Tag Archives: japan with kids

Ikaho Green’s Farm | Gunma

Ikaho Green’s farm has a very good reputation and most people who go to it give it a good review. However, while I liked it and we really enjoyed ourselves, I found it to be more expensive than most farms in the Kita-Kanto (Northern area of Greater Tokyo).  The Sheepdog show is included in the price and that is something that you can’t see in many places. Plus, there are opportunities to get up close and personal with some of the animals that roam freely or are within arms reach. All things considered, it is a really fun family day out!


What can you do at Green Farm?

  • View a sheepdog and sheep shearing show, the largest of its kind in Japan.
  • Pet corner – costs 500 yen per person to spend sometime petting or holding rabbits.
  • Walk with sheep and goats – costs 500 yen per person for 15 minutes.
  • Milk the cows – costs 500 yen per person for one try.
  • Feed the calves – costs 500 yen per person for one bottle of feed.
  • Amusement park – 30 different activities and rides, each cost between 100 and 500 yen.
  • Ride on a horse drawn carriage – 800 yen for adults and students, 500 yen for preschoolers and below.

**Please check their website for up-to-date schedules for these events: http://www.greenbokujo.co.jp/do/

We visited on the 1st of May and there were still some late blooming cherry blossoms, yaezakura. The farm is very well maintained and is quite beautiful. It is suitable to children of all ages. It is quite hilly, but you can easily navigate between sections with a stroller. They have nappy changing and nursing room facilities for babies as well as child friendly toilets. There are places you can buy food and souveniers. The kids plate costs 750 yen, a Sundae costs 520 yen. You are allowed bring your own food into the farm. The sheepdog and sheep shearing show is toward the back of the farm and there is a camping site beside it (that needs to be booked in advance).  It was an interesting experience. The farmer is from New Zealand so he speaks in English quite a bit through the show. There is also a BBQ area, a museum and strawberry picking on the farm, all cost extra.

GENERAL INFORMATION

ENTRANCE COST

(2015) 1200 yen for adults, 600 yen for children over 3, free for 2 and under. As per above, each event costs extra. **Between early January and the end of February entrance fee is half the price. Physically disabled and people over 65 are also half price (all year round).

 

OPENING HOURS

9am to 4pm. In the winter it opens at 10am. In January and February it is closed Monday through Thursday.

 

ACCESS

Roughly 2 hours from Tokyo and 90 minutes from Saitama. 8 kilometres from the Shibukawa Ikaho Interchange on the Kanetsu Expressway. Free parking for up to 700 cars. 19 minute bus ride from Shibukawa Station, bus bound for Ikaho Hotsprings ”伊香保温泉”

Address: 2844-1 Kanai, Shibukawa, Gunma Prefecture 377-0027
Telephone: 0279-24-5335

 


For up-to-date costs, event schedules and opening hours please do check the official URL.

URL (English): http://www.greenbokujo.co.jp/english/

Kamiya Park Play&Sports ground + Skateboarding | Kounosu

Ever wondered where you can skateboard legally and safely in Saitama? One place I know of is Kamiya Park in Kounosu, which has a designated skateboard park. This multi-use park has a number of sporting facilities, it even has a stadium. The best part: it also has a brand new playground and a wading river which are almost completed. Although, the park is still under construction you can use the playground freely.

The skateboarding area costs money, but for residents of Kounosu it is only 200 yen for school aged children and adults and 100 yen for preschoolers. For people who do not reside in Kounosu it costs 400 yen for adults and students and 200 yen for preschoolers. They have skateboards and helmets to rent for an additional charge. They have skateboard lessons available too. It is open from 8am all year round (except New Years holidays) until 4pm in the winter and until 6pm in the summer.  The official website for the skate park (Japanese only): http://kamiyaskatepark.com/

Other sporting facilities in the park include a stadium, baseball pitch, tennis courts, a soccer pitch, street basketball court and a multi-purpose ground. The baseball pitch, soccer pitch, multi-purpose ground and tennis courts need to be booked and there is a small fee. General facilities include a club house,  free parking, walking paths, a lawn, toilets,  vending machines, a wading river and a playground. The playground is beside the skate park and wading river.

