For the last 7 years we’ve been going to a resort in Gotemba every Golden Week. The resort has a choice of accommodation ranging from hotel rooms to self catering lodges. This year we stayed in the “slow house villa” area in a yurt or パオ (Pao) as they are called in Japanese. The yurts in the complex are designed on a theme. Our room was one of the Peter Rabbit themed lodgings.
The Peter Rabbit influence may well have gone beyond the interior of the yurts, as the slow house villa area is reminiscent of a rabbit’s burrow. It was great fun for the kids to find their way around the maze like paths. Management makes good use out of the design too, laying out a scavenger hunt challenge of sorts for guests of the slow house villas. The kids followed clues to find letters which, when all were discovered, spelled out a word. On presenting the word to reception they got a prize of Peter Rabbit stickers. Another treat for guests of these particular lodgings is a fluffy bunny rabbit (soft toy) hidden in the room – if you find it, you get to bring it home. (You can also borrow teddy bears and soft toys from reception to keep in your room during your stay).
The yurt itself was also a great source of excitement for the kids. They aren’t the most practical, but between the Peter Rabbit paraphernalia and the spacious loft, it was a dream come true for the kids to stay there. They are also the lodgings closest to the big playground, which turned out very convenient for us. They have a hot spring in the villa area (one of many in the resort) and it is where the pet hotel is too. This is also the area with the resort’s badminton court, games room (billiards and table tennis), reception for some activities (such as fishing and segways) and where they have the magnificent night time water, illumination and projection mapping show. The breakfast hall is a little bit far away, but it is a nice walk, with some great views of Mt Fuji.
While I enjoyed the novelty, I did think the room was quite dingy, dark and hard to regulate temperature. I did enjoy staying there and the kids certainly did, but once was enough for me. There are other accommodations within the resort that are more practical for big families and people with young children. My top two in the resort are the Blueberry Lodges and the Western/Eastern fusion room in the Tokinosumika hotel. For anyone who is interested in more information about the resort it is linked below the photos from the playground.
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
We went to Tokinosumika in Gotemba, Shizuoka, this past Golden Week. To be honest, I love discovering new places, but with 4 young children it is easier just to go somewhere we are familiar with. Tokinosumika never disappoints and each year they have something new there.
Something that is not new and is somewhat of a symbol of the resort is their “Bell of Love”. This year I thought to get a snap of it in the daylight, as I only had old photos taken in the dark. It was a clear day and you could see Mt Fuji under the bell. Bonus! The bell, at 36,170 kilograms, is the 2nd heaviest in Japan and 5th heaviest bell in the world.
There is a quote beside it in English
“The bell calls the living Mourns the Dead And overpowers the thunder
Mount Fuji echoes the bell on the morning of cherry blossoms”
With all the volcanic activity in nearby Hakone,I hope it’s not a forewarning!!
On our most recent visit to Tokinosumika we tried the self catering (with breakfast buffet included) option, for the first time, in the Blueberry Lodges. The Blueberry Lodges are one floor houses essentially. There are four to a block. Each lodge has a Western bedroom, a Japanese bedroom, a toilet, bathroom, vanity unit, dining room with kitchen that has a fridge, kettle and microwave. I was very reassured by the friendly feel of the lodge area at the back of Tokinosumika resort. Probably augmented by the “Welcome Friends” sign in English as we approached reception!
The reception area is for both the Blueberry Lodges and the Slow House Villas. It is also the reception area for the Ringo no Yu onsen (hot spring) and for renting bikes. There is a small shop in the reception that sells some drinks and snacks. There are 2 computers there, connected to the Internet, for patron’s use.
Like so many places in Japan, the Blueberry Lodges have something small, but special to offer. You can ask at reception to borrow life-size stuffed toys of the characters Bitzer and Shaun, from the British stop motion animation “Shaun the Sheep“! Shaun the Sheep is aired on Japan’s national educational channel “E-TV” on Saturday mornings, so my children are familiar with the characters and were delighted to find them in reception.
