Tag Archives: Rainy day ok

Things to do, venues, play areas and events that are suitable on rainy days. For children and toddlers in Japan.

Ario in Ageo is now open and very toddler friendly

 

I was suitably impressed with Saitama’s latest mall in Ageo and have found a new hang out for my toddlers and baby. Ario in Ageo has a real modern feel to it and I think it’s the most toddler friendly mall in this area. Peony Walk in Higashi Matsuyama has long been our haven for hot or rainy days, but I will be switching it to Ario in Ageo due to the free facilities and services for young children.

Today, I parked in the “Giraffe” parking area, because I had read on their Japanese website that there is a playground beside it. Upon arriving I noticed there are actually two. One playground has nothing to do with the centre itself, but is just off the back of the carpark. The other playground opposite the entrance/exit to the Giraffe parking zone is part of the mall. It has the unique feature of a designated area to draw with chalk, provided for free for the children’s use.

Writing on the chalk paving area

It isn’t a huge playground, but there is more than enough to entertain young children for a half hour or so. Slides are always a favourite with my kids and this playground has six as well as climbing activities, stepping stones and a little hut.

Tunnel slide at Ario AgeoStepping stones at Ario Ageo

The fun continued indoors in the “Kids Labo” on the first floor, beside the entrance near the playground. It is a rest space with a magnet wall and large padded magnets to make shapes. It also has a decent selection of books for toddlers and children of kindergarten age.

Rest area for toddlers with books and large magnet pieces and magnet board Magnet wall

Upstairs there is a large amusement area (games, slot machines, anpanman machines, purikura etc), which could be costly except that my 2 year old is still happy to play with the machines without money in them. What I like about this amusement area is that they have a free space they use for different events. This week they have tables out with cute little fish seats, with colouring books and crayons for younger kids to use for free. Last week they had a large pool with play fish and kids could do a fishing activity. There is also a mini aquarium, think large fish tank, beside that area and a large screen showing the Aqua World aquarium in Mito, Ibaraki that is associated with the amusement area.

This week's free activity is colouring
This week’s free activity is colouring

Mini "Aquarium" Amusement area complete with a mini aquarium!

UPDATE 2015: A new play centre opened opened as part of this amusement park, called Mama Smile. You can find more details on this blog: Mama Smile in Ario, Ageo. Also, in 2015 a restaurant on the 1st floor renovated its interior and re-opened with a play area: Kid friendly Pomme Cafe in Ario, Ageo.

Mama smile4  Pomme Cafe Ario Ageo (3)

I’ve saved the best for last; also on the 2nd floor there is a free play area for younger children. One part is for 2 to 6 year olds. It is a padded space with a padded (fake) tree in the centre and soft blocks for building. <UPDATE 2016>They renovated and upgraded part of the free play area and it is now a Chugginton play area. <End update> The other part is a crawling area for babies with a tunnel and mirrors. There are also educational activities on the walls and at a table and a free standing activity too. This play area is beside the “baby rest area”, a nursery, changing facilities (both the tape nappy and pull up type), children’s toilet, feeding area complete with high chairs with straps (a rarity in Japan), baby weighing scales and a height chart, a microwave, two burcos (clean boiled water for bottles) and 3 sinks for washing hands. There is also a “baby consultation room” there, but I’ve yet to check that out.
Free standing educational activity Big hit with the 9 month old

"Baby Rest Spot" Inside the baby rest spot

There are other facilities dotted here and there, like character trolleys that keep the kids entertained as you shop, small toilets for children and changing stations in the main toilets. There are also some events coming up, like a bus train this weekend (July 20th/21st 2013). The parking is free and most shops have opening sales until this week. The traffic wasn’t bad today, but I don’t know what its like at the weekend. It’s off route 17 and route 323 and near route 51. It’s a ten minute bus ride from Ageo station.

The girls zorb! | Sakado Jidokan

Giant inflatable tunnel

Zorb tunnel with balls in the balloon

In the spirit of play-a-day, or basically trying something new everyday, I brought my daughters to a different prefectural paid and run Children’s Community Centre today. It had lots of fun things for the kids to do, but 2yo was most excited by the giant inflatable roller or zorb as I believe it’s called.

This is at Sakado Children’s Community Centre. Sakado Children’s Community Centre is most famous for its planetarium. It’s 10 metre dome is part of Ohira Tech’s research facilities. They are conducting next generation application research which people can enjoy at Sakado before they become available elsewhere. We are saving the Planetarium for another visit when 3yo son can come.

Other facilities in the centre include a trampoline, climbing rope, push along cars, a make-believe kitchen, walls of toys, a baby and toddler room, a library room and a ping pong table. Outside there is playground equipment and right beside it is a little park with playground equipment.

Address of Sakado Children’s Community Centre:

23 Ashiyama cho, Sakado City

Access:

2 minutes by car from the School for the Deaf intersection on route 407.  Four minute walk from KitaSakado Train Station on the Tobu Tojo Line.

Sakado Jidokan in photos:

“Multi-training wall” at Miyoshino Children’s Centre, Sakado

 

Yesterday, we went to our local children’s centre to participate in a free event for toddlers.  Half way through the hour long event, DD1 decided she’d had enough.  It is very relaxed at these events for preschoolers, so there is no problem leaving the room during the event to do other things.  DD1 had her eye on the training wall on the ground floor; an opportunity to use it all by herself.

There are lots of toys and activities that the children can use for free at the various children’s centres around Japan. This is just one at our local centre; a マルチトレーナ which translates to multi-trainer. The ceramic tiled wall has a number of buttons surrounded by a light that flashes, one button at a time, to indicate which button to press.  The activity runs on a timer and the aim is to hit as many of the targets as possible.

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I haven’t seen this type of wall at the other centre’s we go, each seems to have its own unique special activity.  This seems to be our centre’s unique activity and it’s popular with all ages. When the trampoline is out it goes against this wall so its not available for use every visit, which adds to its appeal.

Miyoshino Children’s Centre is located in the Miyoshino area of Sakado.

Address 150-5 Kouya, Sakado City

Access A 10 minute walk from Higashi Sakado Danshi busstop on the bus bound for “Kawagoe Station” via Higashi Sakado Danshi which goes from Wakaba station on the Tobu Tojo line. For residents of Sakado there is free city shuttle bus; the “higashi” (East) course’s busstop number 12 “Miyoshino Jido Centre” stops right outside the Children’s Centre.