I’ve always loved summer and thought that this was a universal sentiment shared by most.
That is, until I moved to Japan and discovered that in some climates, summer brings with it a certain amount of dread. Along with energy draining, matted-forehead-inducing humid, sticky, intense heat. I remember being a little perturbed when people would groan, “argh, summer is coming” with the irritated yet tolerant look of a parent who’s baby has decided to poop right into her freshly-changed nappy (yes, parenting has become my point of reference for most things now…). Meanwhile, I would be getting ready to do a happy dance at the thought of donning the jandals, swimming, surfing and eating ice-cream. Then I experienced my first Japanese summer and understood.
Still, I’ll always be a summer, beach-loving girl and have excitedly been discovering the many awesome jabu jabu ike (lit: splash pond) around Tokyo. I am also super stoked to find that my baby crab loves the water and bravely plunges in and crawls away like a crocodile wherever we go. In fact she once crawled straight over the edge of the paddle pool and into the water before I had a chance to grab her and barely batted an eyelid. While pushing aside feelings of mum-failure (oh my gosh I let her fall in the pool!) I was also a little, ok maybe a lot, proud. Especially when the other mums around exclaimed “she didn’t cry!”, “wow, strong!”. Anyway, here are some of the places we have visited so far. Most are open until the end of August/beginning of September, so if you haven’t already, I totally recommend giving it a go!
This was the first we visited with some new friends so holds a special place in my heart. It was so fun seeing her crawl and splash around in the water while we hovered anxiously closeby.
Location: 2-21-12 Minamiaoyama, Minato, Tokyo 107-0062, Japan
This was probably my favourite for the fun fountains, super clean pool and spongy pool floors and walls which made it a bit easier on bubs’ knees. There is also a playground next door.
Open Hours: Wednesday – Sunday 10am-4pm; Tuesdays 10am-12pm. Closed 12pm – 1pm for pool cleaning.
Location: 1-11-4 Kachidoki, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
The Meguro Kumin Center boasts a pristine outdoor toddler pool with a slide, separate outdoor adults pool (ages 3 and up) and an indoor pool (ages 3 and up). I liked the toddler pool because it had two different depths: one which is shallow enough for babies to crawl around on their own, and one deep enough for babies to float and “swim”. I’ve found that it is quite difficult to find decent depth swimming pools that allow diaper-wearing babies to enter, so that’s a big benefit.
In the same venue there is also a jidoukan (children’s centre), which makes a great after-swim air-condtioned refuge for a feed and play before heading home.
Price: 100 yen (guardian free)
Open hours: 10am-5pm, open until September 10
Swimming Nappy required
Location: Meguro 2-4-36, Meguro-ku, Tokyo
I was amazed when I went to this place! The park hosts free pony rides and a petting zoo! At certain times of the day you can feed the animals and hold the bunnies. Right next to the zoo is a small wading area with a fountain. The concrete was a little hard on bubs’ knees, but it didn’t stop her from crawling all over the place (I sent papa to tail her)!
Open Hours: 10am-4pm. There are also set hours for feeding the animals, holding the bunnies and pony rides, so please check the website (google translate can help you!).
Location: 3 Chome-50 Itabashi, Itabashi-ku, Tōkyō-to 173-0004, Japan