Tag Archives: saitama with kids

The 8th Annual World Bonsai Convention | SAITAMA CITY

 

All media from the official website: http://world-bonsai-saitama.jp/

Please scroll down to grey box for times, URLs, map and more details.

10 Winter Play Spots in Saitama, commutable from Tokyo

With the dry and sunny weather, January is a great month to be out and about in Saitama. The choice of winter-only activities is an added incentive to don some winter woollies and head out into the cold. We may not have much (if any) snowfall, but you can still ski and play in snow in the Tokorozawa / Sayama area of Saitama.  We have a great selection of ice-rinks throughout the prefecture including one natural rink in rural Saitama. There is also a selection of indoor activities such as sport centres, heated pools and strawberry greenhouses to warm you up on even the coldest of days. Below is a pick of 10 indoor and outdoor locations, where you can either embrace or escape the cold this winter in Saitama.

1. Kasa skate rink

This is the only natural skate rink I know of in Saitama. Local volunteers band together to turn the natural ice pool into a suitable skate rink. However, as it is natural ice extra precaution is advised. You can borrow skates, guards and helmets at the rink.

Access: Bus from JR Hachiko Line Ogawamachi Station or Ogose Station to Shohoji 「正法寺」 . The rink is a five minute walk from the bus stop.

Free parking for up to 40 cars.

Address: Nishidaira, Tokigawa machi, Hiki District, Saitama 355-0364. Telephone: 0493-67-0853

Hours: Open 9 am to 4 pm weekends and holidays only, while the ice is frozen, typically until early February.

Cost: 500 yen for high school students and adults, 200 yen for children. Skate rental is also 500 yen for high school students and adults, 200 yen for children.

2. Numakage Ice Rink

The 50 metre pool in Numakage park is transformed into an ice rink in the winter. The rink opens late on weekends. If you just want to observe people skating you can enter the rink area for free.  There are other facilities of interest in the park such as an indoor pool and yoga and pilate classes.

Access: 10 minute walk from JR Saikyo Line Musashi Urawa station.

Free parking for up to 150 cars.

Address: 2-7-35 Numakage, Minami Ku, Saitama City, Saitama 336-0027. Telephone: 048-861-9955

Hours: Open 9 am to 6 pm on weekends and until 8.50 pm on weekends and public holidays until February 19th.

Cost: 640 yen for adults, 310 yen for primary and high school students, children under 7 are free. Skate rental costs 360 yen per person.

3. Saitama Ice Arena Winter Only Illuminated Rink

The Saitama Ice Arena is open all year round, but for weekends during the winter months they also have a sub rink that is illuminated at night. The main rink is an olympic sized rink. They have all the necessary safety gear available for children; you can borrow helmets for free.

Access: On Fridays, weekends and public holidays there is a shuttle bus from the east exit of the JR Takasaki Line Ageo station. It costs 200 yen for adults and a 100 yen for children. 20 minute walk from New Shuttle line’s Haraichi and Shonan stations.

Free parking for up to 70 cars.

Address: 4-386 Hinode, Ageo City, Saitama 362-0032

Hours: 10 am to 6 pm for the regular rink, the illuminated rink is open 6 pm to 8 pm on weekends, Fridays and public holidays for the months of December, January and February only.

Cost: 1100 yen for adults and high school students, 600 yen for children. Skates cost 500 yen to rent.

4. Lake Town Koshigaya Ice Rink

The huge outlet of Lake Town in Koshigaya have a seasonal outdoor ice-rink during the winter months in the “Sora no Hiroba”. From the 9th of January it is only available on weekends and public holidays.

Access: About a 7 minute walk from Musashino Line Koshigaya Lake Town Station.

Approximately 6 kilometres from the Misato Interchange on Joban Expressway. Approximately 7 kilometres from the Soka Interchange of the Tokyo Gaikan Expressway. Parking for 2200 cars. The first 5 hours are free and after that 100 yen for 30 minutes.

Address: Laketown Koshigaya, Koshigaya, Saitama Prefecture 343-0828 Japan. 

Hours: 11 am to 7 pm on weekends and public holidays.

