There is a huge amount of things to do and places to go in Saitama, approximately 500 places are included on this blog. This is the master list of all the fun and interesting things you can do with children in Saitama. On the top menu there is a drop down box under the menu heading “Things to do and places to go in Saitama”. In this drop down box you can see the places of interest in Saitama further categorized under headings such as “Parks & Playgrounds”, “Play / Fun Centres” “Museums and Educational” and so forth.
Our cherry blossom viewing in Western Saitama continues. Maruyama Park is a great park to view cherry blossoms with children. It is one of many parks in Saitama that has various different things to do and/or see. Walker magazinelisted Maruyama Park in Ageo, Saitama, in its top three parks to visit as a family in Tokyo and the greater Tokyo area.
We had our elevenses by the waterfall, near the cement slide, which was abuzz with elementary school students on holidays. We hadn’t found a free tree to sit under at that point, but the scenery was beautiful all the same.
Most of the cherry blossoms line the pathways and it was hard to find a tree suitable to sit under in true hanami fashion, but we did eventually find one in the open space behind the general playground in the South end of the park or in the photo below; the bottom left! You can see some of the blossom trees marked on this map too. Below the map there are some photos of the cherry blossoms.
Tobu bus for terminal “Maruyama Park”; West Exit No. 6 bus
City bus “Gurutto-kun” for hirakata-zyunkan; West Exit. Alight at “Maruyama Koen
Minamiguchi” bus stop or “Shizen gakusyu-kan iriguchi” bus stop
Another favourite spot for cherry blossom viewing in Western Saitama, with small children, is Enomoto Farm in Ageo City. The majority of the cherry blossoms are at the back of the farm, past the BBQ area, but with young toddlers the best place to enjoy the blossoms is in the main courtyard.
The main courtyard, at the front of the famous ice-cream shop, is home to dozens of push along rides. All free to use. There are a few benches and a couple of picnic tables you can sit at, but I don’t know if you can picnic here. You can of course eat their delicious ice-cream. Prices start at ￥262 for a cone or cup of fresh ice-cream. We stopped off for dessert after a picnic at the nearby Maruyama Park. Other than the cost of the ice-cream this was a cheap “date” as my 3 and 2 years old children played for 2 hours on the push alongs. They also played in the small play area past the pig pens. They would have played for longer, if we didn’t have to go home. For older children you can pay to milk the cows among other things.
The free push alongs at Enomoto Farm are quite old as are the play things in the BBQ area and its lacking in some areas, such as accessibility and baby facilities, but for a nice view of the cherry blossoms while your toddlers tire themselves out (FOR FREE!) it’s ideal! The family feel and the relaxed atmosphere make it an enjoyable place to visit any time of the year.
Cherry blossom viewing, or hanami in Japanese, is one of the highlights of Spring in Japan. There are some wonderful places to view cherry blossoms throughout Japan, but when you have children it is nice to visit a family orientated location. Kitamoto Children’s parkin Saitama is just that.
Kitamoto Children’s parkis only 70 minutes from Tokyo by car and it is free in with free parking. There is something for kids of all ages at this park and lots of places to picnic under the blossoms or at least in view of them. Below are just a few images taken with my phone (2013). This is the area by the toddler playground, where we had our picnic on the grass with the flying carp for boys day in view!
For more detailed information on this park in English please see the linked blog post Kitamoto Children’s Park. Another seasonal attraction of this park is the paddling pool that is available during the summer.
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.
My overwhelming impression of today’s new park is that it is the most used park I’ve been to this month. A friend commented to me recently that Japanese people don’t bring their kids to play outdoors in January. I hadn’t given it much thought until then, but it really does seem to be true in a lot of areas. However, Kamihira park in Ageo City defies that theory as there were plenty of people making use of the park’s facilities.
Kamihira park has, what seems to be, a very popular tennis club. There is also a jogging course, not to mention the baseball pitch and stadium. All, but the latter were getting full usage today. I couldn’t believe the buzz in the park, I haven’t seen a park that busy since late November. The patrons were largely pensioners and mothers with young children. You often see retired people walking or playing gate ball in parks in Japan, but I have never seen so many of the older generation in one park at one time. And I haven’t seen so many young children in the playground since Autumn.
