Azabu Plaza: A New Free Play Space in Minato-ku
Two months ago Minato-ku opened it’s doors to a newly built childcare facility, free to the public and open 7 days a week. The three story interiors are fresh with a Scandinavian design element and house everything you could need to keep your kids happy on a rainy day, or any day! You do not need to be a resident of Minato-ku to enjoy this free facility so go ahead and plan your next mommy meet up here!
This is a massive public building that feels very modern and fresh, so kudos to the government for funding this fantastic family center. Their goal is to “work in the best interest of kids under the basic philosophy that they are our hope for the future” and I really think the staff carry this vision. Let me walk you through what they have to offer.
On the first floor there is a welcoming child friendly café with simple menu items like coffee, juice, toast with egg, or curry and rice. Everything is under ¥400.
The second floor is dedicated to kids and this is where registration takes place. You’ll find plenty of space to spread out in areas full of natural light with lots of tables and chairs to accommodate all. This is a nice area for lunch if you bring your own bento. Down the hall is a quiet study room for teens, and two play rooms for bigger kids with lots of open floor space, activity toys, ball pit, and even a rope swing.
The baby playroom has a cozy tatami mat area, plenty of soft toys and a nice selection of books. The rooms are all staffed and keen to help you, if you need to step away for a minute.
On the other side of the registration area is a full size gym that requires daily sign-up in 20-minute slots, so no open-gym in that sense. It’s kitted out with loads of indoor equipment from basketballs to hula-hoops, even trikes.
Further down the hallway you’ll find an arts and crafts room that has free daily crafts going on that kids can drop-into at any time; staff are on hand to help guide them. They like to incorporate nature into their crafts, which I thought was a nice touch.
There is also a music room (complete with entire band set-up!) and dance room with mirrors that can be reserved by school age children.
I should also mention that the registration area also houses an adorable “toy hospital” where kids can bring in their broken toys and staff will work their magic to try and fix them, even order spare parts for you if needed (at your cost).
The third floor has various rooms, including a kitchen, which can be rented out at affordable prices in 3-hour time slots. No food is allowed in the rooms except the kitchen, but you can eat in the common areas. During the day there are senior citizen focused activities happening here. If that wasn’t enough head to the rooftop for scheduled in-line skating lessons, skates and protective gear provided!
The only downfall here, is that foreigners not proficient in Japanese will have difficulties to learn about extra activities happening and how to sign up for things. The staff have different levels of English capabilities and all information on their webpage and all printed material advertising classes and programs are only in Japanese. There are various mommy and baby classes for singing, music or yoga but these are all run in Japanese. The staff said they have a few foreigners that still attend and others in the class help to translate so it shouldn’t stop you from joining! Overall, they are quite helpful here and really want you to enjoy your time in the facility.
Keep in mind if you do decide to join a class, you have to do the registration in person on the designated day and they are filled on a first come first served basis.
Address: 4-6-7 Minami Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0047
Hours: Daily 9:30-20:00, closed all national holidays and Dec 29-Jan 3