Kawagoe Kodomo No Shiro – a “jidokan” community play center in Kawagoe.
Kawagoe Play Center
One of the many things I love about life in Japan, is the multitude of free playgrounds, play centers and activities available to all children. Below is a photo of my son climbing at Kawagoe Kodomo No Shiro or Children’s castle, a free community play center in Kawagoe. This free play center also has a planetarium which has a cover charge, but all other facilities at the center are free.
1st floor (Ground floor)
There is a large open space on the first floor, where free baby and toddler classes are conducted. When there is not a class in action the kids can play with toys, but you have to request the staff get them out for you, unlike in other play centres where they are readily available.
There is also a smaller playroom on the first floor suited to infants and toddlers. In this room the toys are laid out for you to use freely. There is a cot in this room for sleeping babies.
On both floors there are toilets designed for children. On the first floor there is also a nappy changing unit in the special needs toilet.
2nd floor (1st floor)
The planetarium is on the 2nd floor. After the triple disaster in 2011 the planetarium was closed for a couple of years. It was one of many energy saving drives on account of the reduced electricity production in Japan at that time. There is a lunch room on the second floor that can be used for those who’ve brought their own lunch between 12.00 noon and 1 pm. You need to clean up after yourself and bring home your own rubbish.
Like all jidokans and jido centres in Saitama, there are a handful of teachers on duty. They are there to keep the environment safe, run the classes and make sure that adults and children alike are respecting the rules of the jidokan. They are not there to mind your children, but they are usually very helpful and friendly. Some more than others!
This particular jidokan is not as nice or well equipped as many others in the surrounding cities, but the classes are great. And apart from an old concrete tunnel in the overflow car park there is no outdoor play areas. Also, if you live in the area, its nice to have somewhere to hang out. I highly recommend these type of play centers in general and the free children’s play groups and classes they run.
Kawagoe Play Center Information
The centre is open from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm Tuesday to Sunday, closed on Mondays. It is quite a distance from the nearest station, so a bus is advised. However, if you are coming from the Candy Penny Alley or Mokkokan it is within walking distance.
They have a car park and parking is free. It is separated from the building itself, just a few metres, but you can walk in from the back which is safe from traffic.