Benibana Walk in Okegawa have a special 2 day event this weekend that will be a hit with small children. On the ground floor in the centre court they are hosting an “all-you-can-play” (translated from Japanese 遊び放題) Tomica and Plarail play area that is FREE for kids. In conjunction with this fun event, Apita are offering 20% of all Tomica and plarail toys during the hours of the play area. The opening hours are 11am to 6pm on Saturday the 31st and 10am to 6pm on Sunday November 1st.
The festival lanterns hang, a promise of beautiful blooms to come. These paper lanterns are a common sight at festivals in Japan. Shiroyama park in Okegawa has hung these lanterns for the cherry blossoms, which are set to bloom any day now. It is a long practiced and much revered tradition to picnic under the cherry blossom trees in Japan.
We’ve been hanging out in Shiroyama park quite a lot recently. Thanks to the Family Walker magazine featuring the new piece of playground equipment (pictured) and suggesting it as a hanami location. We had visited a few times in the past, but it didn’t make an impression. It does now.
The timing was convenient, too. The kids have taken turns bringing lurgy into the house; Shiroyama has the perfect playground for sick days. The playground (by the tennis courts, near the main parking area off route 12), isn’t too expansive, is in the sun, but surrounded by trees, and has a sandpit. Another benefit for our family is that there is something for each of their ages. 5 year old likes the flying fox and climbing bars. 4 year old likes the see saw and climbing wall. 2 year old likes the seesaw and climbing net. 4 month likes the view. They all love the sandpit that has two sliding tunnels (last photo); something we haven’t seen anywhere else below.
Shiroyama park also has an adventure playground, a paddling pool, and hanami, picnic and BBQ areas. The BBQ area is free to use, but you need to physically go into the park’s management area up to a day before to book a place. There is a cot in the toilet for the disabled for changing nappies, but to be honest the park’s toilets could do with an upgrade! It is five minutes by car from the Okegawa – Kitamoto interchange on the Ken-O Expressway. It takes one hour by car from Tokyo. Parking and all the facilities in Okegawa (excluding vending machines!) are free.
Today’s play-a-day was a new park for us, but I’m guessing Okegawa Children’s Park has been around a long time. The “monster” in the center of the park is a giveaway; it could do with a lick of paint. I don’t think its officially supposed to be a monster, it just looks like one! It is still functional and was a huge hit with all the kids.
I didn’t think much of the park to be honest, but my toddlers enjoyed it. Credit where credit is due: the section for small children is very nice. It has some unusual play equipment including a cement whale and boat, linked together by a low bridge made of tyres. It is in a sand pit as is the slide of a cement climbing feature, pictured above. One side has spikes to climb on and there is a tunnel under the top of the slide. There are some stepping stones and a cement turtle in the sand pit too. The toadstool seats beside this area are cute and fun for the kids. There are 4 swings in one corner of this area. The rest of the playground is more suited to older children. There is a flying fox as well as lots of different climbing equipment. The monstrosity in the middle of the park, plus one of the climbing frames have cement slides.
Small children would play for a couple of hours in this park, but older children might bore after an hour. There are vending machines and a public phone at the pedestrian entrance to the park. Parking is free. It is a bit tricky to find as the entrance is narrow and hard to see. Update 2016: they have put pedestrian lights near the entrance to the parking for this park and there is a convenience store across the road. Hopefully you will be able to spot the entrance easier with these landmarks.