Six Kid-Friendly Places to Escape the Elements
Whether it's the sweltering humidity of the Japanese summer, the dark, cold days of winter, or the downpours of the rainy season, there are times when Tokyo weather can make being outside unbearable, particularly when there are kids involved. Here is Savvy's list of some indoor places and activities to check out when the outdoor conditions are too much to bear.
Have we missed any? Tell us your best-kept indoor secrets in the comments, and for some great outdoor places to visit when the weather is nice, click here for the scoop on three of our fave Tokyo parks.
With massive ball pits, jumping castles, beautiful dress-up clothes, role playing activities, books, construction toys, slides and swings, the Kid-O-Kid play centers, created by Japanese toy company Bornelund, are every child’s playroom dreams come true. The best part is, in the name of helping their child, accompanying adults can get into the fun as well.
And for any moms wondering, the rooms and toys are thoroughly disinfected on a daily basis, and all guests are asked to use countertop sanitizers upon entry and exit.
There are six Kid-O-Kid centers spread out over the Tokyo prefecture, so check the website for details on the one nearest you (if you can’t read Japanese, Google Translate will help to decipher the addresses).
Admission: ¥300 flat fee for adults; ¥600 for the first 30 minutes, and then ¥100 per 10 minute block after that for kids (if you and your family plan on becoming regular visitors, passes and point cards are available that will save you some yen)
Open: 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m.
Tokyo Toy Museum
Perhaps “museum” is the wrong name to give this unique recreational space, as in reality, the Tokyo Toy Museum presents an interactive gallery of playthings from Japan and the world over. In a very un-museum like move, children and parents can play and engage with the toys and exhibitions that are housed over three levels of this former elementary school. With changing events, workshops and displays, as well as the chance to make your own toy, the Tokyo Toy Museum is worth visiting multiple times (with very reasonable six-month passes available). Breast feeding and diaper changing rooms are available, so families with children of all ages are welcome.
Address: Yotsuya Square, 4-20 Yotsuya, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Getting there: 7-minute walk from Yotsuya 3-chome Station on the Marunouchi line, exit #2
Admission: ¥700 for adults, ¥500 for children aged 3-12 (kids under 3 are free), ¥1,000 for a pair of one child and one adult
Open: 10 a.m.-4 p.m., closed Thursday unless it’s a national holiday
An amusement park that offers family “edutainment,” Kidzania lets children experience working life. From cameraman to catwalk model, daycare worker to doctor, kids can choose from over 90 different occupations to try. With two “work” shifts available, uniforms and some on-the-job training, kids earn KidZos that are saved in the Kidzania Bank, to later be spent in the gift shop or on other Kidzania activities. Parents can watch from viewing areas, or unwind in the parents’ room (it has free wi-fi—bonus!). As is often the way in Japan, advance ticket reservation is a must, with strict booking procedures in place, so this is definitely a day out that requires some advance planning.
Address: Urban Dock LaLaport Toyosu, North Port 3rd floor 33200, 2-4-9 Toyosu, Koto-ku, Tokyo
Getting there: 8-minute walk from Toyosu Station on the Yurakucho and Yurikamome lines
Reservations: 03-3536-8405 (Japanese instruction is followed by English)
Admission: ¥1,900 for adults (seniors 60+ are ¥1,000), prices for children vary between ¥2,900 to ¥4,900 depending on child’s age, shift/time and day of the week
*Children under 3 cannot participate in activities, although there is a playroom available.
Shift times: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and 4-9 p.m.
An indoor theme park operated over four levels and run by Sanrio, creators of Japan’s most famous cat, Hello Kitty, Puroland hosts various attractions including rides, restaurants, parades, musicals and shows. Themed using Sanrio characters such as the aforementioned feline, My Melody, Kiki and Lala, and Jewelpet, there is a very real danger of kawaii overload for those adults brave enough to escort their kids.
Address: 1-31 Ochiai, Tama-shi, Tokyo
Getting there: 5-minute walk from Tama Center Station on the Keio Line
Admission: ¥3,000 for adults, ¥2,700 for children aged 12-17, ¥2,000 for children aged 4-11 (kids under 4 are free)
Open: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekdays, and until 8 p.m. on weekends and holidays (double check the website for any closures)
Studio Ghibli Museum
As beautiful and whimsical as the movies and characters on which it is based, the Studio Ghibli Museum celebrates the works of this wondrous animation studio. With the museum’s childlike charm seeping out of it its décor, design and setting, visitors can be mistaken for thinking they have managed to step into an anime movie–which is precisely the point, with the museum’s website offering up a motto that loosely translates as, “Let’s lose our way together.” Whether you or your children are familiar with Ghibli works or not, the museum is a great way to get up, close and personal with Japanese anime, and be inspired.
Address: 1-1-83 Simorenjaku, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo
Getting there: 15-minute walk from Mitaka Station, south exit. There’s also a bus that runs from the station to the museum.
Tickets must be reserved in advance through Lawson convenience stores, by ringing the Lawson reservation number 0570-000-403, or online at www2.lawsonticket.com.
Admission: ¥1,000 for adults, ¥700 for children aged 13-18, ¥400 for children aged 7-12, ¥100 for children aged 4-6 (kids under 4 are free)
Open: 10 a.m.-6 p.m., closed every Tuesday, except on these Tuesdays in 2013: July 23, August 13, and December 24.
Your Local Library
It is definitely worth getting a membership card at your local library and investigating its daily activities. Most libraries have well-managed spaces for children, with a range of both Japanese and foreign books for all ages, as well as DVDs, CDs and toys. Many libraries also offer story time, as well as literacy and language learning activities for younger children, and book clubs. The best part is, just about everything on offer at your local library will be free!