Galaxcity galaxy full of fun for kids day out in Tokyo

Galaxcity Is Galaxy Full of Fun For Kids Day Out In Tokyo

 Galaxcity Is Galaxy Full of Fun For Kids Day Out In Tokyo

Touch wood Tokyo weather is generally pleasant. But there are days when it’s cold and rainy. Now what do you do if it’s cold and rainy, and you have kids who so looked forward to a days outing on weekend. It’s tough. For such hard times GalaxCity comes to your rescue. It’s indoor but Indoor does not mean video games. No, nope. It’s full of activities, like scaling up a rock climbing wall, learning about planets and space, making creative use of paper and stuff. in short, as the name says, its a galaxy of fun for kids day out in Tokyo. And it’s all provided courtesy city municipality. Read on if you are interested.

Learning about space and asteroids

Learning about space and asteroids

The Planetarium

Rin and Paku, the two kids separated from their family. They were born in tough times. Like just when young Rin flopped out of her egg shell, she was attacked by a hungry Tyrannosaur! Thankfully mom reached just in time!. But mommy had to mind a cackle of kids. So Rin soon again found herself lost. winter setting in there was little that Rin could do. After all the place was Alaska, known to have particularly severe winter. Luckily she found Paku, a member from her brood. Together they braved some really tough winter. And a deadly encounter with another monstrous Tyrannosaur. Rin was picked up hanging by the jaws. Just in time Paku the braveheart came running and lunged at the tyrant. The blow threw the mean beast into cold icy water. Then spring came. Good times followed.

This was the story projected on a huge planetarium wall. Mixed with oodles of knowledge bits on evolution of earth and the solar system, how seasons change with earth’s orbit, and about evolution of life. Which kid do you think would not love it?

As for the kids parents, the low low prices were an added surprise. A full planetarium in the middle of the busy Adachi city. screening various shows on space, rockets, animals, adventure etc etc. for a coin! Yeah one felt Happy to have paid taxes, for once.

Net Athletics Zone

The Galaxcity Net Athletics Zone

The Galaxcity Net Athletics Zone – full of fun day for kids in Adachi Tokyo

But this planetarium was just an added bonus, Icing on the cake. If your kids love to play, jump, run, then you should first hit the central hall. It’s a three storied high world made of nets. Nets make the first floor, the second, the third. Connected through chutes, made of nets. Kids can jump a la trampoline style. Go up an incline and slide down. Or simply lie down like on a hammock and enjoy the vibrations courtesy others.

The Climbing Wall

The Climbing Wall

The Climbing Wall

If this is not enough, then go for the climbing wall. Three story high, with safety harness, helmets, belaying cable. instructors using laser pointers to guide the young mountaineers to the next best hold.

Digital Play

Or, if your kid is still too young for climbing, how about some learning through digital play? There’s a room with two screens for engaging the younger ones. On the first, letters fall from a tree, like leaves in fall. The kids have to catch the letters that make up particular word. The word is shown in the beginning. Hang on, it’s not just that. The word is not written as it is but a picture is shown. The kid has to get the word and then catch the falling letters in sequence. As is expected the letters fall all over the place, just like fall leaves on a breezy day. So kids need to move/jump/run a bit to catch.

Digital Play

Digital Play

The next screen projects a collection of colored shapes. The more active the kid standing in front, the more colors come up.

For The Creative Ones

Next out there, there are a couple of painting and craft making rooms. The creative ones will love the bright spacious rooms, with several tables in each. Parents and children are free to pick up the art objects or craft items. Instructors are there, too.

Art and Craft classes

Art and Craft classes

There is still one more – a baby’s play pen. Secure, colorful, soft matted, with plenty of space to crawl about.

Essential Bits

Now Do you agree all the above makes for a cool day out? If still wondering about stuff such as food, then worry not, that also is taken care of nicely. An attached restaurant right outside serves yummy dishes like curry rice, chicken rice, pasta, sandwiches in a well lit colorful setting. Of course vending machines are there at every floor, as you would surely expected.

One caveat – you need to reach early and buy tickets early otherwise space fills up soon. Secondly, socks is a must everywhere. And thirdly no skirts/frocks only trousers. Oh yes its not so touristy so Nihongo dake de onegai shimas (guides speak only Japanese) …

For booking and latest shows refer to the website

http://www.galaxcity.jp/

More Choices

The one thing about this Galaxcity is that it’s slightly off the main Tokyo city amusement / shopping areas. If you wanted to combine shopping then check Sony ExploraScience or Panasonic Risupia in Odaiba. Or full play and only play, then head to Children’s world in Shibuya. On the other hand if a day full of learning is the demand, then check out Science Museum. Did somebody just say what to do it’s raining on a weekend …?