The playground is suited to smaller children. There is something in the playground to engage my younger kids aged 5, 3 and 1. However, although my 6 year old enjoyed it the first and only time he has been, I am not sure he would find the playground as enjoyable a second time. It is best suited to preschoolers.

Information

Park Website: (Japanese only) http://www.kamiya-sk.ecnet.jp/index.html#
Skatepark Website: (Japanese only) http://kamiyaskatepark.com/

Access
Address: 707 Kamiya, Kounosu, Saitama 365-0027

Saitama Children’s Zoo

The Saitama Children’s Zoo in Takasaka, Higashimatsuyama, is fantastic value for money and one of the best days out for children in Saitama prefecture.  The zoo is spread over a large area and there is so much to do, see and experience, that you would definitely need to allocate a full day for a trip to this zoo. Apart from the animals, they have a large athletic playground beside a smaller playground, a Beatrix Potter museum with a small playground, a dinosaur corner, a small amusement area with battery cars and rides, a splash pool in the summer and there is an indoor play area with a climbing area outside (please see Children’s Castle below).   Throughout the zoo they have photo props, interactive educational corners with quizzes and challenges for the kids, as well as plenty of rest areas, toilets and places that sell food.

Highlights

Petting area

In the petting area the children have an opportunity to get up close and personal with farm and domestic animals. Three times a day at 10.30am, 1pm and 3pm they bring out guinea pigs and rabbits for the children to hold and pet.  Sometimes they have baby chicks or snakes, too. When the hour long session is over they have an animal parade where the guinea pigs walk down a long bridge back to their home. Outside of petting hour there is still an opportunity to get to close to farm animals as you can walk freely among pigs, goats and ducks. They provide brushes so you can brush down the animals and there are pooper-scoopers so that the kids can sweep up the animal’s poop. This is all included in the entrance price to the zoo.

 

Other Experiences

  • Next to the petting area is the cows. At 11am, 1pm and 2.30pm it is possible to try milking the cows under the supervision of the zoo staff. It is included in the price.
  • Passed the cows there is the penguin area which is relatively new. For 300 yen you can feed the penguins, but they limit the number to 30 people a day. You can buy a ticket from 30 minutes before the feeding times which are 10.15am and 1.30pm.
  • For 200 yen children over the age of 4 can ride a pony in the paddock beside the stables, which is close to the main entrance of the zoo. This experience is possible between 10.30 and 11.30 am and again between 1 and 3pm.  For adults the price is 300 yen.
  • On weekends it is possible to feed the goats between 2.30 and 3.15pm, it costs 100 yen for a cup of feed.
  • On weekends it is possible to feed the ponies between 3.15 and 3.45pm, it costs 100 yen for a cup of feed.
  • On the first Sunday of the month they have a class about animals from 2.30pm.
  • Every month on the 2nd Sunday you can try your hand at butter making for just 200 yen. You need to book in advance.
  • Every month on the 3rd Sunday they have an “Enrichment day”. Each time they discuss a different animal in detail.
  • Every Saturday they have a craft class.
  • On weekends they have tours of the giraffe’s paddock.
  • On the 2nd Saturday of each month they have story time; please see the “Children’s Castle” below.
  • Zoo train which costs 200 yen to ride once or 300 yen to use throughout the day.

Seasonal attractions

One thing I really love about this zoo is that even though we go quite a lot, there is always something different to try. Throughout the year the classes mentioned above as well as the special events change quite frequently. It is best to check the website for up-to-date information and a full list of what’s on offer. Here are some of the more regular seasonal attractions:

  • Capybara onsen – Winter
    • 2016 the Capybara onsen will start from November 19th until the end of March 2017. The first 12 people there at 14.30 will be able to get up close and personal and dip your feet in a foot onsen. On December 18th they will be giving gifts to the animals.
  • Australian animal Fair – Spring
  • Sheep shearing – Spring
  • Cherry blossoms – Spring
  • Splash pool – Summer
  • Night zoo – Summer
  • Autumn leaves – Autumn
  • New Year cards photo opportunity – Autumn / Winter

2016 Capybara Onsen, Art Festival and Gift giving day information:

Capybara Onsen @ Saitama Children’s Zoo | HIGASHIMATSUYAMA

 

Children’s castle

For an extra 100 yen the kids can enjoy an indoor play area with a library room and talking tree. On the 1st floor they have a special tree that tells stories and plays music. Behind that is a ball pool with boats on top of the balls. Beside that is a cinema room with educational videos. There is a climbing tunnel from the 1st floor to the 2nd floor and also a ramp that is wide enough for a wheelchair and strollers. The kids can take a slide back from from the mezzanine to the first floor. On the 2nd floor there is a padded play area with wooden toys and building toys. There is a snake slide and frog cave in the padded area too. Beside it is the library room.  Here is where they have the story time once a month.

