“Treeing” is the term the Japanese have coined for the sport of climbing trees with ropes and harnesses. This Autumn a few parks across Kanto are offering the experience with trained and experienced tree climbers from the Tree Master Climbing Academy. In Saitama, the national park Shinrin in Namegawa and the prefectural park Kuki Shobu conduct(ed) classes for adults, and kids over four years old.
We tried out the classes in Shinrin Park with some friends last weekend. Six year old went quite high and confessed it was quite scary when he got to the higher branches, but he really enjoyed it and is looking forward to going again. Four year old didn’t get that high, but she also thoroughly enjoyed it. She had no problem going up, but found it more difficult to come down.
The classes are an hour long. First you get geared up. Then there is an explanation of the equipment and how to climb up and come back down. To be honest, listening to the explanation it sounded quite complicated, but once you start executing it you catch on. An hour was just the right length for the four year olds who were getting tired towards the end.
The Kuki Shobu park sessions, which were only 700 yen, are finished for this year. Shinrin has three more days of multiple sessions scheduled for November 14th (Saitama Day) , December 12th and (added in 2016) March 12th. The classes at Shinrin park are 1,000 yen per person and you also have to pay the park entry fee and parking costs. The classes are held near the central gate of the park. You need to book in advance. The number is 0493-57-2111. (Update 2016, booking for March 12th class opens on March 2nd.) More information about the park is available on their English language webpage: http://www.shinrinkoen.jp/english/ More information on the Tree Master Climbing Academy is available in Japanese: http://treemaster.jp/
In Chiba the Tokyo German Village has two dates for treeing scheduled; November 7th and December 5th.
Shinrin park (also known as Musashi Kyuryo National Goverment Park) is vast, 304 hectares to be precise. To put that in perspective; 65 times the size of Tokyo Dome! There is an entrance fee for children over the age of 6 and parking is charged, but it is well worth the money as there are lots of things to do and see for people of all ages. They also host special events most weekends and during holidays, which often cost extra money.
Due to the size of the park there are different exits, each with their own parking lot. The adventure playground, giant ball play area and the musashi kids dome are close to each other and accessed from the West entrance. They are all walkable from the entrance and from each other. In the summer, there is a splash pool which is near the adventure playground. The West entrance adminisitration building at that entrance has a shop, seating area, nursing room, nappy changing area, microwave and toilets including a wheelchair accessible toilet. The “ponpoko mountain”, Japan’s largest trampoline, is at least a 20 minute walk away. That, the botanical gardens, restaurant and seasonal illumination are accessible from the Central Gate. The popular tree climbing event is close to this entrance too. The plum blossom and cherry blossom groves are closest to the South Entrance. The Dog Run is closest to the North Entrance.
The adventure playground has 23 different pieces of equipment, including the very popular pirates ship pictured above. There is a long roller slide with sacks you can borrow to sit on. There are also lots of climbing and balance equipment and even a tightrope bridge over the river.
The Musashi Kids Dome is a colorful play area for kids of all ages. The park is worth paying into for just this playground alone. There are quirky slides, climbing chambers, a ball pool, spring rides and much more. There is also a rest area in this section with toilets and vending machines.
Giant Ball play area
Giant balls are put out on a fine day. They are beside the Musashi Kids dome and close to the athletic / adventure playground. They are free to use.
Japan’s largest outdoor mountain trampoline is quite a walk from any entrance, but the central gate is probably the closest. Kids must be over 3 years old to play on the main trampoline, but they have a smaller one beside it that even smaller kids can play on.
The walk between entrances is quite long, so if you prefer to use an easier mode of transport, the park has some on offer. You can’t bring your own bikes into the park, but you can rent a bike. It is 410 yen to rent an adult bike or mamachari for 3 hours, 200 yen for children. They have designated cycling courses. The easiest is the park bus that goes between the gates of the park and stops at popular spots en route. It costs 210 yen for an adult per ride or you can buy a day pass for 400 yen. Small buggies / strollers are available to borrow for free. They have segway tours too, but you have to be over 16 to use them and must use them in a tour group.
During the summer there is a 2500m2 paddling and wading pool as well as mist and fountains. The water depth ranges from 5 to 30cm. You can enjoy as early as April and they run to mid October. They close the water play area some Tuesdays and Wednesdays for cleaning. They have lockers, but no changing rooms. Nappies (diapers) are allowed, but the pool type, water nappies, are not. There is a tuck shop beside the wading pools, that sells ice cream and kaki-kori. There is a separate wading river half way between the West and South exits.
This park is beautiful all year round, but especially during cherry blossom and autumn foliage seasons.
There are many activities and attractions on offer all year round as well as seasonal attractions and events. During January the park closes the 3rd and 4th Monday. Opening hours are 9.30-17.30. The phone number is 0493-57-2111. Please visit their website, for further information in English about access and entrance and parking fees; http://www.shinrinkoen.jp/english/
Check the plum blossom and cherry blossom schedule and find some events in Shinrin Park in this schedule of events for Saitama.
