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Renewed play center in old mall
Price: 800 yen
Niko Niko Garden is located in the back of Festa, a video arcade, in Value Plaza Ageo.
It was recently revamped and re-opened. It is a play / fun center for children from 0 to 8 years old. I was never in the old version, so I can't comment on how much of an improvement there is, but I can say that the current play center is well worth a visit with small children. Not only do they have a decent selection of things to play with, it is also really good value. On a weekday you can play ALL day for 500 yen per child and 200 yen per adult. On the weekend it is 800 yen per child and 200 yen per adult.
Niko Niko Garden is open seven days a week from 10 am to 7.30 pm. Last entry is 7 pm. Parking is free and shared with Value Plaza.
In the Area
You will often see runners, joggers and walkers here using the jogging track that circumferences the park. It was no surprise to hear then that Ageo Exercise (Sports) Park is the start and finish line of the annual Ageo City Marathon. Apart from the jogging track there is a large athletics ground which is frequently used for a number of sporting events. The prefectural summer pools are across the road in the Saitama Water Park. There are more sporting facilities beside those grounds. Ageo's martial arts hall is very near and recently the prefectural ice rink was moved from Kawagoe to the area too. All of these parks and buildings combined make this area central to sports and exercise in the Ageo area and draws people from further afield too. The playground isn't much and what I really dislike about it is that it is all cement: not just the grounds, but the equipment too. The centre of the playground has an uniquely shaped structure that is good for climbing and has some slides coming out of it. However, as it is cement it is very fast and very sore if you do get a bang. I would not recommend this playground for small children. They have an unsual see-saw and climbing frames here that my own kids love. Beside the playground they have coin operated battery cars.You can access the park twenty four seven, but it is officially open from 8.30 am to 5 pm. You can use the parking there between those hours. This park is featured on a segment about outdoor locations in Ageo on the main city-cost blog: https://www.city-cost.com/blogs/Saitama/Glg2z-living_saitama_ageo-shi
Pomme Cafe Cafe is part of a larger chain giant Pomme Food. This branch is located on the first floor of the Ario Mall in Ageo City. The facilities and services for kids make up for the food, which is mediocre to say the least. I would not recommend this as a place for a good meal. However, young children would enjoy dining here.The kid’s menu is basic with 5 dishes and they are not particularly healthy, but the quantity is reasonable and their choices suit most children. There is only 1 drink option; Orange Juice. You can pay separate for drink bar. They provide water for free for all patrons. The kid's meal comes on a fun plate and a small gift of their choice. They choose from a basket with such things as stickers, plastic toys, hair accessories and yokai watch cards. The kid's meals are reasonably priced. The main attraction of this eatery is its small play area, just inside the door. It has a slide with different climbing walls. There are soft blocks and a soft vaulting box, puzzles, books, wooden animals and a few other things. Kids can play for as long as they want at no extra cost. We've only been their twice, but each time it was very relaxed with no pressure to finish up and leave even when it got busy. They have no toilets, but the mall toilets are nearby. They have facilities to wash your hands and lots of children’s bumper seats and high chairs, adding to the convenience for people with kids. The staff are friendly and helpful. Parking is free in the Ario Mall.
Kodomo No Shiro or children's castle in Ageo is rightfully the most famous free community children's center in Ageo, probably Saitama, as it is a mega center with lots to offer. This center Appiland pales in comparison, but it is still better than most in the surrounding cities. It is a very popular and very decent free center with plenty for the kids to enjoy. It is an unusual shape meaning that the 1st floor play areas are quite small and open plan. They have a hall that is a very good size and you can play sports in. Upstairs they have a great play room with giant block like construction pieces for making all manner of things. Sometimes this room is closed though and when it does open it closes for the day earlier than the rest of the building. I think it is 4 pm. You can bring your own food and eat lunch in a dedicated area at a specific time. They have some really good events for parents and children on each month. Their website gives the details of each month's events.It is open from 9 am to 6 pm most days, but they do take one or two days off a month. It is usually the third Tuesday of the month. There is free parking for about 30 cars, but it is always crowded and on a weekend it is very common to have to wait to park if you arrive after 9 am. There is nowhere else nearby to park.
Ageo's Kodomo no Shiro "Children's Castle" is probably the best free municipal children's centre in Saitama. It is certainly one of the largest. They have a number of rooms with different functions spread out over 2 floors. There is also an outdoor playing area. They have a selection of play equipment, toys, services and activities to suit children of all ages. The rooms in Kodomo no Shiro include a hall for playing sports, a baby and toddler room, a library, a wood workshop, a playroom, a nursery, a counselling room and a couple of rest areas. Then there is the main play area with slides and climbing equipment. Beside this there is a game area, where children over 6 can browse a book of table top games and puzzles. They can borrow one game at a time. They have a huge selection. There are toilets and vending machines on each floor. There is a sandpit in the outside play area. They have cubicles for shoes and presses for hand luggage other than valuables.The playroom on the 2nd floor alternates toys every week. I have seen lego, play house, play shop, building blocks among others over the years. The sports hall also alternates the type of equipment they put out. They usually have basketballs and soccer balls out and sometimes there is table tennis, climbing or dividing nets out for volleyball or badminton. The woodwork room holds instructed classes that require booking in advance. Like most children's centres you need to sign in, but unlike most others you also need to sign out when you leave. There is one staff member who speaks a little English. Information is in Japanese only. Hours are 9am to 6pm Monday to Sunday, but they close the 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month and for New Year's.
Round One is a great place to hang out on a rainy day like today. The Round One in Ageo is particularly appealing as it has so much to do under the one roof. Round One is synonymous with bowling, but they offer a lot more than that including a multitude of sports and games. It is free to walk in and look around the centre, but each activity and / or area with the centre costs money. There is no English information in the store, but they have information in English on their website. The Ageo branch of the popular chain store has an amusement centre and small restaurant on the first floor. On the second floor there are more amusement games and a slightly larger food area. The third floor is where the bowling is. The fourth, fifth and 6 floor with large veranda has a Spo-cha, which is a centre of sports galore. It also has karaoke rooms, a relaxation centre and more amusement games. This particular spo-cha has a large kids spo-cha with so much play equipment that you could easily spend the whole day there. A warning though; the kids will be absolutely exhausted after a full day, so we usually choose the 3 hour package. The 3 hour package is there most popular and most economical. The shortest and cheapest period is 90 minutes. The bowling is available from 9 am to 6 am (next day) on weekdays, Spocha is the same on Monday, but from 10 am to 6 am (next day) on Tuesdays to Thursdays and is open twenty four hours on Saturday. The amusements close at 11.50 pm on weekdays. There is a special Round One shuttle bus that is free, from Ageo station. It runs in the afternoons on weekdays and between 8 am and 11 pm on weekends. There is generally one to two an hour. By car its about 3 minutes from route 17. Parking is free, some of it is indoors.