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Clean fun centre for kids, hidden in a dingy game centre
Price: 1300 yen
There is no mistaking that the Cats Eye building in Sayama is an absolute dive. However, earlier this year, they refurbished the children's play area and if you can get past the dingy game centre and less than helpful mediocre staff, it is actually quite a good and clean place for kids.
The system was quite confusing as a first timer, but once you get in to the play area it all makes a bit more sense. You have to become a member the first time you visit, which involves spending a bit of time inputting data into a computer. The first screen has an English option, but it switches to Japanese after that and I got the impression if I couldn't do it by myself, the staff weren't going to help me. It costs 315 yen per person over the age of 6 to make this membership card. After you make it you move to reception to show proof of identity and to request which package you want. There are a few different types, but with young children you basically need to just choose a 3 hour or all day pack. You pay on the way out.
There are a number of facilities including, but not limited to, the kids park, play house area, costume dress up, fishing, amusement games (which are included in the cost), sports areas with soccer, baseball, archery, golf etc. There are even bowling lanes that are included in the cost, but you need to pay extra for shoe rental. They have karaoke rooms too. You can pay for drink bar, where you can help yourself to unlimited drinks. They have a selection of soft drinks and some coffee too.
The hours for the play centre are 10 am to 5 am, the game centre has extended hours. The cost depends on the package. They currently (2016) have a summer package for 3 hours of play on weekdays for 720 yen for school aged children. Adults cost more. There is a restaurant in the play area. The selection is limited, but it is reasonably priced. The nearest stations are Sayamashi and Iriso on the Seibu Shinjuku line. They are both about a 20 to 25 minute walk from Cats Eye or you can take a bus from Sayamashi station. Parking is free.