Starlight Christmas, Winter Illumination at the Central Gate of Shinrin Park
There will also be winter concerts run the week of Christmas in conjunction with this event, please keep an eye on this blog for more information.
Dates: December 13th to December 25th, 2013 Hours: 16.00 to 20.00, last entry 19.30 (Cancelled in event of rain) Place: CENTRAL GATE of Shinrin Park Price: 400 yen per adult, 200 yen for senior citizens (65+), 80 yen for children, children under 6 free Parking: At the central gate, 200 yen Monday to Friday, 300 yen Saturday, Sunday and public holidays Address: 1920 Yamada, Namegawa-machi, Hiki-gun, Saitama, 355-0802 Tel.: 0493-57-2111 Fax 0493-56-4913 Access: FREE SHUTTLE BUS available on the 14th, 15th and from the 21st to the 25th from Shinrin park station on the Tobu Tojo Line from Ikebukuro. Timetable below. The ride takes approximately 7 minutes. By car; The park is 10 minutes from the Kan’etsu Expressway Higashimatsuyama exit heading towards Kumagaya.
From the Shinrin Park Station
From the Central gate to the Station
Autumn leaves by night at the Central Gate of Shinrin park
Dates: November 1st to December 1st, 2013 Hours: 16.30 to 20.30, last entry 20.00 Place: CENTRAL GATE of Shinrin Park Price: 400 yen per adult, 200 yen for senior citizens (65+), 80 yen for children, children under 6 free Parking: At the central gate, 200 yen Monday to Friday, 300 yen Saturday, Sunday and public holidays Address: 1920 Yamada, Namegawa-machi, Hiki-gun, Saitama, 355-0802 Tel.: 0493-57-2111 Fax 0493-56-4913 Access:FREE SHUTTLE BUSfrom Shinrin park station on the Tobu Tojo Line from Ikebukuro. Timetable below. The ride takes approximately 7 minutes. By car; The park is 10 minutes from the Kan’etsu Expressway Higashimatsuyama exit heading towards Kumagaya.
From the Shinrin Park Station Weekday
THIS POST WAS WRITTEN IN 2013.
I won’t pretend to understand the timing of Autumn Leaves in Japan. The leaves around here have started to fall, but 15 kilometres North West, in Shinrin park, the warm colours are coming into their prime. In theory, as the area is higher ground and further North the leaves should fall before this area…? Regardless, Shinrin park is one of the best places to enjoy Autumn leaves when you have young children.
The leaves have started to change colour, but it will be another week or so until the really vibrant shades can be enjoyed. It is still quite pretty at the moment. The reason I like this park for viewing is that there are plenty of playgrounds to keep the kids entertained while we appreciate the scenery. It is a park that you can spend a full day in with the result it attracts tourists, all year round, from near and far. Many commute from Tokyo and surrounding prefectures to see the leaves and illumination at this time of year. They have a special night-time entry for viewing the leaves with illumination for the month of November and part of December.
The park is vast, 304 hectares, to put that in perspective; 65 times the size of Tokyo Dome! You can’t bring your own bikes into the park, but you can rent a bike. It is 450 yen to rent an adult bike or mamachari for 3 hours, 200 yen for children. They have designated cycling courses. We saw segways today, too. There is also the park bus that goes between the gates of the park and stops at the popular spots en route.
The adventure playground, giant ball play area and the musashi kids dome are close to each other and its easy to walk between each. However, the “ponpoko mountain”, Japan’s largest trampoline, is at least a 20 minute walk away. You can use one of the afore mentioned modes of transport to go from the play areas at the West entrance to the ponpoko mountain near the central gate.
There are many activities and attractions on offer to people of all ages.
ACCESS AND FURTHER DETAILS
Shinrin Park is what the locals call it, but the official name is Musashi-kyuryo National Park.
Hours: 9.30 am to 4.30 pm **Hours change during the seasons and there are extended hours during winter illumination
Tobu Tojo Line from Ikebukuro Station
From Shinrin-koen Station on the Tobu Tojo Line
Get off at Shinrin-koen Station on the Tobu Tojo Line, and there is a bus stop and taxi stand at the North Exit. It is approx. a 3 km (approx. 40 min.) walk to the Shinrin Park’s South Gate.
Bus: To Shinrin Park South Exit (Running on Saturdays, Sundays, and national holidays only), Get on the direct bus to Shinrin-koen,and get off at the last stop
To Kumagaya Sta. South Exit and To Rissho Daigaku, for South gate get off at Namerikawa Chugakko, and walk approx. 5 min. For West Gate, Get off at Shinrin-koen West Ent., and it is directly before you
JR Takasaki Line to Kumagaya
From Kumagaya Station on the JR Takasaki Line
Get off at Kumagaya Station on the JR Takasaki Line, and there is a bus stop at the South Exit.
BUS: To Shinrin-koen Station, For West Gate: Get off at Shinrin-koen West Ent., and it is directly before you. For South Gate: Get off at Shinrin-koen South Ent.,
and it is directly before you