こどもの城 (Children’s Castle)

Kodomo no shiro I’m not sure that I would say Tokyo is a particularly great city for families with kids, but there is a least one really outstanding place for kids here: kodomo no shiro (National Children’s Castle – こどもの城) in Aoyama. (The photo at the right is a view from just inside the front door, looking out.)

Kodomo no shiro is (for lack of a better description) a sort of “activity center” for children (from infants on up through middle-school age). I have been taking my daughter, Satori, there once a month or so for the last four years now. It is one of her favorite places to spend time. She’s seven years old, and likes even it more now then ever. When we go there, we usually stay for 4 or 5 hours, and she never gets bored there.

It is located right on Aoyama-dori, about a 10-minute walk from either the Shibuya JR station or from the Omotesando subway station. It’s relatively inexpensive (the entrance fee is 400 yen for children, 500 yen for adults). And you can easily spend the whole day there. You may have to — your children won’t be in a big hurry to leave once they get there.

If you want more details about exactly what there is to do at kodomo no shiro, read on.

Here’s a selected list of some of the things that make kodomo no shiro such a great place:

  • a big indoor jungle gym with slides, all kinds of things to climb on, and lots of places to hide (for hide-and-seek)
  • an arts-and-crafts studio; when you come into the room, one of the staff will tell you what the current project. It changes every couple of weeks, and there are different projects for older and younger children (I’m not sure where the cutoff is — maybe age 10.) There is a separate area for the older kids, and projects there seem to involve hammers and saws, while the projects for younger kids mostly involve scissors and glue and magic markers.
  • a music performance area, with a full-time staff of young musicians who all seem to be multi-instrumentalists; sometimes they just perform and give demonstrations/explanations of different instruments while the kids watch, but often they have a variety of instruments (tamborines, drums, marimbas, keyboards) set out for kids to actually play along on while they perform familiar songs.
  • a video and DVD viewing area with hundreds of titles — animation, educational stuff, feature films
  • a twenty-five meter swimming pool and a large gym next to it where they have organized games and activities (dodgeball, frisbee games, basketball, jumprope, all kinds of other stuff)
  • a few different large play areas on the roof, one with a jungle gym, one with tricycles, scooters (the self-propelled kind) and some other small four-wheeled things that are hard to describe but that are very fun to ride

There is more to kodomo no shiro that what I’ve listed here. If you have young children and live anywhere near Tokyo (or are visiting for a few days), I very highly recommend making a visit to see it for yourself.

4 Comments so far

  1. James Hart (unregistered) on August 26th, 2005 @ 12:28 pm

    Sounds great!
    From what age do you think it is good?
    The website gives the price for ages 3-17, but I’m not sure whether that means it is unsuitable for under 3’s or just free…
    My kid turns 1 next week, so he’s probably not old enough yet.
    What do you think?
    Cheers


  2. Michael (unregistered) on August 26th, 2005 @ 3:44 pm

    Totally agree. My office was just around the corner when they built the place, and later, when my daughter grew up, we spent many days (weeks? months?) at こどもの城. She just loved the place and it was such a bargain (still is by your account).


  3. Michael(tm) Smith (unregistered) on August 26th, 2005 @ 7:53 pm

    > From what age do you think it is good?
    > The website gives the price for ages 3-17,
    > but I’m not sure whether that means it is
    > unsuitable for under 3’s or just free…

    I think it’s free, but I guess I would say I think it’s best for kids from 3 to maybe 12. The do have a play area for toddlers (in the same (big) room where the indoor jungle gym is), and the music room is fun even for kids under 3.

    > My kid turns 1 next week,

    Congratulations :)

    > so he’s probably not old enough yet.
    > What do you think?

    Especially if he’s already walking, you might find that he would enjoy it.

    You can always go there just to check it out. I think they’ll even give you a guided tour if you ask (I’ve seen people doing that).


  4. James Hart (unregistered) on September 1st, 2005 @ 12:34 pm

    Cheers Michael. Thanks a lot for your answers.
    We’ll check it out.



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