General Information

Hours: 9.30am to 5pm except winter when it closes at 4.30pm. Costs: 510 yen for adults, 210 yen for children between 6 and 15. Free for children under 6. CLOSED ON MONDAYS all year round (except national holidays) and on Tuesdays too during the month of January.
Parking: For 800 cars, costs 600 yen per day. At weekends during peak season, there is an overflow car park. There are also some unofficial parking areas beside the overflow car park that open on busy days and cost 500 yen a day.

TEL: 0493-35-1234

URL: http://www.parks.or.jp/sczoo/index.html

Access: 554 Iwadono, Higashimatsuyama, Saitama 355-0065

Make your own POCKY at Free Factory Tour | Glico Pia East

Glico Pia East Factory Tour Pocky (13)Chances are, if you live in Saitama, you have heard about the famous Glico Pia East factory tour, aka the Pocky tour. It remains top of the list of free factory tours in Saitama (2015, down to #2 in 2017) and one of the best for the whole Kanto region (Greater Tokyo area). Due to its popularity, it is still necessary to book in advance, but the good news is that the wait has been reduced from a year to a few months. We were able to get a booking 4 months in advance.

 

It was on my wish list since it opened its doors in 2012, but I was advised to wait until the kids were in primary school to go. In 2015, I just couldn’t wait any longer so I booked it for the whole family. At the time the kids were 5, 4, 2 and 0! (We visited again during Spring Break 2017). Much to my delight, everyone, myself included, enjoyed the tour much more than we thought we would. The tour is 70 minutes long and includes a brief video, museum tour, tour of 2 lines of products and an interactive quiz game in a futuristic gaming room. In fact, the whole tour building has a futuristic feel.



Apart from the short video at the start, the kids were completely intrigued by the tour. In the museum they have a display of 1,500 mini toys that used to be given with one of their products. They also have an old-fashioned vending machine, which my son was chosen to try out with an old 5 yen coin that is no longer in circulation. In that area of the museum they have the brand symbol of the running man, synonymous with “that” billboard in Osaka which is somewhat of a tourist attraction these days! The beautifully presented tour guides explain each element in detail and allocate time for taking photos. There are some parts of the tour where photos are not allowed, which they inform you of. The tour is in Japanese, but the whole tour is quite visual so I would not say it is essential to completely understand the language. (Japanese is required to book the tour).  After the museum tour you move onto the factory element, where they show you two different line productions of Glico products. Following that you are led to the gaming room, where pairs sit at a table with buzzers of different colours representing different answers in an a, b or c type interactive game. The kids really loved that.

After the interactive quiz the free part of the tour is over. You can, however, pay 500 yen per person to enjoy decorating your own giant Pocky. It is important to note that on a very busy day they limit the number of people who can do the make-your-own-Pocky. It is decided at the very start of the tour who gets to do it.  They prioritise primary school students in higher grades. We were very lucky that our 5, 4 and 2 year old were able to participate on the day we went. They absolutely loved decorating their own giant-sized Pocky and it was definitely the highlight of the morning for them.  You are given a box to place your Pocky to take home and a bag of goodies with Glico products and inflatable Pocky!

Glico Pia East Factory Tour Pocky (2)

The factory is less than an hour from Tokyo and thanks to the extension of the Ken-O expressway, the factory is very accessible from other prefectures in Kanto too.  It is just 2 kilometres from the Okegawa-Kano exit of the Ken-O expressway. By public transport you can take a 12 minute bus ride bound for Glico Pia East from Kitamoto Station on the JR Takasaki line.

