Today, the three of us went to KODOMONOKUNI. I’m not sure why they put the name in all caps, but that’s how it appears on their site. It’s a large activity park, primarily aimed at children (the name means “Children’s Country”), with an emphasis on a pseudo-natural environment, rather than on rides and such. It was the first time we’d been, even though it’s fairly close to us. There’s one change of train, onto a line with three stops that goes to the park, and even when we just missed a train, it only took about an hour door to door.
At the park, Mayuki quickly got into the swing of things. First, she went to play with some hula-hoops, which were provided by the park. She was quite good at rolling them along the ground, but actually spinning them round herself was harder, though she did try. When she got bored of that, she went running up a grassy slope, and when she got to a flat area she demanded the ball, and we played football for a while. (Appropriate, I guess.)
From that area, we could see a miniature railway, and so, after playing with soap bubbles for a bit, Mayuki decided she wanted to go on that. Before we could line up, however, she spotted the slides, so we went on there first. They were quite big, and she insisted on going on with me because, as she explained to Yuriko, “It’s a bit scary, so I’ll go on with Daddy”. After a couple of slides, she was ready to go on the train, so we bought our tickets and got on.
Sometimes, I don’t fit in full-size Japanese trains. I certainly didn’t really fit in this one. However, Mayuki really enjoyed it, so much so that she wanted to go round again. This time, I sent her round with Yuriko, while I took pictures, and Mayuki enjoyed it so much that she wanted to go round again. We tried to convince her that it was time for lunch, and finally took her away screaming. Fortunately, she calmed down quite quickly, and ate some lunch. She refused to eat the ice cream that Yuriko bought afterwards, though, because it was in a cup, not a cone, and so didn’t look right.
Next, it was time to draw all over the road in chalk. The children are allowed to do this on the entrance road to the park, and Mayuki had lots of fun, and got chalk all over her hands. Fortunately, there was also somewhere to wash it off. This being Japan, the outdoor sinks all had soap dispensers. With soap in.
Anyway, at this point we’d been to maybe one tenth of the park, next to the entrance, and Yuriko wanted to see a bit more. However, along the way Mayuki decided that she wanted to play football again, so that’s what we did. While we were playing, Yuriko noticed two Thomas the Tank Engine models. (One was Thomas, the other was Percy.) As soon as we pointed these out to Mayuki, she stopped playing football and went over to see what they were.
They turned out to be dodgems, 200 yen a turn. There were already some children on Thomas when we got there, so Mayuki went on Percy, with Yuriko. When that ride finished, Thomas was empty, so she had a ride on that one as well. Two rides were not enough, so she got back on Thomas, and said “Daddy, pay the money! If you don’t, it doesn’t go!” (in Japanese). However, I was firm in my resolve, and she eventually gave in and got off, going with us a bit further into the park.
There, we found a water-play area. The full swimming pool doesn’t open until the middle of next month, but the paddling pool was open, and had quite a few children in it. Mayuki was very keen to play in the water with them, but it was a bit too deep for her to go in by herself, so Yuriko rolled up her trousers to escort her.
Mayuki quite likes playing in the water. She splashed around, walked through the water, and then didn’t want to get out. Unfortunately, she had no choice, because the park was about to close. She’d been playing for about four hours, which was apparently enough; she fell asleep on my shoulder while we were getting on to the second train, and then stayed asleep for a couple of hours, only waking up for dinner.
Because the park is really quite close to us, we might go back. You can buy a weekday pass, good for a year, for the price of five admissions; we had free tickets today, courtesy of a friend of Yuriko’s, but I will seriously think about getting the weekday pass; I could go with Mayuki on Mondays, and I should be able to get up to five visits over a year. You can also buy a one-year free pass for 10,000 yen (about 17 admissions), but that also gets you into the summer pool and winter ice rink free. I suspect Mayuki will be a bit too small to get enough use from that this year, but if we go to the other bits a lot I’ll have to think about it for next year. It looks like she could get a lot of good use out of the park as a whole.