Cost: 500 yen for 30 minutes for anyone over 13 years old.
300 yen for 30 minutes for children between 4 and 12 years old.
600 yen for parent and child pair ticket.
Skate rental 400 yen per person.

Lake Town Outlet Skate Rink | KOSHIGAYA

5. Seibu Snow Kingdom

The Snow Kingdom in Seibu Amusement park will run until March 5th this year. Kids can enjoy sliding down the snow on snow tubes, sledges and / or giant inflated slides. They also have buckets and spades for digging tunnels or striders for use on the snow. There is also a ice skating rink in the amusement park.

Access: 5 minute walk from Seibu Tamako Line Seibu Yuenchi Station and Seibu Line Seibuen Station.

12 kilometres from Tokorozawa Interchange on the Kanetsu Expressway. Parking for 1200 cars (1300 yen per day).

Address: 2964 Yamaguchi, Tokorozawa City, Saitama 359-1145. Telephone:  042-922-1371.

Hours: The schedule varies a lot, but generally speaking it is open Fridays to Mondays and is generally closed Wednesdays and Thursdays. Hours are 10 am to 4 pm.  Please check the official website to make sure the snow park is open the day you hope to go: http://www.seibuen-yuuenchi.jp/guide/snow/

Cost: If you hold an entry ticket to Seibu Amusement Park the Snow Kingdom costs 800 yen for adults and children over 12, and 500 yen for children from 3 years old to 12 years old as well as seniors (over 60). If you have a “free pass” ticket it is 500 yen for over 12s and 300 yen for children and seniors.

Snow Kingdom @ Seibu Amusement Park | Tokorozawa

6. Sayama Ski Resort

This indoor artificial snow resort is the only one of its kind in Saitama. They don’t have any special play attractions for children, but they do have ski lessons for children and parents on a Saturday. They also have individual lessons and a ski school.

Access: 3 minute walk from Seibu Ikebukuro Line and Seibu Yamaguchi Lines Seibu Kyujomae station.

10 KM from Iruma Interchange on the Ken-O expressway following route 463 on to route 55. Parking for up to 700 cars. Costs 1200 yen per day.

Address: 2167 Kamiyamaguchi, Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture 359-1153, Japan. Telephone: (04)2922-1384

Hours: 10 am to 9 pm on weekdays and open from 10 am to 9 pm and then again from 10 pm until 6 am for night skiing on weekends.

Cost: Ski lift for adults is 4,100 yen, 3,300 yen for high school students, and free for primary and preschool aged children.  90 minute lessons with ski lift included for a parent and child cost 6,800 yen.

Sayama Ski Resort | SAYAMA

7. Waku Waku Dome

Waku waku Dome is a health centre in Asaka City. They have a number of indoor heated pools including a shallow pool with slide for children. The centre also has a play room with rest area for small children.

Access: 15 minute walk from Tobu Tojo LIne Asakadai Station and JR Musashino Line Kita Asaka station.

Free parking for up to 200 cars.

Address: 27 Hamasaki, Asaka-shi, Saitama-ken 351-0033

Hours: 9 am to 10 pm

Cost: For residents of Asaka 2 hours in use of the pool costs 400 yen for adults and 200 yen for students. For non-residents it is 800 yen for adults and 400 yen for students. Use of the pool is free for children under 7 years old.

8. Kasukabe Yumoto Onsen

There are many onsen throughout Saitama, but some are more child friendly than others. Yumoto onsen in Kasukabe has a nice area for children with an elephant and dinosaur slide into the hot spring.  There is also a pool in the resort and you can take yoga as well as enjoy a number of different relaxation services such as a hot stone sauna.

Access: Free shuttle bus from  Tobu Skyliner Sengendai station and Tobu Urban Park Noda line Toyohara station.

Free parking for up to 1000 cars.

Address: 66-1 Shimoōmashi Shinden, Kasukabe-shi, Saitama-ken 344-0036

Hours: 10 am to 8.30 am (22.5 hours), the pool is open until 7 pm.

Cost: Weekdays are 1340 yen for adults and 620 yen for children between 3 and 12 years old. On weekends it is 1750 yen for adults and 720 yen for children between 3 and 12 years old.  Entry is free for children under 3.