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Tree climbing as a sports in Tokyo

Tokyo Climbing Up with Tree Climbing Hitting as the Latest Sports Craze arriving in Tokyo

Tokyo Climbing Up with Tree Climbing Hitting as the Latest Sports Craze

Tree climbing as a sports in Tokyo

Tree climbing as a sport arrives in Tokyo

Tree Climbing as a sport arrives in Tokyo

They are everywhere – clambering up, swaying from a branch, or just hanging. Waving at the viewers below. Boys and girls, young or err no so young. Everybody trying their hands, and legs, at tree climbing as this latest craze hits Tokyo.

Gone are the days when one would scan  the neighborhood trees for ripe fruits on the way to school. And launch assault on the way back. Cuts and bruises were part of the game. The odd broken limb was when things didn’t work to plan. That was it, simple pleasures of simple times.

But times changed. Sophistication has changed the approach if not the urge.  Apparently tree climbing  is still fun. Lots of fun. Provided you are part of a registered organization with necessary safety gear and licenses to operate. It’s a recognized sport.

Continue reading


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Kyosumi Garden Traditional Japanese Garden Tokyo

Kyosumi Garden One Traditional Japanese Garden In Tokyo

One of the best traditional Japanese styles garden in Tokyo is in this sleepy east part of Tokyo, Kyosumi Garden. Once it was a private garden, belonging to Mitsubishi group. In the Meiji era this was the property of Mitsubishi patriarch Kinokuniya San. From then till now – over last close to hundred and fifty years this area of Tokyo has undergone a sea change. But this one garden has been well preserved under care of Mitsubishi group. Being accessible only to company high ranking officials and their guests this garden maintained its originality, oblivious of all the rapid changes happening around.

It was built around a central pond, with wooden bridges, tea house, undulating small hills and valleys, forests full of Japanese pines, maples,  junipers, and bamboo groves. Stone steps led to the bridge below an artificial waterfall. Water worn old stones having specific religious bearings were shipped in from distant places around Japan and positioned carefully in the landscape. The ambiance is still there.

One best preserved Japanese garden in Tokyo

One best preserved Japanese garden in Tokyo

Now it’s maintained by local government. For a minimal entry fee charged. It’s a few minutes walk from Toei Oedo line or Hanzomon line Kyosumi Shirakawa station.

Being somewhat away from the city center and key tourist attractions, the surroundings still bear the distant old Japan look. No Mc burgers, save for Denny’s if you plan for a lunch nearby. Neither too many Izakayas – the Japanese restaurants.. Traditional residential area. Shops still actually sell fresh veg produce in wooden baskets!

The walking route

Once inside you might like to follow the Arrow pointing towards the walking route. If you don’t though, you won’t be lost since there’s not many paths to choose from anyway. Walk towards the central pond, keep walking around anti clockwise. Go Past the walkway made of stone slabs. Step Across the bridge. Make your way over the stones underneath which the goldfish and the turtles laze around. Take the walk up the small tree-covered slope. Take your time. The view from here encompasses the entire water body surrounded by the green hills with a central tea room. The entire panorama in one frame. There are benches for the ones wishing to take the view in.

Panoramic view point

Panoramic view point

The path goes further ahead passing around the tea room. It’s restricted access no peeking around please. The walkway divides. An adjacent garden comes into view. There is a wooden pavilion, and several wooden barbecue style tables. Good for taking a bento break. This area is sometimes used by those modern yoga healing classes.

The creek of Pines

The creek of Pines

Walk Back

From here visitors head back to the walking course that snakes behind the tea room and heads towards a narrow creek. Gold Fishes crowd around the creek. A few weather worn stones, with Japanese maples cedars and ferns growing around them create an image of a land far off. Pristine. Where waterfalls glisten in the morning sunshine, gurgling down the quiet valley. Curiously a stork some day found its way here, and since called this place home.

Time for a break

Time for a break

The pathway past this point again starts going up.  Turns left once the Stone lamp stand comes into view. A lane goes straight ahead, heading towards the lily beds. Another forks left towards a green island, past a small bridge.

The bridge towards the central island

The bridge towards the central island

A hazy winter morning

A hazy winter morning

The walk ends at a traditional ryokan style hall, glass  covered, with extended wooden patio. The grass lawn and the pebbled walkways merge back where the arrow said Start.

Autumn is said to be the best time to enjoy this park. It’s amongst one of the sites to enjoy Fall colors right in Tokyo. At other times also, it does not fail to impress. A break from the civilized world for a couple of hours. Priceless.

Official Tokyo Parks website http://teien.tokyo-park.or.jp/en/kiyosumi/


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Water Sports Wind Surfing Near Tokyo


Water Sports Wind Surfing near Tokyo

As I spent another summer lazing around, one realization struck me. That I am now in my forties. No longer awaiting the future. Reached it. Things would perhaps no longer take a surprise new direction.

