Pampers in Japan

Pampers box given free at my maternity hospital

Among all the free stuff I got while staying at the hospital was a pampers box. The pampers box came with four nappies(diapers), a pack of wipes for delicate skin,  a sample of baby washing detergent, information and coupons for nappies and baby goods at toys-r-us and akachan honpo.

Pampers is the most popular brand used by hospitals for newborn babies in Japan.  They are also very popular among consumers even though there are cheaper alternatives available.  You can buy pampers nappies in most baby and hardware stores.  However, in my experience Nishimatsuya does not carry the brand.  You can also buy Pampers nappies in Costco and other foreign retail stores.  For the record, I actually have found Cainz to be the cheapest for Pampers nappies.

Like most of the nappies in Japan, Pampers come with a strip to indicate when the baby has urinated.  If the strip turns from yellow to blue you know your baby needs a diaper change!  I have tried other brands in Japan, but I have found Pampers to be the most absorbant and most comfortable at all ages.

When joining a baby shop’s point system you often get samples of nappies to try out.  At my maternity hospital other than the sample we got during our stay I had also received samples at antenatal classes.  These are really handy for the nappy bag for a trip out. Although, if your baby is anything like mine, they pee and poop all the time and you’ll need a nappy an hour!

Toddler friendly Hakone Open Air Museum

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.

Other facilities

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.

Information

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

Keiai Ladies “Hotel!”, Saitama. General Information

Keiai Hospital, or as I like to call it Keiai Ladies Hotel, is a maternity and ladies clinic in Fujimi City in Saitama.  They also have a pharmacy, a paediatric clinic and a fertility centre on the main premises and nearby they  have a dental clinic too.  It is a family run hospital, yet it is exceptionally modern while keeping a very friendly and comfortable atmosphere.

Keiai Ladies Clinic LobbyI have had two babies at the hospital and am about to have my third there.  All of my antenatal and postnatal care has been at this hospital.  My children’s paediatrician practises there too.  I can not recommend this hospital high enough, between it’s excellent medical care, superior personal care, choice of ante- / postnatal classes, quality of services and pristine modern facilities as well as much much more.

The ladies clinic is separated into three parts; Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Anesthesiology. The Obstetrics Department looks after pre and postnatal care including labour and delivery and antenatal classes for Mother and postnatal classes for both Mother and child.  The Gynaecology department offers general outpatient gynaecology care as well as family planning, fertility, menopause consultation, cervical cancer screening and gynecological surgery.  The anesthesiology department administers the epidural and anesthesia for surgery.

Reception is open from 8.30 to 12.00 and 13.30 to 16.30 Monday through to Saturday.  Doctor’s official hours are from 9.00 to 12.00 and 14.00 to 17.00, although they see people through lunch if you have checked in before 12.00.  The phone number is 049-252-2121. Afternoons are generally less busy than mornings.  Due to its popularity, it is not uncommon to have to wait upto two hours, and sometimes more, to see the Doctor during the morning hours. Afternoons patient flow tends to be a lot quicker.

There are 6 doctors on at any one time in the Obstetrics Department.  You can request to see a particular Doctor.  There is at least one English speaking Doctor.  I speak Japanese to the Doctors, but when I don’t understand a particular word they are always able to tell me the English equivalent.  There are at least three female ob/gyns. In total, I believe there are 14 ob/gyns including the Director of the hospital. Some of the nurses also have a bit of English.  There is a nurses station beside the examination rooms, a non-stress test (NST) room, an x-ray room, a 4D scan room and other examination rooms in the obstetrics out patients on the ground floor.

There are a number of family facilities on site. On the ground floor there is a family toilet with nappy changing unit and a seat that you can place children upto 15 kilos into, pictured on the left, while you use the facilities! There is also a feeding room near that toilet with instant boiled water available, another nappy changing area, sink, microwave and comfortable seats.  There is a coffee shop for patron’s use toward the back of the hospital. It also houses a baby shop. There is a small garden with a patio and terrace furniture for everybody’s use.  There is a playroom that also offers child minding, beside the paediatrics clinic on the ground floor. For more details, please see my blog entry, “playroom at Keiai”.   There is also a playground on the premises for patrons use.  When you stay after giving birth there is a family shower room available, if you choose to have your family stay over.  (That’s a whole other post yet to come!).