9. Shimura Strawberry Farm

Strawberry greenhouses are a great place to warm up during winter. The temperatures are usually above 20 degrees and it is lovely and humid making a nice change from the dryness outdoors.  This strawberry farm is one of my favourites, because of the little but engaging play area indoors and some fun features outdoors as well as complimentary hot drinks.

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

Address: 102 Konuma, Sakado, Saitama 350-0202. Telephone: 080-5028-1062 between 8 am and 6 pm.

Hours: From 10 am, generally Tuesday to Sunday, from January 2nd until end of April or early May.

Cost: This year the cost is 1800 yen for adults and children over 6, children between 3 and 6 years old are 1400 yen,  2 year old children are 200 yen. You can also buy punnets of strawberries. One punnet costs 600 yen.

Strawberry Picking with a play area | Sakado

 

10. Spocha

Spocha is Saitama’s largest indoor sports and play centre. It is a great centre to enjoy all year round, but on the coldest of days what better way to warm up than with some indoor physical activity. There are over 70 sports and games you can enjoy in Spocha from Archery to Zorbing and everything in between.

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

Address: 917-1 Hiratsuka, Ageo-shi, Saitama-ken 362-0011

Hours: Monday 9 am to 6 am (open 21 hours), Tuesday to Thursday 10 am to 6 am, Friday to Sunday 24 hours to 6 am on the Monday morning.

Cost: Different packages available starting at 540 yen for preschoolers and 1,720 yen for adults. Costs include access to all >70 activities, games and sports.

For more detail please see:

【Spo-cha】|Ageo

 

Between the weather, New Year festivities and seasonal activities, January is actually one of my favourite months in Japan.  The locations and activities listed above are only a small sample of what Saitama has to offer in winter. We also have some stunning winter scenery that can only be witnessed in the first six weeks of the year, such as the Misotsuchi Icicles in Chichibu and the Ashigakubo Icicles in Yokoze. The latter were only discovered 3 years ago, but have already risen to national acclaim due to their stunning beauty, particularly when illuminated at  night.  Saitama may not be top of the list for places to visit in winter in Japan, but we do have a good choice of activities, events and winter scenery to enjoy.

Where do you like to visit and what activities do you enjoy during Winter?

 

 

Santa Meet and Greet @ Stellar Town | KITA WARD

Santa Claus is visiting Stellar Town in Kita Ward, Saitama City, on December 24th. He will be there for three visits at 11 am, 3.30 pm and 5.30 pm, outside the Santa House on the 1st floor for the first 2 sessions and for the last session he will be on the 2nd floor. You need to have valid receipts for that day of over 3000 yen of purchases in the mall.

Shidax Karaoke with kids | VARIOUS LOCATIONS




The Shidax are a family friendly Karaoke chain that offer many different packages for an affordable few hours of fun with family or friends.  As it is a franchise, each branch is independently run and has its own system. Prices, packages and facilities differ between each branch. Some branches offer a kids room with extra facilities for young children. Other branches have party services. Most branches have reasonably priced  “drink bar” and serve food; those that do, don’t allow you bring in food (other than birthday cake) from outside. The selection of songs also varies by branch, but generally speaking I have found Shidax to have a decent selection of English songs and nursery rhymes for children. Most branches have a large selection of Japanese songs for children.

Karaoke is a great activity to do with young children on a rainy day. It is also a great spot for a children’s party. However, depending on the number of guests you might not be able to secure a kid’s room, you might have to get a regular room. To combat this, I ask parents to drop their kids off and pick them up after the party so that there is only kids and a couple of adults and we can fit in a larger sized kid’s room. The branches I use have food platters and drink bar which I get for the kids and I bring in my own cake. Some branches kid’s rooms have a better capacity than others and some may have even more services for parties. Do ask about deals when you are booking, sometimes we get it as cheap as 100 yen per child with drink bar included!

kids room at karaoke in shidax higashimatsuyama

 

In three of our local branches we are very lucky to have kids rooms.  I have found that the kid’s room size and services differ between branch. Most kids rooms have some extras for kids in them, such as play equipment and / or toys. You can borrow musical instruments from the front desk to add to the fun for the kids.  In any karaoke room it is possible to adjust lighting and sound to make it more suitable for children.  Higashimatsuyama branch, Shingashi branch and the Tsurugashima branches of Shidax have fairly decent sized kids room with a slide and toys in the room.  Each of these branches have an okay collection of children’s English songs, but a much greater selection of Japanese songs.