The lodges are quite big. They have a kitchen/dining area, a living room / bedroom in the form of a tatami room (futons are stored during the day and taken out at night), and a Western style bedroom with 2 semi-double beds. There is also a toilet, a bath/shower room and a vanity area with sink and storage. Each lodge has either a balcony or a patio. The kitchen area has a hob, a sink, a microwave, a kettle and a fridge. YOU NEED TO BRING YOUR OWN UTENSILS AND COOKING IMPLEMENTS.
The are 4 lodges to a unit. My one complaint is that the walls and floors are quite thin so you can hear your neighbours. However, I also think we were unfortunate on our first night, that the people in the lodge above us were particularly noisy. On subsequent nights we had different neighbours and we rarely heard a thing. The lodges are so named due to the blueberries that grow on the trellis in the courtyard. Within the central courtyard there is a rest area and some vending machines that sell drinks and ice-cream.
More photos at bottom of post.
For more information on the resort of Tokinosumika please see the blog post
2015 – 2016 THE TEEPEES ARE NOT CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FOR PRIVATE HIRE
Are you looking for unique accommodation in Japan? Ever thought of staying in a teepee (tipi / tepee / wigwam)? If you like the outdoors and want to try something different, the tepee site in Gotemba is a cheap, fun and alternative place to rest your head, in beautiful natural surroundings. The teepees even come with a view of Mt. Fuji.
You can rent a tipi (teepee) from (2014 figures) 1,000 yen per person per night at the Tokinosumika resort, also known as Gotemba Kogen, in Shizuoka. The tent costs (2014 figures) 6,000 to rent, but it sleeps upto 6 people. The teepees are very basic. There are no toilets or baths in them, but you can use the toilets and the “ringo no yu” onsen (hot spring) on site for free. You can avail of the other onsens on site for a price. Sleeping mats are provided in the teepee and you get sheets and one face towel at check in. You can buy towels or rent other necessities, including a lamp and insect repellant, from reception. There is parking right beside the tent / teepee area, but only one carspot is dedicated to each tent. The tepees are located beside a free playground and air trampoline. There is a “pet hotel” beside the onsen with facilities for dogs. There are plenty of other activities and services available within the Tominosumika resort. Most of them are listed in the post http://daysofourlivesjapan.wordpress.com/2012/07/30/shizuoka-gotemba-tokinosumika-family-resort/
Check in is from 3pm and check out is 11am. The address is 719 Koyama, Gotemba, Shizuoka. The telephone number for teepee reservations is 0550-87-3700. For more information you can visit the official website of Tokinosumika (Japanese only).
Do you know of any other different / unique type of accommodation in Japan? Please share in comments so I can add to my wishlist of places to go! Thank you.
Updated in summer 2015: The playground at Tokinosumika has undergone some changes and is no longer free for everyone, but they have added lots of attractions including bouncing castles and other equipment.
The playground remains free for children under 7. It costs 800 yen for adults and 500 yen for children 7 and over, but guests of the resort get a half price discount. You can come and go as you please all day for that price. At night part of the playground is used for the water, illumination and projection mapping show to music. Guests of the hotel also receive a half price discount for this show. Children under 7 are free for this attraction too.
There is something for everyone in the “Big Bang” playground. They have an area for smaller children which is on sand. It has slides and climbing and some spring rides. There is a choice of bouncy castles for older children, which have slides in them as well as other features. There is a giant inflated slide for over fives and it is quite steep and fast making it one of the most popular attractions. My favourite is the merry-go-round, pictured with Mt Fuji above. The featured photo at the top of this article is of the obstacle course, which is also inflated like the bouncy castles. There are see saws and wooden equipment too, including stepping stones, and in the summer there is a splash pool. There is an inflated jumping mountain for over threes. They also have events in the area some weekends and over Golden Week. A bonus is there is an amazing view of Mt Fuji (on a clear day) from all of the playground. (A lot of the equipment is pictured in the gallery at the bottom of post).