Food at keiaiPrenatal visits are covered by the book of coupons you receive from your local government. For more information on that please read the attached PDF, A guide to living in Saitama. Pregnancy and childcare, from Saitama Prefectural Government.  The cost of birthing at Keiai completely depends on what type of birth you choose and what type of room you opt for.  Room prices (exclusive of medication or surgery costs) for 4 nights for a vaginal birth start at approximately 540,000 and for the 8 night standard stay for a cesarean they start at approximately 600,000, of which 420,000 is covered by the national health insurance.  They have a standard room as well as deluxe rooms, premium rooms and the grand suite.  All rooms have a toilet en suite, but the standard room does not have a shower. There is a public shower and refresh room available.  All rooms have a pull out bed that for 2,500円 can be made up for a family member to stay over night. The grand suite can hold multiple guests. For each additional child you have at Keiai you get a discount. For a second child there is a 20,000円 discount, this is my third child so I will receive a 30,000円 discount.  All meals (their food is absolutely out of this world!) are free for Mom and you receive 3 free meal coupons.   I will do a separate post about the meals and costs for guests in the future.

Keiai hospital has parking available near the entrance of the obstetrics and gynaecology departments as well as a large car park around the back.  There are two free shuttle bus services. One from Mizuhodai Train station which is on the Tobu Tojo Line and Yurakucho Subway and Fukutoshin Subway Lines and one form Yanasegawa Station on the Tobu Tojo Line.  You can also walk from Mizuhodai Station, it takes about 20 minutes. The address is 526-1 Harigaya in Fujimi City.

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Kawagoe’s “Children’s Castle” free kids community play centre

Written on August 27th 2012

One of the many things I love about life in Japan, is the multitude of free playgrounds, play centres and activities available to all children.  Below is a photo of my son climbing at Kawagoe Kodomo No Shiro or Children’s castle, a free community play centre in Kawagoe.  This free play centre also has a planetarium on it’s second floor which has a cover charge, but all other facilities at the centre are free.

There is a large open space on the first floor, where free baby and toddler classes are conducted.  When there is not a class in action the kids can play with toys, but you have to request the staff get them out for you, unlike in other play centres where they are readily available.  There is also a smaller playroom on the first floor suited to infants and toddlers. In this room the toys are laid out for you to use freely. There is a cot in this room for sleeping babies.

On both floors there are toilets designed for children and on the first floor there is a nappy changing unit in the special needs toilet. There is a lunch room on the second floor that can be used for those who’ve brought their own lunch between 12.00 noon and 1 pm.  You need to clean up after yourself and bring home your own rubbish.

 

IMG_1571Like all jidokans and jido centres in Saitama, there are a handful of teachers  on duty, who are there to keep the environment safe, run the classes and make sure that adults and children alike are respecting the rules of the jidokan.  They are not there to mind your children, but they are usually very helpful and friendly.  Some more than others!

This particular jidokan is not as nice or well equipped as many others in the surrounding cities, but the classes are great. Also, if you live in the area, its nice to have somewhere to hang out.  I highly recommend these type of play centres in general and the free children’s play groups and classes they run.

The centre is open from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm Tuesday to Sunday, closed on Mondays. It is quite a distance from the nearest station, so a bus is advised. Parking is free. It is separated from the building itself, just a few metres, but you can walk in from the back which is safe from traffic.

Saitama Fruit. Grape picking in Sayama

Sayama Grape season starts next week opens this week (August 7th 2016), through to the middle of September. However, you can currently only buy directly from the vineyards and the picking season is a few weeks away yet.

Grape Picking Season General Information

Updated costs for 2016 are not yet available.

Adults: 600 yen

Primary school children: 500 yen

Kindergarten school children: 400 yen

Toddlers: 200 yen

It is a eat as you pick system, but you can pay extra to buy the grapes you pick to bring them home

There are five vineyards in Sayama that I am aware of, all in the vicinity of the Iriso station in Sayama, three of them are outlined below.

宮岡ぶどう園, Miyaoka Vineyard

Address: 1058 North Iriso, Phone: 04-2959-4949 URL: http://www.at-ml.jp/?in=59281/

Opening: 2016 August 7th until early October Hours: 9am to 6pm Closed Wednesdays

Access: 10 minute walk from the East exit of Iriso station on the Seibu Line

 

宮信観光ぶどう園, Miyashin Vineyard

RESERVATION REQUIRED

Telephone: 04-2959-4059, Website: http://www.miyashin.com/ (Japanese only)

Open:  You can buy from August 11th (2016), but picking season isn’t until September 1st. Closes on Mondays  Hours: 9am – 6pm, picking until 5pm

Access:  15 minute walk from Musashi Fujisawa Station on the Seibu Line, 18 minute walk from the West exit of Iriso station

This farm also offers Kiwi Fruit Picking.  2016 the season will start the same as the regular grapes on August 11th. You can pick large type grapes from September 1st.