Grew up dreaming to be a famous sportsman. With the usual paraphernalia of jazzy cars and glammodelz obviously following in. Then came the Internet age. The gap between me and the millions was just a startup away!

Sunset at Shonan Beach

Sunset at Shonan Beach

No more. No more competition. Phelps won a few more medals. Well .. So? Let him keep those, poor fellow. Mark Zuckerberg went ahead, packing his millions. Hmm that one also got away.

Mark II

Never mind. I made up my mind. Away from the daily drudgery of coding / bug fixing. I booked a day off for wind surfing! Yep. Would float on water. Fly on sail. Like a butterfly. Was already floating on cloud nine days before the D day. Critics / critiques called it midlife crisis. Huh!

Being in Japan has this incredible advantage. You can go for mountain climbing, or go for ocean sports, all within an hours distance. My surf boarding destination was Kamakura. Yuigahama beach. An hours JR line travel from Shinjuku, then 2 stations on Denen Toshi line.

Kamakura Shonan A.K.A Hawaii

Kamakura Shonan A.K.A Hawaii

Kamakura Shonan area, the beach side neighborhood, is a close cousin of Hawaii with surfing , water scootering and all such sports enthusiasts crowding the neon lit pubs or skating down the wide palm lined bouleavverds. Fresh sea food restaurants jostle for attention along with Pizzarias and Berger joints.

Yuigahama, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture 248-0014

Called up the surfing school the day before. Weather was expected to be fine. Procedure was simple. Pay Jpy 7560/-, tax inclusive. Change into wetsuit, follow the instructor to the beach across the road.

Fishing boats by the beach

Fishing boats by the beach

So far so good. Ocean waves were washing my feet. Wait, patience, I quietly admonished myself.

Problems started when it was time to rig the stuff. Base joint, sail up, boom, nose, fin – words were grazing past me as I kept trying to make sense of rest of the sound bites. Curse. My Japanese Business language proficiency was no good for marine sports.

Loop:

Class over we stepped into the water. The gentle touch of splashing waves rekindled my spirit. 1-2-3 get up, position yourself in the center, feel the wind, take a step back, pull the sail up from water, gently swerve into position and. Fall down flat belly up in the water. Repeat.

After some zillion tries I finally did it. Wind on my sails, gently floated. Up the bay. Until of course the instructor was desperately waving at me – nami, nami. Out of syllabus word- got to decode from gestures. Too late. The swelling wave, nami in Japanese, pulled me down in no time. Back to beginning of Loop!

Water scooters surf boarders crowd Shonan

Water scooters surf boarders crowd Shonan

Floating on water wind on my sails

Floating on water wind on my sails

Not too bad for a first time though. Especially given the fact that my IT career has foreclosed any options for exercise etc. it’s coffee not muscles that move me. So lack of balance, or being out of breath pretty quickly was not unexpected. Hell would Zuckerberg do any better? Well, he might, given his expertise in Asian language etc. atleast he could make sense when he was asked to pull the lever or lower the boom!

Whatever. I was happy. end of the day ticked one more achievement. And so was my

instructor – perhaps more for him given my lack of all skills one would have thought necessary!

If interested follow the below URL. Remember to use Chrome browser with autotranslate on though

http://www.kamakura-windsurfing.com/iphone/index.html

Beach walkway

Beach walkway

Statutory disclosure: I have no business association with this organization. My only transaction being payment of close to a day’s wage in exchange for a chance to nearly drown myself and then come back up to write this piece for you.

For more articles of similar sporty adventures look up these

Skiing on Mt.Fuji

Ice Skating in Tokyo


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CosmoWorld Cover Image

A day at Yokohama Chinatown Cosmoworld and Yamashita park

A day at Yokohama Chinatown Cosmo world and Yamashita park

Random shots China Town

Random shots China Town

During the early part of last century Japan was rapidly evolving into an industrial nation. Trade, import of raw material, export of engineered goods helped the port town of Yokohama grow into a major world city. the marine routes between Yokohama to Shanghai and Peking grew busy. This was the time some Chinese traders settled down near Yokohama port. A stone’s throw away from the harbor this settlement grew with establishment of school and temples. The wars affected life here badly, but finally as peace returned, the expat center came into its own. It was officially recognized as Chukagai or in English as Chinatown.

Glimpses China Town

Glimpses China Town

Currently about 3-4000 people call this area home. Chinese crafts, bags, decor items, lanterns and memorabilia are available in plenty as are Chinese restaurants. For that authentic taste of Peking duck or dim sum you can head to any of the number of restaurants offering buffet choice.