 

INFORMATION

OPEN: Saturday to Thursday (closed on Fridays)

TOUR TIMES: 9.30, 11.00, 12.30, 14.00

BOOKING: 048-593-8811 or online:

URL: https://www.glico.com/jp/enjoy/experience/glicopiaeast

ADDRESS: 〒364-0013 Saitama Prefecture, Kitamoto, 中丸9丁目55

 

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【Spo-cha】|Ageo

I’ve been talking favourites on the Facebook page this week and today’s showcase is very much up there on the best of the best list. Indeed, Kids Spo-cha is actually my children’s favourite indoor play area in the whole of Saitama. I love it, because it is part of the regular Spo-cha so even adults can play. An added bonus is that even for a family of 6 it is cheap, if you avail of their special packages.

So what is Spo-cha?


Spo-cha is a sports and play centre area within some of the ROUND1 sports entertainment centres. ROUND1 is synonymous with bowling, but in fact even their most basic centres have a variety of actitivies on offer. Then there are branches with Spocha and a select few with Kids Spocha and some with a kids corner. Kids Spocha is a whole centre of fun for young children, within the regular spocha.  Spocha is available in about 46 branches of ROUND1, of which just over half have a kids spocha and another 16 have a kids corner throughout the whole of Japan. We are very lucky to have THREE Kids Spo-cha here in Saitama. Our nearest one is in AGEO, beside Hiratsuka park. It has 3 floors of sports and entertainment with relaxation areas. Some of the sports you can enjoy at Ageo’s Spo-cha include rollerblading, tennis, billiards, putter golf, archery, shooting, bubble soccer, batting practise, darts and rodeo, to name but a few. The play area for young children has an athletic zone with climbing slides, ball pools, tricycle track and yu-land cubic balloons, a dream bomber and even a karaoke room.  There is something for all my kids who are 6, 5, 3 and 1 years old.

 

The system seems confusing at first, but once you physically get there it all makes perfect sense. I recommend the 3 hour package for your first time. And the great news for anyone with a child aged between 2 and 6 years old is that they offer the whole family the same price of 680 yen per person for 3 hours.  If no-one in the family is aged between 2 and 6 the price is about 500 yen more per person, but they do have other special offers, some included below. Kids under 2 are free. Apart from all the sports and amusements you can enjoy without limit within the 3 hours, access to the relax rooms and a reading room are included. For an added fee you can get drink bar too and there is a restaurant there if you want to purchase food. You are also welcome to bring in your own food. They have lockers for storing your belongings.

More information in English including how the system works, is available on their website (linked Round1 English PDF). Some of their current special offers (January 2016):

Access: Free shuttle bus from the East exit of JR Takasaki Line Ageo Station.

For more information please see:

ROUND1 WEBSITE【ラウンドワン】スポッチャ|スポッチャ早朝割


 

#saitamawithkids #archery #shooting #rollerblading

Answers to “Where can I play archery in Japan?” “Where can I rollerblade in Japan?”

Saku Ski Garden Parada |Nagano

Saku Ski Parada Nagano (5)

Recently, we went skiing in Nagano. I use the term “skiing” as a general term for being in the snow, seen as very little skiing was actually accomplished. Plus, the snow was fake as at the time we were having a particulary warm winter. Regardless of the lack of real snow, or perhaps thanks to it, the kids had a blast. This is a good place to introduce young children to snow and/or skiing for the first time.

KIMG7259

Parada kids park south slopesWe went to Saku Ski Garden Parada which is a day resort; there is no night skiing and there is no hotel attached to it. We stayed in Karuizawa on one of our visits and commuted from Saitama in less than 2 hours on our next visit. The resort says about 70% of their business is from families and that is the overall impression I got on our visits. There were kids of all ages enjoying the snow and plenty of younger kids in the designated snow play areas.