View from Hotel Tokinosumika of the Tokinosumika Resort
Our first visit to Hotel Tokinosumika with kids was May 2012. (We had stayed in other accommodation in the Tokinosumika resort before and after that). At the time my son was 2 and my daughter 15 months old. The room was ideal for them. It was a 10 tatami room with built in bunk beds, AND a Western type area of the room with two semi double beds, toilet, bathroom and sink. Futons are provided, which you take out at night to sleep on. It had a beautiful view of Mount Fuji from a bay window with two seats built in. The room was air conditioned.
The rooms are very reasonable (please see the link to the hotel below for up-to-date rates) and are charged per person. You can opt to have dinner included or not. They have long cushions you can borrow for free in the reception area. You can use the Kirakubo hot spring in the hotel for free (see paragraph below) and for a reduced rate you can gain access to any of the other hot springs on the resort. You also get a reduced price for a lot of the attractions in the Tokinosumika resort, for example the impressive Big Bang Playgroundand Art Museum.
The two down sides to the accommodation; there was a very faint smell of smoke in the room, but my sense of smell was heightened with pregnancy and DH couldn’t actually smell it all. The room wasn’t particularly sound proof and until about midnight we could hear a group of young lads having a great time. We were awake ourselves and that sort of sound doesn’t disturb our children when they are asleep so it didn’t particularly bother us.
Added in 2016: On our last visit in summer 2016 we noted how much the hotel has aged and suffered from wear and tear in the last 4 years. The bathroom and toilet had some mold and dust. The bathroom is a unit bathroom. The bath is quite low and not suited to someone with lower mobility. The place is in need of a lick of paint.
If you choose to have breakfast included it is buffet style in a large breakfast hall. Its not the best buffet I’ve ever been to, but its not the worst either. They also have dinner available, but with the choice of restaurants available within the resort you might prefer to venture out. The restaurants in the hotel have high chairs for babies and toddlers. Accommodation and breakfast is free for toddlers and they will provide you with toddler plates and cutlery to use. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE TOKINOSUMIKA RESORT IN ENGLISH CLICK HERE.
Kirakubo Hot Spring
The hot springs, as well as the whole resort of Tokinosumika, are very family friendly. They have rest and eating areas as well as a small play area for children in one of the rest areas, where there is also a huge selection of manga for older children to read in comforable bean bags. The restaurant has a huge bay window which looks onto the resort and the glorious Mt Fuji. On a clear day it is a spectacular view.
In the ladies there are a number of different baths inside including a salt bath and a jet bath. They have a tub bath which Moms and babies can enjoy together. They also have plastic tub baths for washing babies in before soaking. They have lots of useful facilities for babies in general. Outside there is a large rotemburo, plus smaller ones including one in a cave. They have sun loungers on a mezzanine beside which there are out house saunas. There is a water fountain for drinking from for free, plus they have vending machines, where you can purchase drinks. The changing area has hair dryers and products for cleansing your face. There are coin lockers for storing your valuables. Guests of the hotel don’t need a key, but guests who are just there for using the hot spring need to get a key for the lockers at reception.
The Tokinosumika Resort aka Gotemba Kogen in Gotemba, Shizuoka
This post was first written in 2012 and has been updated on a number of occasions to reflect the changes in the resort, which is always modifying and upgrading.
