Listed in the top 3 Tanabata (Star) festivals for the whole of Kanto, this two day festival draws approximately 130,000 people annually. The city displays 140 tanabata decorations such as streamers and other paper decorations. There are about 300 stalls at the festival offering food, drink or traditional games such as the beloved “fishing” game, where you get to keep any fish you catch with a small net. They will also have some fireworks on the night of the 5th.
Sayama Municipal Museum, Saitama, is a city museum in Sayama Inari Yama Park on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line. They tend to host a lot of travelling exhibits suitable or designed for children. They have just closed the very excellent pop-up book exhibit and tomorrow the “Heros” exhibit will open. The Fairytales of Andersen will run concurrently for the first three weeks. In the past they have had a number of very successful and popular exhibits for children including a Licca Doll exhibit and a Cardboard Art and play exhibit.
The ground floor circular hall is where they hold most of their travelling exhibits. You can walk up to the second floor from this hall up a winding ramp that circumferences the hall. On the 2nd floor they have a room with their permanent displays. They have an Akebono Elephant (Stegodon aurorae) bones on display in this section. These elephant fossils are said to be between 2 and 1.2 million years old. There are also displays depicting ancient Japan, including a replica of a Jomon period house. They have a tatami tea room in the museum too.
The museum is free in for children under 15 years old. High school and university students cost 100 yen and all other adults cost 150 yen. They often have flyers in the lobby with a discount ticket: 60 yen for students over fifteen years old and a 100 yen for adults. Like most of Saitama’s municipal or prefectural buildings, this museum has a museum seal that the kids can stamp onto the back of the museum’s brochure in the allocated space, or on to any piece of paper. This museum often participates in seasonal “stamp rally” run by the prefecture, whereby you collect the seal of a number of different participating bodies in return for a small prize. The museum is buggy / pushchair friendly and they have toilets. There is also a cafe beside the museum called Kome To Cha.
Kome To Cha Café / Restaurant
The café and restaurant is located beside the entrance to the museum. It is accessible from within the museum, but it also has its own door and an entrance from the park side too. The restaurant changed its name last year from Komorei to Kome To Cha, but it is still called the former by many.
The cafe is not particularly big, but it is comfortable and my favourite feature is the large floor to ceiling windows which afford a lovely view of the park. Most of the tables are positioned in such a way that they have a view of the park. Probably their most popular item is the kaki-kori, a typed of shaved ice dessert flavoured with syrup. They have ice-cream too. Their menu is quite limited, but I thought the food was rather nice. They have children’s meals too. They are a little on the small side, but easy for children to manage. The rice was served as rectangle shaped origami with nori on the underside and furikake sprinkled on top. I think the kids meals are best suited to younger children or children that don’t have a great appetite. My preschoolers and toddler really enjoyed their meals.
The museum is open Tuesday to Sundays from 9 am to 5 pm. It is closed on Mondays. Cafe / restaurant Kome To Cha is open from 10 am to 4.45 pm, Tuesday to Sundays. Closed Mondays and the fourth Friday of the month.
23-1 Inariyama, Sayama, Saitama
The museum is a 3 minute walk from the Inariyama kouen station on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line or you can get a bus from the west exit of the Seibu Shinjuku Line Sayama City Station to Inariyama koen.
It is about a 15 minute from the Sayama Interchange of the Ken-o expressway or 20 minutes from the Kawagoe Interchange of the Kanetsu expressway. The museum and the restaurant share parking and it is free. Spaces are quite limited in the car park beside the museum, so it is not uncommon to have to wait for a parking space to come free. However, you can also use the park’s car park and walk over.
In the food court of Aeon (formerly Carrefour) in Sayama they have a play area for children. If you haven’t been there in more than six months, you might remember a broken down excuse of a play center called Yu Kids Ai land. However, they reformed it last summer and re-opened it as Wai Wai Park on August 15th 2016.
It is very hard to believe that Wai Wai Park is part of Aeon Fantasy, the same company that brings you the incredible and top class child’s play center Kidzooona. This branch of Wai Wai hasn’t got a patch on Kidzoona. And it is even smaller than the old Yu Kids Ai land, which when it was in its prime was actually a fairly decent play center. They just run it into the ground and in the last two to three years there was more broken play equipment than there was working ones. The new Wai Wai Park is up-to-date, functional, bright and colourful. It is just lacking equipment. Due to that, I really wouldn’t recommend it for a child older than three.
Basically it has: a balloon room, a ball pool, an inflated slide, merry-go-round swings, an electronic see-saw, turn tables and some make-believe toys. The latter is a few princess dresses, a kitchen and a tako-yaki cart. There are also a few other lose toys such as wooden cars, a pull along dog and a few other bit and pieces. The end. Yes, that is all they have. Instead of using the space that was there for the whole play center, they decided to use two thirds of it and use the other one third for coin operated rides and games for young children. So apart from there being less to play with, depending on what type of child you have, you could be facing tantrums when your kid wants to play with the coin operated machines even after playing in Wai Wai land. Thankfully, my youngest isn’t like that, but I would have had a hard time with one of my kids if they had been here at toddler age. My youngest was also content just playing for the thirty minutes, which is the package, and didn’t mind leaving, but I think for some two year old children they might find the time too short.
