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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SPOCHA the Indoor multisports complex at Tokyo

SPOCHA The all you can play place in Tokyo

SPOCHA The all you can play place in Tokyo

Millennials will love it here. Half real sports half video games, it offers enough excitement to spend a few hours. There is target shooting, kick boxing for the single players, air hockey table tennis badminton for the twos, bowling, basketball, volley ball, golf, billiards, frisbee for the larger groups. Games are time-limited usually 10 minutes. After one team finishes the next team waiting outside gets in after resetting the timer. This way you can move from one sports to another taking a taste of a variety without really spending all your energy in one. Floor to ceiling nets separate the courts and the audience. There are even auto- throw machines to improve your skills playing alone be it table tennis or baseball or golf

SPOCHA- One player game Two Player games

SPOCHA- One player game Two Player games

It’s all aimed at keeping folks engaged. Especially on a rainy day this entirely indoor sports complex is a boon. And for a party young at heart what better than book the facility for few hours and enjoy a team building timeout ! It need not be sports as in physical activities only. There are sets of video arcade games to join in the fight against space aliens or, just race against F1 drivers.

For the ones looking for more exotic fare why not try the bull ride! Or the new sensation of a Segway self balancing hover board! All you need is the interest rest all are there. You can rent skating shoes, you can change into freely available sports shoes, you can even get fresh towels and stuff from vending machines installed inside.

In case after all the activities you feel tired, or you just need that session of soulful singing to really let the blues away, there are a series of well appointed Karaoke rooms.

Kids are welcome. Not only welcome but have their own facilities. For the toddlers there is a complete dedicated floor with play areas having ball play, tunnel crossing and what have you. For the little older tykes there is bowling, not to mention arcade games. What more there is even a space with optical projections – one can dance and jump and move the shadows to score a game !

SPOCHA_for children too

SPOCHA_for children too

While the kids enjoy what do their moms do? Worry not that’s also well thought of. How about letting oneself Into a massage chair, with a story book in hand? Next to the toddler play area there are rows of massage chairs, with rack full of books for reading. Sometimes one deserves a break like that isn’t it?

All this for a flat 2000 thousand yen or there about for 90 minutes, with discounts for school students and a little extra for next 90 minutes.

Interested? Look up the following link. It’s part of the franchise called Round1. They have branches all around, with author having visited the Odaiba one. Being in Odaiba a visit to the site can be combined with shopping at the fabulous shopping centers right there.   Need any more convincing?

http://www.round1.co.jp/shop/tenpo/tokyo-divercity.html

A point to note though – not being fluent in Japanese may disqualify you from some of the activities such as riding the Segway, apparently on safety ground, as it happened to us. Otherwise feel free to explore and enjoy to the max! Sports buffet -> Spotcha.

SPOCHA_a choice of various sports

SPOCHA_a choice of various sports


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KodomoNokuni

Kodomo no kuni Tokyo Childrens Park

Kodomo no kuni Tokyo Childrens Park

Kodomo no Kuni in Japanese means Childrens Park. It’s really for Kodomos. And their parents who are keen to guard their children all the way to every ride! Yes it’s also for those still young at heart. For the child in you, you are allowed to go to the slide, ride the pony, take the small funny shaped cycle or ride a mechanical panda that merrily crawls about ding dong ding.

The view after entry

The view after entry

On the way to water park

On the way to water park

It’s a huge expanse of ex-military land, with hillocks, grassland, and lake separating themed play zones.

Right past the ticket gates, you enter into a wide open area. On the right a path goes through tall rows of pines/fir/spruce. On left there is a green hillock with children’s play area themed after zoo animals. Like an elephant slide, a giraffe zip line and so on and so forth. Around this area, there are a few old European style clubhouse buildings. Built after English Teutonic style. an indoor stadium is mostly used by local schools/clubs for teaching sports. A velvet layer of grass spans the area all around, from the children’s zone past the clubhouses towards the middle. Ideal for a game of basket ball or badminton. Families usually pitch tents at one end where the grass meets a posse of Sakura trees and tall spruces.

The way through pines and spruces

The way through pines and spruces

Cycling Path

Cycling Path

Childrens monster ride

Childrens monster ride

In between these two roads leading left and right, there is a football field size depression big enough to have two matches run side by side. Under military regime this could possibly have some scary use, but right now it is fashioned after children’s play area full of green grass separated by flower beds. “Nothing interesting” as per the eight year old boy in our team – “it’s just nice nothing to do”. But our ten year old girl found plenty of variety of poppies and butterflies. As the poet said beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Ofcourse we did not get much time to stand and behold. We were soon following the younger one onto the right hand side road that showed “rent a bicycle” signs. This road goes under a tunnel. Opens into the cycle themed play zone. The tunnel is good for testing how echo works! Lots of learnings for the curious mind!

Paddle powered flight

Paddle powered flight

Cycle Rink

Cycle Rink

This cycle themed play area is unique in the sense there is a cycle rental, and there are a host of rides all moving on paddle power. There is an elevated railroad with helicopter shaped pods all driven by paddling. So two helicopters can start a race! How much more nice things could possibly be? Then there is a little roller coaster that is moved by the combined might of the riders. So you know this is a team event. Awesome. Next in the same complex there is a bike rink. Bikes with all sorts of funny mechanisms can be tried. Say some move with a zig zag movement . Some are having off center wheel shaft. So it moves with an elliptical movement of the wheel. Rider goes up down up down. Then there are those with a sitting area in front. It rotates slowly as the one paddles behind. Nice ride for a really little one in the front. Important is that one can finish a ride and change into another one. So there is a lot to experience! Within a time limit though. Caution – some among siblings may have better rides than the other. Fighting may ensue.

Mild Land ranch

Mild Land ranch

The rent a bike scheme is also different from many others. It’s not rented out for a half day or full day but for only one leg of the full cycle path around the park. So there is never a possibility of not getting a chance to experience it as the previous batch of riders come back and hand over. The path is quite long, takes at least fifteen minutes if continuously pushed. In between there are places though where one might like to stop and take photos. The cycle path goes at upper heights of the hillocks. Themed zones in between can be glanced from above. It’s a nice view.

After returning your cycle you can start walk towards the next zone. Tall pines and cherry blossoms will give company. Next zone is the Milk zone. Animals can be petted in green ranch like area. There is a pony riding area. And there are fabulous fresh ice creams to have sitting on garden chairs.

Pony Riding

Pony Riding

Turn towards a tulip / seasonal flower bed. The road goes in between two hillocks on the two sides. And opens into water themed zone. A spring turns into a narrow shallow river with little stone slabs strewn around to help cross over. Suitable for all kids who have successfully graduated over from crawling state. And their parents. The “river” widens downstream with more water to play with. To the right of this area steps go up into a larger area with a lake in the center.

Towards water theme zone

Towards water theme zone

Boats of swan and other varieties float around. For the more traditional folks rowing boats are also available. Red elevated bridges connect to a central island. Good for taking a look around from the elevated top. There is also a punting zone, less popular though. And a swan lake, with a few swans idly floating or may be just busy applying the latest feather whitener. Very laid back.

Swan lake boating

Swan lake boating

Moving ahead you reach the true water park area which comes into life in summer. But for those two months its closed. One may appreciate the trimmed hedges outside and move on.

Now again the green central depression with grass and flower beds come back into view.  But before your kids yell “that’s all?” – remember to head right into the gravity play zone. Well that’s a name I used in need, you can choose another. But what it has will interest the young ones. There is this conical well with four slides heading down to the center. One can slide down, then run back up following an elliptical path. Collisions may happen so care necessary. But at least in our case this one well kept our younger one busy for some time. For some time only though. So next we headed back up the stairs that let one to the highest curved roller-bed slide. It appears to fall from great height with dangerous curves but actually pretty safe with adequate speed breakers. In fact it is age appropriate for anyone aged 1 – 80. At least that’s the impression I got when a baby was crawling up the stairs past us and his grandma was hauling him down back into position in queue behind us, with Suimasens and Gomen nasais. Yes I was in queue, the baby was in queue, and so was his grandma mama papa brother sister. That’s the spirit of families isn’t it?

Tall winding slide for family

Tall winding slide for family

The path off the slide headed back into the green grass land, past the club houses, towards the zoo themed rides. This one was truly for kids. Besides, yes I was tired.

The one last good thing was to get to hop back into the little two compartment train from the small station operated exclusively by Japan rail for Kodomo no Kuni! Oh yah if you are there like us during the cherry blossom season, you get plenty of blossoms covering the entire path from the station to the park and beyond. A treat on its own.

