Young children love the children’s castle at Saitama Children’s Zoo. It is not particularly large and not particularly modern, but there is a charm about it that appeals to children of preschool age or younger. Not least of all that for all intents and purposes it is a castle, made of stone with turrets and all. The castle is home to an indoor play area with some unique features.
My children love to visit on occasion and my friend’s children often request to go there. There is one Mom in playgroup who says her child only wants to go the children’s castle when they visit the zoo. There is so much to do in the zoo, that I try to save a visit to the children’s castle for one of five occasions;
When to visit the Children’s Castle
- When its raining. The children’s castle is a great place to hang out on a rainy day at the zoo.
- A hot day. The children’s castle has air conditioning it uses on a hot day. Plus there are no windows which keeps the place cooler in the peak of summer.
- With a group. The children’s castle is relatively safe so children can run around uninhibited and enjoy the various attractions unaided while us Moms (or Dads) can have a chat.
- When the kids need a break. We often spend a full day at the zoo. As it is quite hilly and expansive sometimes the kids need to break up the hike around the beautiful natural surroundings with a quick visit to the children’s castle.
- For Halloween or seasonal decoration. The children’s castle occasionally hosts some events during the year, but for Halloween it is the main event area. They decorate the castle and have some special Halloween features. More information on the Halloween event:
What is there to do at the Children’s Castle?
- Animated / Talking tree
- Indoor playground
- Reading corner (with English books)
- Ball pool
- Educational exhibits
- Observation deck on the turrets
A highlight of the children’s castle is the talking tree on the ground floor in the center of the main hall. Although the children’s castle is not modern, the animated tree was ahead of its time.
The tree comes to life for story time. First it opens it eyes and then it talks. Subsequently an orchestra of animals is lower from beneath its branches and they perform a song. Young children are both awed and bewildered by this little piece of “magic”. Although, occasionally some children are freaked out and start to cry too!
Just after you come into the castle there is a climbing tunnel for kids on the right hand side. They can use this to get to the second floor of the castle. It is completely enclosed so hard for us parents to keep an eye on little ones, but the climbing isn’t too difficult. Although I have had to rescue a child on more than one occasion!
Between the first and second floor there is a mezzanine with a slide that leads to the first floor. There is another slide up on the second floor in the shape of a snake. There are some animal statues on the first floor that children can climb.
The second floor play area has a padded section. There is a large frog’s mouth there that kids can sit in and play in. There are soft blocks for building. Beside it on shelves there are a number of toys children can use freely.
The reading corner is opposite the play area on the second floor. It is a decent size with some table and chairs as well as a tatami area for sitting on. They have relatively good selection of books. I was quite surprised and delighted to see a handful of English books and most of them are animal themed.
In the far corner of the castle, on the first floor, there is a ball pool with inflated boats on it. The boats are able to shimmy over the balls.
The theater is just before the ball pool and behind the talking tree. It displays documentary type films periodically.
On the first floor there are fake trees with holes in them. They display holographic images of animals that live in trees. Beside it there is a tunnel with similar images. And on the back wall facing the talking tree there is a small area like an archeological dig site. Each of these areas have audio accompaniment.
I saved the best for last. Not the best for the kids, but for me personally! I love that the kids enjoy the children’s castle so much, but for me it is quite tedious. Thankfully you can go out on the roof of the castle, up on the turrets and look down on the zoo and Higashimatsuyama below.
On the grounds
On the grounds of the children’s castle there is a mini athletic. Beside it there are toilets and vending machines.
The Children's Castle at Saitama children's zoo first edition January 2013. Republished with additional information and images in November 2018.
The Children’s Castle Information
9.30 am to 4.30 pm Tuesday to Fridays. It is closed on Mondays all year round. During the month of January it is also closed on Tuesdays.
Children’s Castle Cost
Entrance to the zoo costs 510 yen for adults and 210 yen for children of primary school age. The zoo is free in for kids in preschool or younger and for those who hold a care book. The entrance into the Children’s Castle is 100 yen per person over 6 years of age. Both the entry fee to the castle and the zoo is waived on Saitama Day, November 14th, annually.
Access the Children’s Castle
Address: 554 Iwadono, Higashimatsuyama, Saitama 355-0065
The children’s castle is located almost center park. If you come in either the main or east entrances walk up the hill toward the Koalas. At the junction at the top of the hill, bridge to the koalas on your left, the entrance to the castle is on the right. It is marked by stone castle pillars.
The nearest train station is Takasaka station on the Tobu Tojo Line. You can get a bus from the station or it is a 30 minute walk. The bus timetable is here (Japanese only).
By car you can use either the Higashimatsuyama or Sakado Nishi Smart Interchange exits on the Kanetsu expressway. Please note that you must have an ETC card to use the latter, Sakado Nishi Smart Interchange, exit.