Tag Archives: something different

Capybara Onsen At Saitama Children Zoo | HIGASHIMATSUYAMA

The annual Capybara Onsen at the Saitama Children’s Animal Nature park started on November 19th and will run until the end of March. The end date will be determined at a later date depending on weather and other factors.



The event takes place daily on the days the zoo is open, generally Tuesday to Sunday, from 2.00 pm. From 2.30 pm, the first 12 customers in line will be able to get up close and personal with the capybara and enjoy a foot spa in the same enclosure. There is no additional cost to watch the capybara in the onsen, that is covered by the entry ticket. However, if you want to partake in the foot hot spring beside the capybara (seperate water) it costs 500 yen per adult. Children on your lap are free.

The Zoo is closed from the 29th of December and will reopen January 4th. The 29th until January 1st is for New Years Holidays, the 2nd and 3rd are because for the month of January the zoo closes on BOTH Mondays and Tuesdays.

 

(Nov 6th 2016) Information for the Capybara event has yet to be up-dated on the official website. For more information in English on seasonal events at the zoo and for general information in English:

Saitama Children’s Zoo

 

Tree climbing in Saitama

2015

“Treeing” is the term the Japanese have coined for the sport of climbing trees with ropes and harnesses.  This Autumn a few parks across Kanto are offering the experience with trained and experienced tree climbers from the Tree Master Climbing Academy. In Saitama, the national park Shinrin in Namegawa and the prefectural park Kuki Shobu conduct(ed) classes for adults, and kids over four years old.

We tried out the classes in Shinrin Park with some friends last weekend. Six year old went quite high and confessed it was quite scary when he got to the higher branches, but he really enjoyed it and is looking forward to going again. Four year old didn’t get that high, but she also thoroughly enjoyed it.  She had no problem going up, but found it more difficult to come down.

The classes are an hour long. First you get geared up. Then there is an explanation of the equipment and how to climb up and come back down.  To be honest, listening to the explanation it sounded quite complicated, but once you start executing it you catch on. An hour was just the right length for the four year olds who were getting tired towards the end.

The Kuki Shobu park sessions, which were only 700 yen, are finished for this year. Shinrin has three more days of multiple sessions scheduled for November 14th (Saitama Day) , December 12th and (added in 2016) March 12th. The classes at Shinrin park are 1,000 yen per person and you also have to pay the park entry fee and parking costs. The classes are held near the central gate of the park. You need to book in advance. The number is 0493-57-2111. (Update 2016, booking for March 12th class opens on March 2nd.)  More information about the park is available on their English language webpage: http://www.shinrinkoen.jp/english/  More information on the Tree Master Climbing Academy is available in Japanese: http://treemaster.jp/

In Chiba the Tokyo German Village has two dates for treeing scheduled; November 7th and December 5th.

 

Styrofoam Art in Kawagoe

Kawagoe is a very popular tourist area in Saitama, about 30 minutes by train from Ikebukuro station in Tokyo. There is a lot to do in the tourist area of Kawagoe and a wealth of information about it on the web.  However, I want to introduce a little known fact about the art in the popular tourist area.  Around the area of “kashiya yokocho“, literally meaning sweet (candy) alley, there are a number of giant and life size animal replicas. They are all made out of styrofoam!

The artist, Yajima Kimio, retired early from his Kawagoe City Hall position, to indulge in his passion. I, for one, am glad he did. The displays change over time, so you never know when a new one will appear or an old one will be moved. Most of his work is displayed in Kawagoe, but you can also find some of his work in other parts of Saitama.

I got some of his work this past weekend. I realise after reading his blog tonight, I missed a few pieces. A good incentive, not that I need one, to go back to Kawagoe sooner rather than later. You can find Mr Yajima’s blog here: http://homepage3.nifty.com/kerokero2009/index.html
You can see some more of his work on this (unrelated) blog here: http://tokyoern.blogspot.jp/2014/06/a-walk-around-koedo-kawagoe-part-2.html

Sweet Street:

“Books and Cafe” at Tokinosumika, Gotemba

From the website www.tokinosumika.com
From the website www.tokinosumika.com

 BRIEF UPDATE 2016: “Books and cafe” has undergone some changes and it is no longer free in. More details to come in the coming days.

