Kanto is the area around Tokyo, comprising Saitama, Kanagawa (Yokohama), Chiba, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Gunma. This is a calendar displaying festivals and fireworks in this area for the month of July. Click on the event for more information including time and place, and a link to either the official website or to a webpage with more information in English. I recommend you view as AGENDA.
This August the special Takara Tomica event is back by popular demand. It is being held at Pacifico Yokohama again. Not only can you see how the factory operates, but the kids can make cars and play with plarail.
Dates: August 11th to 21st.
Cost: Tickets bought on the day cost 1000 yen for junior high school age children and adults, 800 yen for kids. Children under 2 are free. As part of a special summer campaign “Minato Yokohama Yukata festival “, if you are dressed in Yukata you receive a 100yen discount on the price.
Time: You can enter anytime between 10am and 4pm.
Place and access in English – http://www.pacifico.co.jp/english/index.html
(Last year there was a 100yen discount for tickets bought in advance. The PHONE # for booking was: 03-5435-0604. MOnday to Friday. Its not open yet for this year. I will update when it is. )
There is a really great free zoo in Yokohama near Hinodecho Station. Despite being free it is a decent sized zoo with a great selection of animals. The thing I liked best about it is that they have designed it in such a way that during visiting hours the animals are up close and visible even to the smallest of children. Saitama has a number of free zoos too, but it is much larger with a better choice of animals than both the free and low cost zoo areas here (Kitamoto, Maruyama, Omiya, Chikozan).
The place was crowded understandably, and according to Google reviews, even on a weekday it is quite busy. The zoo has been around a long time and was the first zoo in Japan to enjoy success in housing a number of foreign animals including leopards, sloth bear and lemurs. They still have the latter (lemurs) but currently there are no sloth bears or leopards. They do have other bears, and a lion and tiger. You can see them up close and personal. They have a fantastic petting area where you can meet, touch and hold a variety of small animals such as mice, guinea pigs, chickens and snakes. Beside that area they have a few penguins with low barriers for easy viewing. They currently have a good selection of monkeys. The red pandas are supposedly the most popular especially at feeding time. In total there are about 1500 animals of 100 different species. They have a list of all animals on their website.
The zoo is quite hilly, but there are ramps that people with strollers can use. I sometimes had to go around a longer way due to the buggy, but I didn’t find it hard to navigate and it was only a minor problem. There are plenty of toilets, one of which is a family toilet with a child’s toilet, urinal, changing area and regular toilet. There are rest areas and drink and food vending machines. There are some fun areas within the zoo for kids, such as the old train that is turned into a rest area or the old polar bear enclosure which kids can explore.
The Hilton Odawara in Kanagawa are once again this year, very kindly, offering a photo with Santa opportunity daily until the 25th. This event is already running, since November 4th. Each day between 3 pm and 4 pm you can meet Santa in the front lobby of the Hilton and request to get your photo taken with him. This is a free event and they welcome people of all ages.
Take the Metropolitan Expressway (Kuko chuou) to the Tomei Expressway Atsugi Interchange. Take Odawara Atsugi Road to the Ishibashi Interchange onto Route 135, then the intersection at Manazuru Road to the Hilton Odawara Resort & Spa.
DIRECTIONS BY TRAIN
Take the Tokyo Monorail to Hamamatsucho, then the JR Yamanote Line to Shinagawa. Take the bullet train to Odawara then free shuttle bus (Mon to Fri, except holidays) to the hotel. Free shuttle is available also from Nebukawa Station daily.
The landmark Redbrick Warehouses in Yokohama (akarenga 赤レンガ) are running a number of Christmas events this holiday season, including the chance to meet Santa Claus.
On December 6th, 8th, 10th, 13th, 15th, 17th and 24th, Santa Claus will be taking a walk around the redbrick warehouses, both indoors and out. If you can find him, you can get your photo taken with him.
Other Christmas events at the Redbrick warehouses include a Christmas market, trick art Santa, Christmas wreath (and other) workshops, and Christmas fireworks (11th and 18th). For more information in Japanese: http://www.yokohama-akarenga.jp/christmas2015/
Hakone Open Air Museum was the first of its kind in Japan and today it remains one of the most popular due to its harmonious balance of art and nature. The Museum is most known for its outdoor sculptures, but it also has a number of indoor museums with paintings, prints, ceramics and sculptures. One of the indoor museums houses their Picasso collection, which has more than 300 items.
What I love about this museum is that it is great for children, even toddlers. Below are some photos of the activities available to children;
The “Garden of Stars” is a life-size maze for all ages. You can watch from the top or go down into the maze and try it for yourself.
The “Woods of Nets” is a fun space for kids of all ages. The floor beneath the swings and the climbing maze of the nets is padded. There are low down entrances into the climbing maze, that even toddlers can climb into.
The “Curved Space – Diamond Structure” is another type of climbing space. Smaller children would need to be accompanied by older children or adults.
The “Symphonic Sculpture” is a tower in the centre of the museum. There are great views of the surrounding landscape from the top of the tower.
They loan out baby strollers and wheelchairs for free, subject to availability of course. They also have free lockers, for storing small items of luggage, available. There is a foot spa located beside the Gallery Cafe and Shop. There are two restaurants as well as two cafes. We ate in the “Bella Foresta” restaurant, which is an all-you-can-eat buffet style restaurant. There wasn’t a huge selection, but it was big enough to have something for everyone. There are at least six male and female bathrooms throughout the museum and three multi user toilets which have baby changing facilities.
The museum is open all year round from 9am to 5pm, last entry at 4.30pm. Children up to five years old can enter for free. For up to date entrance fees for older children and adults, please see their website. When we went in 2011 we accessed the museum by car and it was well sign posted and easy to find. The parking at that time was 500円 for the day. The museum is a two minute walk from Chokoku no Mori station on the Hakone Tozan Line. There is also a bus that goes from JR Odawara Station or Odakyu Hakone Yumoto Station to Ninotaira Iriguchi Station which is a five minute walk from the museum.
Address and contact details
Ninotaira, Hakone-Town, Kanagawa-Prefecture, 250-0493 Japan
Tel: 0460-82-1161 Fax: 0460-82-1169
Restaurant and shop information: 0460-82-1141 www.hakone-oam.or.jp
As Halloween has its origin in my home country, I have observed Halloween in Japan with interest! They don’t celebrate it like at home: there is no trick or treating or halloween night bonfires; but they do mark the event and celebrate it in different ways.
This year, for the first time since I came in 2000, I went to a Halloween Parade. There were a number of parades over the weekend past, 25th & 26th October, but we met new friends at the one in Kawasaki. Kawasaki is a city on the Tokyo side of Kanagawa, a 10 minute train ride from Tokyo JR’s Shinagawa train station.
The parade started at 2.30pm and supposedly had around 3,000 participants. There were a lot of witches and pumpkin girls, but what’s halloween without them! If you are looking for a Halloween costume idea for this Friday, you might be inspired by some of the below!: