You know, for kids!
Expats with children have remarked how crappy Japanese playgrounds are. Perhaps they’ve seen one too many of the bare-bones playgrounds that inhabit certain neighborhoods, like the one in Shinmaruko 新丸子 shown above.
Too bad for them. I’ve seen some remarkably interesting playgrounds for children. This observation was recently validated by an article in The New Yorker, which celebrated the “free play” ethos of many of Japan’s parks. (See “What It Would Take to Set American Kids Free“, by Alexandra Lange, November 18, 2016)
The attached custom google map includes the location of several “adventure” parks that I’ve encountered on my journeys in and around Tokyo:
- Harunoogawa Playpark はるのおがわプレーパーク (Yoyogi)
- Tenno park 天王公園 (Arakawa)
- Children’s Dream Park 川崎市子ども夢パーク (aka Yume Park)
- Edogawa Park 江戸川公園
- Yokogawa River Park 大横川親水公園
- Suginami Children’s Traffic Park 杉並児童交通公園
- Roller slide in Ashigakubo
- Jitsuken River Water Park 横十間川親水公園
- Tamagawa fishing pool, Tamagawadai Park 多摩川台公園
- Nishi Rokugo Tire Park 西六郷公園 タイヤ公園
- Kinutama play Village きぬたまあそび村
- Kodomo-no-kuni こどもの国 (Children’s Country).
- Heiwa no mori koen 平和の森公園（へいわのもりこうえん）
- Komazawa Harappa 駒沢はらっぱプレーパーク
- Hanegi Play Park 羽根木プレーパーク
- Setagaya Play Park 世田谷プレーパーク
- Karasuyama Play Park 烏山プレーパーク
- Kodomo-no-hiroba Park こどものひろば公園
1. Harunoogawa Playpark はるのおがわプレーパーク (Yoyogi)
Just steps from the western border of Yoyogi park, I was impressed by how dirty and chaotic this park looks – which is exactly what a kid wants. The park’s location, just northeast of Yoyogihachiman Station 代々木八幡駅, makes it well worth a visit for a kid who wants to get his hand dirty. The linked website has good pictures.
Address: 東京都渋谷区代々木5-68-1 / 5-16-1 Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; (Google maps)
2. Tenno park 天王公園 (Arakawa, Tokyo)
To those living in the expat bubble, Tenno Park (Tenno koen) may as well be in Siberia, with its location in Arakawa-ku 荒川区. The closest station is Minamisenju 南千住駅, located in the old Sanya 山谷 district, which has been considered “gritty”, a “ghetto”, or a “slum”, a distinction practically unheard of in Tokyo. According to Japan Today,
“Sanya is not on maps, nor on tourist guides. Asking for directions doesn’t help much. Try asking if you are already in Sanya; you will get no for an answer. Most locals claim that it’s a little further away from where they live or do business. In the hotel industry, the “north of Asakusa” response is strongly preferred. Minami-Senju on the Hibiya subway line is the closest station.” (source; see also Yoshiwara)
Despite this inauspicious introduction, don’t worry, Tenno Park is not in a slum. It’s nestled between a small factory to the west, the Arakawa river to the north, and to the east the busy road leading across the Arakawa towards Kitasenju 北千住. In the warm weather months Tenno Park has an impressive wading pool and waterfall. For the rest of the year kids can keep themselves amused with the long roller slide ローラー滑り台. See the linked page for more information.
Consider combining a visit to Tenno Park with a trip to the Arakawa Amusement Park あらかわ遊園 (map) and a journey on the old-fashioned Arakawa-sen 都電荒川線, one of the two remaining streetcar lines in Tokyo.
Address: Tōkyō-to, Arakawa-ku, Minamisenju, ６丁目６９−７ (Google maps)
3. Children’s Dream Park 川崎市子ども夢パーク (aka Yume Park)
On my way to visit Brimmer Brewing in Kanagawa i peered out the window of the Nambu 南武線 line train to see mounds of dirt and puddles of mud. A BMX racecourse? No, but just as fun for a kid. Based on the following picture from the park’s website, this park looks like the perfect place for kids who like to get their hands dirty.
- Address: ５丁目-３０−１ Shimosakunobe, Kawasaki Takatsu Ward, Kanagawa Prefecture 213-0033 (Google maps)
- 〒213-0033 神奈川県川崎市高津区下作延 5丁目 30番地 1号
- Phone: 044-811-2001
- Closest station: Tsudayama Station 津田山駅
4. Edogawa Park 江戸川公園
For a society with a reputation for safety I am often impressed by how dangerous children’s parks in Tokyo can appear. Take, for example, Edogawa Park, with its precipitous retaining wall which, while perhaps not designed for climbing, was covered with children when I visited the park in April.
For children with slightly less vertiginous tastes, the park also has an impressive slide, and is accessed via a very pleasant path along the Edogawa river. This stretch of river is especially impressive during hanami 花見, cherry blossom season. The following blog has some great pics (link).
Edogawa park slides and walking path, a few weeks too late for cherry blossom season…
Nearest station: Edogawabashi Station 江戸川橋駅 (Yurakucho Line); (Google maps)
5. Yokogawa River Park 大横川親水公園
Of the 16.66 million people who visited the Tokyo Sky Tree complex in its first 100 days, I’m assuming some of them dragged along their kids, and I’m willing to bet that some of those kids had more fun at the nearby Yokogawa River Park, with its fake sailing ship and long roller-slide. This park is a quick and easy side-trip.
- Nearest station: Honjo-azumabashi Station 本所吾妻橋駅 (Asakusa Line 都営地下鉄浅草線)
- Park location: (Google maps)
6. Suginami Children’s Traffic Park 杉並児童交通公園（すぎなみじどうこうつうこうえん）
According to Wikiipedia, the idea of a “children’s traffic park” is common among nations around the world. Regardless, my first exposure to the concept was in Tokyo, so I’ll give the Japan credit. The concept is simple, as explained on the wikipedia page:
“a park in which children can learn the rules of the road…Children of a minimum age are allowed to use bicycles or pedal-powered cars to navigate the streets and operate according to traffic laws…Typically, traffic parks are scaled-down versions of real street networks, with the lane and street-width proportional to the smaller vehicles. Often they include operating traffic signals and during busy times are even staffed with traffic police.”
All of the above are true of the Suginami Children’s Traffic Park, located along the tranquil banks of the Zenpukujigawa river 善福寺川. See the linked page for more information.
- Nearest stations: Minamiasagaya 南阿佐ケ谷駅 (Maranouchi line), or Hamadayama 浜田山駅 (Kichijoji line 吉祥寺行)
- Location: (Google maps)
- See also: How to go to Zenpukujigawa river by train?
7. Roller slide in Ashigakubo
Taking a hike in the woods I came across this awesome slide, the Yokoze rural town park, a rubber roller slide (農村公園 横瀬町, ゴムローラー滑り台やワイヤースライダー). See related post
8. Jitsuken River Water Park 横十間川親水公園 / ヨコジュッケンガワシンスイコウエン
A neat water-based adventure park in the middle of Koto-ku’s canals:
- Nearest Address: Tōkyō-to, Kōtō-ku, Kitasuna, １丁目２ / 東京都、江東区北砂1丁目2 (Google Maps)
- Park information (Japanese)
- Other Koto-ku parks
9. Tamagawa fishing pool, Tamagawadai Park 多摩川台公園
Tamagawadai Park 多摩川台公園 is stretched along a bluff overlooking the Tamagawa river. It is home to the Horaisan Kofun, an ancient burial ground. At the southern end, near Tamagawa Station 多摩川駅, is a wet, sunken area of ground, surrounded by sloping stone walls. A well-maintained boardwalk covers shallow pools of water. On the day I visited, many children were fishing in the water with small nets. See Google Map.
10. Nishi Rokugo Tire Park 西六郷公園 タイヤ公園 / Zoshiki Taiya Koen
This park is near Kamata Station and Zoshiki Station. (Google maps). The park’s Godzilla, made from tires, is visible from the passing Keihin Tohoku-line trains.
- Blog 1: Nishi Rokugo Park
- Blog 2: Tire park
- Book: Japan for Kids: The Ultimate Guide for Parents and Their Children
11. Kinutama play Village きぬたまあそび村 (map)
In Futakotamagawa 二子玉川, on the banks of the Tamagawa 多摩川, is the Setagaya Oasis Tamagawa 世田谷のオアシス・多摩川.
12. Kodomonokuni こどもの国 (Children’s Country / Children’s Land).
A park in Yokohama that includes sports facilities, pony rides, 110-meter roller-slide (map), hanging bridge (map), and boating pond (map). Their website has good information in English. This park should not be confused with Kodomo-no-kuni, a children’s magazine from the 1920’s and 1930s with the same name.
13. Heiwa no mori koen 平和の森公園（へいわのもりこうえん）
Looks like they have a great obstacle course, the Heiwa no Mori Koen Field Athletic Course 平和の森公園 フィールドアスレチックコース, though I’ve never tried it myself. You can find it on Google Maps here. Here’s a map:
And some very helpful blogs about the park:
- Get in touch with your inner Tarzan (The Japan Times)
- A selection of summer parks to try – Heiwa no Mori Koen (Tokyo Families Magazine)
- Great photos: The Best Children’s Sports Park and Obstacle Course in Tokyo!
- Great photos: 平和の森公園フィールドアスレチック Heiwanomorikoen Field Athletics
- Good information about the park (Japanese)
14. Komazawa Harappa 駒沢はらっぱプレーパーク
This park in the Komazawa section of Setagaya-ku is named “harappa” for the word はらっぱ, meaning “empty field” or “empty lot”. This park was described in a recent article in The New Yorker, described as “a smaller adventure playground…a long sliver of space in a tight residential neighborhood, masked from the street by a simple hedge.” (See “What It Would Take to Set American Kids Free“, by Alexandra Lange, November 18, 2016)
Address: 3 Chome-24-1 Komazawa, Setagaya-ku, Tōkyō-to 154-0012 (map)
15. Hanegi Play Park 羽根木プレーパーク
16. Setagaya Play Park 世田谷プレーパーク
17. Karasuyama Play Park 烏山プレーパーク
18. Kodomo-no-hiroba Park こどものひろば公園
An amusing “child cage” slide:
And something that probably should be supervised by adults:
19. Naughty Heaven わんぱく天国 (Wanpaku Tengoku)
- Located inside Oshiage Park 押上公園, in Sumida-ku (map)
- Great pics and review: わんぱく天国（わんぱくてんごく）
- Park description on Sumida-ku website
Other links and other resources: