Shinto shrines are plentiful in Japan, almost every village, town or city has one. There are usually amenities available at popular shrines, including toilets, baby feeding rooms, vending machines and eateries. However, even the smaller shrines usually come with at least one piece of playground equipment. A lot of them have free parking, but in tourist areas it is not uncommon to have to pay. Typically, weekdays it is easy to find a free parking spot, unless it is during a shinto festival time such as the 7-5-3.
I really love bringing the children to play on the grounds of a shrine. The surroundings are always pleasant and the grounds are well maintained. The atmosphere is serene and majestic as you enter by a torii onto a stone pavement. The area is usually surrounded by trees, some of which are yorishiro (place inhabited by a kami‘s spirit). There are purification fonts to cleanse your hands, the komainu (lion-dogs) guard the inner shrine, wooden plaques hang with visitor’s prayers and wishes, there is usually at least one minature shrine often with a fox, the diety of rice supposedly. The playground is usually to the side or back of the shrines.
Today, we visited Miyoshino Shrine in Kawagoe for the first time. It is not that far from us, 15 minutes by car, but I never knew it was there until planning a route to a library on google maps last night! It has free parking, toilets, vending machines, a small shop and a yaki-soba counter. There is also a rent-a-bike station nearby. The playground is most suited to smaller children, but there is a flying fox and climbing frame that is geared towards older children. It has a sandpit and swings suitable for all ages. Some photos of the shrine grounds and playground equipment below.
Address: 2 Chome−25, Kuruwamachi, Kawagoe City, 350-0053