One of the pieces of playground equipment is a bucket crane truck. My son (3 years old) was in playground heaven! I think this may even be a contender for a coveted position on his top ten playground list.
Address: 16 Sugaya, Ageo, Saitama 362-0003
I couldn’t resist the corny title! As you may have guessed today’s play-a-day involved the zoo. We often go to a zoo near my house, but today we tried out the children’s zoo in Chikouzan park in Sayama.
What I like about this small zoo is you can feed some of the animals. For 100 yen you get a capsule of food. There are various feeding stations, but today we just did the sheep/goats, monkeys and ducks. The capsules costs can add up if you have a few kids, but unlike the Saitama Children’s zoo in Takasaka (which is an excellent zoo) the parking is free. The entrance to Sayama’s zoo is only 200 yen for adults and 50 yen for children of school going age.
There are other attractions in the park too. The park’s entry is free, as are the use of the playgrounds.
Nicknamed “Moomin House” the quirky building pictured is one of three buildings in this free, unique and imaginative theme park for children in Hanno City; Akebono Children’s Forest Park. Once you leave your shoes at the door (which we didn’t on our first visit, cringe) you’re free to roam the house and discover the nooks and crannies.There are 3 floors and a basement to explore. The upper floors have little beds and items laid out to make it look like someone lives there. There are doors, windows, cubby holes, secret spaces, stair cases and lots more to captivate the littlest of minds. The park is geared to children, but there are few safety measures in place, so I recommend you stay close to your kids as they climb in the main house. You might also want to watch your own head; I bumped mine a few times!
In the Facility Management building there is a large play area, pictured in the gallery (at the bottom), with handmade toys the kids can play with. The park is open until 5, but the playroom closes at 4. Occasionally, they have events on in this room. The management building houses the toilets, including one with a baby keep and changing area. You are requested to bring used nappies home with you.
The 3rd building is an information station and reading area with books and a seats (←picture on the left). There is a selection of books including some Moomin stories. They have some great encyclopedia type books about insects and beetles too. Behind this building is one of the nature trails and the route to the waterfall, as well as the tree house pictured below.
The park is quite hard to find and I’ve never heard anyone talk about it, so I’m calling it Saitama‘s best kept secret-toddler-friendly-location. However, in a couple of years it will not be so obscure as they are currently building a Moomin Amusement Park METSA, said to be complete by Spring 2018 and maybe even before. It is the first Moomin amusement park to be built outside Finland.
The current park is free in and suitable for rainy days. I noticed an unsightly air conditioning unit out the back of Moomin’s house, so I assuming they use it in the summer. There is a small shop at the edge of the car park, but they don’t sell much in the way of food. They do have ice-cream! There are vending machines halfway up the slope that leads to the park. Unless you have an all terrain buggy I suggest you leave your stroller in the car, especially if you plan to do any of the hikes or visit the waterfall. It is a lovely area to hike in though, but some of the hiking trails will be lost with the development of METSA.
For anime lovers, this park is used as the back drop in the second season, episode 20, of the anime Yama no susume, “Climb of Encouragement“. You can see the anime images compared with the real life scenery in this blog article here:
Approximately 20 minutes from both the Sayama-Hidaka and Iruma Interchanges of the Chuo expressway. The park is situated behind Hanno’s city public gym and hockey courts. There is a Cainz beside it which is probably the best landmark. They are on prefectural route 195; 9 kilometres from route 16 if you come of the Chuo Expressway at the Iruma Interchange. Prefectural road 195 also meets up with route 407 which is the road I took from Sakado. The road is quite busy and only one lane for a lot of the journey. The car park is in the grounds of Hanno’s Taiikukan.
Written in November 2012, updated February 2015 and 2017.