A round up of what I like about Saku Ski Parada;

  •  The resort has two parts – North and South. The South area is a Parking Area on the Joshin-etsu expressway meaning that, apart from being convenient, it is quite safe to travel to the South slopes even in the height of season. (In Japan the highways are well maintained and serviced even in the snow. However, I would recommend snow tyres even for commuting to the South slopes, which are right on the highway. For the North slopes snow tyres are essential. Please note, if there has been a heavy fall, there is a possibility that the highway will be closed.)
  • For people coming by train it is also quite convenient as there is a free shuttle bus that takes 10 minutes from Sakudaira Station, which is less than an hour from Omiya by bullet train. It makes Parada a popular spot for those on a day ski trip from Tokyo or Saitama. From Tokyo its only 90 minutes by train and bus.
  •  You can move between without restriction between the South and North slopes once you have paid into one. While the South slopes and amenities are literally right on the highway, the North, which has the better snow, is about 5 kilometres off the highway, through windy mountaineous roads.
  • Due to the spread of the areas the place is a good size and there aren’t a huge amount of lifts or courses; 7 of each.
  • On our first trip we went to the South, and our more recent visit was to the North. Thanks to the division of the resort, the North can be less populated as it is harder to get to. On the day we went, I thought it was busy, but my husband told me that was only a tenth of how busy it gets.
  •  We didn’t need to bring very much with us in terms of changes of clothes and we could hire boots and equipment there. We brought our own apparel and sleds. Clark’s winter lined boots sufficed for our 3 year old and 1 year old, as they were just playing in the snow, and we rented proper ski boots for 4 year old and 6 year old.
  • Food is quite reasonable for the type of place that it is. The pizzas are good value and are actually quite nice. They are made up fresh, so expect to wait about 20 to 3o minutes for a pizza order to be ready. The fast food counter is just that – fast! They also have a self service restaurant.
  • It is a very family friendly resort. They have rest areas and facilities for babies. We didn’t avail of it this time, but I like that there is a creche, where you can leave children while you ski. They children from as young as 6 months old.
  • Both North and South areas have a great kids play area. They can use sleds and tubing or just play in the snow. They also have bouncing castles. They have a mascot, which is a giant beetle, which comes around to meet the kids.
  • They have a snow escalutor in the kids play area.
  • They have lessons for kids from as young as 3 years old.
  • It is part of the family ski group; you could apply for a free lesson for a primary school aged child at the resort, but the closing date is gone for this year.
  • Overall I thought it was good value, even for a family of six. I did have discounts for lift passes and for the play area, but asides from that the costs are fairly standard for that area.

Address:  2681 Shimohirao, Saku, Nagano 385-0003

TEL: North Parada – 0267-68-5116, South Parada – 0267-67-8100

You can get up-to-date information on costs, snow, weather and more on the well maintained English webpage for the resort here:

http://www.saku-parada.jp/

Saku Ski Garden Parada ski resort in Saku City, Nagano, Japan – SnowJapan ski and snowboard resorts in Japan

 

#snowjapan #familyfriendly

Strawberry Picking with a play area | Sakado

2 Shimura (1)

2 Shimura (2)Today, we visited a greenhouse type strawberry picking farm in Sakado. This farm has been on my radar since I saw a small write-up about it in a Walker magazine. I was glad we went to check it out.  In previous years, we’ve picked our strawberries and ate them and headed home or onto another nearby location. Today, we spent the whole afternoon at the Shimura Strawberry Farm and Flower Fields. Half an hour was spent picking and eating the delicious strawberries, the rest was spent enjoying the free extra services of the fruit picking farm (gallery below). They have a number of different greenhouses. The reception is in “Dai Ichi”, where you take off your shoes and put on slippers. We picked in Dai Ni today, which is connected to the main greenhouse for ease of movement.




2 Shimura (3)Within “Dai 2” there are 3 different types of strawberries you can choose from. All were sweet and delicious. They use bees in the greenhouse for pollination, but they are not dangerous. The beds are raised making them easier to pick and less likely to have mold. My 1 year old was easily able to navigate the aisles and even pick her own strawberries. Like most greenhouses it was very warm; one good reason to pick in winter. Of all the strawberry picking greenhouse farms I have been to, I like this one the most. It was excellent value for money given that my kids enjoyed playing indoors and outdoors before and after picking. I could sip complimentary tea and green tea, available to all customers, while the kids played. Its location is good for anyone who drives as it is so close to the highway. It is on the Ken-o highway, Sakado exit, very close to the Tsurgashima Interchange for the Kanetsu expressway making it accessible not only to people in Saitama, but other areas of Kanto too. There isn’t much in the immediate area though (nearby attractions below), but they do have a fish farm next door and flower fields, the latter of which is free to anyone. We enjoyed a walk up the embankment. You can sometimes see swans and Tsuru, Japanese crane, in the surrounding rice paddies too; we were particularly lucky to see a whole flock of swans!