Ever busy China Town

Ever busy China Town

Chinese New Year is celebrated with grandeur. It’s a photographer’s delight with lantern decorations lion dance etc. And If interested you can also have your fortune read by experts in Chinese astrology.

The closest rail stations are – Motomachi Chukagai station on MinatoMirai line, Ishikawacho station on JR line, Yamashita pier by steamer from Yokohama station.

Cosmo World amusement park

The giant Ferris wheel of Cosmo world is hard to miss. It’s in an estate boasting major office and shopping complexes, right at the harbor of Yokohama. Well connected by both land and sea routes, it is a children’s world in the day. And a showpiece in the night, when the lights are switched on. You can’t go very wrong if you decide to spend a few hours with kids here.

The whole amusement park is divided into several zones. For kids, who would rather be busy with arcade games like beating the monkey or catching the fish. For growing ones, who may choose to get into a dolphin boat or say a penguin one and float around in a small indoor-type water canal. Folks willing to dare can go ride into a paddle powered coaster that runs around the park. Offers a beautiful view.

Cosmo world in a few shots

Cosmo world in a few shots

Paddle coaster ride at Cosmo World

Paddle coaster ride at Cosmo World

A range of rides at Cosmo World

A range of rides at Cosmo World

For the ones really grown up there are quite a few rides. Such as a rotating dish that also slides up and down on a half moon track. Or a carousel with a central stand that slowly stands up as the carousel picks up pace. Yeah there is enough to spend a few hours of quality time, supplemented by shopping in the Queens towers shopping complex next door.

Queens Tower Shopping mall Yokohama

Queens Tower Shopping mall Yokohama

As for ones planning to be there but rather enjoy the atmosphere, there is the adjacent old harbor turned into a city park. Some would find it similar to bay side developments in London. There is even a faux London bridge. And also an old sailing ship named Nippon Maru moored in concrete for ever. Not sure if similar to the original one it also carried tea from India!

Nippon Maru Park

Nippon Maru Park

The Cosmo world children’s park closes early. But you can choose to hop into the giant Ferris wheel that lights up in the evening and enjoy the bay view.

The best way to reach Cosmo world from Yokohama would be via MinatoMirai line. Get down right at the MinatoMirai station. Or if you are like us you can choose to come by steamer from Yokohama.

If you try to compare Cosmo World  with other children’s amusement park like Disney it will not be a fair comparison though. So expectations may need to be managed, if visiting with kids who have already been to Disney. For us this was the case. However once the kids got onto the rides all complaints were soon forgotten. As for us adults it was an alternative lighter on pocket leaving spare for some shopping next door!  Its a win win what do ya say?

Yamashita park Yokohama bay

It’s one long pasture of green, with wide walking paths cutting through hedges and flower beds. Wooden benches under olden-days style street lamps. A road on one side separating it from the sea. That’s all that is Yamashita park.

As the evening lights are switched on, the Cosmo world Ferris wheel in the distance and the yellow glow of the street lamps around create a dreamy ambience. Moist sea breeze sprays mist on people walking by the seaside. Evenings in summer see many town folks coming here spending a few hours.

The crowd wanes as night comes, because this harbor area is somewhat far from residential corners. It borders the business district, the office and shopping malls that have come up in place of the old warehouses. Only the Chinatown is one residential area close by, a block away. So it is not unusual for couples leaving Yamashita park heading to Chinatown for dinner. When rest of the neighborhood settles down for the night Chinatown restaurants still stay awake.

Yamashita Park Yokohama

Yamashita Park Yokohama

The one other resident of this area that perhaps stay awake is the old ship Hikawa Maru. Now Retired permanently, docked at a pier at one end of Yamashita park. It was the pride of Japan in its heydays as the ocean liner ferrying the rich and the famous across Pacific.

Marine Day celebrations at Yamashita Park

This daily routine takes a break though during the one day called Sparkling Twilight. It is the Yokohama annual summer festival day. Its a national holiday – Marine day. On this day Yamashita park fills in with crowd. A fair comes up on the grounds selling food and stuff. Live Art exhibitions are held. We saw how artists use chisel and hammer to carve a beautiful statue out of a solid block of ice.

As the day rolles into evening, lights come up on Hikawa Maru. Brilliantly lit Cosmo world Ferris wheel shines in the distance. Coast guard ships perform marine day parade, sailing in close to the harbor and blowing their horns as they pass by. At the preset time the horn on Hikawa Maru toots. Fireworks shoot up in a dazzling display. Night for this one day takes rest. At Yamashita Park.

Evening at Yamashita Park

Evening at Yamashita Park

For more on fireworks at Yamashita Park check out this

http://www.couchflyer.com/hikawa-maru-and-marine-day-celebrations-at-yokohama-harbor/


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