Saiboku is often described as a food theme park, but for me that conjures up images of an amusement park… with sausages! Which it is not. I am not sure how to describe it: it kind of feels like an outdoor mall or maybe a themed village. Whatever way you want to describe it, there is no denying it is a fun day out for a family with young kids.
The brand name Saiboku is most famous for its award-winning ham and sausage meat. It is processed in a factory in this complex, the head office of Saiboku. Many of their products have received food awards over the years, even on an International level. The resort in Hidaka is as known for its onsen (hot springs) as it is for the selection of shops and eateries. There are a number of eateries on the premises mostly serving pork products, but there is also a vegetable shop and bakery, as well as a selection of fast or finger foods and desserts. On top of all that there is an adventure playground, pig sty, pitch and putt, garden, pond with carp fish and craft workshops. They often have temporary market stalls too, that sell anything from jewelry to clothes. The hot springs have further facilities, but that’s a post for another day!
The adventure playground is on the West side of the hot spring and it is free. The playground is actually quite small, with one big combination unit, but it is surprisingly engaging for children playing together up to about 8 years old. It might be less engaging for a child older than five there on his/her own. The likelihood of a child playing there on their own is quite small though, as even on the coldest winters weekday, there is always a couple of families knocking about. The play unit has a lot of climbing features and 2 wide bumpy slides. It is beside the pig pen; home to three popular pigs. There is a tunnel beside the pig sty that kids enjoy running through. This area also has some gazebos, one of which has a table. Both have benches. You can eat food in the gazebos. There is an array of drink vending machines beside the one with tables. There is no smoking in this area, but there is at least one smoking area in the complex.
One of the kid’s favourite eateries in the complex is the “Saiboku Cafeteria” as it sells ice-cream. They have two different types of ice-cream: soft cream and scooped ice-cream. The latter you can get on a cone or in a cup. They have vanilla, strawberry, chocolate, green tea and sweet potato flavour. On the weekends you get the ice-cream from a window on the outside of the building (pictured below) where they also sell popcorn. Can you spot the flying pig in the picture!?
The indoor section is quite small and not particularly exciting, but they have high chairs with safety straps in the indoor section of this cafeteria. I so rarely see safety straps on high chairs in Japan that they really stood out to me. They are like the Stokke stepped high chairs. They also have a hand basin with a step for children to use. In the special needs toilet beside the cafeteria they provide a child’s toilet seat that can be placed on top of the regular toilet seat. I found these little extras to be very convenient for my toddlers. They don’t have a family toilet like in so many places these days, but they do have a changing mat at the entrance to the women’s toilet. A man could use it too, without having to go right into the women’s toilets. There is a great outdoor seating area outside this cafeteria. It can be used to eat any food bought on Saiboku premises.
One of the places I like to buy a quick and cheerful lunch for the kids on a day out in Sayama is the bakery which is at the back of the meat shop. It isn’t huge, but there is a good selection. They sell nice sandwiches as well as a choice of baked breads. The pig shaped bread filled with chocolate is popular with children. My kids like the sausage roll on a stick.
According to Saiboku themselves their spare ribs are their best selling food. Google reviews confirms this! The spare ribs are sold in one of the many kiosk type eateries; the one nearest the vegetable shop. The building is currently undergoing renovations, but they are open for business. There is always a queue there, but on weekdays it isn’t too bad. On weekends the queue can be very long.
The award winning restaurant, which is near the playground, often has a queue at lunch time on the weekends too. Beside it is a food van with a funny name, Hareru Ya or Hallelujah, that sells crepes. The van’s bonnet is designed like a dog. Other eateries include window boothes that sell a variety of pork products such as katsu and skewered pork.
Saiboku has a point card system. Any adult can sign up for a card. It costs 200 yen for a new member, but they have days that the new membership fee is wavered. A card is valid for a year after your last purchase. You can earn points in the shops, restaurants and hot spring. For every 200 yen you spend (not including tax) you earn 1 point. Every Monday you can earn double points. You can also earn “eco points”; 2 points per visit, for not using a plastic bag when you purchase more than two items. If you collect over 500 points you get a 500 yen discount coupon. They occasionally have double points on other days too.