SHIDAX SAITAMA BRANCHES

Official URL (no English unfortunately): http://www.shidax.co.jp/sc/

Hours vary by branch, but generally speaking they open at 11 am.

A selection of Shidax branches in Saitama mapped on Google:

If you are interested in the Tsurugashima branch, I recently reviewed it on City-cost.com, below is a preview, you can click for more information.  It is just one of many Saitama branches of Shidax:

Review – Shidax Tsurugashima in Japan. Shidax is one of the largest chain karaoke stores in Kanto, but each branch is independently run. You won’t find a price online, because each store charges diff

Source: Place Review: Shidax Tsurugashima, Tsurugashima-shi, Saitama | City-Cost

Easy Hike to Gojyou Waterfall | HIDAKA

gojyou-waterfall-hidaka-5

The area of Hidaka is so rich in nature and a beautiful place to enjoy a scenic drive and even some hiking with children.  Many years ago, my husband and I used to visit the area often on our way to Chichibu to escape the summer heat. We often stopped at a shrine with a preserved house that I never realised, until our visit last week, is the famous Koma shrine. To be honest, it is not a shrine I rank highly, but they do have great events and if you are in the area it might be worth a quick stop off.  I do, however, recommend either walking or driving (on the way to/) from there to the truly magnificent Shoden-in Temple, which is much more aesthetic, especially in Autumn.

gojyou-waterfall-hidaka-2

On our most recent trip to Hidaka the stops to the afore mentioned religious institutions were last on our route. We had actually started out in neighbouring Hanno with a short hike followed by a splash in the river. Next stop was the Gojyou Waterfalls. Coming from Hanno as you cross over the city border into Hidaka, just at that Seibu Ikebukuro Line Musashi Yokote station is the almost miss-able turn for the Gojyou Waterfall. If you are coming by train, you alight at this station and it is approximately a 30 minute walk sans kids, with them (depending on their age) it could possibly take double due to the steady incline of the 2 kilometre walk.  By car, the tricky part is parking. The nearest car park is quite a distance away. We actually drove quite close to the waterfall, but I definitely would not recommend that at all. We made a mistake as we did not realise just how narrow and dangerous the road was, and we actually had to reverse back down the mountain as the car was not able to manage the steep incline as you near the waterfall. The incline at that part is at least 20%, but I would guess nearer 30% and our car literally conked out in defiance. It was terrifying backing down an old narrow mountain road. We ended up parking in a verge on the side of the road much further down the hill. I am not even sure if it was an actual car spot, but it looked like it had been used for the same purpose before.

The sign for the waterfall is posted to a tree, just as the road steepens severely. You come off the easy to walk and/or push an off-road buggy, to a beautiful hiking trail. I recommend you park the stroller at the verge on the other side of the road. You cross a make-shift bridge made from a fallen tree with wood slabs screwed on. The waterfall is not far at all, so young kids can manage it, but they do need to be careful. There is a lot of moss on the ground and on the tree roots and stones.  There is a sign to watch out for boar too and we saw a mamushi (poisonous snake) further down the road.  There are occasionally bears in the area too. It is not a huge waterfall and the trail back to the road is ridiculously short, but the beauty of the area was worth it for us and it was an easy trail for my kids who are 2 (this month), 4, 5 and 7 years old.  We passed many families on our walk as well as a group of boy scouts.

 

Contact: 042-989-2111

Map:

Round up of Halloween Events 2016 | SAITAMA

Each year the number and quality of Halloween events is improving in the Saitama area. We’ve a way to go before we get to the level of Chiba or Kanagawa, but there is enough in the area for the kids to enjoy.

