Category Archives: Top 5 Kid Stuff

It’s all a matter of opinion, of course, but here’s our Top 5. Want to nominate a better one? Email us!

Saitama Museum of rivers

Saitama Museum of Rivers is an inexpensive and fun way to enjoy the hot summer. Since the exhibitions of the museum are only in Japanese, I would recommend  just paying  for the Waku Waku land, which is a water obstacle park.image4

It is not a pool, so you don’t have to wear swimsuits, (most people just got wet  in their clothes), but it might be easier for your little ones to have swimsuits and water shoes on. Shoes must be worn at all times and no food is allowed in the area, but there is a Japanese restaurant on site. If you walk down a little ways the river is right there for you to play in. We didn’t have time to go down there but definitely will come back to do that.image3Taking the toll road makes it only 1 hour away, and costs Y1610 each way. –Amanda Lynn, June 2016

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PRICE
Parking:
 Y300
Admission to the museum: Y410  for adult, Y200 for high school and above, free for middle school and under
Waku Waku Land: Y 200 for high school and above, Y100 for 4 years old to junior high school
Adventure Theater: High school and above Y430 , Y210  for 4 years old to junior high school
Hours: Tue-Sun  9-5 PM (Mondays are open during the summer time, closed on Golden week ) 
Summer time hours  (July 21-August 31 2016): Weekdays 9-5:30pm, Weekends and Holidays, August 11th-August 15th 9-6pm
Website: http://river-museum.jp/english/index.html
http://river-museum.jp/index.html (Japanese)
Address: 39 Kozono, Yorii, Osato District, Saitama Prefecture 369-1217
Phone: 048-581-7333

Kidzania!

Kidzania is such a clever concept and an absolute must if you have kids.
Arranged like a city, the basic premise is allowing the kids to try out different “jobs” in the city and get paid for their work.2014-10-08 10.51.10

There are over 50 jobs to choose from ranging from pizza maker, to flight attendant, to fire fighter, and everything in between. 2014-10-08 09.07.35 HDR

Parents are allowed to watch through the window at the different jobs, but are not allowed to participate. They really encourage the kids to be independent.

Upon arrival you will be given a schedule card, you take this to the job that you are interested in and make a reservation.
2014-10-19 14.57.34
You can only make one reservation at a time. The groups are very small for each job, so I felt like we were getting almost one on one instruction all day. Each job lasts about 30 minutes. (Smaller groups of kids are easier to handle. If you want to go in a group with friends, prepare to not hang out together. All of the scheduling takes some coordination on the part of the adult, and many jobs only take up to 4 kids per session. Just a heads up).
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After the job, the kids are paid in “kidzos” that they are able to deposit into the bank, or spend for services, food or trinkets at the “mall”. They are also given a trading card at each job, to collect.2014-10-19 14.58.55

Kidzania is one of the best things we’ve done here!
It certainly rivals Disney in every way, in my opinion.  Also, being completely indoors, it makes for a great rainy /snowy day option. I highly recommend it! Jamie Cowan, August 2015

Helpful hints:

  1. Check out the reservations page on their website, it will tell you if there is availability on any given day, or already sold out.
  2. Like anything else, I would avoid weekends and Japanese Holidays whenever possible. Coincidentally, the website actually flags the Japanese holidays for you on the calendar.
  3. Wednesday’s are English days and most of the activities are presented in English. Even on a non-English day I think you would still get the gist of what was going on, though.
  4. There are two shifts; 1st shift is from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, and 2nd shift is from 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm. You will only be allowed in the building during your shift. No matter your shift, arrive EARLY! The line can be hours long, even with a reservation.
  5. Activities are for children 3-15 years of age. There is a toddler room, for younger siblings, but younger than 3 yrs are not allowed to participate. There are also a few parent lounges.
  6. You cannot bring in your own food, but food is available to purchase. Many of the jobs include food, like the pizza maker.
  7. Kidzania is actually inside a mall, so you won’t see it from the street.
  8. Prices; the average price for a child is Y3450 and adult Y950, however there are several price changes due to holidays and there are also discounts if you buy far enough in advance, so check the website for specifics.
  9. I had a hard time booking tickets online for some reason, but you can also purchase them from the Family Mart on base, this way you also have something tangible to hand the ticket person.
  10. The train will take approximately 80 minutes, including several transfers. Driving will take about the same, depending on traffic. You may want to consider staying at the New Sanno, before or after, which cuts the drive to 20 minutes. (Rumor has it that a Kidzania location will be opening in Tachikawa, but I can’t find any information. Fingers crossed!)