For more information regarding latest timings, ticket prices, events and directions please follow this link to park site http://www.kodomonokuni.org/english/

For more parks in and around Tokyo:

Kysumi Garden -well preserved traditional Japanese garden in Tokyo

Inokashira Park – A western style family park close to Shinjuku

1000 Sakura Park – where Spring blossoms by the river side

Yamashita Park – the bay side park in the near China Town and redeveloped shopping district in Yokohama

For more on Kids Outdoor Activity Parks in and around Tokyo:

Heiwa No Mori Koen – For Tarzans Only


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Tokyo Summerlamd

Summerland

 

Candies and Kids

A land full of chocolates and candies, little fountains, lazily flowing river, rainbow swings, hot baths, kids giggling and merrily splashing in water. No it’s not repeat NOT a Hans Andersen tale. Believe it or not there is one such place an hour and a half from center of Tokyo. It’s Summerland.

Nestled in the lap of the mountain ranges bordering western Tokyo, Summerland is the quintessential fairyland in Summer. As winter gives way to the brief rainy season, the buzz of the cicadas rising up from the marshes invite in summer. Awaken from its long slumber the Sun god arrives pretty soon.  Summer means holidays in school, summer means splashing in the pools. And that means – no point for guessing – summerland.

Oh Summer to Ahh Summer

From Shinjuku JR rapid towards Mt Takao reaches Hachioji in about half an hour. From outside the station a bus leaves for Summerland every 10 minutes. Another thirty minutes journey. Last stop Summerland. You get the feeling of leaving the mega city and heading into the hinterlands as the road winds higher up into hills. Advertisements for onsens, dark green woods, winding hill roads transposes you into a holiday land even before you reach.

As the bus turns into the parking lot, the outlines of the big rides come into view. The tube rides look like joint octopus sitting with its tentacles spread. You get a choice of two types of tickets summerland watermark only or summerland plus it’s adjacent amusement park rides. For a day tripper like us the “Only” option was more than enough. For the true blue battle hardened  amusement park aficionados, one would advise booking a room in the hotel within the complex. That way you can space out the experience into one night and two days.

Rides at a glance

Rides at a glance

Let see whats really in there.  Past the ticket gates and the well stocked / well displayed / well highish priced beach merchandise, you step into Hawaii! An indoor one! Yes the very first experience  zone in Summerland is Hawaii themed and is all indoor under a glass canopy. There are coconut trees, thatched roof huts, beach beds. There is wave pool that wakes up at specified times. There is a high ride starting from the Hawaiian mountain top and splashing down below at a side of the wave pool. While the adults enjoy by the beach side, youngsters have their own play area in the form of fruit garden. A water slide and water play area with ample opportunity to dunk in water.  Slides in the shapes of bananas and pineapples. Talking about bananas/pineapples, there are food shacks by the beach where you get the Hawaiian food, along with the more tame  takos and bentos. An onsen is also added for good measure.

If however summer swimming and indoors don’t go together well for you, head onto the outdoors.  A pool with its own rotating musical water spray lets you cool down and get into the groove. Play beach ball, float on inflatables. This is the first outdoor pool so take your time , feel the breeze. Once conditioned get up and get onto the first ride right next to the pool. By the way seen Ninja movies? Good. Practiced some moves on the sly? Very good. You will need the skills to successfully ride this ride. Named monkey ride, it is a series of rubber floats shaped like logs floating in the water. You need to balance and cross over to the other side of the pool jumping from one log to the other. There is also a net hanging overhead to help you hold on and keep balance. Well that is in case  you have enough balance to hold onto it in the first place  Trust me it’s a good one to test your fitness.

The kids are well taken care of here. In the next ride past the monkey float they get to scale up a little mountain.

lazy river and busy wave pool

lazy river and busy wave pool

Water falls from the mountain over a cave into turquoise blue lagoon below. Young Tarzans are to cross the lagoon ( couple of feet in length, half a feet in depth) and from under the waterfall  hitch onto a rope to get to the top. From the top a crag lets them slide down into the abyss below. Thankfully it’s all rubber, perfectly safe.

Next on the right, there is a river lovingly called the lazy river. A bridge crosses this river to an island. On the island there are all sort of toys for kids to enjoy, like water sprinklers to target and shoot at enemies, and a few more similar themes. There is also  a smaller version of monkey float, suitable for the younger ones.

Up the lazy river

The lazy river is probably the main attraction in Summerland. It weaves into two double eight patterns joined in the middle, with a couple of islands in between. Warm water flows by pushing the river creatures along with it. And what a good time the creatures do have, floating on their inflatable boats/ Dolphins/ you name it as the water flows on. But its not altogether tame as one might think though. There are some thrill zones during this ride as well. There are the gushing waterfalls, the narrow canyons, and must mention the islands that host singing sirens! A la Odyssey style. Perfectly safe leisurely leisurely way to spend some time amongst the mountains under the blue sky.