宮俊ぶどう園, Miyatoshi Vineyard

Telephone: 04-2959-3651, Websitehttp://ktmhp.com/hp/budouen/1  (Japanese only)

Open:  2016 August 10th  Hours: 9am – 5pm

Access:  13 minute walk from Iriso station on the Seibu Shinjuku Line

Family Friendly local mall Peony Walk | HIGASHIMATSUYAMA

1st published August 2012, updated June 2017.

Peony Walk is a large mall in the city of Higashi Matsuyama.  It’s nearest station is Takasaka, which is probably best known as the station for Saitama Children’s Zoo.  Until the mall was built a few years ago, there wasn’t much in the area at all. Now there are a number of other stores and services popping up, as well as a huge number of housing developments.

There are a few free play areas in the mall. Apita which is split over two floors has a play area on each floor.  There is one on the first floor beside the toy department of Apita. They provide free toys for the kids to play with at two small play stations, plus sample toys kids can play with in some of the aisles. There is also a permanent display of Tomica cars and Plarail trains.   The other free play area is on the second floor, beside the baby and maternity area of the clothes department. It is a padded area with soft blocks suited to babies and toddlers. The Xebio Sports and camping shop beside Apita also has a free play area. It is a fake tree with a counter around it and cubby holes with toys for the kids to play with. It also has two TV screens playing DVDs.  The Libro Book store and Village Vanguard, also on the 2nd floor, both have some sample books and toys out for kids to play with for free. There is also a small playground outside in the overflow car park beside K’s Denki. In the extension outdoor mall “Life Garden” there is a Tsutaya with a play area with some sample toys and books for kids to play with, plus a screen showing Anpanman cartoons.

Apart from these free play areas, there is an amusement area, Sweets Fantasy Pacc’n Kids Park, on the 2nd floor. It has two sections; one with amusements and the other is a fun center suitable to toddlers.  In the amusement area they have coin operated rides for children as well as UFO catchers, slot machines, purikura machines and other coin operated attractions. The rides for children cost between 100 and 200 yen.  The fun center fees start at 300 yen for 20 minutes.

Amusement area of Sweets Fantasy Pacc’n on the 2nd floor of Peony Walk Higashimatsuyama

Peony Court on the 1st floor hosts a number of free and paid events suited to toddlers.  This month, for example, they have a Euro Bungee Trampoline, a giant cardboard maze and a popular clown.  For further information on events in Peony Walk and in Saitama in general, please have a look at the events section of this blog.

What I like about this local mall with a family feel is that it is easily accessible, with lots of free parking including wider car spots and priority parking for wheelchair users and lower mobility patrons as well as for pregnant women and those with small children. Inside the family friendliness continues with family toilets and rest areas, baby friendly shopping trolleys, free and paid play areas for toddlers, and an area in the food court with low tables and colourful decor for small children to eat in. There are also a number of other kid friendly eateries on the 1st floor.  There are a number of places you can change a baby’s nappy as well as nursery rooms with a microwave  and burco.

There is also a good selection of shops with baby or infant products and clothes. There is a bakery, Grano Grano, that sells allergen free bread. You can pick up international food and drink from the Kaldi Coffee Farm store. And there is a Karuizawa Farmer’s Market for delicious jams, preserves and sauces.  The malls corridors and aisles are wide and it is easy to navigate with a stroller. However, on the 2nd floor one side of the mall is carpeted and it is more difficult to push a shopping trolley in that section. The signature shop of the mall is Apita. They are a reasonably priced department store with ladies, mens, kids, babies, maternity, funeral and business wear and shoes as well as baby goods on the 2nd floor. They also have a supermarket and toy store on the first floor.

Access

The mall is only a kilometer from the Takasaka station and about six kilometers from the HigashiMatsuyama Interchange on the Kanetsu expressway.  You can get a bus from Takasaka station for 100 en per adult and 50 yen per child, although walking is just as quick as the bus stops twice.

Shizuoka, Numazu. Awa Island; toddler friendly marine park

Awashima (Awa Island) is on the North West coast of the Izu Peninsula. Is is a very small island and you can easily walk the perimeter in less than an hour.   The island is home to my toddler’s favourite aquarium, Awashima Marine Park, and an exclusive hotel that the Emperor has stayed in.  The island is open to anyone who pays to enter it, but the hotel facilities are only open to paying guests.  However, when we entered to inquire about costs and availability the staff were exceptionally friendly and professional.   Rates, incidentally, start at 60,000 yen per person per night, supposedly worth every yen for the waterfront view of Mount Fuji, but we decided to catch the last boat back to the Peninsula!

Awashima island used to be linked to Numazu by a ropeway.  The ropeway still exists, but it is not in operation.  So the only access to the island is by boat.  The boat ride is included in the 1,500 yen per adult admission cost to the marine park.  That’s 400 yen cheaper than the nearby Mito Sea Paradise, which frankly is not as toddler friendly and has less to offer than Awashima.  Both Mito Sea Paradise and Awashima are free to children up to 3 years old, but they both charge 500 yen for parking.

You can bring buggies and strollers on to the boat without having to fold them down, but you do need to take the children out of the buggy to do this.  The journey only takes a few minutes.  The island is buggy friendly and there are changing units in the toilets.  The island has one restaurant in the middle of the sea, overlooking the dolphins play area!  The staff on the island are very friendly and helpful. There are play areas on the island and opportunities for the kids to get up close and personal with some of the animals!

Awashima Island
Getting close to some of the park life!

Shizuoka, Gotemba. Family resort with Accommodation, Hot springs, Dining, Shopping, Sports & Much much more

The Tokinosumika Resort aka Gotemba Kogen in Gotemba, Shizuoka

This post was first written in 2012 and has been updated on a number of occasions to reflect the changes in the resort, which is always modifying and upgrading.

Highlights

  • A wide variety of accommodation choices with babies and toddlers free
  • A number of different types of eateries, both Japanese and Western
  • Shopping
  • A selection of hot springs including ones that are toddler friendly
  • An abundance of sports facilities and sporting options. Some require booking in advance
  • Swimming pool and paddling pool in the summer
  • Activities and Crafts for people of all ages
  • Games room
  • Playground with mountain trampoline, bouncing castles, carousel
  • Indoor play area with goldfish aquarium, projection mapping, wooden toys
  • Events such as seasonal illumination, travelling exhibitions and Gotemba Kogen Fireworks Display in August
  • A water, light and projection mapping show in the evenings
  • Segways & bikes available for rent
  • A pet hotel
  • Coin Laundry and Vending Machines
  • Free parking and free shuttle bus from station
  • A doctor and clinic on the grounds (seasonal)
  • A multitude of Fuji Views 🙂

    View of Mt. Fuji from Hotel Tokinosumika western / eastern fusion room
    View of Mt. Fuji from Hotel Tokinosumika western / eastern fusion room

The Tokinosumika resort is one of the few places I know in Japan that has a huge selection of things to do and see all available in the same complex.  It also has great views of Mt Fuji. It is an ideal location to travel with family.   It has plenty to do for a day out, and even more available to patrons of it’s accommodation, but please note there are charges for some facilities and activities. They are a very child friendly establishment with a huge selection of attractions some of which are listed below.  It is also pet friendly and has a pet hotel on the premises.  They have self catering accommodation as well as a choice of hotels.

The first  time we stayed in Tokinosumika, also known as Gotemba Kogen, was when I was pregnant with my eldest.  We had never heard of the resort; we just came across it by Providence when looking for somewhere to stay to break up a journey.  It was the best accidental find ever!  We arrived at night and the resort had quite a romantic feel thanks to the illuminations.  We chose not to have dinner included in our stay and thankfully were in time to try out some of the restaurants on site, which, due to the family friendly focus of the resort, close quite early.  We had a light dinner in the Grand Table followed by dessert in the Books and Cafe only a short walk away.  The Books and Cafe is home to an Art Aquarium since 2015. On subsequent visits we have dined in the hotels and in some of the other restaurants on site.  On each visit we have had our breakfast included and all the breakfast restaurants are buffet style.  If you opt to stay in the self catering Blueberry lodges (which have a cooker, microwave, and fridge) or Slow House villas  you can still avail of a buffet style breakfast in a delegated  breakfast hall.  The cheapest accommodation option within the resort are the tepees. The tepees have futons, but nothing else, and sleep up to 6 people. There are toilet and bathing facilities for people who stay in the tepees, and you can rent/buy necessities (e.g toothbrush, facecloth) from the reception.  (2015 Teepees no longer available for private hire). A list of the hotels and accommodation options are listed below.
Teepee at Tokinosumika