INFORMATION:

SEASON: January to

OPENING HOURS:  from 10am, generally Tuesday to Sunday

TEL: 080-5028-1062 phone between 8am and 6pm.

URL: http://www.shimura-nouen.com/index2.html

It is not possible to book, but you may want to ring in advance or check their website to make sure the farm is open to the public on the day you are going.

Public Toilets and Free Parking.

PRICES:

For 30 minutes all-you-can-eat:

Adults and children over 6 ¥1,400 2016 increased to 1800 yen.

Children aged 3 to 6 ¥1,200 2016 increased to 1400 yen.

2 year olds ¥400 2016 reduced to 200 yen.

Under 2 toddlers are free. Discounts are available for school groups of more than 10.

2017 information

Strawberry Picking season opens @ Shimura Strawberry Farm | SAKADO

 

ACCESS

Approximately 1 kilometre or 4 minutes by car from the Sakado exit of the Ken-O expressway.

 

http://www.shimura-nouen.com/map.html

http://www.shimura-nouen.com/map.html

For lists of places to strawberry pick in Japan, please scroll to the bottom of the article. For more information on the strawberry picking system in Japan and some farms in Kanto, please see: http://kajapan.org/places/strawberry-picking-in-kanto/

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS

Sakado Jidokan – free children’s community centre with planetarium

Sakado Taoist Temple – A popular backdrop for cosplayers

Sakado Taoist Temple (3)  Sakado Taoist Temple (2)

Kawagoe “Little Edo” Tourist Town

Heisei no Mori park, with Japan’s largest rose tunnel

Heisei no mori park Kawajima

 

Meiji Sakado Factory Tour

Strawberry Picking Articles




Over the years, I have written quite a lot of articles about Strawberry Picking in Japan. It is not that we pick strawberries a lot, it is just that when I first researched strawberry picking in Saitama there was no information in English. I subsequently realised that there was limited information for the whole of the Kanto region and I wanted to fill the void.  Thus, I had found a niche and it has served me well… or rather, I have served it well!


 

Search terms:
This article will be of interest to people looking for a strawberry picking area with a play area. Other potential search terms will be something different in saitama, rainy day outing in saitama, things to do on a rainy day, keeping warm in winter, winter activities or winter outings with kids, ideas of things to do as a family, family outing from Tokyo, commutable from Tokyo, educational fun with kids, easy outings for children, things to do with children, fruit picking with children, things to do with children in Japan, strawberry picking Japan.

 

A new kid’s cafe in Saitama: Pomme Cafe, Ario in Ageo

**This post was initially posted on my blogger in September 2015.**

I remember desperately searching for an “oyako” (parent and child) restaurant when my eldest was a baby. I was utterly disappointed to find the nearest and possibly ONLY kid’s cafe in Saitama at that time was in Omiya. Not so close to where I live. Fast forward 6 years and there has been a steady rise in the number of “kid’s cafe” or “parent and child restaurants” throughout Saitama, some have even graced rural Saitama with their presence.

During “Silver Week”, a group of public holidays in September in honour of the silver community, my kids and I stumbled upon a new kid’s cafe in Ario in Ageo. Pomme Cafe.Cafe which is part of a larger chain of “Omurice” (rice omelette) restaurants. The cafe has been there since Ario opened its doors in 2013, but it was recently renovated and reformed into an “oyako” restaurant. It reopened it’s doors last Thursday, the 17th of September. It has a lovely play area, clean facilities, friendly staff and isn’t too expensive, but I will say that the menu is limited and is not the healthiest I’ve seen.

The small play area is just inside the door and is free for patrons to use. It has a slide, some soft building blocks, puzzles and books.

Pomme Cafe Ario Ageo (1)

 

The basic rules of the “Kid’s corner” are displayed; ①take off your shoes, ②No running, ③Play nicely!

Pomme Cafe Ario Ageo (6)

The kid’s menu is basic with 5 dishes, but only 1 drink; Orange Juice. (They provide water for free). However, they also provide kid’s sized plates and bowls, for those that prefer to share a dish with their child.

Pomme Cafe Ario Ageo (2)

Each kid’s meal comes with a free toy. They get to choose one from a selection of plastic toys, stickers and hair accessories.

