Tag Archives: Golden Week

Children’s Museum Festival at Museum of History and Folklore | SAITAMA CITY

On May 5th the Saitama Prefectural Museum of History and Folklore in Omiya (Saitama City) have a Children’s Museum Festival for Children’s Day.  Children can play with old and traditional toys as well as dress up in period costumes. The museum is free in for children on this day.

Access: 5 minute walk from Tobu Urban Line’s Omiya Kouen Station

Open: 9.30 am to 4.30 pm. Closed on Mondays

Cost: 300 yen for adults, usually 150 yen for children but the children’s fee is waived during Golden Week.

See grey box below for map, contact, time and more details ↓.

 

Stunning Shibazakura Moss Phlox at Hitsujiyama Park | CHICHIBU

The renowned Shibazakura or Moss Phlox of Chichibu’s Hitsujiyama Park are currently in full bloom. Since the 400,000 moss phlox of nine different varieties were planted in 2000 the shibazakura festival of Chichibu has enjoyed increasing seasonal traffic and become one of Saitama’s most famous spring scenes. We visited on Sunday, a couple of days short of full bloom, but standing in the middle of the fields and taking a shot facing Mt Buko you could trick your camera into thinking they are in full bloom!…

If you look closely you can see some of the bare patches, but not enough to leave disappointed. Even though the left side of the center point (photo below), with Mt Buko at your back, is still noticeably short of full bloom. Despite this the kids who were initially more interested in our hike of an old and unused hiking trail in Hinoda, were awed by the splashes of pink, purple and white back dropped by Chichibu’s unusually shaped Mt Buko.

We were lucky that we were staying relatively nearby (Nagatoro Autocamp)  and missed some of the traffic coming into Chichibu. We also used an unknown car park and took an unused hiking trail to get to the top of the plateau. The regular route and car park are frustratingly busy at this time and year and not for the impatient. We passed the overflow of the overflow car park before 10 am and already there was a queue to get in AND to get out. The traffic around the area was at a standstill and there was just people everywhere. Some coming from the station, some from this 500 yen for the day car park. The second overflow car park is so far from the park that they offer a free shuttle bus from the location to the shibazakura end of the park. However, if you come from the station the distance is just as far and on foot.

I got an overwhelming impression that park management just aren’t able for the thousands that descend on the otherwise quiet park. The whole area was a mess. Apart from having to queue to park and then to get the bus, you then have to queue for facilities such as toilets and eateries. The eating area which is full of stands of festival food is significantly short on seating. We thought we would escape the crowds by eating at 11 am, but there wasn’t a seat to be found, until we met a kind server at an ice-cream stand. He gave us a loan of the chairs he had for his staff to rest.

The shibazakura are truly spectacular and worth enduring the pandemonium, but if you visit during Golden Week it is very difficult to get a photo without people in it. In fact, as people line up along the side of the flower beds, you even have to wait to get a photo at all. Tomorrow sees the start of the second part of Golden Week and the flowers will be in their prime. The crowds will be just as bad, if not worse, than Sunday gone. However, in my opinion, it is totally worth the trip and the waiting game to witness the flowers first hand. If it all possible come by train and arrive for 8 am. (See access below).

The park itself has a lot to offer and is family friendly. Apart from the moss phlox there are other flowers in the park, including tulips which are also currently in bloom. Beside the moss phlox fields, and included in the cover charge, is the small sheep farm. Hitsujiyama means sheep mountain and was named as you would expect for the sheep in the area. Before World War II the area was a prime prefectural sheep breeding ground. If you are visiting outside of Moss Phlox season all of the park is free in. There is also a riding school in the park and a great athletic playground.

Information

The park is open 24 hours, but the car parks and facilities are open from 8 am to 5 pm. If you are using a hiking trail, please note that the area is known for bears.

Entry fee (Peak season only):

300 yen for adults, free for children. 250 yen per person for a group of over twenty.

Address:

〒368-0023 Saitama-ken, Chichibu-shi, Ōmiya, 6360

Phone:

0494-21-2277

URL:

chichibuji.gr.jp

Access:

Approximately 15 minute walk from Seibu-Chichibu Station, serviced by the Chichibu Tetsudo, Redarrow (Ikebukuro line) and Seibu-Chichibu lines. The Redarrow is the quickest from Tokyo (Ikebukuro station) taking 1 hour and 28 minutes.

Approximately 20 minutes from Seibu-Chichibu and Chichibu Tetsudo line’s Ohanabatake Station. You can take the acclaimed Steam Locomotive Paleo Express.  From Kumagaya it takes 1 hour and 20 minutes to Ohanabatake station on the Chichibu Tetsudo line.

Approximately 25 minute walk from Seibu-chichibu line and redarrow (Ikebukuro) line’s Yokoze station.

Approximately 20 minutes drive from Minano-Yorii Toll Road. Parking is 500 yen per day during peak season.