Saiboku also runs cooking and crafting events. They have special plans as well such as entry into the onsen, with a meal and 500 yen shopping ticket for a set price. They also sometimes organise tours that leave from Saiboku to do, for example, fruit picking. The onsen has live music performances a couple of times a month. Each month you can pick up a flyer with the month’s events at Saiboku, or you can check for information on their website (Japanese only):
It can be a little bit tricky to get there the first time, but if you’re using an up-to-date GPS it will guide you. Phone number in the Google Map below. The bus system seems to be very good and they have the times on their website.
From the Hidaka Interchange, facing Kawagoe, it takes about 5 minutes. Saiboku’s phone number 042-985-0869.
Train and bus
From the West exit of SAYAMA CITY station on the Seibu Shinjuku line take a bus to Saiboku onsen. It takes approximately 17 minutes.
From the West exit of TSURUGASHIMA on the Tobu Tojo line a bus to the terminal of the hotspring takes about 25 minutes.
UPDATE ON FEBRUARY 13TH 2015 – the onsens have been re-opened further to renovations after being closed early in 2013 due to bacteria in the water which killed two people.
Approximately a 5 minute drive from Saiboku is the Botanical Garden parking lot of CHIKOZAN PARK:
Best of Saitama: Chikozan Park | SAYAMA
Multi-purpose park with Campsite, BBQ, Zoo, Fishing, Sport facilities, Athletic Playground, Multi-use Playground, Beautiful Flora and Fauna. Chikozan Park in Sayama is close to the controversial prâ¦
Maruyama park is frequently listed in Saitama’s top 3 list of parks. It is personally one of my favourites. I love that although the park isn’t massive, there is so much to do and see that you can spend a full day there. I particularly like that they have swings that toddlers can sit into with back and stomach support, which is a rarity in this area of Saitama. The facilities and attractions in the park, even the zoo corner, are completely free. Another benefit for families with young children is that the (free) parking is off road and right beside the toddler friendly playground. The only downside is that unless you drive, access is a bit difficult. There is a bus from Ageo station (details below), but it is infrequent and often packed.
It is very pretty in the Spring, first with plum blossoms then with cherry blossoms. It is a popular place to do “Hanami” (Flower viewing picnic). In summer the wading streams, fireflies and beetles draw families from afar. In Autumn many photographers come to capture the leaves vibrant colours. You can collect acorns in early winter. On a rainy day you can enjoy free access to the nature education hall. The activities you can enjoy all year round are listed below.
☆Toilets in 3 different locations, each with a special needs toilet with changing mat
☆Water drinking fountains
☆Taps for washing your feet beside the wading river and ones for washing your hands in the petting zoo area
☆A small shop that is open on weekends and holidays
The park is open permanently
The zoo corner is open from 9am to 4pm; closed on Tuesdays
Petting hour is Wednesday through Sunday from 10 to 11am and 13.30 to 14.30 on Saturdays and holidays. In Winter (Dec through Feb) it is from 13.30 to 14.30 Wednesday through Sunday.
Free Parking for 500 cars
3326 Hirakata, Ageo, Saitama Prefecture, Japan
From JR Ageo Station;
Tobu bus for terminal “Maruyama Park”; West Exit No. 6 bus
City bus “Gurutto-kun” for hirakata-zyunkan; West Exit. Alight at “Maruyama Koen
Minamiguchi” bus stop or “Shizen gakusyu-kan iriguchi” bus stop
Isanuma Park’s athletic playground equipment is a great fun place to burn off some energy for the kids (and some calories for me!). What the Japanese call “athletic playgrounds” is what we call “adventure playgrounds” in Ireland. Isanuma’s playground is geared for 6 to 12 year olds, but I think kids from 3 up are well able for the challenge. And its a great challenge for adults too. You often find adults working out on the equipment when there are few kids around.
Other equipment they have that is not pictured include rock and other type of climbing walls, climbing nets, net tunnels, obstacle courses and other type of playground equipment.