Pomme Cafe Ario Ageo (5)

My eldest ordered “Omu-rice” with chicken nuggets, fried shrimp a piece of lettuce and apple jelly.

Pomme Cafe Ario Ageo (4)

Despite the lack of healthy food, my overall impression was good. The bill for 3 kid’s plates and a “drink bar” (all you can drink, non-alcohol ) for me was just over 2000 yen, which is reasonable. The kids really enjoyed the play area and the atmosphere was very relaxed. It got very busy after we arrived and a queue formed out the door, but we never once felt rushed or pressured to hurry and move on. They have facilities to wash your hands and lots of children’s bumper seats and high chairs, adding to the convenience for people with kids. The staff are friendly and helpful.

You can find more information in Japanese on both Ario’s website and Pomme Cafe.Cafe’s websites. (Yes, there is two “cafe”s in the official name!!)

Access

Winter Illumination at Tobu Zoo

Every year Tobu Zoo puts on a fantastic night illumination show for the winter months. This year, 2015, it starts on the 31st of October and will run until the 14th of February. The park uses smoke, light and music to add to the ambience of the night illumination.

Kids can enjoy animals made out of flowers and/or light, snowmen and winter scenes. Couples can walk in a tunnel of love, “Love Lock”, built especially for the occsassion, and take in the romantic atmosphere of the park lit up at night.

It opens 5pm to 8pm daily from the 31st of October. On December 23rd, 24th and 25th the closing hour is extended until 9pm. The cost is 700 yen per adult,  children from 3 years old up to end of primary school cost 500 yen.  Parking costs 1,000 yen, flat rate regarding length of stay.

More information in Japanese on their official website: http://www.tobuzoo.com/facilities/illumination/

Yoshimi Town Friendship Athletic Ground

We hadn’t visited Yoshimi Town Friendship Athletic Ground for a while, so I was surprised to discover some of the kids’ favourite equipment in this park has been removed. They have put in one new slide, but I am hoping that they are going to add even more new equipment.  This is what happened in Heisei No Mori park about 6 years ago; they removed an old wooden playground and replaced it with a colourful combination playground.

REMOVED EQUIPMENT

REMAINING EQUIPMENT

NEW EQUIPMENT

New slide in the cornered off playground

SEASONAL FACILITIES

In the summer the paddling pool and wading river in Yoshimi Athletic Grounds are quite nice, although I don’t think it is as well maintained as other parks.

Wading River (out of season) in Yoshimi Sports Park
Wading River (out of season) in Yoshimi Athletic Ground
Paddling pool (out of season) in Yoshimi Sports Park
Paddling pool (out of season) in Yoshimi Athletic Ground

For older children and adults there are some sports facilities, including the running track. For us the main incentive to visit Yoshimi has always been more about the wildlife than the playground equipment, so all was not lost today. We call Yoshimi Athletic Ground the “frog park”, because of the amount of frogs we have caught (and released) there.  We also regularly find praying mantis, grasshoppers, beetles… even a snake once. While 6yo searched for insects, 4yo and 3yo enjoyed picking up acorns and pine cones. This park is great for acorn collecting in particular. The pine cones were a bonus.

WILDLIFE!

Lots of wildlife in Yoshimi Sports Park
Lots of wildlife in Yoshimi Athletic Ground
Picking up acorns and pine cones in Yoshimi park
Picking up acorns and pine cones in Yoshimi Athletic Ground

While Yoshimi Athletic Ground might not be the best park around for small kids, it’s not too bad either. Another draw for us is that it is close to other points of interest, so we can make a day out of our visit to Yoshimi. Less than 5 minutes in the car is Ichigo No Sato, a  roadside station, that has a farmer’s market, stalls and booths, some of which are eateries, an Udon restaurant, a bakery and a lovely little playground. Between both parks is a strawberry picking area. And not far off you can enjoy the unusual 100 Caves of Yoshimi sightseeing spot, which is across the road from Iwamuro Kannon.

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More attractions in Yoshimi

Playground at Ichigo no Sato | Yoshimi

100 Caves of Yoshimi, Saitama

Iwamuro Kannon | YOSHIMI

Strawberry Picking in Yoshimi, Saitama