My first Easter in Japan in 2001 the only place we could buy Easter eggs was on an American base. Last year, 2015, I could buy them in a local shop. This year they are even selling plastic eggs in the Daiso 100 yen shop. Like many of the Western holidays with marketing value, Japan has embraced the commercialism of Easter, without the customs and traditions. However, when my eldest was a baby, I happened upon one place with an Easter feel relatively close to us in Higashimatsuyama, Saitama. It became our custom to celebrate Easter there with the kids.
Saitama Children’s zoo has a Beatrix Potter museum, which you pay extra to view. However, beside it there is a small Peter Rabbit playground, which doesn’t cost extra. There isn’t much equipment in it, but the garden is nice and they have some Peter Rabbit statues and there is also a squirrel run. At Easter, they decorate the small play area with a basket of eggs in the treehouse slide and large Easter eggs beside the statues. With the rabbits and the eggs, and the baby chicks and rabbits you can visit nearby in the petting zoo, this became our favourite place to have Easter in our own way. The Peter Rabbit playground is kind of tucked out of view and with so much else to do in Saitama children’s zoo, it’s never really that busy. We’ve been able to have a few Easter egg hunts in that playground. The area isn’t too large and there are lots of places to hide eggs.
In previous years, the children’s zoo actually had official egg hunts, and Peter Rabbit and friends popped in to help out. Unfortunately, they seem to have dropped that annual event in more recent years. There are some other places that usually host Easter events in Saitama, but they aren’t scheduled yet for 2016. I will add them to the calendar when the dates have been confirmed: http://insaitama.com/events/ . There are already events scheduled in many parts of Tokyo, a Google search in Japanese will bring them up, but Disneyland is probably still the best place to enjoy a more authentic type Easter holiday in the Kanto area.
Do you celebrate Easter? Where is your favourite place and what do you do?
ADDRESS: 554 Iwadono, Higashimatsuyama, Saitama Prefecture 355-0065
HOURS: 9.30am to 5pm March to October, to 4.30pm from November 15th to February 10th. CLOSED ON MONDAYS
COSTS: Children free until primary school grade 1. Please see website for up-to-date costs.