Kawagoe Eki Higashi Jidokan
, or Kawagoe East Exit play center, is located on the 4th floor of a civic center for citizens, Kurasse.
Below it there is a library and above it there are meeting rooms and citizen services. On the 2nd floor there is also a rest area with vending machines. You are allowed eat here, but you are required to bring your rubbish home with you.
Anyone can use this play center and it is free to use. You just need to sign in on entering. They require your name and the name and age of your child, and the city or town you live in if you are from outside the Kawagoe area. The play center isn’t particularly big, but it has enough to entertain young children. There is a main hall with some play equipment including climbing boxes and a slide. They hold events here including an English language event three times a month. Beside the office of the children’s center there is a smaller room with quite a few toys including a play kitchen. There are a selection of books in the hall, including some English books. There are even more English books in the library below the play center. You need to make a membership card to borrow books. As it is a municipal library you can only borrow books if you are from Kawagoe or another town or city that has a mutual book lending agreement, such as Kawajima Town.
The staff are very helpful, but to the best of my knowledge none of them speak English. They have some pamphlets and information for living in Kawagoe, but they are all in Japanese only. They have clean and well kept toilets divided into ladies and men’s, and they also have a wheelchair accessible toilet that has a changing mat. There is an elevator and stairs you can take to each floor.
The centre is open from 9.30 am Wednesday to Monday, closing on Tuesdays except when its a public holiday. It is conveniently located within minutes walk of JR and Tobu Tojo line Kawagoe station. There is parking down a narrow alleyway beside the centre, but parking is charged. I previously drove an American car (Chrysler, Voyager) which was too big to turn into the car park! I have an 8 seater now too, but it is a Japanese model and therefore a bit narrower and it can navigate the turn no problem. The parking is quite expensive, but the nearby coin parking are even more expensive.
This is the play center where Saitama Tots English Playdates (STEPS) group met for the first year of play dates. And we still meet here from time to time. If you are eligible to become a member of STEPS you can find us on our Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/saitamasteps/
Abbreviated version originally appeared on City-cost.com: Place Review: Kawagoe Station East Exit Children’s Centre, Kawagoe-shi, Saitama | City-Cost