Homeschooling in Japan

 

Outings for Homeschoolers in the Tokyo Area (and Beyond)

One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is having a chance to visit places when everyone else is in school. The following is a list of possible day trips around Tokyo to help stimulate young minds. Read the recommendations of some families living in Japan. Please send your ideas to Angela

Parks and Other Outdoor Adventures

West Tokyo

Showa Memorial Park

Nogawa Koen/Musashino Koen

Koganei Park

Link to maps of
Parks

Tokyo

Akatsuka Botanical Gardens

Arakawa Amusement Park

Asukayama Park and 3 Musuems

Ueno Park and Zoo

Ehara Park

Kita Ekoda Park

Tetsugakudo (Philosophy) Park

Shakujii Koen

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Kasai Rinkai Park and Bird Park

Nature in Tokyo

Hikarigaoka Park

Shimizu Koen

  Higashi-Itabashi Petting Zoo Fuchunomori Koen    
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Tama Zoological Park

Inokashira Park

Asakusa Hanayashiki Amusement Park

Mizumoto Park

Setagaya-ku

Kinuta Koen

Komazawa Olympic Park

Baji Koen (Equestrial Park)

Setagaya Park

Kanagawa

Nihon Minka-en

Zoorasia

   

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Sankei-En, Yokohama

Sagamihara

Kodomo-no-kuni

Kanazawa Bunko Koen, Yokohama

Saitama

Shin-rin Koen

Tokorozawa Airplane Memorial Park

Inariyama Koen .

Chiba

Chiba Park

Inage Kaihin Koen

Aobanomori Koen

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Other Areas

Jyonobi Mura, Niigata

Akasaka Yama Koen, Niigata

Minami-Senri, Osaka

Minoo National Forest, Osaka

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Hattori Ryokuchi
Osaka

Gunma

 

Nishi Zao, Yamagata

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Michinoku Park in Miyagi ken

Kakegawa, Shizuoka

Kofu, Yamanashi

 

 

For a list of more classical Japanese gardens and parks around Tokyo go to: http://www.scan-net.ne.jp/user/snow/tokyo/e-gardens.htm

Indoor Adventures

Tokyo Asahi Shimbun Newspaper Tour Bicycle Culture Center Coca-Cola Bottling Factory Ecopolis

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Edo-Tokyo Museum The Fire Museum Green Dome Nettaikan (Tropical Greenhouse) Kita City Asukayama Folk Museum

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Hall of Science and Education Paper Museum

Tokyo Metropolitan Children's Hall

Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum

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The National Museum of Japanese History The National Museum of Western Art Museum of Future Science and Technology The Japan Foundation Asia Center Library
. The National Diet Tobu Museum of Art National children's castle International Library of Children's Literature

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Tokyo National Museum in Ueno Setagaya Art Museum

Science Museum

The National Science Museum

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Shibusawa Memorial Museum Tokyo Stock Exchange Transportation Museum Tsukiji Fish Market
         

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Yebisu Garden Place Bridgestone Museum Subway Museum Maritime Museum
Yokohama Yokohama Science Center . . .

 

Museum Information Japan
(listing homepages of museums around Tokyo)

 

 

Indoor Adventures

Tokyo Metropolitan Children's Hall Shibuya

One of the all-time favorites for Tokyo residents, this FREE hall is just a 3 min. walk from exit 11 of the Hanzomon line, or seven minutes from JR Lines, Shibuya Station. Here youngsters can learn about science, music, and crafts in a stimulating environment. Children up to age 18 can play pianos and other instruments in the music section. There is an international library where they can read or check out books, also an audio-visual room; a space corner; techno-craft, handicraft, and drawing areas; computers to learn on; and even an old Japanese farmhouse to play inside. There is a Children's Theatre program, check their homepage for this month's activities. Closed for New Year's Holidays and generally the 2nd and 4th Mondays of each month. Special events are offered periodically, so call for a schedule of events--03-3409-6361 or fax: 03-3407-8364.

Tokyo National Museum in Ueno

Their permanent display includes painting, calligraphy, sculpture, metalwork, lacquerware, ceramics, textiles, and antiquities from Japan and China. Special exhibits run periodically. Treasures from Ancient China runs from October 24 through December 17, 2000. Open 9:30 to 5:00, closed Mondays. Phone 03-3272-8600.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange

Located 4 min. from Kayabacho Station, Tozai and Hibiya Lines. This is good for a lesson in economics as well as on "Career Day." After a few minutes of watching these traders hard at work your budding genius will have a whole new appreciation for the expression, 'earning a living' because from the Visitor's platform you will have a bird's eye view of it all. There are plenty of explanations on how things operate, in several languages, as well as some great robots that tell more of the story. Call them at 03-3666-0140 for directions or to set up a tour.

The Asahi Shimbun/Asahi Evening Newspaper Tour

This newspaper office (a ten minute walk from Tsukiji Station on the Hibiya Line) offers tours of their operations in English as well as Japanese. Tours are one hour long, three times daily Monday through Friday. You'll see how the paper is put together from idea to print, and you'll get to see the printing press in action. Kids of all ages love this tour, and you'll even be able to take home a paper hot off the press. Call in English or Japanese at 5540-7724.

The Tsukiji Fish Market

In the same neighborhood as Asahi Shimbun, the Tsukiji Fish Market comes to life early (5:00 A.M.) every morning except Sunday. It's best to go early to catch the excitement of watching them offload the fish in the inner market and buyers auctioning for the best fish. After the fish there are auctions for fruits and vegetables too. Even if you're not there before dawn, there is still plenty to see, but it's best to come before noon.

Edo-Tokyo Museum

1-4-1 Yokoami, Sumida-ku. Telephone: 03-3272-8600 or 03-3626-9974. An easy 3-minute walk from the West Exit of Ryogoku Station on the JR Sobu Line. Where visitors can come to learn more about Tokyo's history and culture, and which also serves as a projection onto the city and the living of the future. In the Permanent Exhibition area, there can be found original and replicated exhibits, as well as large-scale models, faithful representations of their originals, which have been reproduced after painstaking investigation and research. In addition, lectures are regularly held, and there are also the Audio-Visual Hall, the Audio-Visual Library, and other facilities. There are two restaurants on site, one offering Japanese fare, the other Western fare. There is also a coffee shop for a light meal or snack. One great feature of the museum is that they offer English, Chinese, Korean, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Russian guidance through the museum for FREE. Just ask when you buy your ticket. Fee: Adults, 600. School-age children, 300.

The Transportation Museum

1-25 Kanda-Sudacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo. Although most of the displays concern trains, you will also find cars, bikes, airplanes, and ships. It's very kid-friendly in that many displays can be climbed on or manipulated. A popular stop is the Yamanote Line train simulator in which anyone can 'conduct' the train around the Yamanote Line.
Open from 9:30 to 5:00 Tuesdays through Sundays. Tel:3251-8481. Accessible from JR Kanda or Akihabara Stations and Subway Hibiya Line, Akihabara Station.

Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum

Next to Ueno Park and Zoo, this museum offers a variety of art experiences, from sculpture to modern art. Many of the exhibits are free. Tokyo Met. also hosts some "big" art shows which change from time to time so call for more information on what is showing: 3823-6921. The Indus Civilization Exhibition runs through Dec. 12, 2000.

National Museum of Japanese History

This magnificent museum is in Sakura City, Chiba Prefecture, about one hour from Tokyo Station. The complex covers 35,000 square meters on a site of 130,000 square meters. They have a wonderful website for all the details on how to get there, in English and Japanese. There is even a kids page in Japanese. Tel: 043-386-0123

National Museum of Western Art

Located 1 minute walk from JR Ueno Station, Park Exit. Or access from subway Ginza, Hibiya Lines, 8 min. walk. Open 9:30a.m.-5:00p.m., 8p.m. Fridays (Closed Mondays) Adult admission is 1,300, students are 900, elementary aged children cost 400. Tel 03-3828-5131

The National Science Museum

Located inside Ueno Park, you'll find the museum easily by the 30 meter blue whale sculpture just outside. The museum consists of three buildings that will keep you busy for hours, if not all day. The Main Building houses The Evolution of Living Creatures (which includes the ever-popular dinosaurs), Japanese Animals and Plants and Meteorites and the Solar System.

Midori Kan Building houses an Animal Classification Exhibit, Science Theater, Earth Science and Homo sapiens exhibit and Membership Hall where current and future scientists can deepen their understanding of natural science.

The New Building has Mysteries of Origin and Extinction (more dinosaurs), The Diversity of Living Things (marine creatures) and Discovery Plaza. One floor is labled Science in Everyday Life and this is where the kids have fun learning about levers and air pressure and optical illusions. On the top floor is A Wood filled with Surprises, realistic enough to give a peaceful and tranquil end to your day. Call 03-3822-0111 (Mon-Fri); 03-3822-0114 (Sat. Sun, National Holidays). Hours are 9:00a.m. to 4:30p.m. (last admissions 4:00p.m.). Admission fees are listed as 420 for adults and college students, children grades 1-12; 70, but when I visited it was twice that price.

 

  Fire Museum

Upstairs from Yotsuya-sanchome Stn, Exit 2 (Marunouchi Line), the Fire Museum has the complete history of fire fighting equipment used in Japan, from a horse-drawn steam fire engine used at the beginning of the 20th century, to a real firefighting helicopter up on the roof. There is a good array of firefighting equipment and numerous models and dioramas. There are also a good selection of photographs from "the old days" to help bring visual clarity to those history lessons. Pamphlets in English are available. 3-10 Yotsuya, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 3353-9119

--Our kids liked the Yotsuya Fire Museum. It has interesting displays on the history of firefighting in Japan, plus hands on exhibits, vintage fire engines, etc. Louise George Kittaka

Museum of Future Science and Technology

On the first floor of Shinjuku Mitsui Buikding, 2-1-1 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 163-04. Near Nishi-Shinjuku station on the Marunouchi subway line. Tel: 03-3340-1821 Fax: 03-3340-3795
Includes a Library, Multimedia Space, Science Theater, Collaboration Space and Science Museum. Look, Feel, Learn!

 

The Science Museum

Located within Kitanomaru Park, near the Budokan, a seven minute walk from Takebashi Station or Kudanshita Station (Subway Tozai, Hanzomon, Shinjuku Lines). Founded by the Japan Science Foundation in 1964, its aim is to promote public understanding of science and technology. Visitors range from children to grown-ups, centering on young people. Exhibits are mostly interactive. You are invited to manipulate and play with them. Because progress in science and technology is very rapid and impressive, the exhibits are designed to be interesting and challenging. You can easily spend the better part of a day here. Reasonably priced restaurants here, or seating is available if you choose to bring your own lunch. Admission fee: 600/adults, 400/junior and senior high school students, 250/children 4-12.

Setagaya Art Museum

This little jewel inside Kinuta Park has presented exhibitions of art ranging from the prehistoric to the most contemporary. The museum gives special emphasis to art which exhibits the quality of naivete. Also, because of the unusually large number of artists living in the Setagaya area, the museum has made an effort to bring the work of these artists to the attention of the public. The museum also sponsors musical concerts and films as well as exhibitions, and a variety of lectures study courses, and workshops for people who want to become more actively involved with the arts. General admission is only 100-200 yen and group rates are available.
Hours: 10:00 to 6:00. Phone: 03-3415-6011

The Bicycle Culture Center

The Bicycle Culture Center was established to popularize and develop bicycle culture. As the first such complete collection of bicycle related materials in Japan, it was founded to provide correct information about the history and culture of the bicycle. There are sixty-three interesting and unusual bicycles on display including the 1908 wooden-wheeled royal tricycle that belonged to the emperor Showa when he was a child. On the floor above is a library of books, magazines and computers with information on bicycling in several languages . It is located 3 minutes walk from Tameiksanno Station on the Ginza Line or 7 minutes walk from Kokkai Gijidomae Station on the Marunouchi or Chiyoda Lines. Near the American Embassy.

The Coca-Cola Bottling Co.

You won't see anyone making Coca-Cola, just bottling it. But it is a fun first-hand look at what factories are all about. It's interesting to note how few people are on the floor, machines are everywhere, however.
1-2-9 Nobidome
Higashi Kurume, Tokyo
Tel: 0424-71-1415
The closest station is Kiyose on the Seibu-Ikebukuro Line. From there take a bus headed for Musashi-Koganei Station and get off at Kurume KouKou Mae. From there look for the Coca-cola sign just ahead on your right. Any number of persons can visit this plant. Groups take about 90 minutes to see the plant and view a film. Individuals take about 40 min. Call at least one week in advance for a reservation, the tour is free. Hours are Tuesdays through Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The Japan Foundation Asia Center Library

One of the few internationally-minded libraries in Tokyo that doesn't have a minimum age requirement (most of them require users be at least 18 yrs.old). This would be a good place to go for a research project on Asia. The Asia Center Library boasts approximately 5,000 books, newspapers and periodicals from all over Asia. There is a facility where visitors can view and listen to audio-visual materials such as music tapes, CDs and video tapes. Located near Tameike-Sanno (Ginza and Nanboku subway lines) and Akasaka (Chiyoda subway line). Head toward Ark Hills and you'll find the Library on the first floor of Akasaka Twin Tower Building. By bus get off at Tameike (on metropolitan bus route no.1 between Shibuya and Shimbashi Stations or on metropolitan bus route no.80 between Yotsuya Station and Akasaka ARK Hills). Tel: 03-5562-3895 Fax: 03-5562-3897
Open Monday thru Friday 10:30-19:00

The National Diet (Kokai Gijido)
Susan Pompian in Tokyo for Free describes it as ornately decorated, built exclusively from domestic materials. Tours take you into the House of Councilors' chamber, the large Central Hall, the Grand Imperial Staircase, and the special room for visits from the Emperor. Visit between the hours of 9:30 and 4 p.m., fill out an application form and take a tour only when the Diet is not in session. Call ahead to make sure: 03-3581-3111. Exit 1 of Nagatacho station (Hanzomon and Yurakucho lines) is the closest to the entrance of the House of Councilors.

Tobu Museum of Art
Located at the first floor of Tobu Dept. Store in Ikebuku

National Children's Castle
Located at 5-53-1 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku (3797 5665), near Omotesando station.

Open 12.30-5.30pm Tue-Fri; 10am-5.30pm weekends & holidays. Admission 500 adults; 400 children. Lots of fun for preschoolers! -Jill McArthy

International Library of Children's Literature (Kokusai Kodomo Toshokan)

12-49 Uneno Koen, Taito-ku, Tokyo 110-0007
Tel: 03-3827-2053
Open: 9:30-5:00 except Mondays and National holidays

   

Three Educational Sites in Itabashi Ward

The following three sites are accessible by a FREE shuttle bus service from either Tokiwadai Station or Shiurasakaue Station. Call any of the venues below for more details.

Hall of Science and Education

A 3-minute walk from Kami Itabashi Station (Tobu Tojo Line) this museum is also a truly hands-on experience for children. In addition there is also a planetarium, with shows offered once daily on weekdays, twice on Saturdays and three times on Sundays. The Planetarium costs 500 for adults, 150 for children two and up. There are also group rates. Everything else here is FREE! Tel: 3559-6561.

Ecopolis Center (Japanese Only)

FREE! This is a 15 minute walk from either Tokiwadai Station (Tobu Tojo Line) or Shimurasakaue Station (Toei Mita Line). A place to learn about protecting our environment. Using computer animation and games, children will learn about recycling, take an Ecology Tour on a space ship called "Adventure Beagle" and take a Lifestyle Check. There are workshops for recycling everyday items like paper and cloth and experts on hand to repair broken watches, umbrellas and sharpen knives and cutting boards. The kid is king at Ecopolis Center. Their phone number is 03-5970-5001, fax: 03-5970-2255. Address: 4-6-1 Maeno-machi, Itabashi-ku, Tokyo

Green Dome Nettaikan (Itabashi Botanical Gardens)

A seven minute walk from Takashima Daira station on the Toei Mita Line. Here you will find tropical river fish and ocean fish and jungle plants galore. In fact some 100 species of fish and 300 species of plants are here. There are killer plants and beautiful flowers from Southeast Asia. There is also a high vision theatre with a 110 inch screen showing footage from tropical regions. The resource library has information about plant life and there is a games corner too. A tea room selling drinks and light meals is on site as well. Best of all the source of energy to keep this facility working comes from a local garbage incinerator, keeping in line with the ecology theme. Their number is 03-5920-1131.

 

Yebisu Garden Place

A seven minute walk from Ebisu Station (JR Yamanote/Saikyo Lines, Subway Hibiya Line) Follow the signs which will take you along the skywalk with moving walkway. This is the way Tokyo should look, outdoor dining, waterfountains, sculptures, shops, and enough space for kids to run around and dream. Here you will find the Virtual Brewery Adventure inside the Beer Museum Yebisu, a virtual tour of the old brewery run by Sapporo (parent company of Yebisu). The tour is free, then after the tour you can sample some beer for 200. Next, check out theContemporary Sculpture Center, an art gallery presenting works of guest artists in addition to its permanent collection. It's located on the 1st floor of the Nibankan Building. This is also free. Also on site is the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography , with changing exhibits on three floors. The charge for this museum is 500-1000 for adults, 250-500 for children, depending which exhibit you visit. Children under 6 are free. Tel 3280-0031. For a birdseye view of the city, go to the Top of Yebisu on the 39th floor of Yebisu Garden Place Tower (north end). You'll find various dining possibilities here. The elevator ride is free! If you enjoy luxury, visit the lobby of the Westin Hotel, just across the street from Yebisu Garden Place. They serve a nice buffet brunch, and often have buffet lunches at reasonable prices on their main floor cafeteria. And the service! You deserve it. Tel. 03-5423-7111

Bridgestone Museum
Small and intimate museum with a good overview of ancient to modern civilisations with its tastefully selected pieces representative of every major western era. But few people know that it has one of the world's finest collections of French Impressionist and post-Impressionist art as well as scultures. It's big news for the French, who are forever loaning the museum's collections. Check it out sometime if you like that kind of stuff. It's in such a good location too, the only museum in between Nihonbashi and Kyobashi. Aileen Kawagoe

Subway Museum

Admission adult: 400, 4-12 years old: 100. Open Tue-Sun. Access:Tozai subway line, Kasai station, one minute from the station. Address: Edogawa-ku, Higashikasai 6-3-1 Tel: 3878-5011 Renko Yamazaki

Maritime Museum (Fune no Kagaku kan)in Odaiba.

It's great place to visit. Two lighthouses in front of the huge carpark (lots of space for parking, eateries for lunching out, and a lovely seaside park for strollers and such, a pool too for other than indoor activities). The museum has a nice walk-thru history of boats from early Egyptian raft models to Viking ships to East India trading clipper ships and of course a huge display of many Japanese tankers and cruiseliners etc. All models are great work. Then there are life-size engine turbines, and such; on the sxth floor or something easily missed is a navigator's room with all the radar equipment, and a simulator speedboat machine that all kids will want to line up to drive. Outside the museum is a World War II relic of an amphibious airplane. And on the other side, there is a real Coastguard patrol vessel that we can board with wax figures of personnel and such. There's more maritime stuff in a second building across the bay, which we didn't get to, but I think there are some cool displays there too. Oh and there is a fantastic Chinese restaurant at the top of the building, won't burn a whole in your pocket but taste is really authentic and has a good view of the bay. Aileen Kawagoe

Immediately in front of Fune no Kagakukan station on the Yurikamome line (15 min. out of Shimbashi) or a 10 min. walk from Tokyo Teleport station on the Rinkai line (7 min. from Shin Kiba station).

Yokohama Science Center

5-2-1 Yokodai Isogo-ku, Yokohama 235-0045 a 3 minute walk from JR Negishi line, Yokodai station is a 10 min. train ride from Ofuna, 21 min. train ride from Yokohama station. Parking is available for 100 cars.

Here you will find a Space Theater, Sapce Laboratory, Space Training Room, Space Discovery Room, Space Captain Room. In the basement are a Resting Area and Space Factory. Fees are 400 yen for adults, 200 yen for children over 4. There is also a planetarium which costs 1000 yen for adults, 500 yen for elementary aged children and 300 yen for children 4 and up. Hours are 9:30 - 5:00 on weekdays, 9:00 to 5:00 on Sundays and holidays. Closed Mondays or on Tuesday if Monday or Saturday is a National Holiday. Closed December 28 to January 1 each year. Tel: 045-832-1166

 

 

Outdoor Adventures

 

Akatsuka Botanical Garden

Right across the street from Tokyo's own Big Buddha--Jorenji Daibutsu, this botanical Garden is a quiet well kept garden located a bus ride from Narimasu Station on the Tobu-Tojo and Yurakucho Lines out of Ikebukuro. Here you can find over 600 kinds of trees, plants, flowers, and grasses covering a variety of terrains. The garden is designed to give you a sense of visiting several gardens in one. There is an office at the entrance which explains what you're going to see according to the season. Be sure to bring a sketch book! Directions from Narimasu Station: Take Bus #2 heading for Akabane Station (board at bus stop #1). It is a short bus ride to the Akatsuka 8-chome (Tokyo Daibutsu-mae) stop. Turn and walk back to the corner. You will see a sign for Tokyo Daibutsu-dori. Go right and walk down the hill for about 3 min. Go past the next traffic signal and turn left onto the second small street. The garden will be in front of you at the end of the short road, just past the Jorenji Daibutsu.

Chiba Kouen (Chiba Park)

About 5 minutes' walk from JR Chiba station a pond with boats, pool (in summer), ground, good location. Akio Furuyama

Inage Kaihin Kouen (Inage seaside park)

About 15 minutes by bus from Inage station very big, alomost everything. beach, obstacle course, pool, tennis court flower museum, aircraft museum. Akio Furuyama

Aobanomori Kouen (Aoba forest Park)

About 15 minutes by bus from Chiba station very big with an excellent Natural History Museum. Akio Furuyama

Kasai Rinkai Park and Bird Park

Tel: 5696-1331. A 5 minute walk from Kasai Rinkai Koen Station (JR Keiyo Line). The Musashino Line also stops at this station on Sundays and Holidays. A cluster of three connected seaside parks protects area wildlife, teaches visitors about sea life and birds, and provides lots of play space. Bring binoculars for bird viewing, and a shovel and pail for building sand castles at Kasai Marine Park. Kasai Rinkai Bird Park is a breeding ground for egrets, herons, ducks, snipes, and other waterfowl. There is a map of the area available at the Watching Center. There are displays on the second floor. Paths around the park will are bound to lead you to educational discoveries.

Tokyo Sea Life Park (Tel: 03-3869-5152/Fax: 03-3869-5155) houses the city's best aquarium. When you buy your ticket you can ask for a brochure in English, Russian, Chinese and Korean. You can view everything from hammerhead sharks and giant bluefin tuna to tiny organisms and colorful exotic fish. There is a large pool just outside the aquarium where you can watch penguins at play and a touching corner at one end where youngsters are encouraged to touch sea urchins and star fish. There is a library on site, all materials are in Japanese, but some English speaking staff are on hand to answer questions.
Children under 12 are admitted free to the aquarium, 13-15 year old cost 250 and adults are 700. Closed Mondays and Dec. 29-Jan 3.

Hikarigaoka Park

Established as a landing strip for US military planes after WWII, you can guess the size of this park. There is a nice range of playground equipment here, for toddlers to big kids. Lots of hills for climbing, open areas for picnics, and parts of the park offer that "never been explored" feeling. The park also houses a bird watch laboratory where you can gaze through their binoculars, unnoticed by the many species of birds and ducks living in the pond. The park is a popular place for skate boarding, in-line skating, basketball, tennis and bike riding. A baseball field, running track, and field for kite-flying are also there. If you walk from Hikarigaoka station you will pass the danchi's library and gym. You can find food stalls, at least on the weekends, and the ubiquitous drink vending machines. One of the nicest attractions for the little ones is the fountain where kids shed layers of clothes and climb into the ankle deep water. For their size the stepping stones and bridges are challenging and parents love to watch the antics. Take the Oedo subway line from Shinjuku to Hikarigaoka station and walk 10 minutes on a no-traffic walk-way, or take a bus from Narimasu station (Yurakucho/Tobu-Tojo lines) Phone: 03-3977-7638 Katherine Combs

Showa Kinen Koen

Showa Kinen Koen (phone: 0425-28-1751) is defintely the park that our family enjoys. It is located in Tachikawa and it is huge! There are places to do BBQ, bike rides (they have bike rentals), big lawn area to relax, a lake to enjoy boating, herb gardens, flower gardens, atheletic park for children, various pools during summer, and etc. etc.... Mizuho Matsumoto

...the vinyl hills are so fun to jump on, there is a huge jungle gym for smaller children, in summer the pool is a blast, and the open field is a joy to run in. Lorna Asami

It's huge and they have these what I assume are helium-filled "moonwalk" mounds that kids can tumble on to their hearts content. We went in the summer, when they had the water park open, but I assume they have them inflated during the rest of the year, too. They also have a beautiful mosaic-tiled what I call pagan park and a rope playground and putt-putt and a river and a Japanese garden and lots of beer and ramen/yaki-soba stands to nourish us in between! (They also have a tram/bus in case you can't bear to walk back!) Dana Beckelman

Koganei Park

Has an astro covered an all-year sledding hill. Sleds are provided by the park. The park really livens up in spring, with a plum forest, wisteria, cherry trees, and tulip beds. 15 minute walk from Hana Koganei station, Seibu-Shinjuku line or Musashi Koganei station, JR Chuo line. Phone: 042-385-5611

...open fields to run in, hills to slide on, bikes to ride... Lorna Asami

Shimizu Koen

Shimizuzaka Park is a large park in Kita-ku, half way between Akabane Station and Jujo Station just west of the Saikyo line. Lots of room for running and picnicing right under the Shinkansen line. There is a man made stream / pond that the kids can play in. If you're driving there are a few parking places available. It's just a block north of Kannana dori. Dan Dumas

Children's Zoo & River-water Aquarium (within Higashi-Itabashi Park)

The park which we like near to our home is the Higashi-Itabashi Park consists of Children's Zoo & River-water Aquarium which is open free to the public. We have been there almost every week. Emiri likes animals very much. The nearest train is from Itabashikukyakushomae which on Toei Mita Line. About 10 minutes walking distance from the station.

Children's Zoo(within Higashi-Itabashi),3-50-1 Itabashi, telephone number: 3763-8003

Open: March to November:10:00 A.M.to 4:00 P.M., December to February: 10:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. Closed from December 28 to January 4.

This zoo has animals like ponies, goats, sheep, etc. which children are allowed to touch them, but not to feed them. There is a small pond where fishes like carps, turtles and ducks. Next to this pond there is a hamster's corner. Children are allowed to carry, stroke & play with them. They are open during these hours 10:45 to 11:15, 1:30 to 2:00 P.M. and 2:30 to 3:00 P.M.

The pony ride is free for children from 3 years to primary school children from 10:30(between 10:10 to 10:25 A.M.) & 1:30(between 1:10 to 1:25 P.M.) hours only.

Just a few steps away from the entrance to the children zoo, there is an outdoor pool for children. They are opened during summer from July to August 28, from 10:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. They is a small fee for entrance.

Then, next to this pool there is a River-water Aquarium (within Higashi-Itabashi), 3-50-1 tabashi. Telephone number: 3962-8419. Free entrance to the public. They are open from 10:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. Closed from December 28 to January 4.

There is a small baseball field, swing & slide for children to play too. Jessie Tayama

Fuchunomori Koen

Fuchunomori Koen is at Higashi-Fuchu in West Tokyo. It's a straight walk north from the station. There's a sign at the end of the street pointing the way. It's behind Dream Hall (Fuchunomori Hall.) It's great. It has a man-made stream and fountains that kids can wade in, a play area, tennis courts, and grassy areas for play and picnics. Elizabeth Chikamatsu

Tama Zoological Park

Located in Hino-shi, Tokyo. Open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., final entry time is 4:00 p.m. Entrance fees are 600/adult or 480 for 20 or more, junior high shool students pay 200/ticket or 160/for 20 or more. Handicapped people and their attendants are free of charge. Junior high and high school students are free of charge on the second and fourth Saturday of every month. Located on the Tama Monorail line, Tama Dobutsu Koen station. Tama Monorail line runs between Shin Yurigaoka on the Odakyu line, and Tachikawa on the JR Chuo line. Phone: 042-591-1611. Closed Mondays, or the following day if a national holiday or Citizens' Day falls on a Monday.

Inokashira Park

TEL: 0422-46-1100 FAX: 0422-46-1906 Address: 1-17-6, Gotenyama, Musashino-shi,Tokyo 180. 10min. walk from Kichijoji Station, JR, and Keio lines, Hours: 9:30am-4:30pm Closed: Mondays and Dec. 29-Jan.3 Fee: Adults 400, junior high school-aged children 150 yen. 11 & under and 65 & over and disabled enter free of charge.
Facility: Tropical Bird Greenhouse, Sculpture Garden, Artifact Museum, Amusement Facilities, Aquarium

Our family likes to rent the boats (around 600) as soon as it opens at 10 am in the summer and float and feed the ducks and fish before the summer heat becomes too much. Autumn is probably better later in the day when it warms up. There is a small zoo nearby, and Nishien, another small park nearby is a good place for lunch. Nishien is a track and field area that kids can run around in. Phone: 0422-46-1100 There is also a small aquarium near the center of the park that houses local fish and some bugs etc. Lorna Asami

Asakusa Hanayashiki Amusement Park

It is not as expensive as regular amusement parks. Entrance fee for adult 900 yen or all ride ticket 1600 (holidays are 2200) over 5 years 400 1400, 1900. This place is little more exciting compared to Arakawa Yuen, but still there are safe rides for little kids. Very retro (classical) atmosphere. Place: Taito-ku, Asakusa. Tel: 3842-8780 Subway Ginza or Asakusa line, 8minutes walk from Asakusa station. Renko Yamazaki

Note: Cornelia Kurtz has more info and photos taken at Hanayashiki Amusement Park, posted at Tokyo With Kids Website .

Mizumoto Park

700,000m square meters. There are many kinds of flowers all year round. There is a water place to play and about 10 Athletics obstacles, bird sanctuary, craft center and so on. Place: Katsushika-ku Mizumotokoen 3-2. Tel: 03-3607-8321 Keisei or Chiyoda line, Kanamachi station. A 15-minute bus ride from the station. I am not sure of the exact place. please contact them directly. Renko Yamazaki

Nogawa Park/Musashino Park

Abundant green and open spaces that beckon soccer, frisbee throwing, kite flying and running around. Several playgrounds here as well. In Mitaka-shi, Tokyo, a 15 minute walk from Tama Bochimae station, JR Tamagawa line. Free entrance. Nature Observation Center(9:30am-4:30pm, Closed: Mondays and Dec. 29-Jan.3), Bird Observation shelter, Shop. Park information: 0422-31-6457 Fax: 0422-31-7471

Fuchu no Mori Koen

Located in Fuchu. They have planetarium, huge water area to play in during summer, various flower gardens and a lawn area to play in. The good thing about this park is the parking is free and the fee to the park is very cheap. Mizuho Matsumoto

Shakujii Park

Official Name: Toritsu Shakujii Koen. Nearest train station: Shakujii koen station at Seibu-Ikebukuro Line The park is at a 7 min walk fm the station south exit.

180,532,13 m square (not including Sampojii lake)
Shakujii dai 1, 2, Shakujii machi 5 (the park is in between 3 districts) in
Nerima-ku, Tokyo
Park adm. tel (03)3996-3950

Car Parking (03) 3904-2945 (fm 400 yen for the first hour) Pedal Boats (03) 3996-2068 (fm 520 yen for the first 30 min.) Bicycle Renting (03) 5372-0809 (300 yen for the day--a 2 min walk fm the South exit of Shakujii Koen station) The park is composed of; Sampojii lake, Shakujii lake, Baseball field, Open air stage, Pedal Boats to be rented, A fishing area for children for free, Parking space, a small noodle and light meal shop next to Sampojii lake. There are 5 temples/shrines in the area. Two of the temples are just next to the park.

What I like there: If you give me the pleasure of meeting you, pls look for me there. I might be the youngest lady that walks between 5.30 and 7 am every morning. Better yet, if it is raining, there is no way you can not meet me. On rainy days, the park will look as if it were not in Tokyo; wild birds, wild plants, silence, not much artificial gardening and with very few human being.

The native plants seems that they have been preserved. You can walk around both lakes. On weekends it is harder to do it because there are several "painters" around Sampojii lake, capturing for the glimpses of left wilderness. But the walking is comfortable and you can take the pram.

What my 6 yo daughter and her father like there. There are 3 play areas. In one of them, you can find, very often, pre-school children. It is not a very well kept place but it is surrounded by tall, old trees. The place is pleasantly sunny all year long, and there children can run as they wish. There is no car traffic nearby and there is a distance to the bicycle lane. The place my daughter likes the most, now, is where there is a small "atoretiku" (athletic course) for older children. There, there is not much fun for small pre-school children. The third play area is for school age children as there are only swings and a big open space to play with balls and bats and ropes...etc. A perfect place for a picnic! Noemi Hiraishi

Kita Ekoda Park

Kita Ekoda Park: for older kids and teenagers. There is a concrete pavement where skate boarders, roller bladers and kickboarders can create obstacle courses with pylons, etc. Closest station: 10 mins. from Shin-egota on Toei Oedo Line 15 mins. from Ekoda on Seibu Ikebukuro Line. Carol Hui Akiyama

Ehara Park

Ehara Park: for preschool kids The highlight is the wading pool which is free and open from July 20 to Aug 20th. Moms from Shinjuku and Nakano come here, as does my friend from Suginami. Elementary aged kids are not permitted in so infants and toddlers are safe. Ten mins walk from Shin-egota station on Toei Oedo line, 15 mins from Ekoda on Seibu Ikebukuro line. Carol Hui Akiyama

Tetsugakudo (Philosophy) Park

Tetsugakudo Park: This is a huge park complex. Decent playground but nice scenery for adults to enjoy while walking with toddlers. Ten mins walk from Numabukuro Station on Seibu Shinjuku Line, 15 mins walk from Shin Egota. (Accessible by bus from Nakano as well.) Carol Hui Akiyama
Susan Pompian writes in Tokyo for Free: "...you can see kids playing in the waterfall and climbing on the big rocks in the water in warm weather, but the real theme of the park is the study of philosophy. It was created by Meiji period philosopher Enryo Inoue as a mind-training park, where each section represents a different philosophical theory." In addition to 77 spots in the park that represent various doctrines, there are also six old buildings from the Meiji period. They are open for several days in April and again in October for public viewing. One she describes as "a lovely small pagoda" with a view from the top, the other is a hall dedicated to Confucius, Buddha, Kant and Socrates. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed New Year holidays. Call 03 3954-4881

 

  Ueno Zoo

The tigers will walk right up to the glass and amaze you. The gorillas are very entertaining in their new digs at Ueno Zoo. As zoos go it is not the best but it has come a long way in the past few years. Small children love the playful sea lions and penguins, and of course, the giant pandas. There are plenty of reptiles spread out around the zoo grounds, not just in one dark building. Ride the monorail (small fee), visit the petting zoo. There's plenty of good fun here. Bring along a sketch book for art. Start a discussion of how animals are treated at the zoo, some fare better than others.

It's easy to visit the zoo after a tour of The National Museum of Western Art or The National Science Museum nearby. Best of all admission is free to the zoo for children under 12 and all handicapped guests and one aide. Admission for junior high schoolers is 200, adults, 600. Call 03-3828-5171 or Fax: 03-3821-2493. Closed Mondays and Dec. 29-Jan. 3.

Ueno Imperial Park

Go out the park exit of Ueno station (JR Yamanote, Keihin-Tohoku, Takasaki and Shinkansen lines, Hibiya subway line) TEL: 03-3828-5644. Open from 5:00 a.m to 11:00 p.m., free to enter. Popular spot for company employees to celebrate O-hanami (cherry tree viewing) in spring, can get a bit out of hand...
Facilities include the National Science Museum, Greenery Information Bureau, Ueno Zoo, Museum of old town's history, Shops, etc.

Kinuta Koen

Kinuta is actually the 2nd largest park in the 23 wards of Tokyo. This is a family-oriented place to enjoy the cherry blossom season. It also has a lot to offer all year round with cycling courses and bike rentals, two playgrounds (great kids play area with some very unusual play equipment), refreshment stand, river and Setagaya Bijitsukan (Art Museum) within its bounds. Ten minute walk (1 km west) from Yohga Station, Tokyu Shin-Tamagawa Line. 03-3700-0414. Parking available.

Baji Koen (Equestrian Park)

They hold a lot of matsuris and horseshows throughout the year. Hours are limited (closes at 4:30 or 5pm normally), but there are usually people riding horses and it has a nice horsey smell, and they do have a kids play area and Japanese garden and flower garden too. No bikes allowed inside this park. A bus ride from Chitose-Funabashi station, Odakyu line. Phone: 3429-5101 Melinda Tsuchiya

Komazawa Olympic Park

One of the many green spots in Setagaya, this park has lots of trees, so it's great in the heat of summer. They also have an Olympic-size pool open from July 1 - Sept 15 and it is only 230 for adults, 130 for children's entrance. They have a cycling path that encircles the whole park--very nice for roller blading and whatnot, too. Big wading pool with fountains for little ones. Free bicycle hire for all aged kids including bicylces that accommodate a family of 4. Melinda Tsuchiya

Setagaya Park

Ikejiri Ohashi station, Tokyu Shin Tamagwa line, phone: 03-3412-7841. If you're into trains, you'll love the real steam locomotive here. It really runs! Runs on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 10:30-12:00 and from 1:00-3:00 p.m. Small pool, playground and go-carts can also be found here.

Michinoku Park, Miyagi

A very fun and educational park in Miyagi-ken. It's close to Sendai. Here is a link map to the Fun stuff: http://www1g.mesh.ne.jp/m-park/osusume.htmlJ & L Powell

In Fukuroi, Shizuoka-prefecture

There is a unique park situated on a hill. The park has an immensely huge field (for running, baseball, whatever your heart desires), with fascinating, round, stone "bumps" or balls set into one side that is on an incline. They are decorated in different colored tiles, and blink with electric lights at night. That's not to mention a small water fountain and "water park", where water shoots out of various stone animals mouths and the ground (only on Sundays in the summer). BUT, the most interesting part is the hill! Lots of flowers, and two ways to walk up or down the hill. Along the way there are benches for stopping to try various exercises on (diagrams provided), a slide, a climbing apparatus, and it ends with a little pond/stream with rocks, and a huge modern structure at the top. Our kids love it! If anyone is in the area contact us and will show you where it is (we live in Kakegawa which has a Shinkansen stop, 10 minutes from our house, and the park is 10 minutes from our house in the other direction). Cheryl Bostrom pbostrom@shizuokanet.ne.jp

Jyonobi Mura, Takayanagi, Niigata

The park is about a 25 min. drive from the Kashiwazaki IC on the Hokuriku expressway. After the toll gate follow the sign toward Tokamachi/Takayanagi. There are colorful signs (In Japanese) about Jyonobi mura all along the way.

The park has several features. There is an onsen, camping facilities and rental cabins if you wish to spend overnight. There is a large children's play area with lots of interesting things to do. The area is surrounded by a bicycle track and they have crazy bikes to rent. Some of the bikes are in animal shapes while others require anything from rowing to make them go to hopping up and down. Some of the bikes can carry up to 5 people. Even if you don't ride it's quite interesting just to watch.

There is also a craft area and on weekends there is usually a craft class you can attend for a small fee. There is a covered are with basketball hoops, stilts and unicycles for you to try at no charge. This building also has a small gym and several rooms with various things to see and do.

There are picnic areas and during camping season you can even rent a grill and get basic Japanese camp foods at the camp store or you are welcome to bring your own bento. There are also some hiking trails you can follow. In the fall, sometime around October 8th, Takayanagi also has a Fox Wedding Festival. There are many events throughout the village with shuttle buses running from Jyonibi mura to the different event areas. Jerry and Laura Mort

Akasaka Yama Koen, Kashiwazaki, Niigata

Located on route 8 in Kashiwazaki City. Akasaka Yama was once privately owned grounds with a man made waterfall and stream. There is a lovely path along the stream where you can walk and enjoy nature. At the top of the first hill there is a large plateau where you can picnic, play games, enjoy the slides and swings or just relax and watch the trees. (They have lights up in spring for cherry blossom viewing and in the fall so you can enjoy the changing colors.) If you climb the next hill you will find a more extensive play area as well as the Kashiwazaki City Museum. The museum is small, but does have an interesting display on the past history of Japan/Kashiwazaki. There is also a planetarium which is open mainly on weekends. The entrance fees to both are minimal.

There is also a Tea Ceremony Museum right next to the park. This is more expensive, but if you enjoy the Traditional Japanese tea it is quite a beautiful and relaxing place to enjoy it. The tea room overlooks a beautiful forested area and the ceremony is preformed in very strict Japanese tradition. Jerry and Laura Mort

Minami-Senri, Osaka

Our favorite parks are ones with beautiful lakes: especially one by Minami-Senri station in northern Osaka. You can rent little boats, or feed the many fish, turtles and pidgeons. And it's huge, with many nice paths. We hope to live closeby and would LOVE a visit from other homeschoolers who may be passing through! (We plan to move there in March 2001.) The cherry blossoms and lilies are gorgeous when in season (early April and late May I think). Kristen Caughlan

Minoo National Forest

The park/forest is located near Minoo Station on the Hankyu Takarazuka Line, and is famous for its maple leaves in autumn time and wild monkeys all-year round. A 15-20 minute walk up the mountain (along a paved road, of course) will take you to a waterfall that is famous in Japan as a sightseeing attraction. What my son Kenya and I like even better, though, are the many, many hiking trails that you can take from off of the main road. Lots of wonderful nature out there -- and quietness. On the road going up to the waterfall there is also an official "butterfly museum," where they let visitors walk in and around among the many beautiful species of butterflies that "live" in the museum. Brian Covert

Hattori Ryokuchi-koen

One of the major parks in Osaka. The park is located just a few minutes' walk west from Ryokuchi-koen Station on the Midosuji line, the main subway line in Osaka. We like this park because it's very big -- and relatively empty on weekdays! It has lots to offer: playground areas, a kind of flower garden, a "waterland" (in summertime), horseback riding, and generally lots of small pathways for just strolling around.

About 10 minutes' walk due west from the main entrance of the park (nearest the subway station), there is a large playground with lots of slides and swings, some of them nestled in and among the groves of trees (which almost makes you forget you're smack-dab in the middle of a metropolitan area). Next to that playground area is a pond where you can rent out paddleboats and rowboats. (We love singing "Row, Row Row Your Boat" while we're out rowing one of these boats around!). Brian Covert

>Gunma no Mori Park

We like 'Gunma no Mori' park. I think it is actually in Tamamura-machi, Gunma pref. but it might by some zoning freak be in Maebashi or even Takasaki. It has a neat museum of natural history and lots and lots of space. Used to be an old weapon factory or some such before the war. This park is better for bigger kids who can actually walk long distances (lots of paths, paved and otherwise and lots and lots of trees and shade) picnic/outdoor worship areas ( well, that's what we use it for!), athletic courses, etc. though little kids will enjoy the water area.

Our kids also enjoy 'Mayu Dome' in Isesaki (on Route 354) for water play, nature discovery, simple rock climbing practice, etc. From the back of the park one can get onto the cycling road that goes for miles along the (Hirose?) River.

 Another park that just opened and promises to be a lot of fun is 'Shimin no Mori' park here in Isesaki. There is a great soccer field, lots of open space, a grassy man-made hill/mountain you can slide on if you bring your own cardboard, a water play area, and a trampoline-like bouncy set of...well, my kids think they look like extremely large mammary glands coming out of the ground- so fun for all ages. If you want a fairly inexpensive amusement park, Kezoji Koen in Isesaki is older, pretty reasonable, and if you go on a weekday, no lines to speak of. There's a nice very tall ferris wheel, lots of rides for the 2-5 set, and then across the road there is a roller coaster and a splash into the water log ride. The irises are lovely in May/June too. Andrea Johnson

Nishi Zao, outside Yamagata City, Yamagata ken

This park has a nice overlook of the city with lots of things to climb on and crawl through and slide down. Another park/attraction that is also in Yamagata City is the Kyuuka Center, which has a nice big play area with lots of things to climb on for kids of all ages, hot spring pools inside and, I'm not sure, but I think it has a pool outside too. Hilary Lynch

There are actually two big play areas. The lower one (lower down the mountain) has a big wide play area with fields, a maze, lots of climbing things, a climbing wall, a long slide and lots of great play things. It's great for all ages. The second one, up the hill, has another maze, climbing platforms, a very long slide, zip lines and lots of climbing things. Both areas have picnic tables and bathrooms right there. Each is good enough to have one outing each. The whole place is free. (there's actually a third place that is an obstacle course for older kids) To get there, take the Nishi Zao Kogen Line and the park is right across from YaSouen. Drive in and look for the map to the play areas. Jay Ellis

  Another great area is the play area at Kyuukacenta. That's the onsen that was right above our house. That''s a great place.

  Accross from Nishi Zao Koen is Yasouen. That's not a play place, but more of a nature park. There are lots of plants, walkways, flowers and explanations of nature. It's very beautiful and nicely laid out. There's an indoor viewing area too. Cost is about 300 for adults, I'm not sure how much for kids. It's worth a trip.

  Another nice place for an outing on a hot day is the park near Tohoku Chuo Byoin. I don't know the name of it, but it has a man-made stream that kids can walk up and down in. There is also a big field nearby and bathrooms. It is free.

  Ken-Min no Mori has lots of nature trails, fields and an obstacle course. It also has a long roller slide. It's free. There's a nature center there, too. It's quite a big place so it's best to call them and get a map of the place. During the winter kids can ski there for free. Jay Ellis

Kofu, Yamanashi prefecture

Kofu, Yamanashi, has several nice places to visit. We have a very good science museum with hands on activities for children - including a snow room, an anti-gravity moon thing, a tornado to view, lots of optical illusions, science experiment shows... Next to the science museum is a really big children's park, Kodomo no Kuni, with an amazing assortment of jungle gym equipment. On Saturdays, there is an area that has wacky bikes - for free. My favorite place in Yamanashi is Shosenkyo Gorge - a beautiful hike up a trail next to a river with huge rocks and trees. There is a nice waterfall at the top. One can walk or take a horse carriage ride for about 1,000 a piece. (Walking is free.) Then at the top is a cable car (1,000 a piece) and a museum that is really pretty. It is about 600 a piece, I think, and that includes a cookie and tea or coffee at the end. The museum is a shadow box museum. There are tissue paper art with water and soft lights and soft music. There is a long row of pictures from the Bible. There are several places to eat houtou (the Yamanashi noodle soup which is yummy) for about 800-1000 a bowl, but can serve 2 people. Of course, one could picnic there, too. From the Kofu eki, there are regular buses to Shosenkyo and back. I've been at least 6 times and it's always beautiful.

Sagamihara Asamizo Koen, Sagamihara, Kanagawa

This park has no entrance fee and has free parking for close to 600 cars. There is a small zoo, including a petting zoo and pony rides for 50 (the only money you need to pay in the park). There is also cow milking and special clases for elementary schoolaged children and older. These classes are usually open to residents only, but include classes about various animals and how to care for them including hands on training, grooming horses, cleaning cages, feeding animals, helping in the petting zoo, etc. The classes are always changing and they have a bulletin board posting that shows what is being offered. There is also a field athletic course that is quite long and best for those elementary school aged and older. For the younger kids, there is a great playground . In the summer they have a water fountain where the water shoots up out of the ground and out of the mouths of the animals around it. Some kids wear bathing suits, but most strip down to diapers or underwear to run around in it. My kids can spend hours there. they also have a tower with an oberservation deck (about 20 stories high) and on a clear day you can see quite far. It is truely one of the best parks in the area. Kristin Yamaguchi

 

   
   
 

 

Shin-rin Koen, Saitama

Located at the end of the Tobu-Toju line, about an hour from Ikebukuro. It's great! You can rent a bike at the station and ride it to the park, or take a bus to the park and rent a bike there. Then you can bike all through the park (beautiful gardens in every season) to their Wan-paku playground area. It's got a huge slide, so long you have to ride down on a piece of cardboard (it's a real butt-burner), then all kinds of climbing frames and playtime challenges. Bring a picnic and plan to stay the whole day. Angela Bartlett

Tokorozawa Airplane Memorial Park, Saitama

This is a huge park with several playgrounds, an aviation museum, rollerblading and skateboarding areas, grassy hills to roll on, flower beds in all seasons, etc. Aviation Museum includes IMAX Theatre, open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Cost varies. A 5-minute walk from Koukuu Koen on the Seibu Shinjuku line

Inariyama Park, Saitama

Right in front of Inariyama Koen Station on the Seibu Ikebukuro line (about 50 minutes from Ikebukuro). The park is vast and left in a fairly natural state. Plenty of trees and summer grass, cherry trees and oodles of space! The grassy field is a treasure, and you are allowed to play ball games, i.e. soccer, football, baseball, badminton, etc. If you want the feel of the country with less traveling, visit here.

Kodomo-no-kuni, Kanagawa

Located about 30 minutes or so from Yokohama on the Yokohama line.

Kodomo-no-Kuni really is a kid's paradise (great petting zoo, working dairy, pony rides, mini steam engine, lots of play equipment, boating pond, etc).Louise George Kittaka

Kanazawa-Bunko Koen(or Kanazawa Dobutsu-en).

On the Keihin Kyuko Line which leaves from Shinagawa and goes through Kawasaki, Yokohama, and Kami-Ooka before you get to Kanazawa-Bunko (take an express train). From Kanazawa-Bunko station, you have to take bus No. 1 for about 12 minutes and get off at Natsu-yama-sakaue stop. This is a great park. It has a playground built into the side of a hill and boasts the longest slide in Yokohama. To get back up the hill to go down the slide again there are all manner of climbing frames. Kids get plenty of exercise doing that alone. But the park also has botanical gardens, a nature reserve (with a nature walk, about an hour), and a zoo. Angela Bartlett

Sankei-En, Yokohama

 It's not exactly a playground kind of park , but it is definitely worth seeing, for kids too. Kids will enjoy touring the old farmhouse (made without any nails), and the other interesting old buildings too. There's a pagoda there that is about 700 years old. And there are lots of nice spots for picnics. There is a bus that leaves from Yokohama, that you could also catch in Sakuragicho or Chinatown. Angela Bartlett

Nihon Minka-en

In Kawasaki, but actually not that far from Shinjuku on the Odakyu Line (take an express train, the stop is Mukogaoka-yuen, it's a 12 minute walk from there). Described as an "open air folk house museum," it's a collection of historic buildings rescued from all over Japan & rebuilt here. It takes at least 2 hours to walk through it because you can actually go inside most of the buildings. It's located in Ikuta Ryokuchi, which itself also has a number of hiking trails. Angela Bartlett

Zoorasia

Admission: Adults 600, 6-15years old 200, high schoolers 300. Closed on Tuesdays. It is not like Ueno zoo. There is no cage for animals. They live like natural environment. Adress: Yokohama-shi Asahiku. Tel 045-959-1040 Renko Yamazaki

Arakawa Amusement Park

A short walk from Arakawa Yuenchi Mae station on the Arakawa Streetcar line**. The ferris wheel is your landmark. The amusement park was renovated in 1990. It includes a small zoo; you can feed the hamsters and rabbits (bring your own carrots) and ride a pony for a few paces if you are between 4 and 10 years old. The rides are all 100 yen for children, 200 for adults. Entrance to the park is free for children under 12. Food and drinks are sold on the premises, curry rice, fried rice balls, yaki-soba, etc. There is also space to eat if you bring your own. Open 9:00 to 5:00. Closed Mondays. Phone: (03) 3893-6003

**Access the streetcar from Higashi Ikebukuro station (Yurakucho subway line), Otsuka station (Yamanote line), Oji station (JR Keihin-Tohoku line and Namboku subway line), Machiya station (Keisei line and Chiyoda subway line, and Minowa station (Hibiya subway line). This is a fun new way to see the city, so enjoy the ride!

 

Asukayama Park and Three Museums

A five minute walk from Oji Station (Keihin Tohoku Line) South Exit or either Asukayama or Oji Ekimae stations (Arakawa Line) is Asukayama park, phone: 03-3910-8882. The park's main attraction for kids is a circular climbing aparatus and slides. Also check out the lifesize elephant slide. And if you like trains, well this park gives you a great view of trains coming and going through Oji Station. Wait around and you'll see a Shinkansen pass by. There is a reasonable restaurant serving Japanese foods and snacks inside the park. Inside the park are three museums, all in new buildings: the Paper museum, the Kita City Asukayama Folk Museum, and the Shibusawa Historical Records Museum, see below.

The Paper Museum (for location see above) offers a history of paper making. Although all the exhibitions are in Japanese informative English guides are available. On Sundays a fun activity at the museum is making your own postcard from pulp. If you are looking for new gift ideas a small museum shop near the entrance sells paper toys and crafts. An interesting historical note is that it was here at the foot of Asukayama Park that foreign-style paper was first manufactured in Japan in 1873. Hours: 10:00 to 5:00. Cost: 300 for adults and 150 for ages 6 to 18**. Closed on Mondays (If a national holiday falls on Monday the museum will be closed on Tuesday, not Monday) and from December 28 to January 4. Telephone: (03) 3916-2320

The Kita City Asukayama Folk Museum (for location see above) is in a beautifully designed building and presents Kita City's natural environment before it was all covered with concrete. The museum also contains a number of reconstructed houses that presents earlier stages of life in this area. There is a pit-type housing from the Yayoi period (a really long time ago) and includes a humorous short film recreating how people fought off squatters, and storehouses from the Heian period (a long time ago), and pre-World War II periods. Beef stew, beef curry, and other dishes are available on the third floor restaurant. A study room and library is also on the third floor although there aren't any books in English. Hours: 9:30 to 5:00. Cost: 300 for adults, 100 for elementary, junior high, and high school students**. Closed on Mondays (If a national holiday falls on Monday the museum will be closed on Tuesday, not Monday) and from December 28 to January 4. Telephone: (03) 3916-1133

The Shibusawa Historical Records Museum (for location see above) is a memorial to Shibusawa Eichi (1840-1931), an entrepreneur and business leader of the Meiji era. Besides becoming president of Dai-Ichi bank, Japan's first modern bank, he founded numerous other companies. He was also a philanthropist, founding schools, providing homes for the aged, and working on other social welfare programs. His stained-glassed library, guesthouse, and garden are next door to the museum. Hours: 10:00 to 5:00 Cost: 150 for elementary, junior high, and high school students**. Telephone: (03) 3910-0005

**There are special tickets for 720 for adults and 320 for students that allow you visit all three museums.

 

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