Kidzania has a very good website, in English that will also answer many questions that you may have, I recommend reading up before you go.

http://www.kidzania.jp/tokyo/en/

PHONE: 057 006 4012

TRAIN: Toyosu station is the closest station, then it is about a 10 minute walk to LaLaport Toyosu, the Kidzania location.

GPS 35.6562989 139.791486

PARKING Parking is available at LaLaport Toyosu 24 hours a day. For complete information,
please check the LaLaport Parking Accesspage.

Car height must not exceed 2.1m. The first hour of parking is free.
Guests who visit for the 1st Shift (9:00am – 3:00pm) receive 5 additional hours of free parking.
Guests who visit for the 2nd Shift (4:00pm – 9:00pm) receive 4 additional hours of free parking.
Please present your parking ticket for validation at the entrance of KidZania Tokyo.

Two Indoor Playgrounds

1. Aeon Mall outside the East Gate (also called the Diamond City Mall)
Pricey but really fun, this indoor playground is called Børnelund. It features a jumpy raceway, jungle gym with slides descending into a field of plastic balls, a large train table, and different stations with build-it-yourself toys.  With lots of things to climb in, run on, and puzzles to work out, this makes for a very fun outing.  There is also a segregated toddler area for little ones, ages 6 -18 months, including a place to change diapers.  Located on the first floor of the mall, behind the H&M, near a back entrance.  Price is ¥600 for the first 30 minutes for each child, a flat ¥300 for adults, plus ¥100 for each additional 10 minutes for children.  It can add up, but there is also a flat rate of ¥1500 per child for unlimited play. With the unlimited play option you can come and go as you please.  Opens at 10am even during the Christmas season when the mall opens at 9am.  Sarah Straus and Alexandra Winkler, 2012.  Do you like Bornelund and want more??  Try ASOBono in Tokyo or Round 1 in Iruma.
DIRECTIONS: Turn left out of the East Gate. Go 300 meters to the 7-11 and turn right on a narrow road. Go straight for 1 kilometer and turn left onto Route 59. The mall will be on your right at the next traffic light.  Turn right here and left into the parking area.

2. Aeon Mall out the Fussa Gate (Hinode) : Yu Kids Island is less expensive, a bit smaller, but tons of fun all the same.  This indoor playground is about 6km from Fussa Gate. It features many large movable objects – things that rotate around or rock back and forth that kids can climb up or hang from.  There are two balloon stations where kids can hit at balloons being blown around.  This place is the right size to be able to stay in one place and watch your kids play.   I went with kids ages 18 months to 41/2 years and they all had a great time.  Costs a flat ¥600 per child for unlimited play during the week and 60 minutes of play on the weekend.  Note, with the unlimited weekday play you cannot come and go. It is unlimited play until you leave.  It is located on the third floor near the food court with a great kid-size bathroom  right next to it. Open 10am but starts opening early during the Christmas season when the mall opens earlier.  Phone for Hinode Aeon: 042-588-8000. GPS: 35.73349, 139.27547.
DIRECTIONS:  Go straight out Fussa Gate. Cross one set of tracks and stay right at the “Y” split. After you pass over the second set of tracks (with the Fussa train station on your right), make an immediate right where you must (or you will drive the wrong way into a one-way street.)  Then take the next left onto the main street.  The train station is now behind you and this street becomes Route 165. Follow route 165 over the Tama river, and keep going straight.  You will see fuschia Aeon Mall signs directing you.  One warns when you have 3km to go.  And the next, just after the entry to the expressway, will be on the right, telling you to turn left.  Drive a few blocks and you will see the mall at your 2’o’clock position. – Sarah Straus, 2012

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Ome Roller Slide (Kabokuen Park)

