Named “Sole” as in the Italian for sun, this is one of the few Higashimatsuyama state run jidokan (children’s centre) you have to pay into. Children are free essentially, but they charge for adults. It is 200 yen for an adult who does not reside in Higashimatsuyama, and 100 yen for those who do. You can pay for a block of 6 months for 1000 yen for a resident, 2000 yen for those from outside the city.
You need to make a member’s card the first time you visit and bring it with you each subsequent time. The centre is mainly geared to preschoolers and unlike other jidokan, primary school children are not allowed enter and play without supervision.
They have a “koala” room, that only children up to 1 year old can use. The room has an area for changing nappies, making and storing bottles, nursing, some larger equipment for mobile babies and lots of toys. You need to put the toys away after each use.
The “kangaroo” room has paper craft, colouring and play dough. The “kuma” area has some books and tables, and a small padded area for babies. Part of the floor is glass so you can see the tunnel underneath that children love to play in. There is a sink there too for making bottles.
The main hall has slides, wooden play houses, soft blocks, a piano and an area off it with loads and loads of wooden toys. There is a rest room and a room for eating in, “Kirin” 1 and 2. They have separate toilets for babies, children and adults.
For what you get, it is certainly worth the money. The whole centre is wooden, with high ceilings and lots of light. The majority of toys in the main hall and in the koala room are wooden. They are educational toys. They hold special events each month, usually you don’t have to pay extra for them. One of the best we saw was a father and son juggling show, which was high on audience participation. Their birthday parties for kids who had a birthday in a given month are fun and make children feel special. The staff are nice enough, but they are quite strict and not overly friendly. Parking is free. The parking lot is shared with the community centre next door. The entrance is a bit tricky to find. It is a laneway between the community centre and a yakiniku restaurant. You then walk down a laneway to come in the back of the centre. See access map and further information below.
SOLE HIGASHIMATSUYAMA INFORMATION AND ACCESS
Hours: Friday to Wednesday (closed Thursdays) 9.30 am to 4.30 pm
Costs: Outlined in the first paragraph
Approximately a 13 minute walk from Tobu Tojo Line Higashimatsuyama Station.
Approximately 2 minute drive from main route 407. Please see the Google My Map below. The red line is the parking entrance, the grey line is the walking route from the parking lot to the centre’s entrance.