**Halloween kicks off in Saitama on October 1st.**

Daily From October 1st~31st

①Happy Halloween 2016 【Saitama Children’s Zoo】| HIGASHIMATSUYAMA

One of the few events that can be enjoyed daily during the month of October, the children’s castle in the zoo is transformed into a Halloween castle. They have Halloween colouring daily. If you colour a picture you get a sweet in return. On the weekends they have additional events, such as face painting and crafts. You can see more detail in English here:

Happy Halloween 2016 @ Saitama Children’s Zoo | HIGASHIMATSUYAMA

②Halloween Dessert Buffet 【Royal Pines Hotel】| URAWA

For the month of October you can enjoy an all-you-can-eat Halloween buffet in the Royal Pines Hotel. Further details in English here:

Halloween Dessert Buffet | URAWA


OCTOBER 2ND

③Kisai Halloween 2016 | KAZO

One of Saitama’s longest running Halloween celebrations is taking place in Kazo City from 11 am. It includes a costume contest, halloween parade and Halloween hunter event. There are also food booths and even a pet corner. You can get more information here:

Kisai Halloween 2016 | KAZO

October 8th

④ Fancy dress and Halloween Illumination Light up 【Shinrin Park】| NAMEGAWA

Shinrin Park kicks off its Halloween events for 2016 with the Halloween Illumination Light up. They are inviting kids to come in fancy dress.  More details:

Halloween lights switch on and kids fancy dress @ Shinrin Park | NAMEGAWA


Weekends From October 8th to October 30th

⑤Night in the Forest 【Shinrin Park】| NAMEGAWA

On weekends and the bank holiday Shinrin Park are running a number of events for Halloween, including crafts and their Halloween illumination. More details:

Halloween Night in the Forest @ Shinrin Park | NAMEGAWA

⑥Halloween Night Zoo 【Tobu Zoo】| SUGITO

On weekends and public holidays from October 8th to October 30th, Tobu Zoo is running a Halloween night zoo with special events. More information here:

Tobu Hybrid Park Halloween Night Zoo | SUGITO


October 15th and 16th

⑦”Let’s Make a Witches Hat” 【Cocoon 1 and 2】| SAITAMA

Let’s Make a Witches Hat @ Cocoon | SAITAMA

Let’s Make a Witches Hat @ Cocoon 2 | SAITAMA

October 22nd and 23rd

⑧”Let’s Make a Trick or Treat Bag” 【Cocoon 1 and 2】| SAITAMA

Let’s Make Trick or Treat Bag @ Cocoon | SAITAMA

Let’s Make Trick or Treat Bag @ Cocoon 2 | SAITAMA

⑨Trick or Treat 【Tokyu Hands, Lalaport】| FUJIMI

If you find the staff in costume and say “Trick or Treat” you will receive an original Tokyu Hands Halloween Candy .

More information in Japanese: http://www.tokyu-hands.co.jp/halloween/2016/ (External site: Tokyu Hands official page).

 


October 29th

⑩Happy Halloween | KITAMOTO

Happy Halloween in Kitamoto Higashichuo Street | KITAMOTO

⑪Omiya Halloween Walk | SAITAMA

Omiya Halloween Walk | SAITAMA

⑫Halloween Face Painting and Craft Workshops 【Shinrin Park】| NAMEGAWA

Halloween Night in the Forest @ Shinrin Park | NAMEGAWA

⑲Halloween Walk | HIGASHIMATSUYAMA

Added October 16th

Halloween Walk | HIGASHIMATSUYAMA

⑱STEPS HALLOWEEN PARTY

Amended October 16th to reflect the date and location change. For members of the Saitama Tots English Playdates group. The party will be held in Fujimi Toda.  More details can be found through the group. If you are eligible to become a member (>one parent speaks fluent English), you can find us here:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/saitamasteps/


October 29th and 30th

⑬Halloween Parade 2016 【Mallage】| KUKI

The Mallage Mall in Kuki will have 3 Halloween parades at 11 am, 1 pm and 3 pm on both Saturday the 29th and Sunday the 30th.  It is a free event for families with kids, but restricted to the first 100 customers and you need to apply in advance. The last day for entry is October 25th.

