Archive for the ‘Kids’ Category

Matsuri Games


In my first article as a guest blogger in Tokyo I want to write about one of the most enjoyable things here in Japan: O-matsuri! When I arrived end of May I was told I am just in time for matsuri season – yay, many festivals that offer a fun glimpse on Japanese culture!
Matsuri offer the opportunity to relax, to celebrate, to have a lot of fun – even when you are just watching and eating (like I did) and not actively taking part in carrying a mikoshi. At the shrine-festivals you won’t see any earnest salary men in black suits, no: here people are enjoying themselves and many are dressed in yukata and special matsuri gear. That can look very pretty and sometimes.. uuhm.. quite exciting ;)
What amazes me the most is the array of games for children never seen before somewhere else in that form. Those distinctly Japanese (correct me if I am wrong) kid’s entertainments include many water games, which are thought to be refreshing during hot summerdays. For example fishing rubberballs or other toys out of a swiftly moving water stream, which is enjoyed mostly by the little ones.
Although the animal rights activist in me had to keep both eyes shut, it is great fun for schoolkids to try to catch real goldfish (and I read sometimes even tiny turtles – aaw) with round paper-covered frames. This demands a lot of skill because the paper soaks and rips easily, especially when the victim flounders and struggles not to get caught and the little fisherman keeps his scoop underwater for too long. But some way or the other the kids seem to become experts pretty fast and you can see many of them walking around proudly with their prey in small plastic bags.

We will help you

Thomas! on Flickr – Photo Sharing!

If children have problems, being in trouble, or need a hand, station staff will help them, even though things occured outside stations. This poster shows that.

And, Thomas! He is always popular with children. Of course I like, too!! :D

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Junior graffiti artists at work

Graffiti wall
Another feature at Kodomo no shiro (National Children’s Castle – こどもの城) that the wee wuns seem to really like is this 10-meter-long whiteboard. Every 2 hours, they wash it down until it’s a blank canvas. Then they set up the paint cans and brushes and let the kids loose on it once again.

Animal mask

Animal mask
I’ve written here in the past about how much I and my (now almost 8-year-old) daughter Satori like Kodomo no shiro (National Children’s Castle – こどもの城) in Aoyama.

We went there again last Sunday. Satori made an animal mask (see photo). Not sure if it is a wolf or dog or what. It has a ribbon below one ear (Satori loves ribbons) and is sticking its tongue out.

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.

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