A wide variety of accommodation choices with babies and toddlers free
A number of different types of eateries, both Japanese and Western
A selection of hot springs including ones that are toddler friendly
An abundance of sports facilities and sporting options. Some require booking in advance
Swimming pool and paddling pool in the summer
Activities and Crafts for people of all ages
Playground with mountain trampoline, bouncing castles, carousel
Indoor play area with goldfish aquarium, projection mapping, wooden toys
Events such as seasonal illumination, travelling exhibitions and Gotemba Kogen Fireworks Display in August
A water, light and projection mapping show in the evenings
Segways & bikes available for rent
A pet hotel
Coin Laundry and Vending Machines
Free parking and free shuttle bus from station
A doctor and clinic on the grounds (seasonal)
A multitude of Fuji Views 🙂
The Tokinosumika resortis one of the few places I know in Japan that has a huge selection of things to do and see all available in the same complex. It also has great views of Mt Fuji. It is an ideal location to travel with family. It has plenty to do for a day out, and even more available to patrons of it’s accommodation, but please note there are charges for some facilities and activities. They are a very child friendly establishment with a huge selection of attractions some of which are listed below. It is also pet friendly and has a pet hotel on the premises. They have self catering accommodation as well as a choice of hotels.
The first time we stayed in Tokinosumika, also known as GotembaKogen, was when I was pregnant with my eldest. We had never heard of the resort; we just came across it by Providence when looking for somewhere to stay to break up a journey. It was the best accidental find ever! We arrived at night and the resort had quite a romantic feel thanks to the illuminations. We chose not to have dinner included in our stay and thankfully were in time to try out some of the restaurants on site, which, due to the family friendly focus of the resort, close quite early. We had a light dinner in the GrandTable followed by dessert in the BooksandCafe only a short walk away. The Books and Cafe is home to an Art Aquarium since 2015. On subsequent visits we have dined in the hotels and in some of the other restaurants on site. On each visit we have had our breakfast included and all the breakfast restaurants are buffet style. If you opt to stay in the self catering Blueberry lodges (which have a cooker, microwave, and fridge) or Slow House villas you can still avail of a buffet style breakfast in a delegated breakfast hall. The cheapest accommodation option within the resort are the tepees. The tepees have futons, but nothing else, and sleep up to 6 people. There are toilet and bathing facilities for people who stay in the tepees, and you can rent/buy necessities (e.g toothbrush, facecloth) from the reception. (2015 Teepees no longer available for private hire). A list of the hotels and accommodation options are listed below.
The initial highlight for me when we stumbled across this resort was the hotsprings. On that first visit to the Gotemba Kogen Hotel in 2009 (update 2014 now divided into two hotels; Gotemba KogenBu Hotel and Hotel Brush Up) we visited the hot springs in the hotel. These particular hot springs are only available to guests staying at the hotel, but there are other hot springs in the resort which are open to the general public. The hot springs in the Gotemba Kogen Hotel are okay (they may have improved when the hotel split into 2), but not as nice as the springs in the neighbouring hotel Hotel Tokinosumika. The springs in this hotel are larger and are toddler friendly. They have a number of relaxation services, such as massage and body care, that you can pay for as well as free relaxation rooms with TVs and reclining chairs. There are other spas on the resort which we hope to try out on our next visit!
The list of activities available a the Tokinosumika resort is impressive. On our first visit we enjoyed a travelling exhibition that was been shown at the SakuraTemple. We walked through the nature trails enjoying the number of water features in the resort. We visited the Giant Bell, observed some tennis games and soccer matches, relaxed in the Wood and Tree Museumand stopped in to watch potters at work. With the kids, as they were only toddlers, they were just happy to play outdoors and go for walks. There are playgrounds and a playroom available for guests of the resort. There are also a number of sports facilities available such as tennis, basketball and badminton courts. They also have fishing, a mountain trampoline, some shops and in the summer you can use the outdoor pool. You can rent segways or bikes. You can pay to try your hand at pottery or pitch and putt or even ice skating. They even have a doctor and clinic on the premises during certain times. I’ve tried to summarise their facilities below.
If you are coming by train there is a free shuttle bus you can get from Mishima and Gotemba Stations. If you have a group of more 15 you can request the bus pick you up from neighbouring cities. You will need to organise that with the resort.