Another thing that has changed, for the worse in my opinion, is you are no longer allowed sit outside and watch your child from the counter. It is hard to believe that just five short years ago, before it became dilapidated and well before Studio Cafe Zoo Adventurecame along, this was my go-to child center to get a break while the kids played. I could bring a Mr Donuts coffee and donut to the counter outside the play area and sit watching the kids play with a clear view. It was heavenly! Now you have to enter with them. I don’t mind that of course, you expect that in most places anyway, it is just that it is a shame this space no longer has that selling point.
I will be honest: I can’t figure out if this place is reasonably priced or not. It is 500 yen for 30 minutes, which at first sounded expensive to me considering the lack of equipment, especially in comparison to what you get for your money in other places. HOWEVER, you don’t have to pay for an adult. So essentially it was 500 yen for both of us. In that way, I think it is probably fair and there is a lot worse ways you could spend your money, afore mentioned demon coin machines for one, where 500 yen lasts you 5 minutes. And therefore it is probably worth the 500 yen for a visit every now and then. Do be careful though: they don’t tell you when your time is up and if you go over your time they charge you a 100 yen for every additional 10 minutes.
Multi-purpose park with Campsite, BBQ, Zoo, Fishing, Sport facilities, Athletic Playground, Multi-use Playground, Beautiful Flora and Fauna.
Chikozan Park in Sayama is close to the controversial proposed site of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Golf Tournament. It is a beautiful vast park with lots of attractions for all types and ages.
There are two playgrounds in the park. Both are set in a wooded area which affords plenty of shade and protection from the elements. They are beside each other too, so kids can run between both and enjoy a couple of hours of fun. The athletic playground was undergoing work for our last 3 visits since the start of the year, but according to the website it is back open for public use. Update February 2017: most of the old equipment of the athletic playground has been removed and they are currently putting in new equipment. Two of the new pieces and one of the old are currently open for use.
The general playground is colourful with some unique equipment. About a 15 minute walk from these playgrounds is the zoo (more information on the zoo: Chikozan Park Zoo). Past the zoo is a marsh with a boardwalk running through it leading to the BBQ area and camping grounds. The camping grounds also has 2 wooden cottages, which are very reasonable to rent. There is other accommodation in Chikozan in the Welfare Center. The welfare center takes care of the BBQ facilities and this is where you can order BBQ food sets. You can barbecue from March.
Sporting facilities include a large sports hall with table tennis, training room, running course, martial arts dojo and many more. There are tennis courts near the children’s zoo. There is a club house in this area. Beside the tennis courts there is a family restaurant. It is a Japanese style restaurant with a raised tatami section which is useful with small kids. The kid’s meal is reasonably priced and quite nice too (pictured below).
The park and its parking are free, but you do need to pay into the zoo (which is very reasonable) and to use some of the facilities such as the tennis courts and camping grounds. You can book online, however their website is in Japanese only. I particularly recommend Autumn and Cherry Blossom season as a prime time to visit Chikozan park. There is one garden in the park with a number of Cherry Blossoms around a lake. The zoo also has some lovely cherry blossoms pictured below.
Parts of the park can be accessed at all times, but the car parks and various facilities have varying opening and closing times. Generally speaking the park is most accessible between 9 am and 4.30 pm. There are toilets in various locations in the park.
For the Tokyo 2020 Olympics the area of Sayama may well be a pre-games training camp host for RUGBY. The training camp grounds are at Secom Rugby Field very near this park.
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Chikozan Park in Sayama is a nice place for a family day out with toddlers. It has a small zoo, with the unique feature of fodder dispensing vending machines (pictured above). It has a lovely walkway through a wooded marsh. There are gardens beside a large open space. There are two playgrounds within the woods; an adventure playground and a general playground with swings, slides and climbing equipment. There is a lake designated for fishing. It is a lovely park in spring and the zoo looks particularly pretty with the cherry blossoms. We had our first hanami picnic at the zoo last week. Some photos after the information (specifically for the zoo) section below.
CHARGES: Children under the age of 6 free. 50 yen for school age children and 200 yen for adults. Discounts available for a group of over 30 people. Parking is free. The fodder dispensing machines cost money. Horse riding is available at a charge.
FACILITIES / SERVICES:
Some playground equipment in the large opening where the cherry blossom trees are
It’s alright to bring your own food
5 buggies/strollers available to rent
2 nappy changing areas within toilets
There is a restaurant within Chikozan park, near the zoo