Places to go in Saitama With Kids: Shinrin Park, Namegawa
Shinrin park (also known as Musashi Kyuryo National Goverment Park) is vast, 304 hectares to be precise. To put that in perspective; 65 times the size of Tokyo Dome! There is an entrance fee for children over the age of 6 and parking is charged, but it is well worth the money as there are lots of things to do and see for people of all ages. They also host special events most weekends and during holidays, which often cost extra money.
Due to the size of the park there are different exits, each with their own parking lot. The West and Central Gates have the most for children.
Shinrin Park West Gate
The adventure playground, giant ball play area and the musashi kids dome are close to each other and accessed from the West entrance. They are all walkable from the entrance and from each other. In the summer, there is a splash pool which is near the adventure playground. The West entrance adminisitration building at that entrance has a shop, seating area, nursing room, nappy changing area, microwave and toilets including a wheelchair accessible toilet.
Shinrin Park Central Gate
The “ponpoko mountain”, Japan’s largest trampoline, is at least a 20 minute walk away. That, the botanical gardens, restaurant and seasonal illumination are accessible from the Central Gate. The popular tree climbing event is close to this entrance too.
South And North Gates
The plum blossom and cherry blossom groves are closest to the South Entrance. The Dog Run is closest to the North Entrance.
The Playgrounds of Shinrin Park
The adventure playground has 23 different pieces of equipment, including the very popular pirates ship pictured above. There is a long roller slide with sacks you can borrow to sit on. There are also lots of climbing and balance equipment and even a tightrope bridge over the river.
Musashi Kids Dome
The Musashi Kids Dome is a colorful play area for kids of all ages. The park is worth paying into for just this playground alone. There are quirky slides, climbing chambers, a ball pool, spring rides and much more. There is also a rest area in this section with toilets and vending machines.
Giant Ball Play Area
Giant balls are put out on a fine day. They are beside the Musashi Kids dome and close to the athletic / adventure playground. They are free to use.
Japan’s largest outdoor mountain trampoline is quite a walk from any entrance, but the central gate is probably the closest. Kids must be over 3 years old to play on the main trampoline, but they have a smaller one beside it that even smaller kids can play on.
Getting Around Shinrin Park
The walk between entrances is quite long, so if you prefer to use an easier mode of transport, the park has some on offer. You can’t bring your own bikes into the park, but you can rent a bike. It is 410 yen to rent an adult bike or mamachari for 3 hours, 200 yen for children. They have designated cycling courses.
The easiest is the park bus that goes between the gates of the park and stops at popular spots en route. It costs 210 yen for an adult per ride or you can buy a day pass for 400 yen. Small buggies / strollers are available to borrow for free. They have segway tours too, but you have to be over 16 to use them and must use them in a tour group.
Shinrin Park Seasonal Attractions
During the summer there is a 2500m2 paddling and wading pool as well as mist and fountains. The water depth ranges from 5 to 30cm. You can enjoy as early as April and they run to mid October. They close the water play area some Tuesdays and Wednesdays for cleaning. They have lockers, but no changing rooms. Nappies (diapers) are allowed, but the pool type, water nappies, are not. There is a tuck shop beside the wading pools, that sells ice cream and kaki-kori. There is a separate wading river half way between the West and South exits.
This park is beautiful all year round, but especially during cherry blossom and autumn foliage seasons.
There are many activities and attractions on offer all year round as well as seasonal attractions and events. During January the park closes the 3rd and 4th Monday. Opening hours are 9.30-17.30. The phone number is 0493-57-2111. Please visit their website, for further information in English about access and entrance and parking fees; http://www.shinrinkoen.jp/english/
Shinrin Park Events
You can find some events in Shinrin Park in this schedule of events for Saitama. One of our favourite events at Shinrin Park is the Halloween Night Illumination and party:
The nearest train station is Shinrin Koen Station on the Tobu Tojo line. You can get a bus to the park from there.
From Shinrin-koen Station on the Tobu Tojo Line
From the official site:
Get off at Shinrin-koen Station on the Tobu Tojo Line, and there is a bus stop and taxi stand at the North Exit. It is approx. a 3 km (approx. 40 min.) walk to the Shinrin Park’s South Gate.
Bus: To Shinrin Park South Exit (Running on Saturdays, Sundays, and national holidays only), Get on the direct bus to Shinrin-koen,and get off at the last stop
To Kumagaya Sta. South Exit and To Rissho Daigaku, for South gate get off at Namerikawa Chugakko, and walk approx. 5 min. For West Gate, Get off at Shinrin-koen West Ent., and it is directly before you
From Kumagaya Station on the JR Takasaki Line
From the official site:
Get off at Kumagaya Station on the JR Takasaki Line, and there is a bus stop at the South Exit.
BUS: To Shinrin-koen Station, For West Gate: Get off at Shinrin-koen West Ent., and it is directly before you. For South Gate: Get off at Shinrin-koen South Ent.,
and it is directly before you
There is plenty of parking. It is charged by the day. At the central gate there is additional independent parking lots. They are cheaper than the park’s parking costs. However, they are normally only open on weekends and public holidays. And some of them are quite a distance from the gate. Bear in mind that this particular gate is also quite far from the nearest play area.