Entering Children's Land (Kodomo no Kuni) in the green hills west of Tama plains is like entering a land of playing fun. Access to this "Land" is by special train, one stop from transporation system used by the rest of the country. Opened in 1965 to commemorate the marriage of the current T.M. Emperor and Empress, Kodomo no Kuni, or Children's Land, exists for the delight of children to get them out of their urban environment and into the fantasy land, for many children in this large conurbation, of natural woodlands and obstacle-course like attractions.
Getting around this huge area is easier if you transport small children in the strollers provided. If you haven't brought your own, make a beeline for the left of the main entrance to rent one of their very functional models. Renting bikes is also possible, near the cycling course inside. This distance seems quite vast once you start walking toward a facility, so pushchairs are a must for small hikers. But the inner ring road is only 2.4km long, and the perimeter road about 4km long. The concrete structures along the inner ring road are the remains of the ammunition storehouses, maintained by both the Japanese military during World War II, and the U.S. military from 1946-1961. But this Land feels much bigger than its 240 acres, especially after you've made a few wrong turns. The main attraction are the outdoor kind; sports facilities, swimming pools/ice skating rinks, camping grounds, boating and rafting on lakes. The pony riding is ideal for small people. You only get one round, led by an attendant, for your 200 yen, but for children unaccustomed to large animals, just holding onto the large metal bar on the saddle (reins might engender too much control), seems to result in a sadly comparative thrill.
The zoo is filled with a rainbow of birds and fowl arrayed in every color imaginable. The kids just throw these a cursory glance as the pass: the birds are in cages, so there's not even the thrill of running among them as in the local park and scaring them into flight. Fortunately, there's only one cage with tanuki inside. The rabbits are one of the biggest attractions, as the children can go into their enclosure and pat the creatures on their laps. The ubiquitous towels placed on children's laps at most "petting zoos" are absent at this more rigorously natural enclosure. You can also play with farm animals such as pigs and goats, if you can get hold of them, and there are also demonstrations of dairy farming, milking, etc. This is not all as peaceful as it seems: the last time we were there, four U.S. F-16s on military maneuvers managed to silence the noise from about 150 yochien kids.
The most valuable thing about Children's Land is the many obstacles courses and outdoor "challenge" events where children swing on ropes, balance on beams, and tear through industrial-sized playground equipment. They gambol through the woods and glades, play hide and seek in tunnels with echoes, wrestle with stepping stones in a stream and climb hills to cross hanging bridges.
| FAMILY LAND TOP | UENO PARK | Fishy
PUROLAND & others |
| TEPCO | Kokuei Showa Kinen Koen Park | For Kappa Water Sprites |
| Camp Around | Children's Land (Kodomo no Kuni) |
| Are you a cat person or a dog person? | Planetariums | Hangers-Out |