Further information in Japanese: http://www.mallage.com/shobu/event_list.php (external site, official page of Mallage mall)

21。Halloween at Seibuen

Exotic Halloween @ Seibuen Yuenchi | TOKOROZAWA

Amazing line up for the Halloween celebrations in Seibuen Amusement Park this year, including HALLOWEEN FIREWORKS, Illumination, face painting, magic show and more:


October 30th

⑭Halloween World | WARABI

Halloween World | WARABI

 

⑮Halloween Costume Parade 【Cocoon】| SAITAMA

Halloween Costume Parade @ Cocoon | SAITAMA

 

⑯Halloween Parade and Bingo 【Ario】| Ageo

Halloween Parade and Bingo @ Ario | AGEO

 

⑰Halloween Party 【Tobu Zoo】| SUGITO

 

Halloween Party @ Tobu Zoo | SUGITO

 

 ⑳ Halloween at Shinmisato

Halloween Parade @ Ikea, Costco, Lalaport | SHINMISATO


Seibu Yuuenchi seems to have dropped their annual Halloween event. If new information comes to light I will add it here.
Kennys Village (camping grounds) in Hanno also run Halloween events every year, but currently there website is down.

OMIYA HALLOWEEN FES is on October 29th this year. You can bring kids to it, but it is more of an adult event:
http://www.sportsone.jp/srt/stocks/srt20161029_121142.html

Do you know of any Halloween events in Saitama? Please do share here for the benefit of other English speakers in Saitama. Thank you 🙂

Place Review: Studio Cafe Zoo Adventure | FUJIMI

Originally appeared on City-Cost.

Studio Cafe Zoo Adventure

This is my go-to cafe for a bit of break from the kids, while with the kids. It is one of the few places I know that allow children play unsupervised, unless they are 3 years old or under. The play area is sectioned off from the cafe area, but it is clearly visible. You can sit facing the area and watch your kids while you enjoy a coffee and cake. You have to pay per child to use the play centre.

The menu isn’t very extensive, but its really only a place for a light snack or treat. The cakes are quite nice and they change the options periodically. Despite having a play area, it doesn’t have much in the line of children’s food or drinks. They do lay out a jug of water that you can help yourself to for free. It is also one of the few places I know with a dedicated work space, with laptop connections, chargers and wide desk space. The cafe area has large stuffed animals dotted all over the seating area of the cafe. Among there is a large giraffe, elephant, pig, horse and cow. The ambiance of the cafe is quite nice. The staff are friendly enough, but as far as I know none of them speak English.

It opens 10 am to 9 pm seven days a week. The nearest parking is car parks number six and seven. Both are indoors. All parking in Lalaport is free. By train you would also need to get a bus and the buses are not very frequent so when possible coming by car is much more convenient.

For more place reviews from all over the country, please visit www.city-cost.com

Review – Studio Cafe Zoo Adventure in Japan. This is my go-to cafe for a bit of break from the kids, while with the kids.  It is one of the few places I know that allow children play unsupervised, unl

Source: Place Review: Studio Cafe Zoo Adventure, Fujimi-shi, Saitama | City-Cost

 

A fun and educational summer drive | Higashimatsuyama Hatoyama

This morning after a sudden change of plans, I decided it was time we check out one place on the summer wishlist: the JAXA earth observation centre. As we departed the house I had planned to just go to JAXA, but when the three girls (5, 3 and 1 years old) weren’t too enamoured with my choice, I improvised a day trip. The result, a pretty amazing summer drive with lots of fun for all, and educational to boot. Another bonus; it was pretty much free – the only cost (other than transport and food) was the parking and entry fee to the zoo. I adapted our actual route for this blog post, to make it more time savvy.

A. Start

Sakado Nishi Smart Interchange

↓11 minutes

B. Peace Museum of Saitama

Looking for Tokyo Skytree which on a fine day is view-able from the Observation Tower of the Peace Museum of Saitama
Looking for Tokyo Skytree which on a fine day is view-able from the Observation Tower of the Peace Museum of Saitama

I’ve known that the Peace Museum is there ever since I moved here, but I never made an effort to go see it. To be honest, it sounded boring. So I was very pleasantly surprised to find it is far from boring and a really fun place for kids set in beautiful surroundings. The main exhibit hall boasts a recreated school house and world war II bunker.  You can walk into both. They have traditional toys, colouring and the all important stamp rally in the reception area. They have a great observation tower too. They host events and show movies during summer vacation.

