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Accessible and affordable mall
Price: 1000 yen
Atre Maruhiro is the affordable version of the better known Maruhiro! It is right by Tobu Tojo Line Kawagoe station at the east exit. There are 8 floors of which 1 is in the basement. It sells clothes, shoes, accessories, cosmetics and some food.
The 1st floor is dedicated to coffee shops and fast food eateries. There are also some services on this floor such as a hairdressers and shoe repair shop. There was previously a large information center here, but it has been downsized. The 2nd floor sells mainly cosmetics and accessories such as purses and wallets. This is were you will find the Kawagoe branch of The Body Shop. The 3rd floor to 5th floor sells clothes, the 6th floor has a book shop and relaxation and services, and the 7th floor is home to a number of restaurants. There are toilets on most floors and they put in a small family room when they renovated a couple of years ago.
Atre Maruhiro is open 10 am to 9 pm. It used to close on Tuesdays, but started opening 7 days a week a few years ago.
In the Area
Located on the 6th floor of Kawagoe Maruhiro, Gin Yuba offers Kyoto Cuisine presented in the Teishoku form; Japanese style set meals. It is named after its main staple; Yuba, a product made from soybeans. The selection on the lunch menu is quite decent. They don't have English menus, but there are good photos on the Japanese menus so you can order easily from them. You can also see their full menu on their website. The Guru Navi Japan Restaurant Guide site offers reservation support in English for this restaurant. Currently their kids meal is half price. Only 250 yen for a fairly healthy and filling meal served on a shinkansen plate. It comes with a drink and you can chose one toy from a small selection. The regular lunches come with a complimentary serving of tea and they provide water for free too. When you order the lunch the main part is served to you at the table and you are given a rectangle shaped tray with 3 sections so that you can help yourself to 3 side dishes of your choice from a selection on a table near the door. The restaurant loses a star from me for this reason; the food is laid out openly where everyone is passing and only some of it is enclosed. The selection isn't great either. The food is quite tasty and as one of my children has a dairy allergy I like that most of the food uses soy milk rather than dairy; even the desserts. There is seating for 82 people. You can chose a table or a private room where you sit on the floor at a low table. This is particularly useful when you have small children. The staff are friendly, efficient and helpful.
The play centre is located on the 4th floor of a civic centre for citizens, commonly referred to as "Kurasse" which is the buildings name. Below it there is a library and above it there are meeting rooms and citizen services. The staff are very helpful, but to the best of my knowledge none of them speak English. They have some pamphlets and information for living in Kawagoe, but they are all in Japanese only. The centre isn't particularly big, but it has enough to entertain young kids. There is a main hall with some play equipment including climbing boxes and a slide. They hold events here including an English language event three times a month. Beside the office of the children's centre there is a smaller room with quite a few toys including a play kitchen. There are a selection of books in the hall, including some English books. They have clean and well kept toilets divided into ladies and mens, and they also have a wheelchair accessible toilet that has a changing mat. The centre is open from 9.30 am Wednesday to Monday, closing on Tuesdays except when its a public holiday. It is conveniently located within minutes walk of JR and Tobu Tojo line Kawagoe station. There is parking down a narrow alleyway beside the centre, but parking is charged. I previously drove an American car (Chrysler, Voyager) which was too big to turn into the car park! I have an 8 seater now too, but it is a Japanese model and therefore a bit narrower and it can navigate the turn no problem.
When I walked into this branch of Popolamama in the otherwise boring Unicus Kawagoe shopping mall, I was quite surprised how busy it was at 11.30 in the morning. I was equally surprised to realise that every single solitary patron was female. Always a good sign in Japan. I soon understood why. Popolamama offers very reasonably priced lunches that seem to be quite healthy and most definitely delicious. The lunch set is a pasta dish with a side for 600 yen or for another 150 yen you can have, what they call here, "drink bar". The drink bar has all you can drink soft drinks, coffee and a great selection of tea, but it was the restaurant's specials that caught my eye. They have 2 health drinks on tap, which you rarely see here. One was a mixture of 15 fruit and vegetables and was much better tasting than I had anticipated. The other was absolutely delicious, if you can get past the fact that it has PLACENTA in it. Drinks with placenta in them are said to keep you looking beautiful and have health benefits. No doubt the placenta with muscat drink is one of the contributory factors to the restaurant's popularity among women. Supposedly its pig placenta and I was very reluctant to taste it, but I was very glad I did. Like most restaurants in Japan, they have some utensils and dishes for kids to use so you can share your food. If you prefer, you can order your child a kid's meal, which looked very appetising. They have high chairs and bumper chairs that clip onto the table with an additional support that rests on the chair beneath. They have full allergy information on their website. No English menus or English information online. Popolamama is close to the West exit of Kawagoe station. Parking is shared with Unicus. You need to get a ticket as you come into the car park and get it validated in the restaurant for free parking.
I was torn between a four or a five star review for this dentists. However, the only reason it would lose a star is the wait. Even with an appointment we were waiting just under an hour to be seen. In fairness, that is not bad, actually quite standard in my own country, but I have become accustomed to Japanese efficiency. On balance, with everything else it has to offer it deserves a five star rating. The upsides of Lion are plentiful. It is located within minutes walk of the West exit of Kawagoe station. There are free parking spaces for up to 15 cars. They have a kids play area. Kids also get a toy on leaving the dentists. One of the dental booths can fit a buggy or stroller. The booths are bright and colourful and have flatscreen TVs which plays cartoons for kids, news programmes for adults. If you need any work done, you can get it done then and there, or you can make an appointment for another day. They do implants. They have equipment for taking scans. Every patient can receive fluorine coating for free. They are open until 8.30 pm. I have saved the best for last: the dentists and dental nurses are very skilled, very patient and thorough, and some of them speak English. One has international accreditation. My 3 year old was terrified of going to the dentist and wouldn't open her mouth at first. I was suitably impressed by her dentist's patience and technique. She even said after, she wants to go again. They are open Monday to Friday 9.30 am to 1 pm and again from 3 pm to 8.30 pm. On Saturdays they are open from 9.30 am to 1 pm and from 2.30 pm to 5.30 pm. It is recommended you make an appointment.
I hate when you are paying for a dining experience and you walk away wishing you had eaten somewhere else. I am not a huge fan of Olive House anyway, but particularly not the branch in Maruhiro, Kawagoe. The quality is not worthy of the price. The positives; the food is edible, they have an English menu, the kids lunch is substantial, the premises are clean and the staff are efficient. The menu is quite limited in this branch. They really only have pasta on offer for lunch. They have some variation, but nothing really appealed to me on the menu so I played it safe with a pasta with muscles. The plate is huge, the portion is not. I got about 5 muscles in my pasta. They were large, but few. The kids meal however is a decent size and comes with some nice sides for an adult, but not so appealing for children. Also, each of the sides was drenched in sauces, which is not ideal for small children. The pasta dish for kids was also a bit heavy on the Parmesan cheese; again not ideal for small children. You do get a toy with the kids meal, which you choose from a basket of plastic toys. The price for the kids meal is quite fair too. The restaurant is clean, but not comfortable and the layout and decor do little to set an atmosphere or mood for the place. There were very few people there when we visited at lunch time, meanwhile nearby restaurants had people queuing to get in. This branch of Olive House is open 10.30 am to 7 pm on the days that Maruhiro is open, which is most days of the month, but sometimes they schedule in a day off or two.