The initial highlight for me when we stumbled across this resort was the hotsprings.  On that first visit to the Gotemba Kogen Hotel in 2009 (update 2014 now divided into two hotels; Gotemba Kogen Bu Hotel and Hotel Brush Up) we visited the hot springs in the hotel.  These particular hot springs are only available to guests staying at the hotel, but there are other hot springs in the resort which are open to the general public.  The hot springs in the Gotemba Kogen Hotel are okay (they may have improved when the hotel split into 2), but not as nice as the springs in the neighbouring hotel Hotel Tokinosumika. The springs in this hotel are larger and are toddler friendly.  They have a number of relaxation services, such as massage and body care, that you can pay for as well as free relaxation rooms with TVs and reclining chairs.  There are other spas on the resort which we hope to try out on our next visit!

Art Aquarium at Tokinosumika
Art Aquarium at Tokinosumika

The list of activities available a the Tokinosumika resort is impressive.  On our first visit we enjoyed a travelling exhibition that was been shown at the Sakura Temple.  We walked through the nature trails enjoying the number of water features in the resort.  We visited the Giant Bell, observed some tennis games and soccer matches,  relaxed in the Wood and Tree Museum and stopped in to watch potters at work.  With the kids, as they were only toddlers, they were just happy to play outdoors and go for walks.  There are playgrounds and a playroom available for guests of the resort.  There are also a number of sports facilities available such as tennis, basketball and badminton courts.  They also have fishing, a mountain trampoline, some shops and in the summer you can use the outdoor pool.   You can rent segways or bikes.  You can pay to try your hand at pottery or pitch and putt or even ice skating.  They even have a doctor and clinic on the premises during certain times.  I’ve tried to summarise their facilities below.

Bhutan house standing behind the beach volleyball court, a tennis court and the fishing pool.
Bhutan house standing behind the beach volleyball court, a tennis court and the fishing pool.

Facilities and Sightseeing

Activities, Sports, Points of Interest, Nature

  • Big Bang Playground
  • Carousel / Merry go round (2016: part of playground)
  • Segways available for rent
  • Bikes available for rent
  • Pitch & Putt
  • Art aquarium (external site City-cost.com)
  • Fishing
  • Candle making
  • Pottery
  • Games room
  • Mountain trampoline (2016: now part of “BIG BANG” super playground)
  • Cooking class
  • Beach Volleyball
  • Outdoor swimming pool (Seasonal)
  • Paddling pool (Seasonal)
  • Swan lake skate rink (Seasonal)
  • Water features; rivers, waterfalls, fountains
  • Bell tower
  • Softball ground
  • Soccer pitch
  • Tennis Court
  • Badminton courts
  • Basketball court
  • 3D Theatre
  • Statue Mountain; home to 1800 buddhist statues
  • Wood & tree museum (2016 now part of the art museum)
  • Sakura temple which is used for shows and travelling exhibitions
  • Gardening shop
  • Night light, water and projection mapping show
  • Free Shuttle bus from / to Mishima and Gotemba Stations
One of the holes on the Pitch and Putt course
One of the holes on the Pitch and Putt course

Accommodation Options

    • Hotel Tokinosumika (Please click to be brought to more information in English)

      Hotel Tokinosumika is also illuminated at night
  • Blueberry Lodge (please click to be brought to more information in English)

    Blueberry Lodges at Tokinosumika

 

  • Slowhouse Villa which are themed yurts.
  • Tepee (please click to be brought to more information) 2015 not available for private hire
  • Bhutan House (official website)

For Pets

  • Pet Hotel
The Pet Hotel
The Pet Hotel

Getting there

If you are coming by train there is a free shuttle bus you can get from Mishima and Gotemba Stations.  If you have a group of more 15 you can request the bus pick you up from neighbouring cities. You will need to organise that with the resort.

The timetable for the free shuttle bus (2016):

From the official English website

For further information on this hotel and all the hotels and self catering options in Tokinosumika please visit one of these websites below;
The Japanese website is http://www.tokinosumika.com/ and you can find detailed information and booking services in English here http://www.gotembakogenresort.jp/accommodations.html (I have no affiliation to either of these sites)

For more information on what else is on offer in the Gotemba area please go here;
http://insaitama.com/shizuoka-gotemba-attractions/

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