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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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/