Sarah Straus, 2012

This is a great outing for families, and only about 11km from Yokota. The slide is said to be 300 meters long. It’s fun for kids and adults, and it’s FREE! There’s also a kid-sized zip line and a separate area with wooden playground structures. Bring layers of cardboard to sit on because the slide is hard on the rear. You might also want bug repellent, and if it’s been rainy expect mud. It’s probably not safe for kids under 2 because the slides are super bumpy, even in mom or dad’s lap.  GPS: 35.81830, 139.28423
Sarah StrausDIRECTIONS: Turn right out the Terminal Gate onto Route 16. Take the underpass and stay on Route 16 for about 2km. Turn left onto 44, Iwakura Kaido. (The intersection, about 3.2km from the gate, is signposted “IwakuraKaido.” It’s just past a Lawson’s store on the right side of 16.) You will stay on 44 for about 7km. About halfway along you’ll pass under the Ken-O Expressway, and 44 appears to deadend. Turn left at this “T,” and then take the first right. This puts you back on 44. Stay on 44 until you see a large vertical sign that says “Chofu” on your right. Turn left at the traffic light immediately after this sign. Drive a few hundred meters down this small road, until you see a large parking lot on your left. Across from the parking lot is very sharp switchback to the right. Take it uphill. When the retaining wall ends, turn left into the parking lot. Park here. Consult the map in the parking lot to find the slide and zip line areas.  -Anna Quan- Schmoldt, July 2012, photos by Sarah Straus, 2012.

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Tama Zoo

tama zoo sarah straus 2013The Tama Zoo has a park-like setting and is serene and quiet on weekdays.  It’s fun and easy with children, making for an inexpensive morning outing. One of my favorite exhibits is the butterfly house. It is in a huge, terraced greenhouse that is perched on the edge of a hill.  A big tree graces the middle, and walkways lead down to a small pond.  The most amazing thing, though, are the thousands and thousands of butterflies.  The place pulsates to the beat of butterfly wings.  My children love to get their faces up close to the butterflies, perched on tropical plants.  Another highlight is the “Lion Bus.” (¥350 per adult, ¥100 per child.) As the glass-sided bus drives through the lion field, lions often jump up on the windows, which makes for great pictures.
tama zoo sarah strausA favorite spot for us is the picnic tables located between the lions and elephants, in the Africa section of the zoo. From this shady spot you can see down into the lions’ den and hear them roar at the lion buses.  This is the perfect place for a packed lunch or an ice cream cone from the nearby vendors.
The chimpanzees are a must-see. There is an indoor viewing area where the chimps hang out.  It is great for getting an up-close look at them and even interact with them through the glass.  But the Koala house can be skipped, in my opinion.  The barren, indoor environment in which they are kept doesn’t match the loveliness of other habitats at this zoo. After traversing this hilly zoo you’ll feel like you got a workout.
DSC_3047On a weekday it took me just 40 minutes drive out, leaving at 9am from the Fussa gate. Returning around 1pm was a bit faster.  Parking costs ¥500 to ¥1000, or you can take the monorail, which you catch in Tachikawa. (The zoo recommends taking the train, especially on weekends when the lots may be full.) Clean bathrooms are everywhere, including family bathrooms with children’s potty seats. Strollers for little ones a must, as they are likely to get tired going up and down the hills.
Hours: 9:30-5pm. Closed Wednesdays (Thursday if Wednesday is a public holiday). Admission for adults is ¥600. Children under 13 are free. Tama Zoological Park, 7-1-1, Hodokubo, Hino-shi, Tokyo 191-0042. Phone: 042-591-1611. www.tokyo-zoo.net/english/tama. Sarah Straus, 2012.
DIRECTIONS: Turn right out the East Gate, then left at the first light. Take this road for about 1km, until it ends at a “T.” Turn right. Stay on this road, Rt. 59, (under a set of railroad tracks and across another set — about 5km), until you reach the Tamaohashi Kita intersection. (Daihatsu dealer on far left.) Turn left DSC_3057here, onto Rt. 29, Shin Okutama Kaido. Turn right when you reach the the Tappibashi Kita intersection, onto Rt. 149. The monorail track will be overhead now. Stay on 149, following the monorail, until you reach the Tama Dobutsu Koen intersection, which has a large monorail station on the right. You’ll see parking lots ahead on the left.
(Leaving from Fussa Gate? Turn left onto Rt. 16 and follow it until it turns sharply to the right, toward Hachioji and the Chuo Expressway. Instead of taking this right turn, go straight. You are now on Rt. 29, Shin Okutama Kaido. Continue as directed above.)
TRAIN DIRECTIONS: Take the Chuo line from Fussa to Tachikawa Station. Exit the station via either the North or the South Exit. Get on the Monorail. Take the monorail to the Tama Dobutsukoen Exit. The zoo is very near the exit. Travel time is about 50 minutes.


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On sunny weekdays you may find the Tama Zoo filled with school children enjoying the park.  – Sarah Straus, Oct 2012

Ikebukuro’s Sunshine City

Photo by Jason Tsay

Sixty stories tall, Sunshine City is a mall, a science center, a museum, a theme park – in short, an amazing indoor world.
When you enter the building on the B1 level, you traverse a long hall with a “people mover” escalator to the main entrance. There is an information desk with computers where you can get directions printed for places in the complex. Or, you can just wander through and follow the color-coded lines on the floors. The red lines lead to the World Import Mart, the aquarium and planetarium. The blue lines lead to the Ancient Orient Museum and Sunshine Theater. The orange lines lead you to Shopping Center Alpa.
You can make a circle tour of the Bl level as there are two main corridors the length of this level. When you are facing the information desk, if you take the entrance to the left, you will come to a beautiful fountain which has a show of dancing water accompanied by organ music at 1pm, 2:30 and 4pm. The first three levels are mostly department stores. In taking the escalators up, you will find some interesting shops and restaurants on the other floors.
*The above post is from 2011, so the information could be outdated. Please let us know if you have updated information.
Sunshine City Website:
https://www.sunshinecity-global.com/en/

The big features:
 Sky Circus, Sunshine 60 Observatory :


Sunshine 60 observatory was closed in May 2015 for a large-scale renovation and re-opened in April 2016 as Sky Circus. At this new “experience-based observatory”, you can enjoy the latest VR rides and games.

Hours: 10am-10pm.
Tel: 03-3989-3457
Website: http://www.skycircus.jp/english/
Admission:
Adults: ¥ 1,200
Students (high school and college *present ID): ¥900
Children (elementary and middle school) ¥ 600
Toddlers (4 and up) ¥ 300
You have to purchase separate tickets for the VR rides. Tickets are available at the ticket counter on the B1 floor or the observatory. -Mai Takahashi, June 2017

•Aquarium: Tenth floor, on top of the World Import Mart. There is a seal show, and exhibits of seals, flamingos, penguins, etc. There are many fish not seen in the States as they are only found in this part of the world. Allow at least one hour for the aquarium. 10am-6pm (-8pm in summer.) Tel: 03-3989-3466
Adults (high school and up) ¥2,000
Children (elementary and middle school) ¥1,000
Child (4 and up) ¥700
65  and up  ¥1,700

•Konica Minolta Planetarium: 10am-6pm with shows on the hour, http://www.konicaminolta.jp/manten/ Tel: 03-3989-3546
Adults (middle school and up) ¥1,500
Children (4  and up) ¥900

•Namco Namjatown: An indoor theme park by Namco, a Japanese company that produces video games. Themed dining, carnival-style games, a creepy haunted house and character mascots in the form of giant kittens. There’s an entire gyoza village and a “dessert republic.” 10am-10pm. http://www.namja.jp/img/pdf/guidemap.pdf/
Admission:
Adults ¥500
Children ¥300
You need to purchase tickets for rides and games separately.

•Tokyu Hands: This store, at the B1 entrance to the Sunshine Building, will delight crafty-minded shoppers. There is something different on every floor and the breadth is astounding, from toys to stationary and leather craft to hardware. Bonus: There’s a “cat cafe” on the top floor. It’s one of those “only in Japan” things.
DIRECTIONS: Take the Ome line to Tachikawa, and change to the Chuo Line. At Shinjuku, transfer to the green Yamanote Line in the direction of Shin-Okubo and get off at the fourth stop, Ikebukuro. Head for the east exit towards Seibu Department Store. You will see signs for Tokyu Hands also.
Coming out of the station, look for the tallest building (sometimes the top is hidden in the mist) and walk towards it. This will be Sunshine City. It will be in front of you as you come out of the station. You will have to go right a little bit to pick up the tree-lined street to the building.

Our Story: My family and I took the train to Sunshine City during winter break 2011.  Ikebukuou Station is pretty large and we ended up asking someone to help us find the correct exit for Sunshine City.  The mall is down a store lined street which was closed to traffic the day we went.  With small kids we didn’t do much shopping, but headed straight to the 3rd floor devoted to restaurants.  We found a nice Japanese place to eat, but also noticed Mexican, Chinese, Italian, and French restaurants.  We also went to the Aquarium on floor 10.  It was larger than expected.  It was pretty crowded, but I think that was because of the holiday season.  The kids enjoyed all the giant aquariums.    Sarah Straus, 2011

Obstacle Course Park – Noyama Kita

Sarah straus Noyama Kita 2013Children will swing like monkeys in this sprawling, well-equipped park. It’s less than three miles from the East Gate and has an ample, free parking lot. Enjoy hiking paths, several obstacle courses and intriguing climbing equipment ingeniously constructed of ropes and logs.  It’s all built on a hillside, and challenging enough to tempt children and adults alike. The park is well shaded, so it’s a nice place to go when it’s to hot to play elsewhere. From the parking lot Noyama Kita entranceyou can see a wood-framed entrance gate. Just inside are log steps ascending to your adventure. Or, from the parking lot, walk to the right a few feet and step between a construction yard and a dog training center. There’s another obstacle course here, and the nearest toilets are right at the entrance, behind the dog training area. Climb to the top of these Robinson Crusoe-esque playgrounds and you’ll find a trail (at times a dirt road) that meanders through the forest for a couple of miles, following a fence line. It’s a lovely place for a run or a walk with dogs. Go along it and you’ll see there are several more of these obstacle courses, running roughly parallel to each other on the hillside. At the end of the road is a fire lookout post, and other trails shoot off from here. Here’s a map to the greater park this is on the edge of, which stretches to Mizuho. See page 2. The trail is labeled “Lake Sayama Peripheral Road” and “Southern Hiking Trail.”
DIRECTIONS: Turn left out the East Gate. Turn right at the first light (0.3km).  Follow this road until it comes to a four-way intersection with a light 1.3km. Turn left. You will pass Aeon Mall (Diamond City) on your right. Keep going. You will go through about 10 stop lights.  The road will veer right at 2.2km, then cross Shin Ome Kaido at 2.4. Next the road will begin to climb a hill and curve.  Turn left at 3.7km, on a small road immediately before the road makes a sharp curve to the right (The turn is after the red warning stripes on the road begin, and just before the guard rail with arrows on it.) There is a large Onsen on the left.  About 300 meters down the small road past the Onsen, at 4km, will be a large paved parking lot on the left. GPS: 35.7635, 139.3861
Nina Carr January 2007. Liz Ruskin updated directions 2011, photos by Sarah Straus, 2012.

Reader comments about Noyama Kita
Emily Parks | March 29, 2012
We went to the obstacle course park today and had a wonderful time. It was really cool. Definitely a park for older kids though. Not much for toddlers.
Deborah Silverman | April 16, 2012   We love this park! My daughter is 8 and she can spend hours playing around the obstacle course and nearby playground without getting bored. We have been both during the week, when it tends to be much quieter, and on the weekend, when the whole area filled with japanese families enjoying the park. The long slide built into the hillside of the obstacle course area is a must-do, even the adults should give it a try! Warning: after a rainy day the area is VERY muddy.

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Summerland

Roughly eight kilometers from Yokota is the land of perpetual summer: Summerland. It is a mix of a theme park, swimming pool, game room and restaurants. You can spend a gloomy, gray day inside and enjoy the wave pool, large and small water slides and numerous rides underneath the heated dome. In the summer months, an outdoor “Adventure Lagoon,” water slides and amusement rides are available.  There are various price ranges.  The cost is cheaper off-season when just the indoor pools are open, March – May and October-November.  The pools close December-February. If you only want to swim you’ll just need to buy the regular pass not the more expensive free pass.  The full price list and opening hours are here.  Parking is ¥1200.  There are restaurants on the premises, but you can bring your own lunch or a cooler.  No tattoos; so if you have them find a swimsuit to cover them.  You can also rent a locker in the changing area. Nearby is Akigawa Nature Park, which charges a modest admission fee.  Summerland phone:  042-558-6511. www.summerland.co.jp/english/. GPS for Summerland parking lot: 35.71826,139.27707. Check here for more information on their tattoo policy.  – Photos by Michelle Nexon 2013, updated Sarah Straus, 2014.

Comments by Sarah Straus, March 2014: I’ve taken my family to Summerland during the spring three years in a row.  We started going when the kids were ages 2 and 4 and our last year they were ages 4 and 6.  These are great ages for the indoor pools at Summerland.  In my opinion the best time to go is early March because the warm humid air under the dome feels so great after a cold, dry winter.  This year we went on Sunday March 2nd.  I thought it would be crowded but it wasn’t!  It was perfect.  Last year we went on a weekday during the first week in March and it was so quiet. We had the place to ourselves and loved it.  I have a few tips: 1: Bring a tarp and arrive when it opens to snag your spot.  Open times vary, so check their webpage.  2: Your towels and food will likely be OK unattended, but take advantage of the coin locker located next to the wave pool for wallets and phones.  You’ll get your ¥100 back.  3. Bring your own food. There are restaurants in Summerland and you can even buy beer, but the food is not great… you’ll be better off feeding your kids PBJ’s and juice boxes in my opinion.  4. Bring your floaties… inner tubes are so fun when the big waves begin on the hour.   5. Don’t miss the grotto rain storm in the basement level which occurs 30 minutes into each hour.  It is so fun and a great place to warm up because there are several large hot tubs.
DIRECTIONS: There’s a map on the Summerland website that includes Yokota Air Base, but it may be hard to follow. See our map below.


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Showa Memorial Park & other Tachikawa parks

showa kinen sarah strausShowa Memorial Park (Showa Kinen Koen)
This is a massive, lovely park with bike and walking paths, a lake for boating, a formal Japanese garden, water parks (See “Rainbow Pool” below) and, in winter, an outdoor skating rink and Christmas light show. You could explore for days and still find treasures. (Not to be confused with the simple “Showa Park” in Tachikawa. See below.) Among the many treats for kids are trampoline nets, roller slides, dragon sculptures and misty maze, but the park is probably most famous for its bouncing dome, a huge, marshmallow-like playground. (Sadly, a sign says adults aren’t allowed.)  On windy days bring a kite to fly in the middle of the park.
Showa Kinen Tulips Sarah StrausThe park is especially lovely in spring, as a multitude of colorful flowers and blooming trees are a feast for the eyes. The cherry trees bloom in March/April and then the tulips come up.  The tulip fields go on and on and are truly amazing – not to be missed.  A wonderful water fountain greets you as you enter the park from the largest parking area at Tachikawa, so don’t forget to bring your camera. Also near several of the entrances are bicycle rental areas, but feel free to ride into the park with your own bike – there are several entrances to the park just for bikes in fact.  Bike rental is just a few hundred yen for 3 hours.  There are kids bikes, bikes with child-seats, and even tandem bikes for rent.  However, if you are very tall, renting a bike may not be a good option.  Bring your own picnic lunch or check out the small, but tasty restaurants and snack bars located near the lake and throughout the park. Dogs are allowed in most areas but must be on leash everywhere except the dog run. I’ve even seen people bring their pet cats and bunnies to the park.  Admission is ¥400 per adult and ¥80 per child. Annual passes for adults are ¥4000. With an annual pass they will give you a plastic card with your photo on it and expiration date.  Also with the annual pass you an get ¥100 off parking, which is normally ¥800.  Hours: Park opens at 9:30am. Closes at 4:30pm in winter, 5pm in summer, and 6pm summer weekends. Open every day but Dec. 31, Jan. 1 and the last Mon. and Tues. of February. Rachael Keyser-McClendon. Liz Ruskin updated directions 2011, Sarah Straus updated 2013, Photos by Sarah Straus 2011.

DSC_3957Japanese Garden
I think the Japanese Garden, located nearest the Sunagawa entrance, deserves its own section.  This is a gorgeous, formal Japanese garden with a lake in the middle, streams, and waterfalls.  There are three covered observation huts.  Turtles swim in the water and bask on rocks.  Don’t miss the bonsai japanese garden sarah strausdemonstration in the back of the garden – filled with the most amazing bonsai.  There is usually a man there working on one of the bonsai and it is so interesting to how he trims each bonsai with such care.  You can’t bring food into the garden, but you can drink tea there in a small tea house (in the photo above the tea house is the building on the right).  It costs ¥500 for tea and a sweet snack.  Come in November to enjoy the fall colors. – Sarah Straus, Oct 2013.

Sarah Straus Showa Kinen parkKomorebi Villiage
Located nearest the Sunagawa entrance, Komorebi Villiage is made to look like a farm on the Musashino Plain in the 1950’s and 60’s (ref: webpage).  Having passed by this area many times, we finally stopped in.  What a gem!  There are demonstration gardens, a large thatched roof farm house, a beautifully designed thatched roof storage house, and water wheel.  Volunteers place a kettle over a flame in the farm house and they are happy to talk about the village with visitors.  I’m looking forward to seeing this place in the spring!  Opens at 10am and has an earlier closing time than the rest of the park. – Sarah Straus, January, 2014.

TRAIN DIRECTIONS: From Fussa Station take the train towards Tokyo to Nishi-Tachikawa, about 15 minutes and ¥160 per person. Take the North Exit of the station and the park entrances is steps away.

DRIVING DIRECTIONS: There are three parking lots for Showa Kinen and additionally several bike/pedestrian entrances.  The closest parking lot to the East gate (about 2 miles away) is the Sunagawa parking area.  The next closest is the the Tachikawa parking lot, then the Nishi-Tachikawa parking lot. Parking costs ¥800. For all parking lots, turn right out the East Gate (0km). Turn left at the first light and drive until this road ends at the canal. Turn right, onto Route 59. At 2.2km you’ll pass under a set of railroad tracks.
Sunagawa Parking: .  Keep going straight after you go under the tracks. Drive until 2.8km. Here you’ll see a four-lane boulevard appear on the left. (It’s a “T” intersection, so the boulevard does not continue on the right.  It is at the fourth light after you go under the train tracks.) Turn left here. Drive until 4.2km and turn right into the Sunagawa parking lot for Showa Kinen Park. This lot is closer to the children’s forest and bouncing dome.  You can enter with your own bike and/or rent bikes at this entrance.  During the summer a shuttle will take you from this parking lot to Rainbow Pools.  GPS Coordinates to parking entrance: 35.72047, 139.39909.
showa playground sarah strausTachikawa Parking: Pass the Sunagawa entrance and keep going to the next opportunity to make a hard right hand turn.  Essentially you’ll be driving around the outside edge of the park.  This is a large boulevard with trees.  You will pass a fire station.  Look for the Tachikawa parking entrance on your right.  This the largest parking lot and the entrance near the large fountain.  During winter find the christmas lights show here.  You can rent bikes at this entrance and a shuttle will take you to Rainbow Pools from here during the summer.  GPS: 35.703842, 139.403413.
Nishi-Tachikawa Parking: Pass the Tachikawa entrance and keep going to the next opportunity to make a hard right.  You will just continue to drive around the outside edge of the park.  Go under the pedestrian bridge and turn right into the park area.  This parking lot is at the same entrance as the Nishi-Tachikawa train station.  This parking lot is very close to Rainbow Pools and to the lake where you can rent paddle boats.  No bikes at this entrance.  If you bring your bike, you’ll have to find one of the two bike entrances further down in either direction.  GPS: 35.704731, 139.392319.
sarah straus showa parkBICYCLE DIRECTIONS: Showa Memorial Park is a 25-minute bike ride from the East Gate.  Ride out the East Gate. Take a right, then immediately take the first left—almost straight out the gate. Take this small, quiet road alongside the parks until it dead-ends into the big road. Walk your bicycle across the street at the cross-walk, turn right, then cross the river just beyond the road as soon as you can. You will find a wide, quiet bicycle path that winds its way among trees along the river all the way to an entrance to Showa park exclusively for bicyclists and joggers. Click here for shortest Bike Map. See below for most pleasant bike map.

DSC_3231Driving Map to Sunagawa Parking

View Larger Map
Bike Map, low traffic road + bike path

View Showa Park by bike in a larger map

Winter Illuminationsshowa kinen winter sarah strausShowa Kinen Park has a nice lights show during December.  It is located at the Tachikawa entrance.  When I went with my kids we walked the area, ate a snack and did the little lights maze in one hour.  There are about 12 food booths scattered throughout the area.  For us it was a good destination on a school night, close and early enough to get home by the kids bedtime.  Park at the Tachikawa parking lot and pay just ¥200 to park starting at 4pm.  The lights come on a 5pm and end at 9pm.  The entrance fee is the same as during the day or you can get in free if you have a season pass.  In 2013 the show runs from Nov 30th through Dec 25th.  – Sarah Straus, Dec 2013.

Rainbow Pool & Water Park in Showa Memorial ParkSarah Straus, July 2012This place is a treat on a hot day. It’s fun, fabulous and close to Yokota.  We recommend parking at the Sunagawa Parking Lot, approximately four kilometers from the East Gate. (See “Showa Memorial Park” above for driving directions.) Once inside, take the free park shuttle bus from the gate to the water park.  The stroller-friendly bus picks you up behind the bike rental.

showa kinen by sarah strausThe standard price is ¥2200 for teens and adults; kids ages 6 and up ¥1200, ages 4 and 5 is ¥300. Age 3 and under are free. However, if you pay with your suica prices drop to: ¥2000, ¥1000, and ¥200.  Little kids will like the gradual entry wave pool (photo above). The pool is HUGE and the waves are mild. There is even a shady section of the wave pool. Older kids will be plenty entertained, too.  There are large water sides, a small water slide for little kids who can sit on a parents lap, a lazy river, a pool with waterfalls, two large pools and a spray park.

You might want to bring a tarp and anchor it down with all your floaties and pool toys to claim your space. (There’s a compressed air pump just outside the dressing rooms so save your breath for screaming down the water slides.) You can also bring a cooler and a shade tent.

Here are some tips for enjoying the park:
•Summer 2013 dates: July 13 – September 8.  You’ll need to translate this webpage – but here is more information for 2015: http://www.showakinenpark.go.jp/2015poolopen/index.html
•Save that stub! You’ll pay ¥400 to enter the park. Save your receipt to have this amount deducted from your pool entry price – or just pay for the Rainbow Pools at the park entrance.  However, you can also just buy the water park tickets at each gate.
•The magic of Suica: Show your Suica or pay with it and the price drops to ¥2000 adults, ¥1000 kids, ¥200 for ages 4 and 5.
•Come late! After 2pm, entry price drops to ¥1100 adults, ¥600 kids, ¥150 ages 4 and 5.
•Come often! If you think you might be a regular, go for the ¥6000 season pass, good until early September, kids season pass ¥3000.  Ages 4 and 5 season pass ¥700.
•Come pregnant! Expectant moms pay only ¥500!
DIRECTIONS: Same as “Showa Kinen Park” entry above.  Sarah Straus & others, 2012

Showa Park
Showa Park is an old-fashioned city park. There are a few small shrines, a five-tiered pagoda and assorted playground equipment. There are open areas for playing ball or soccer, a jogging track and a small animal zoo. It is shaded by trees and is a pleasant place for a picnic lunch. Vending machines for drinks are available. This park is free and easy to reach by car; free parking is available. Note: Showa Park is not the same as Showa Memorial Park (Showa Kinen Koen), at Nishi-Tachikawa station. Showa Park is a block south of the tracks and closer to Higashi-Nakagami station. Open daily from 8:40 am until 4:50 pm.
DIRECTIONS:Diane Cressman, Melody Messer, Patricia Caldwell date?