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Old but well equipped children's community centre
Price: 0 yen
In the Area
Stepping into Maruhiro in Sakado, is like stepping back in time to the department stores of my childhood. Everything about the place is reminiscent of an age gone by, from the layout, the decor, the fashion, the toilets, the uniforms; even the smell. Only for the grocery store on the 1st floor, they probably wouldn't do much business at all.The grocery store is fairly standard. It has a nice selection of fruit and vegetables. The quality is high, which is reflected in the prices. They currently have a Halloween display with a good selection of jumbo pack sweets and treats. The rest of the store leaves a lot to be desired. As a local department store I am sure it is useful to the older generation, but there is nothing much for people in their teens, twenties or thirties. There is a toy area on the 3rd floor, which is what draws us there. They have quite a few toys laid out for kids to play with. Its not a particularly big toy area, but they have a nice selection of educational toys. They don't have any books. There is a fairly decent stationary area beside the toy store. They sell baby clothes too, most of which are designer, but the selection isn't great. The staff are very friendly and helpful for the most part. It is the only department store I know that gives change in cash when you purchase goods with Maruhiro gift vouchers; usually you don't get change at all. Parking is outdoor and is free. They have at least 2 car parks. The nearest station is Tobu Tojo Line's Kita-sakado station.
Everything about my experience at Café Chocotea today was positive and gratifying. From the minute I walked in, I got a really good vibe about the place. The decor is bright cozy rustic, the space is colourful and comfortable, the menu is very well thought out and appetising, the selection of coffee and drinks is impressive, the 3D latte art is worth every yenny. The barista speaks perfect English.We got the table near the door which sits four, in 2 very comfortable leather 2 seater sofas. There are 2 two-seater tables beside that. All 3 of these seats have low tables and sitting room type chairs or sofas. Up a step there is a large table which sits about six. They have a high chair for a baby / toddler in this section. The place is small, but very relaxed and quiet. It is a good place to relax over a coffee and a book. They have a selection of books and magazines for patrons to borrow. They have children's books too. There are 3 menus, which take a little time to read, but the server will explain anything you are not sure about. You can order individual dishes of food or opt for a lunch set or just have a coffee or one of their famous 3D lattes if you prefer. The lunch sets are a panini or an open sandwich with a choice of add-on sides. The scones are as good as at home in Ireland. The food is really good quality and healthy. The 3D art takes about 20 minutes to make, but you get a service drink while you are waiting. They have a good choice of drinks. The soft drinks are served in larger glasses much like a fish bowl! The café is not wheelchair friendly and the toilet is outside and up a steep stairs, with no changing mat, but other than that there is nothing else you can fault about this local gem.The nearest station is Tobu Tojo Line's Sakado station. There is free parking out the back of the café, down a narrow alley.
I have tried many local hairdressers over the years, never quite finding one in this area that suited me. I visited Kyoko Kurihara for the 5th time on Friday and I am ready to commit as a loyal customer! I was their first (and currently only) foreign customer, but they have adapted really well. The hairdressers was recommended to me by a Mom at my children's preschool. One of the selling points is that they have a nursery room for children. It is separate to the hairdressers, but in the same building, so it affords Moms the opportunity to relax and enjoy the experience. It is a small hairdressers. They only have 4 chairs for cutting / styling / colouring, 4 wash basins and between 3 to 4 staff on a given day. I think there is a total of 5 staff. The first thing that struck me was the relaxed, friendly and comfortable atmosphere. There is also a noticeable rapport between the staff. I like that they are able to chat with clientele and among themselves, while maintaining a professionalism. The head hairdresser / shop manager has cut my hair 4 out of 5 times. He was able to follow my direction and give me the cut I wanted. He also had no problem not using the Japanese thinning scissors on my request. They don't use the face covers when washing your hair, which I personally prefer. They offer a head and shoulder massage after washing your hair, I recommend trying it. Its brief, but does the trick. Their treatments are very good. One of the stylists, Mami, speaks very good English.The hairdressers is very close to Wakaba station, less than a minute walk, on the first floor of an apartment building. They have free parking out the back. You have to walk up a small alleyway from the car park to the front of the hairdressers, but its quite easy to find. They have a beauty salon and nail parlour around the corner from the hairdressers. They have a good point system for both.
St Marc Cafe seems to be better known by its best selling product "chococro", which is short for chocolate croissant. I personally was more interested in the coffee. They have a fairly decent selection of coffee for a cafe in a small local mall. The one that caught my eye was the "Vienna Coffee" which is a liqueur coffee served with a fresh dollop of cream. Unfortunately, I was driving so I couldn't indulge.I wasn't sure which one to try so I stuck with the safe bet, the "blend coffee"、which is a deep rich coffee made from carefully selected beans. The refreshing acidity was undeniable. The other coffee they have to offer is American coffee, Vietnamese coffee, Italian cappuccino and Cafe Latte. There other hot beverages include tea, Royal Milk Tea, Yuzu tea, Matcha and cocoa. Their food is mainly pastry and desserts. There are usually two chococros on offer; one is the standard popular chococro and the other is seasonal and changes through the seasons. Currently, it is a matcha flavoured chococro. They have a big selection of Ice-cream sundaes and parfaits. They have a couple of things for a light lunch too. This particular branch has a smoking and non-smoking section. The smoking section is completely closed off with an electronic push button door. The smell doesn't seem to filter out to the non-smoking section much. There are no toilets in the cafe, but the mall's toilets are close by. The mall is Wakaba Walk near Tobu Tojo Line's Wakaba station. The car park for the cafe is in the mall's parking. The first hour is free, and after that parking is charged by the hour. If you spend over a 1000 yen you can get the parking validated.
Wakaba Walk is a small suburban mall with a good selection of shops. Halos Garden is on the second floor beside an Italian restaurant and near the cinema. It is quite a small center, but ideal for the suburban location it is in. There are always a few people using the center, but it is rarely crowded.They offer two main facilities: 1) video games and machines for children of all ages and 2) a small play area for children under school age. The latter is what we have used most. It is perfect when the kids are around two to three years old. It is basically a large ball pit with some climbing and slides in the ball pool. They charge by twenty minute sessions. You use a vending machine to get a ticket which you then give to the counter clerk. She will give you a peg to put on your shoes which you remove as you go into the ball pool area. When you are finished playing they give you a wet wipe for your hands and some small gift. The gift is often a sticker, but the kids have got sweets or some sort of gimmicky toy in the past. The games in the center are coin operated and the price varies. They have some machines suited to small children such as Anpanman rides and games. Some of the part time staff speak a little English. It is open from 10 am to 10 pm seven days a week. However, occasionally the ball pool is not available for cleaning or maintenance. Parking is shared with Wakaba walk. One hour is free and you can get parking tickets validated if you spend over a 1000 yen.