The Tako family is currently traveling around Japan for the month of October, and we’re blogging about our travels. In earlier posts from this series I covered where we’re staying, a mini-trip to Wakayama, and how to eat affordably in Japan. In this post (Part 4), we kicking back from our busy travel schedule, and heading to the park.
Does a trip to the park sound boring when Japan has ancient temples and castles to explore? Tourist attractions are great, but they can also be expensive and exhausting.
Frankly, after you’ve seen about a dozen temples they all start to look the same anyway. Certainly not something a 2 year old and a 4 year old are going appreciate for a whole month. Instead, we take the kids to the park!
Japan’s parks have plenty to offer — Not only does the country appreciate aesthetic beauty, but they also value how parks enrich the lives of families.
Let me show you what I mean…
I tend to think of Tokyo as a giant concrete jungle. Kilometer after kilometer of concrete, but if you get outside the “big city” in Japan it’s actually a really beautiful country. Japan’s public parks are no exception, and they’re absolutely free.
After our rainy trip to Wakayama, we needed to get out and enjoy some sunshine. A day-trip to the park seemed like a good opportunity, and the kids could burn-off all that excess energy too.
We decided to visit a local park called “Taketori Park”. It’s a short 15 minute drive from our temporary residence.
Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to visit a number of Japan’s public parks, and they can be very beautiful places. It’s easiest to show you what I mean with photos of the park.
Bamboo groves are always nice to look at, and Taketori park has a beautiful one.
Even in October, flowers are still blooming and they delight visitors with delicate beauty.
Taketori park is built on a hillside, with walking paths that meander around it. A wide playing field sits at the bottom, and suburbs off in the distance. The fall leaves are only just starting to show their colors here.
The park even has fruit trees. My kids found this persimmon tree (they’d never seen one before), but the fruit wasn’t quite ripe yet.
Natural beauty only goes so far when you have to entertain a two kids. Thankfully Taketori park provided the “traditional” play-type structures that you’ll find in most parks.
Except there wasn’t just one! This park had a least four big play structures.
That should be enough for any kid, right? Well, Taketori park had a few more surprises in store for us!
The Hairy Green Slide
When I think of public parks in the States, I usually think of a large grassy area with a slide, swings for kids, and maybe one of those plastic jungle-gyms. Japan does things a little different (of course), and we found this crazy-huge green slide in one section of the park:
Yes, that’s a giant blue-green slide!
This was something I’d never seen before. Not only was it huge, but it was a hairy
The slope was built-up from individual fibers, which I can only describe as “some kind of plastic”.
A helmet and a sled are required to go down, but this equipment is kindly provided for free by the park and park volunteers.
Big grins were easy to find that day…
Unfortunately adults (aka big kids) aren’t allowed to use the slide (booo!), but my son was happy to provide a video demonstration of how this works.
Again, all this was free! Who says Japan needs to be expensive?
Taketori park also had something called a roller slide! What’s a roller slide you ask?
Well, little Tako Jr. #2 was brave enough to try-out this small roller slide for us:
Think of it like a whole bunch of metal rollers lined-up one right after another. The kind of thing you’d find on a industrial conveyor belt, and it makes for a really fast slide.
The main event of the day was a huge roller slide that starts at the top of the park. Check this baby out!
Now that’s a slide! The pictures don’t really do it justice — This roller slide was HUGE (and again — completely free to use).
The scale and the speed of what’s going on here is a little hard to convey. Adults are allowed on the slide, so I shot some video going down it… for “demonstration purposes”.
When you travel slow, not every day is going to be filled with exciting tourist attractions. Some days are “rest” days and you take the kids to play at the park. But that doesn’t mean it’s boring — Even those days can be filled with exciting new experiences and discoveries.
Japan’s public parks are some of the best I’ve ever seen. Not only are they pleasant and beautiful, but they provide plenty of free fun for families like mine. If you ever travel to Japan with your family, I highly suggest checking one out!