 

Camping ground mentioned in this article (about 30 minute drive from the park):

Family Friendly Nagatoro Autocamp | CHICHIBU

We used to spend almost every weekend in the Chichibu area, mainly Yokoze and Nagatoro, before we had kids. It is one of my favourite areas in Saitama due to the abundance of nature. It is a very b…

Source: insaitama.com/family-friendly-nagatoro-autocamp-chichibu/

Steam Locomotive Paleo Express | KUMAGAYA TO CHICHIBU

【Information Share】 Featured photo of Steam Locomotive with Cherry blossoms by アラツク is used with permission. The Steam Locomotive (SL) Paleo Express that runs between Kumagaya and Chichibu is the c…

Source: insaitama.com/information-share-steam-locomotive-paleo-express-kumagaya-to-chichibu/

Events and Freebies Golden Week 2017 | SAITAMA

Its that wonderful time of the year again when we can live without either heating or air conditioning. When spring is in the air, but summer is just around the corner. Golden Week is very aptly named ; between the weather and the events it really is a golden time of the year!

The entire population may very well get out and about at some point during Golden Week. And while traffic is bad and queues are inevitable, there is so much to make an outing worthwhile during this celebratory period. Here is a round up of some of the events and free entry locations available in Saitama this Golden Week 2017.

Free In Locations

(mapped below list)

Special Events

 

Kids Events at the Center for Environmental Science in Saitama (CESS)

A number of events are planned over Golden Week at CESS. Each day of Golden week (April 29th, 30th, May 3rd, 4th and 5th) they are showing a film and have an orienteering event. Other special events include:

Cardboard Town at Sakura Environmental Center | SAITAMA CITY

From April 29th to May 7th (except for Monday the 1st of May) you can enjoy a FREE cardboard exhibition for children at the Saitama City Sakura Environmental Center. Map and contact details in the …

Source: insaitama.com/event/cardboard-town-at-sakura-environmental-center-saitama-city/

The 8th Annual World Bonsai Convention | SAITAMA CITY

  All media from the official website:  Please scroll down to grey box for times, URLs, map and more details.

Source: insaitama.com/event/the-8th-annual-world-bonsai-convention-saitama-city/

 

Please see the event section for even more events over Golden Week. 

Attractions in Tokyo that have FREE entry days during Golden Week

On Children’s Day, May 5th, a lot of zoos, parks and museums throughout Japan are free in for children. Apart from that day, there are other days in Golden Week that some places offer free entry for all visitors. Here is a list of some of the places in the Tokyo area, with the free entry dates specified. These are free in for all visitors unless otherwise stated. The links provided are to the English webpages of official sites, with the exception of Yumenoshima park which is in Japanese.
**Copyright ©2016 Insaitama.com **

NHK Studio Park  NHKスタジオパーク

Free for the whole of Golden Week, April 29th to May 5th.
http://www.nhk.or.jp/studiopark/guide/pamphlet/stp_pamph_en.pdf

 

Showa Memorial Park  昭和記念公園

Free entry on April 29th, May 5th and May 15th for children under 16.
http://www.showakinen-koen.jp/html/english/

 

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden  新宿御苑

Free entry on April 29th, May 4th and May 5th for children under 16.
http://www.env.go.jp/garden/shinjukugyoen/english/index.html

Inokashira Park

Free entry for all visitors on May 4th. Free entry for kids on May 5th.
http://www.tokyo-zoo.net/english/index.html

Tama Zoo

Free entry for all visitors on May 4th. Free entry for kids on May 5th.
http://www.tokyo-zoo.net/english/index.html

Ueno Zoo

Free entry for all visitors on May 4th. Free entry for kids on May 5th.
http://www.tokyo-zoo.net/english/index.html

Tokyo Sea Life Park

Free entry for all visitors on May 4th. Free entry for kids on May 5th.
http://www.tokyo-zoo.net/english/index.html

Gardens of the former residence of Iwasaki  旧岩崎邸庭園

Free entry on May 4th.
http://teien.tokyo-park.or.jp/en/kyu-iwasaki/index.html

Gardens of the former residence of Furukawa 旧古河庭園

Free entry on May 4th.
http://teien.tokyo-park.or.jp/en/kyu-furukawa/outline.html

Kiyosumi Gardens  清澄庭園

Free entry on May 4th.
http://teien.tokyo-park.or.jp/en/kiyosumi/index.html

Yumenoshima Park  夢の島熱帯植物館

Free entry on May 4th.
(Japanese only) http://www.yumenoshima.jp/index.html

The Shiba Detached Palace Garden 旧芝離宮恩賜庭園

Free entry on May 4th.
http://teien.tokyo-park.or.jp/en/kyu-shiba/outline.html

Jindai Botanical Gardens  神代植物公園

Free entry on May 4th.
https://www.tokyo-park.or.jp/english/park/detail_03.html#jindaibotanical

Mukojima Hyakka Flower Garden  向島百科園

Free entry May 4th.
https://www.tokyo-park.or.jp/english/park/detail_07.html#mukojimahyakkaen

 

 

 

 

 

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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