Today’s adventure brought us to the newest “Oyaka” (Parent and child) cafe, HOPPE, in Kawagoe, which only opened last year (2015). In essence it is really a Mother and baby / toddler cafe and it is the only one of its kind that I have ever visited. It is like being in a friend’s living room… an immaculate modern living room with waiting staff and endless supplies of tea and soft drinks! In fact, the cafe is actually a converted apartment in a regular apartment block.
The front door is locked so you can’t just walk in, you need to be buzzed in. It requires booking and it is only for women (except Sundays) and children up to three years old in the morning. In the afternoon older children are welcome with children up to 6 free up until the end of March. From April 1st the system is changing slightly and only children under 3 are free. You can book and pay for an hour or two or a whole day. (Please check the website linked for up-to-date prices). If you book for 2 hours you get “service”, as they call it in Japan, of very fresh and delicious bread. If you book for a whole day, you can come and go as you please. They have lunch, desserts and snacks that you can purchase too and it is very reasonably priced. Pasta lunch was only 350 yen. You can use electronic foot massages for free and they have magazines and mangas that you can read while there. For the kids they have lovely wooden toys, a slide and swing for baby. They have bumbo and wooden chairs for the kids to sit in for eating, and a nursing area and a changing area. You can buy baby food.
It is a wonderful space for Moms with babies and toddlers. My 1 year old absolutely loved it. She normally takes a while to warm to a new place, but today she felt very comfortable very quickly and was soon enjoying the toys and equipment. One of the staff entertained her for a while so us adults could chat. I really enjoyed the space too and I love the concept behind it. If you read Japanese, you can find lots of great information, and even a discount, on the cafe’s blog: http://hoppe.babymilk.jp/wordpress/
BRIEF UPDATE 2016: “Books and cafe” has undergone some changes and it is no longer free in. More details to come in the coming days.
There is a lovely cafe in the Tokinosumika resort, aptly called “Books & Cafe”! It’s one of my favourite spaces actually, due to the ambience and wooden structure. It’s a nice place to relax over a coffee and a book. Now I enjoy it on our annual visits as it is also an interesting space for children. There is a wooden ball pool that babies and toddlers enjoy as well as wooden toys for toddlers and young children. There are books too for people of all ages. The cafe and the book area are slightly separate, so you can hang out in the “books” part without eating. They’ve a great selection of photo books as well as a good selection of kids books. There are seats, benches and cubby holes in the book area. URL: http://www.tokinosumika.com/restaurant/bookscafe.php Opening hours: 10.00-19.00
Another first that the new Lalaport has brought for West Saitama, is that of a “Mamas’ Club Theatre”. Twice a month on the 3rd floor of Lalaport, Fujimi, in the Toho Cinemas, they have a special baby and toddler friendly showing of a movie. The movie is shown at 9.30am in their biggest theatre, screen 1, with lights on and volume down. Babies and parents are allowed to talk, cry, sing along and just chill out and enjoy a movie in the big screen. This service was started in Tokyo a few years ago. Here is the Japan Times article about it at that time: Babies at the cinema need not be a recipe for disaster | The Japan Times
This coming Thursday the Mamas’ Club Theatrein Lalaport, Fujimi, presents Cinderella. You cannot book in advance for this service. Tickets can be purchased that morning. Parking areas 6 and 7, which are the Kawagoe side of route 254, are beside the cinema. If you park on the 4th floor of either of those lots, you can just walk down a ramp into the 3rd floor of Lalaport. Please be aware that until 10 in the morning you can only access the cinema on the Kawagoe end and the area around Yaoko on the Fujimi end.
One of the many fun and unique attractions of Lalaport in Fujimi is the Steam Locomotive Cafe on the 3rd floor. The cafe, which is also a train shop, features a number of different model railway towns and a plarail display. You can enjoy the displays as you eat your lunch or have a coffee (see the video at the bottom).
On weekdays, the children’s plate (800 yen in 2015) comes on a bullet train plate, as pictured below. They also have a “Nori Tetsu Meat” dish served with a train made out of seaweed. That comes with a half cooked egg though, so if you are buying for a child you might want to request they fully cook the egg! They have a bullet train cake on the menu too. They provide bumper chairs, and crockery and cutlery for children. You help yourself to water. They don’t have toilets in the cafe itself, but you can use Lalaport’s toilets, 2 of which are close by.
The Steam Locomotive Cafe is open daily from 10am to 9pm, last order for food is 8pm and for drinks it is 8.30pm. The nearest parking is probably car park lot number 2 or 3. The latter is outdoors. All parking in Lalaport is free. TEL: 049-257-6801