Hours: 9 am to 4.30 pm. Closed every Monday
Charge: FREE access and free parking
URL: http://www.saitama-peacemuseum.jp/publics/index/29/

↓10 minutes

C.  Jaxa Earth Observation Centre

Looking for our house on a giant floor map of Japan!
Looking for our house on a giant floor map of Japan!
Drive day trip higashi matsuyama hatoyama
Learning about countries with this interactive exhibit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have preschoolers, I recommend skipping this point of interest, or just planning a half hour maximum at this location. I found it very interesting and my almost 7 year old enjoyed a couple of the exhibits, but it is best suited to older children. They have some interactive exhibits and plenty of visual exhibits. Some of the educational video clips have English subtitles and there are some bilingual brochures, but this JAXA is most suited to proficient Japanese speakers. You need to pull into the reception office as you enter the gate to sign in to the premises.


Hours:
10 am to 4.30 pm
Charge: FREE access and free parking
URL: http://global.jaxa.jp/about/centers/eoc/

↓9 minutes

D. Monomiyama Viewpoint

A steep climb up many steps is rewarded with amazing panoramic views. There is a park you can access from this point, or from the Peace Museum, but in summer it is just too hot. The free parking is shared with Shoboji Temple (Iwadono Kannon) on the Shoboji Temple side, so you don’t have to cross over the road if driving from Jaxa Earth Observation Centre.

Hours: The viewpoint is open 24 hours
Charge: FREE access and free parking
URL:  http://www.higashimatsuyama-kanko.com/english/03.pdf

E. Shoboji Temple aka Iwadono Kannon

Ringing the bell at Iwadono Kannon, Spectacular view from the bell platform
Ringing the bell at Iwadono Kannon, Spectacular view from the bell platform

You walk through a cool tunnel to get to this hidden temple with the most amazing Gingko tree I have ever seen.  I did not know before I went that it is an acclaimed power spot, but I definitely sensed an atmosphere. There are great views from the bell platform of the temple. There are a couple of swings and some horizontal bars for kids to play with.

Hours: 8.30 am to 5 pm in the summer, 8.30 am to 4 pm in the winter.
Charge: FREE access and free parking
URL: http://www.bandou.gr.jp/temple/saitama.php

↓6 minutes

F. Saitama Children’s Zoo

Splash pool at Saitama's Prefectural Children's zoo
Splash pool at Saitama’s Prefectural Children’s zoo

During the summer, the children’s zoo tends to be a degree or two cooler than surrounding areas, especially on a breezy day. Plus it has a great splash pool that the kids can cool down in. During the month of August they have a Night Zoo on 6 different dates, you can get that information here: CLICK HERE FOR SAITAMA EVENT LIST  For more general information please see the entry on this blog: Saitama Children’s Zoo

Hours: 9.30 am to 5 pm. Closed on Mondays except for national holidays
Charge: Adults 510 yen, Primary and Junior High school children 210 yen, Preschoolers and below FREE, Parking 600 yen for the day
URL: on this blog – Saitama Children’s Zoo
O
ffical (Japanese only): http://www.parks.or.jp/sczoo/

↓??

HOME with tired, but satisfied kids. 🙂

 

One thing to note is that there isn’t much in the way of food once you get into the mountain region. Therefore, if you are planning to do this drive or a variation of it, I recommend you bring a packed lunch / purchase something on the way or schedule to eat at the zoo.

Have you created or followed any Saitama day trip and / or drive routes you’d like to share? Input is always welcome. 🙂

 

Festivals in Saitama July 31st

Below is a list of the some of the larger, more famous or well attended festivals that are scheduled for this Sunday, JULY 31ST.

Kawagoe Summer Festival





Only 30 minutes from Tokyo, the historic town of Kawagoe is a popular place to experience a typical Japanese summer festival. The festival is celebrated each year on the last Saturday and Sunday of July.  The festival includes parades, processions, portable shrines, music and dance. There are also many festival stalls with traditional Japanese festival games or selling festival food.

