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Preschool playgrounds in Japan

In my experience of Gunma, Ibaraki and Saitama, most preschools in suburbia Japan, have some form of outdoor play area. Most of them have at least a slide and/or swings, and some are a full on playground with a combination of equipment.  Thankfully, our preschool is one of the latter.

The main piece of equipment in my kid’s preschool’s playground was designed and made by Dino World in Fukui prefecture, hundreds of kilometres away. It is a combination piece for kids in the preschool age range. The Dino World brand is part of the Dinosaur museum in Fukui, which is said to be one of the best dinosaur museums in the world. We have yet to visit, but at least a little part of the museum has come to us. 🙂

Apart from the Dino World combination unit, there are swings, monkey bars, horizontal bars, tunnels and a sand pit. Hours of fun guaranteed.

Has anyone a post like this for another country? I’d love to see what preschools are like around the world.  What are the playgrounds like in your kid’s preschools?

Preschool playground

Kidzoona, Fantasy indoor play centre | OMIYA

Aeon Fantasy Kidzoona is an indoor play centre for children under twelve. Adults must accompany children. In my opinion it is best suited to younger children, such as toddlers and preschoolers up to the age of 6. The centre has a variety of toys, equipment and make-believe play areas, with dress up costumes, for children to engage in creative play. There is one area restricted to babies and small toddlers, who are not yet walking.  There is a convenience store located within the play centre. There is a baby room with a nursing area and changing facilities, but no toilets. To use a toilet you must leave the play area and need to obtain a re-entry pass first. Further information including address, access and price is below the photos.

Dress-up and Make Believe Exhibits

Young children will be creatively inspired by the great selection of pretend shops, restaurants and work places on offer.  Each come with outfits for them to dress-up in.  They can try, for example, a nurses outfit, a baker’s outfit, a fireman’s outfit, to name but a few.

Dress up Make believe exhibits

The post office area allows children to deliver post at a number of little post boxes within the creative play area. They can also collect the post from these boxes and then sort them in the “sorting office”!

Kidzoona Post Office Make believe

There is also an area with push along rides and construction site costumes and mini diggers.

Construction Site

Bouncy Exhibits

As you come in the entrance there is a flat bouncing castle without walls, which is safe even for toddlers. There are a few zorbs close by. The exhibits on the lower part of this collage both have ball pools within the bouncing castle.
Bouncy Exhibits

Areas for babies / toddlers

During busy periods the area below is restricted to babies and toddlers who are not yet walking.

Area for babies

The below area is for all ages, but it is a hit with toddlers as they can draw on anything and everything in this exhibit designated to free drawing.

Free drawing room

Toys and Sandpit

Below is just a sample of the toys. There are many not pictured, including some musical instruments and building blocks.

Toys and Sandpit

Amusement Area

All of the video games and rides in the amusement area are included in the price. For some you need to insert a special coin, which are readily available in big storage bins within the area.

Amusement area

Dining

There is a MiniStop shop on the premises, with seating areas beside it, one of which is Japanese style with zabutons for sitting at on low tables. These areas are dedicated eating areas; there are other seats throughout the play centre.

Ministop in Kidzoona

Further information:

URL: http://www.fantasy.co.jp/brand/kidzooona.html
Address: Aeon 3rd floor, 2-574-1 Kushihikicho, Kita Ward, Saitama
Train access: 12 minutes on foot from JR Nisshin station, 10 minutes walk from Tetsudo hakubutsukan (Railway Museum) station
Opening hours: 10am to 7pm
Price:
Please check the website for up to date details.
One hour: (oosted in 2014) 600 yen for children, 300 yen for accompanying adult
Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays): 1 day pack 990 yen for children over one; 490 yen for accompanying adult
Weekends and public holidays: 3 hour pack 990 yen for children; 5 hour pack 1,290 yen for children (includes a small drink), 1,490 yen for adult

Other indoor play centres in Saitama featured on this blog:

Saitama’s #1 free children’s centre? Ageo Kodomo-no-Shiro

Team Lab Islands | Lalaport Fujimi

Cats Eye Play and Sports Centre | SAYAMA

【Spo-cha】|Ageo

Mama Smile Making Mama Smile

The girls zorb! | Sakado Jidokan

Soyu Himitsu No Mori, “Secret Forest”; at Mallage, Kuki City

 

 

The School Bazaar at a Japanese preschool

Today, we had another first. 4-year-old’s first (pre)school1 bazaar. Like most school events, it involves parent participation. We take turns manning a booth; which is actually a mini shop within each classroom. I was on duty in the “toys” room, first thing this morning. I was a little nervous about it last night, not knowing what to expect. It was actually good craic and the time flew by.

As an early morning seller, I was given a ticket to buy one thing in advance of the bazaar opening to the public. I went straight to the room that was selling school uniforms. My 2-year-old will turn 3 in January and will therefore start preschool next April. My son will be going into his 2nd of 3 years, so I need doubles of everything. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of larger sizes on sale. My 2-year-old is very tall for her age and the only thing I could buy her that would fit was the preschool’s winter hat. (Pictured top right of the first photo). I got it for a third of the price it would cost new. The two ladies that were on duty on me in our booth, were also at the uniform booth. We got talking and before we knew it, it was time to man our stand. We were all first-timers so we were a little giddy heading to our room.

I was very surprised by the quantity, quality and diversity of the goods on sale in our room. With the exception of the 2nd hand uniforms, everything is unused. Each household is asked to contribute at least one new/ unused item from a range of categories such as food, clothing, utensils and homemade crafts. I soon learnt that the bazaar attracts people from the neighbourhood, because of the good offers. Within 10 seconds of opening our “booth” we had a sale, a couple of minutes later our second and after that it was a steady flow. There were plenty of “obachan”s, term of endearment for women of a certain seniority, armed with their own shopping bags and loose change galore. When I got to shop again later that morning I got some bargains myself. Much to my delight at 11am they half the price of everything, except school uniforms. Half an hour later I was delirious when they reduced pretty much everything to 10 yen (about 8 cent). For 2000 yen (about 18 Euro) I was able to buy all the goods pictured below, including the uniform hat, plus 3 lunches not pictured and the snacks mentioned in the next paragraph.

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A stand was opened outside at 11am when the kids finished preschool. While the bazaar was running, they had been brought on a walk with their teachers. For 100 yen they got to choose 3 treats that were placed in the homemade shopping baskets pictured below. A big hit with the kids. 4-year-old wasn’t overly excited like he normally is when there is something on in school, so I figured there was something up. A couple of hours later, well I’ll save you the details… he has a tummy bug. Thankfully, it didn’t start till after the bazaar, because it turned out to be a fun event not to be missed.
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1. Yochien (幼稚園)is usually translated as kindergarten, but this is an uncommon term in Ireland, where the principal sort of preschool is a Montessori. In other countries it’s called other names, so nowadays I try to refer to it as preschool. Preschool is not compulsory and the children can start as young as 2 years old for 4 years, but the average is 3 years, starting at 3 years old. The hours are usually 9am to 2pm if you drop the kids off and upto an hour longer for children who come by yochien bus. The school year is April to March.