There is a lovely cafe in the Tokinosumika resort, aptly called “Books & Cafe”! It’s one of my favourite spaces actually, due to the ambience and wooden structure. It’s a nice place to relax over a coffee and a book. Now I enjoy it on our annual visits as it is also an interesting space for children. There is a wooden ball pool that babies and toddlers enjoy as well as wooden toys for toddlers and young children. There are books too for people of all ages. The cafe and the book area are slightly separate, so you can hang out in the “books” part without eating. They’ve a great selection of photo books as well as a good selection of kids books. There are seats, benches and cubby holes in the book area.
URL: http://www.tokinosumika.com/restaurant/bookscafe.php
Opening hours: 10.00-19.00

More information on the Tokinosumika resort:
http://insaitama.com/?s=tokinosumika

Detailed information on Tokinosumika on this blog: http://insaitama.com/shizuoka-gotemba-tokinosumika-family-resort/

Graffiti In Japan

One thing you rarely see in Japan is graffiti.   I have seen it only a handful of times in my 14 years in Japan. Today, was one of those rare days.  In Kofu.,, Yamanashi prefecture.



Babies at the cinema need not be a recipe for disaster via Japan Times

Another first that the new Lalaport has brought for West Saitama, is that of a “Mamas’ Club Theatre”. Twice a month on the 3rd floor of Lalaport, Fujimi, in the Toho Cinemas, they have a special baby and toddler friendly showing of a movie. The movie is shown at 9.30am in their biggest theatre, screen 1, with lights on and volume down. Babies and parents are allowed to talk, cry, sing along and just chill out and enjoy a movie in the big screen.  This service was started in Tokyo a few years ago. Here is the Japan Times article about it at that time: Babies at the cinema need not be a recipe for disaster | The Japan Times

This coming Thursday the Mamas’ Club Theatre in Lalaport, Fujimi, presents Cinderella. You cannot book in advance for this service. Tickets can be purchased that morning. Parking areas 6 and 7, which are the Kawagoe side of route 254, are beside the cinema. If you park on the 4th floor of either of those lots, you can just walk down a ramp into the 3rd floor of Lalaport. Please be aware that until 10 in the morning you can only access the cinema on the Kawagoe end and the area around Yaoko on the Fujimi end.

Please see Toho Cinemas homepage for up to date prices and information on what is showing. http://www.tohotheater.jp/service/mamas_club_theater/

Steam Locomotive Cafe in Lalaport | FUJIMI

One of the many fun and unique attractions of Lalaport in Fujimi is the Steam Locomotive Cafe on the 3rd floor. The cafe, which is also a train shop, features a number of different model railway towns and a plarail display. You can enjoy the displays as you eat your lunch or have a coffee (see the video at the bottom).

2015051313250001On weekdays, the children’s plate (800 yen in 2015) comes on a bullet train plate, as pictured below. They also have a “Nori Tetsu Meat” dish served with a train made out of seaweed. That comes with a half cooked egg though, so if you are buying for a child you might want to request they fully cook the egg! They have a bullet train cake on the menu too. They provide bumper chairs, and crockery and cutlery for children. You help yourself to water. They don’t have toilets in the cafe itself, but you can use Lalaport’s toilets, 2 of which are close by.

Lifelike model railway town
Lifelike model railway town

The Steam Locomotive Cafe is open daily from 10am to 9pm, last order for food is 8pm and for drinks it is 8.30pm. The nearest parking is probably car park lot number 2 or 3. The latter is outdoors. All parking in Lalaport is free. TEL: 049-257-6801

For more information in Japanese you can visit their official page here:http://popondetta.com/blog/cat83/steam_locomotive_with.html

2015051313130000

Realistic model railway town
Realistic model railway town
Very detailed model railway town
Very detailed model railway town


Team Lab Islands | Lalaport Fujimi

Little Miss 2 year old chases the turtle she coloured, in an aquarium of children’s art, in the first picture below ⬇. This is a sketch aquarium where children colour pictures of sea life that are then scanned and projected onto a wall display. It is a virtual sea where the fish the kids coloured in can swim. Just one of the unique activities in the Fujimi Lalaport branch of Team Lab Islands, which is paving the way in modern children’s fun centres. They use projection and other technology to engage the minds of little ones.