Time: from 12pm on Sunday
Contact: Kawagoe City Tourist Information Office 049-222-5556
Location: Spreads from around Hon Kawagoe Station to the main tourist area by the Bell Tower.
Access: Hon Kawagoe Station on the Seibu Shinjuku Line. Approximately a 8 minute walk from Kawagoe station on the JR Kawagoe and Tobu Tojo Lines.

Omiya Summer Festival

Image from STIB official website




This fun and lively festival is ideal for kids as it has a “Children’s Summer Festival Space”. Within that area, which holds up to 500 kids, there are children’s festival games such as hoop throwing, bowling, a quiz corner and more. They also have children’s much beloved kaki-kori (shaved ice). The main festival has parades, mikoshi (portable shrine), live music, dance including yosakoi as well as festival stalls and more.

Time:  5 pm to 9 pm
Contact: Saitama Tourism and International Bureau 050-5541-8600
Location: Around the West Exit of Omiya Station
Access: JR East, Tobu Railway and Saitama New Urban Transit OMIYA Station

Gyoda Floating Castle Festival 行田浮き城祭り

Photo from the official website: https://www.city.gyoda.lg.jp/15/04/12/ukisiro/event_maturi/summer.html
Photo from the official website: https://www.city.gyoda.lg.jp/15/04/12/ukisiro/event_maturi/summer.html





Held every year on the last Saturday and Sunday of July, this sacred rites festival attracts about 55,000 people from all over Saitama and beyond.  The Danbe Folk Dance is one of the highlights of this festival. There are also portable shrines, floats, a parade and festival stalls.

Time: 3.30 pm to 9 pm
Contact: 048-556-1111
Location: along Route 125 and Gyoda-Hasuda Avenue
Access: 1 minute walk from Chichibu Railway Gyodashi Station

 

 

 

This information was accurate at the time of research. As with all fireworks and festivals (events in general) information is subject to change due to weather and/or mitigating factors. 

 

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Cats Eye Play and Sports Centre | SAYAMA

Cats Eye play and sports centre is very like Spocha in Round 1, just not as classy or clean, and the limited number of staff leave a lot to be desired. There is a smell of stale smoke in the areas outside the play area and a damp smell in part of the play zone. The area outside the play area feels quite run down and many of the areas are dark and dingy. However, for all its faults, I think it has great equipment for young children and is good value for money.

 

 

The system was quite confusing as a first timer, but once you get in to the play area it all makes a bit more sense.  You have to become a member the first time you visit, which involves spending a bit of time inputting data into a computer. It also costs 315 yen per person over the age of 6. Then you move to reception to show proof of identity and to request which package you want. There are a few different types, but with young children you basically need to just choose a 3 hour or all day pack. You pay on the way out.

After getting your membership card at reception you can enter the play area. There are a number of facilities including, but not limited to, the kids park, play house area, costume dress up, fishing, amusement games (which are included in the cost), sports areas with soccer, baseball, archery, golf etc.  There are even bowling lanes that are included in the cost, but you need to pay extra for shoe rental. They have karaoke rooms too. You can pay for drink bar, where you can help yourself to unlimited drinks. They have a selection of soft drinks and some coffee too.

INFORMATION:

Classification: Indoor play area, Indoor sporting facilities, Bowling, Fishing, Karaoke, Children’s play centre, Table Tennis, Dance Studio, Darts, Archery, Batting practice, Costume dress up, Bicycles, Shooting, Computer Games, Trampoline, Billiards, Value for money

Hours and Cost: The hours are 10 am to 5 am.  The cost depends on the package. They currently (2016) have a summer package for 3 hours of play on weekdays for 720 yen for school aged children. There is a restaurant in the play area. The selection is limited,  but it is reasonably priced.

 

ACCESS:

The nearest stations are Sayamashi and Iriso on the Seibu Shinjuku line.  They are both about a 20 to 25 minute walk from Cats Eye or you can take a bus from Sayamashi station.  Parking is free. See Google Maps below.

URL: http://www.hku.co.jp/catseye/sayama/

On Iko-yo.net: http://iko-yo.net/facilities/15962

Google Maps: