Ai Port Station, Aoyama: A Kids’ Oasis
Tucked away in a side street off Aoyama-dori is a sweet and charming kids' haven, called Ai Port Station. A picture of Noah’s Ark marks the main entrance of the non-profit organization, warmly greeting the children and parents from outside. Upon entering the facility you will see loads of baby strollers and mommy bikes lining the front doorway, as this once small, neighborhood childcare and play center is rapidly gaining in popularity amongst the foreign community. Ai Port Station is a community space that welcomes moms and their young ones to use the facility for events and play dates throughout the week, and consists of three components: Hidamari, Aoba and the outdoor Kids' Garden.
Hidamari is a free space filled with wooden toys, books, a fully equipped play kitchen, and English speaking staff to consult when you have questions or concerns regarding your little one. During the week the room is filled with moms and their children, ranging from infants to preschoolers. It makes for a great opportunity to socialize your younger children, as well as to meet new mom friends. There are also a number of events held at the Hidamari space, including baby yoga, story time and music groups. Members of the Tokyo’s Mothers Group meet every Friday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. A big hit is the taco rice truck parked right outside—perfect for a quick lunch!
If you live in the Aoyama/Gaienmae area and would like to drop your child off at a nearby daycare service, Ai Port Station also includes the Aoba childcare center, open Monday through Saturday and holidays from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The Kids’ Garden is an outdoor, open play space that is also home to an organic garden. Members of Ai Port are welcome to feel and smell the garden, and those living in Minato-ku can also participate in four annual gardening activities a year.
Ai Port is a great place to spend a rainy afternoon or to organize a play date with other members. With toys suitable for all infant and toddler aged children, the variety of puzzles, blocks, and kitchen toys will keep your child active while spending time in an environment other than home.
Address: 2-25-1 Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Getting there: Two-minute walk from exit 1B of Gaienmae Station on the Ginza Subway Line
Membership: Any child over two months and under elementary school age is eligible for registration. The annual membership fee is only ¥500 for registered Minato Ward residents and ¥1,000 for all other members. You must register in person at Ai Port Station between 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Bring along your ID and cash for the fee. You will be issued a card the day you register, after which you will be free to use Ai Port Station as your little play retreat away from home.
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