefecture Center for Disaster Training in Konosu. I was very impressed with the set-up and experiences on offer at this free center. I was also suitably impressed with the building itself, built to withstand an earthquake of any magnitude, it is modern and pristine.

If you are a first time visitor you are shown an introductory video upon arrival. Then a guide walks you through the more dangerous experiences you can try. After that time you are free to look around and use the other resources available.
Experiencing an earthquake simulated at seismic intensity 7Experiencing a simulated earthquake at "weak 6"
First up was the earthquake simulator. The family before us had tried an earthquake simulated at the highest seismic intensity on the Japanese scale of 7. As I had the baby on my back in the Ergo I could not use the simulator myself, but my preschoolers tried a “weak 6”. They thought they were at an amusement park and the point of the operation was a little over their heads as they laughed through the experience. Although, in recounting his adventures 4 year old was able to tell hubby what he should do if an earthquake happens. I’m really pleased he took something away from the experience.

Coming out of a simulated fire  Putting out a fire

Next they got to walk through a simulated fire in a building with 7 doors. The smoke they use is not dangerous to health, but again not suitable for the baby, so my preschoolers went with the other family using our guide. They weren’t fazed by it and didn’t find it scary. They had to use handkerchiefs over their mouths so not to inhale too much of the “purin” (Japanese dessert pudding) scented vapour they use to simulate smoke in a fire. After that they got to try putting out a fire, a computer programmed one on a big screen, with a real fire extinguisher.

Typhoon with winds of 30kmph DSCF0891

Lastly in the tour, you can try a simulated typhoon with winds reaching upto 30 metres. My kids were too young to try it, but they watched in awe as a family tried it. In winds that strong houses blow away. They could barely hold on to the pole in front of them and explained after, as it gets stronger you are unable to keep your eyes open. I definitely want to go back and try it as I don’t ever plan to get the experience in real life… I hope! After that we had a look around. They have a couple of theatres, one was showing a cartoon of what to do in various emergencies, which the kids really enjoyed. We all also got to place an emergency phone call.
A toilet made out of cardboard

I found it all very interesting and I will go again in the future. I’ve added it to a list of places to bring my Irish family when they visit next! I got quite a bit out of it too. I learned the correct way to protect yourself during a strong earthquake as well as facts about earthquakes to date. I learned the danger regions in this prefecture. I would never have known only for today’s experience, that when placing an emergency call from a Japanese payphone you need to push the red emergency call button before dialling 119. I also learned how to make a toilet out of cardboard boxes!


Information

The Saitama Prefecture Center for Disaster Training in Japanese 埼玉県防災学習センター

Address: 30 Fukuro, Konosu City

Access: 25 minute walk from Fukiage Station, Takasaki Line, or you can get a community bus from North Konusu Station in the direction of Fukiage, alight at Apita and it is a 5 minute walk. By car it is beside the Fukuro crossroads on route 17. There are 15 free parking spaces.

Website: http://www.bousai-gakusyu-saitama-ht.jp/ (Japanese only)