Another favourite spot for cherry blossom viewing in Western Saitama, with small children, is Enomoto Farm in Ageo City. The majority of the cherry blossoms are at the back of the farm, past the BBQ area, but with young toddlers the best place to enjoy the blossoms is in the main courtyard.
The main courtyard, at the front of the famous ice-cream shop, is home to dozens of push along rides. All free to use. There are a few benches and a couple of picnic tables you can sit at, but I don’t know if you can picnic here. You can of course eat their delicious ice-cream. Prices start at ￥262 for a cone or cup of fresh ice-cream. We stopped off for dessert after a picnic at the nearby Maruyama Park. Other than the cost of the ice-cream this was a cheap “date” as my 3 and 2 years old children played for 2 hours on the push alongs. They also played in the small play area past the pig pens. They would have played for longer, if we didn’t have to go home. For older children you can pay to milk the cows among other things.
The free push alongs at Enomoto Farm are quite old as are the play things in the BBQ area and its lacking in some areas, such as accessibility and baby facilities, but for a nice view of the cherry blossoms while your toddlers tire themselves out (FOR FREE!) it’s ideal! The family feel and the relaxed atmosphere make it an enjoyable place to visit any time of the year.
Cherry blossom viewing, or hanami in Japanese, is one of the highlights of Spring in Japan. There are some wonderful places to view cherry blossoms throughout Japan, but when you have children it is nice to visit a family orientated location. Kitamoto Children’s parkin Saitama is just that.
Kitamoto Children’s parkis only 70 minutes from Tokyo by car and it is free in with free parking. There is something for kids of all ages at this park and lots of places to picnic under the blossoms or at least in view of them. Below are just a few images taken with my phone (2013). This is the area by the toddler playground, where we had our picnic on the grass with the flying carp for boys day in view!
For more detailed information on this park in English please see the linked blog post Kitamoto Children’s Park. Another seasonal attraction of this park is the paddling pool that is available during the summer.
Today’s play-a-day was a new park for us, but I’m guessing Okegawa Children’s Park has been around a long time. The “monster” in the center of the park is a giveaway; it could do with a lick of paint. I don’t think its officially supposed to be a monster, it just looks like one! It is still functional and was a huge hit with all the kids.
I didn’t think much of the park to be honest, but my toddlers enjoyed it. Credit where credit is due: the section for small children is very nice. It has some unusual play equipment including a cement whale and boat, linked together by a low bridge made of tyres. It is in a sand pit as is the slide of a cement climbing feature, pictured above. One side has spikes to climb on and there is a tunnel under the top of the slide. There are some stepping stones and a cement turtle in the sand pit too. The toadstool seats beside this area are cute and fun for the kids. There are 4 swings in one corner of this area. The rest of the playground is more suited to older children. There is a flying fox as well as lots of different climbing equipment. The monstrosity in the middle of the park, plus one of the climbing frames have cement slides.
Small children would play for a couple of hours in this park, but older children might bore after an hour. There are vending machines and a public phone at the pedestrian entrance to the park. Parking is free. It is a bit tricky to find as the entrance is narrow and hard to see. Update 2016: they have put pedestrian lights near the entrance to the parking for this park and there is a convenience store across the road. Hopefully you will be able to spot the entrance easier with these landmarks.
My overwhelming impression of today’s new park is that it is the most used park I’ve been to this month. A friend commented to me recently that Japanese people don’t bring their kids to play outdoors in January. I hadn’t given it much thought until then, but it really does seem to be true in a lot of areas. However, Kamihira park in Ageo City defies that theory as there were plenty of people making use of the park’s facilities.
Kamihira park has, what seems to be, a very popular tennis club. There is also a jogging course, not to mention the baseball pitch and stadium. All, but the latter were getting full usage today. I couldn’t believe the buzz in the park, I haven’t seen a park that busy since late November. The patrons were largely pensioners and mothers with young children. You often see retired people walking or playing gate ball in parks in Japan, but I have never seen so many of the older generation in one park at one time. And I haven’t seen so many young children in the playground since Autumn.
One of the pieces of playground equipment is a bucket crane truck. My son (3 years old) was in playground heaven! I think this may even be a contender for a coveted position on his top ten playground list.
Address: 16 Sugaya, Ageo, Saitama 362-0003
I couldn’t resist the corny title! As you may have guessed today’s play-a-day involved the zoo. We often go to a zoo near my house, but today we tried out the children’s zoo in Chikouzan park in Sayama.
What I like about this small zoo is you can feed some of the animals. For 100 yen you get a capsule of food. There are various feeding stations, but today we just did the sheep/goats, monkeys and ducks. The capsules costs can add up if you have a few kids, but unlike the Saitama Children’s zoo in Takasaka (which is an excellent zoo) the parking is free. The entrance to Sayama’s zoo is only 200 yen for adults and 50 yen for children of school going age.
There are other attractions in the park too. The park’s entry is free, as are the use of the playgrounds.