Written on August 27th 2012
One of the many things I love about life in Japan, is the multitude of free playgrounds, play centres 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 centre in Kawagoe. This free play centre also has a planetarium on it’s second floor which has a cover charge, but all other facilities at the centre are free.
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 and on the first floor there is a nappy changing unit in the special needs toilet. 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, who 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. Also, if you live in the area, its nice to have somewhere to hang out. I highly recommend these type of play centres in general and the free children’s play groups and classes they run.
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. 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.