Sketch Aquarium

My 2 year olds favourite was the virtual stepping stone path you create yourself on a touch screen panel. You can choose which shapes and colours to make your stepping stones. When you are finished creating your stepping stones it is projected onto a simulated river and the kids have great fun walking on their own creations.

Team lab stepping stone touch screen

Team lab stepping stones

 

The most physical activity is the Illuminated Ball Orchestra, where kids push along large balls that change colour and make music.

Team Lab

Other activities include tabletop touch screen panels where kids can make their own railroads. Another wall simulates various images according to movement. You can touch images to make them move or grow in size. When we were last there it was animals. There isn’t a huge selection, but what they have really engages the children and time flies by for them. More information and images available on their website.

URL: http://island.team-lab.com/event/lalaportfujimi/

Phone: 049-257-5662

Opening hours: 10am t0 6pm, last entry 5.30pm

Cost: Children under 2 are free. 30 minute 500 yen (2015). “Free pass” which can be used all day, you can come and go, 1200 yen (2015). Please see the website for up-to-date information.

Parking: Lalaport parking for 4600 carspaces. FREE. Parking lots 6 and 7 third floor are close.

For information in English about the Team Lab products (not all of the products on this website are at Fujimi):

https://www.team-lab.net/products/

Japan’s 1st Lego School and Store

The Lego Store

Japan’s 1st lego school, an after school education programme, opened in Lalaport, Fujimi, last month.

The “school” runs a number of different programmes, by age group. A lesson costs 3,000 yen.

Next door is the lego store.  The lego store sells lego sets as well as individual pieces by a pick and mix option. There are two small play tables and a wall area that kids can use and play with lego for free.

More information is available on their website: http://www.legoschool.jp/locations/fujimi/access.php

The lego store Wall lego play area Pick and mix

Manhole Covers

I used to think I was an observant person, until my cousin sent me an article about manhole covers in Japan. I was in Japan more than 10 years when she sent me the link about the ornate manhole covers here. My first instinct was that it must be in a part of Japan that I have never visited…

Then I started looking down

Manhole (2)

and sure enough each city’s manhole cover is different. 

"MatsumotoManholeCover" by Original uploader was Rei at en.wikipedia - Originally from en.wikipedia; description page is/was here.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MatsumotoManholeCover.jpg#mediaviewer/File:MatsumotoManholeCover.jpg
“MatsumotoManholeCover” by Original uploader was Rei at en.wikipedia – Originally from en.wikipedia; description page is/was here.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MatsumotoManholeCover.jpg#mediaviewer/File:MatsumotoManholeCover.jpg

 

Often they are representative of the city.  For example, I recently posted about the 100 caves of Yoshimi, which is the design of the manhole covers in the that city. 

 

Some are in colour, but most are etched into the steel without colour.
PIC_2542
Even the fire hydrant manhole covers have their own special images.
PIC_2541

 

So if you plan to come to Japan, remember to look down! Not only will you see something unique to Japan, but you will also learn something about the area you are visiting.  For those who have visited or live here;  have / did you notice/d them!?

There is a fantastic selection over at the Land of Wa; http://dustinandlaura.blogspot.jp/search/label/Manholes

The wonderful blogger behind Shizuoka gourmet often blogs about this topic and I see he recently posted an in-depth article about it, with fantastic photos, be sure to check it out; http://shizuokagourmet.com/2015/01/20/manhole-covers-in-shizuoka-prefecture-35-new-commemorative-fire-hydrant-manhole-cover-in-shzuoka-city/