Azurite: Where Kids Can Play While Parents Work
Azurite is an "oyako" cafe (a cafe targeting parents and children, with a built-in playspace) tucked away about three minutes from Ikebukuro station. The owner, Nana Murakami, herself a mother, opened the cafe in June 2014 with the aim of creating a space where parents can relax or even get some work done while their kids play.
Murakami also owns a nail and photofacial salon with the same name, Azurite, about three minutes away. The salon also has a free kids play area with staff supervision that allows moms to relax while being pampered.
Unlike many other oyako cafes, Azurite is open daily, aside from the New Year and Obon holidays. According to Akane Taguchi, who was staffing the cafe the Sunday afternoon I visited, weekend lunchtime is the busiest and usually requires reservations. Coffee time, from 3:30 p.m. onwards, is usually emptier and the cafe fee is also lower.
The play area is partitioned off by a low, transparent wall which allows parents to have some breathing space away from their kids while still keeping a watchful eye on their children. A staff member is also present in the play area during busy times so that the play is somewhat safer than unsupervised play.
The cafe is geared toward toddlers and preschool-aged children. While my four-year-old excitedly checked out the different toys and facilities, my first grader resorted to keeping herself entertained caring for the younger children and trying to figure out toddler toys. Parents of older children who need more stimulation and age-relevant toys may need to cut their visit short.
The cafe, which can seat about 20 parent-child groups, has two tables with chairs and the rest of the seating is on the floor at low tables (shoes are removed at the entrance). A low counter fitted on the other side of the wall with electric outlets and internet cables allows for working parents to get some work done. My iPhone battery was running dangerously low, but the cafe staff generously lent me a charger.
In addition to a breastfeeding room, there is a small room off to the side equipped with a TV and sofa as well as low tables that can be reserved for parties of four or more.
The cafe’s schedule is divided into three different time slots: two lunch periods (10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 12:45 to 3:15 p.m.) and a coffee time (from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.). During the lunch periods, adults are ¥2,000 and kids are ¥600 each. This fee includes lunch, as well as access to the drink buffet and kids’ play area. Visitors will be charged ¥200 for each 15 minutes they stay after the appointed period. During the coffee time, adults ¥1,500 and kids are ¥500.
The cafe also hosts different workshops each month. In February there are workshops ranging from cookie icing to wet tissue box decoration and porcelain art. Every third Friday of the month from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. there is a monthly birthday celebration, and children whose birthdays fall within that month receive free cake.
Address: Nishi Ikebukuro 3-33-10, Toshima-ku, Tokyo
Open: Sun–Fri 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Sat 10 a.m.–9 p.m.
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