Jul 8, 2018
Every country should have Jidokan, community children's play centers. They are without a doubt one of the best things about life in Japan with children.
With the geography of our area our nearest jidokan is not in our municipality, but in the city on the West side of us: Sakado. The jidokan is in the middle of rice fields. It is old, but extremely well maintained. They have a cleaning lady who works all day every day. They have air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter. There are two floors with a number of different rooms including a large hall, a cooking room, a reading room, a study room and a large playroom with floor to ceiling of toys the children can play with. They also have board games, trampolines, push along cars, bikes, an outdoor playground and so much more. It is manned by the kindest and friendliest civil servants there are in the area. They run a number of different events throughout the week and month. And it is free, all free, like the majority of the jidokan around the country.
Thanks to a Mama-tomo I was introduced to this jidokan when my eldest was still only a small baby. It proved to be a lifeline. I started going to the jidokan regularly. When my second was born I started going weekly. By the time my third came along it wasn't unusual for me to go every weekday! I had three kids in three years (and my fourth when my eldest had just turned five). This type of place was ideal for my situation. I may not have survived without it!
They are a great place for unwinding; both parent and kids! Your kids get to make friends and parents meet some Mama or Papa tomo too. The events / classes / circles are a great way to entertain the kids. They do everything from ABCs to Zorbing. There are lots of opportunities to do art and crafts, sing songs, listen to stories. Moreover there are all the toys they can play with. And you don't even have to pay a yenny for any of it.
We stopped going to that jidokan regularly after about a year. Not because we were bored or tired of it, but because we are adventurers at heart and we had a lot of other exploring to do. Our local jidokan visits slipped back to once a week, then once a month. Soon it was half a year. Today, we visited that local one for the first time in a long time, possibly a year, and we were greeted with squeals of delight by the staff who were so happy to see us and see how much the kids have grown.
I will always have a very special place in my heart for our local jidokan. It was an invaluable source of support and a welcome incentive to get out of the house even when I had newborn babies. The kids always felt at home there, still do evidently, and loved the choice of toys and activities. Spending our days there with free support, entertainment and activities when I had a newborn and two toddlers not only saved us quite a few yenny, but it also saved my sanity!
Level 8 LocalGuide with Google. Blogging about life in Japan as an Irish WAHM to 4 kids on insaitama.com.
My son calls ours the yellow house and requests going. I'm like you though and tend to explore when we can, so our visits arent as often as my son wants. I really wish I knew about this when my son was smaller because the jidoukan is the only place I can relax while he has a blast.
I love that @edthethe - the yellow house. So cute. I wonder how many expats don't know they exist. I certainly wouldn't have known so soon if it wasn't for my Mama-tomo. They really are an invaluable service.
@Saitama i only found out because my stepdaughters in elementary school were invited by their friend and we all had to go together to figure out the procedure for checking them in when they aren't part of the afterschool program (which I also found out about the same time)