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Free pet therapy
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P's First is a pet shop on the third floor of Aeon Omiya. It mainly sells dogs. It is is the only pet shop I know of in Saitama that allows you hold the dogs, even if you are not there to buy one.
The shop is clean and modern. They have comfortable benches that you can sit on while you hold the dogs. The staff member brings the dog to the place you are sitting. If there are no seats free, you have to wait your turn as they don't pass out the dogs to anyone who is standing. They don't mind the kids holding the dogs.
Parking is free and plentiful and shared with Aeon Sayama. You are welcome to bring your own pets into this part of the store. P's First is open 10 am to 8 pm seven days a week.
In the Area
Aeon in Omiya, Kita-Ku, Saitama City is one of the more popular branches of the Aeon stores and is always busy, especially the third floor where they have lots of attractions for kids. The famous Kidzoona, one of Saitama's best indoor centers is located beside the arcade. The play center is much better value, but it is most suited to children under seven. If you have a child over seven they will probably much prefer this arcade with a good selection of games, UFO catchers and other coin operated machines. Most of the machines take at least a 100 yen to operate. Both Kidzoona and this arcade are part of the large entertainment chain Molly Fantasy. Parking is free and plentiful, and shared with Aeon Omiya. The Aeon store is open from 7 am to 11 pm, but the arcade opens later. It is open seven days a week. Nearest station is Nisshin station.
This branch of Aeon has one of the best play centres for children in Saitama. Kidzooona by Molly Fantasy is packed with activities and creative stimulation for young children, it is just one of many attractions for kids in this mall. Apart from the fun areas for kids, the mall has great shopping - all you need for regular household and personal shopping under one roof. Kidzooona is a fantasy indoor play centre with lots of make believe exhibits with dress-up clothes. There are a selection of shops and work places that little kids can pretend to work or shop in. The centre also has a few bouncy castles and other physical activities. The huge ball pit with pirate ship slide is popular with the smaller kids. The games and amusements are popular with older kids. These machines are covered by the entry price, so you don't need to spend any extra money. Beside this play centre there is a separate amusement area with games, rides and UFO catchers. These need coins to operate. On the same floor as these play areas there are at least 4 different free (small) play zones. This floor is also home to a pet shop that allows children, with adult supervision, to hold the dogs and cats they sell. There is a Mini Stop convenience store that is split between the free area of the floor and the fee paying Kidzoona play area. You can buy on either side. There are children's toilets, regular toilets and a baby room on this floor too. The other floors have almost everything you would need for personal and home shopping, such as food, clothes, shoes, pet goods, baby goods, homeware and toiletries. There is even a cinema on the 4th floor. There is a wheelchair accessible entrance and parking. Pets are welcome in part of the store. Some floors operate under different hours, but the main opening hours are 9 am to 10 pm. The grocery area opens earlier and runs later and Kidzoona opens later and finishes earlier. Parking is free and plentiful.
Apart from being an historical museum, the Railway Museum is also an educational and fun facility. It attracts visitors from near and afar. There is something for everyone and if you are visiting with children you would need at least a half day, ideally a full day, to explore everything they have to offer. A lot of people don't realise that there is an outdoor annex on one side and an outdoor playground on the other. Don't miss these attractions if you visit. The outdoor annex houses the theatre which plays Thomas the Tank Engine episodes. It is also the home to the library; a library of books about trains. They have a really good selection of English books. You can catch a mini-shinkansen down to the annex, which is included in the entry price to the museum. The main building has 3 floors of interactive exhibits, some are physical activities others are mentally challenging. There is a great play room on the 2nd floor with boxes of plarail and trains that you can use freely. It is beside a huge model railway exhibit, which you can view from one section of the play area. The main hall has dozens of trains that you can walk into and explore. There are a number of different shops and restaurants, you can even bring in your own bento and eat it there. I recommend using the viewing deck on the 3rd floor where you can see shinkansen flying by. On the roof there is an outdoor garden and another observation deck. The museum is very reasonably priced. If you plan to visit more than 3 times a year it is worth your while buying the annual pass. The parking is plentiful, but on weekends and public holidays it is not uncommon to have to queue to get in. It is charged by a daily rate. The museum is open from 10 am to 6 pm and closes on Tuesdays.
Omiya park features in almost every family guide to Saitama and is highly rated online, however in my humble opinion it is totally over-rated for children. It is absolutely beautiful during cherry blossom season though and if you are planning to visit it, I would suggest this season. However, other than that period, there are far nicer parks to visit with children.The free "zoo" is very old and it is just a few animals enclosed in spaces that are way too small for them. Due to the type of caging, you also can't see them very clearly. The zoo is strategically located beside a merry go round and some other play equipment that cost money. There isn't a great selection and it ends up not being "free". All that being said, if you live locally and don't have family there are some great sporting facilities in the park and it is home to the famous Hikawa Shrine, Nack 5 Stadium and a local baseball pitch.If you can I advise you come by train as the station is close, but parking is miles away and involves using a foot bridge that is not stroller friendly.
This park is worth a visit if you like flowers and / or enjoy photographing them. They have some really beautiful flower beds and seasonal flora and fauna. There is also a river in this park, with a stone bridge that has a drawbridge. The park is long and there is a nice walkway around it. There are flowers here there and everywhere: except on the long stretch on the right hand side of the entrance. This is where the very popular splash pool is in summer. To the right of that splash pool is a small playground with a sand pit and combination unit. In the sand pit is a broken digger. The combination unit is old and run down. The playground didn't engage my children for longer than an hour. I wouldn't recommend this park to visit with kids out of season. However, in summer the splash pool is a great place to cool down. It isn't one of our favourites, simply because we need shade and it doesn't have any! The park is open from 8 am to 6 pm. There is a car park right by the entrance and splash pool. There is a management building there too and it has a restaurant. We had planned to eat in the restaurant on our last visit as it gets good reviews, but it was closed for renovations. I don't know when it is back open. Actually there were a couple of areas getting some work done. (January 2017) Hopefully they plan to do some work on the playground too. :-)