By the side of the lazy river there is the octopus like water chute ride. Two riders can ride down via two parallel chutes, which curve differently in space but land into the same pool side by side. You can choose to start at the same time as your buddy and see who comes down first. There is another tube ride that is a little further, shorter, but allows two persons ride one boat together and swoosh down into a splash below.

Sounds kinda fun? Well there’s more. A ride takes you high up and then let’s you slide down in a way that you find yourself thrown open out of the tube at one point. You simply find yourself move up a side wall under the high velocity after coming down and falling out of the chute. Then Mother Earth takes care to see that you are soon pulled back down from your perch atop the wall and get to slide further down. Of course the fall is all calculated, as you would expect. But for a moment you might think we’ll is it how it was supposed to be ? You get the idea right? Then head for the next level up on adrenaline scale. Named decasla it’s the latest addition to the park and costs extra. Riders get into a boat, go up, then come down. So far so good but the fun is when the boat lands at an angle inside a conical funnel. It moves in a zigzag fashion through the funnel. Well it’s difficult to explain really. Let say you just go ahead and experience it  – what do you think…..

Got any more energy left, or time in hand? Ticket valid for the adjacent “dry” rides? Enjoy. But we did not. Junior most of our Couchflyer family – Osh – did not qualify for several rides that had 140 cm height restriction. Besides as is expected any leisure park in Japan gets very crowded on weekends leading to long waiting times. The toll on younger ones make them exhausted towards the end of the day. So we did skip a few, even though we spet no less than eight hours!

Conclusion

Honestly,  Summerland is one of several such water parks around Tokyo. But the combination of indoor plus outdoor options along with extra rides and in-premise hotel options make it the prime attraction for Tokyo residents in Summer. With fame comes rush though. So you might see pictures of a zillion people in a pool, with remarks liked- spot the water! Well it is a fine balance, like everything else in life. For us, we could spot the water, bathe, play, get drenched in it, and had a lot of fun along the way.


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Heiwa no mori koen Map

Heiwa No Mori Koen

Boot camp Tarzan

In our childhood Tarzan was the king of the jungles, swinging in at the right time to rescue a poor someone in trouble and then swinging back from one tree to the other back deep into the jungles. But to be like Tarzan one had to be in the African jungle, lost as a child, to be precise. The options were thus limited. But in today’s world kids have more options. So if some wannabe Tarzan is there in your house, why not he can hone his skills in Heiwa no mori koen….?

At a 30 minute journey away from Shinjuku, this sizable park is different from its peers in its sheer focus on rope and log based fitness tricks. Perhaps seen more usually in Ninja classics, these contraptions in the form of a rope ladder going up and down and/or around a set of stilts call for considerable physical agility and fitness. And there lies the charm of this place for the young ones.

The actual park is segregated into two sections, one with a water park for kids, a few slides and carousel type standard park sets. There is also a wide grass field for playing soccer etc. The other is the ninja area, separated by a road from its more benign sister.

A low entry ticket entitles you to a map cum logbook to mark which all rides that are completed. Arranged in a marked sequence of rides there are 40, yes f-o-r-t-y individual pieces of challenge. It starts with a relatively simple walk, balancing on a few logs held at an elevated height. It is then followed by one where you jump up and hang onto a series of rings trying to cross over. Next, you ride up the side of a well and jump onto the center rope wriggling down to the floor.

Heiwa no mori koen - beginning

Heiwa no mori koen – beginning

Ninjas beware

Now the rides more and more approach into Ninja territory. After the previous few warm ups, the ninja is next challenged to try out his balance skills. The rides here switch to a set of logs floating on watery channel. Participants have to jump from one log to another to cross the channel while making sure not to fall into the water.

Ninja water balance

Ninja water balance

But it’s not left just at that. To complete the fun, at some points one has to jump into a rope and swing ones way across the channel. At another point row across standing on a flat wooden plank pushing an oar.

The route takes one up a climbing wall, into a tree house type platform, and through a curved pipe onto a swinging rope bridge. A few rides take the rope walking to its extreme, carving out challenges that make the little ninjas ever more determined to do it.

Scale up higher

Scale up higher

At each point there is a pencil with which the successful rider marks on his map his conquest. The entire 40 rides can comfortably cover a good two hours, or three. At the end there is a bathing and changing room to allow the participants change into a cleaner pair of dresses as one is highly likely to have a muddy wet pair on. If this is not fun then what else, eh?

For more on Kids Outdoor Activity Parks in and around Tokyo:

Kodomo No Kuni – A vast childrens park around Yokohama


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