SANRIO PUROLAND & others

Sanrio Puroland in Tama Center appears to be a finely managed commercial venture, but for children young and not-so-young, the amusement center succeeds right off the bat in giving you the feeling of entering a fairy tale. In the middle of the modern concrete complex, a huge pastel castle (I can't help it but it looks like a love hotel) decorated with a neon rainbow above the entrance, makes an immediate impression on the imagination. This is Japan's homegrown version of Disneyland, where the characters Miss Kitty, Keroppi, Badtz-Maru (there is a list of all the characters with their birthdays and relatives on the Puroland's HP -- e.g. Badtz-Maru (1993), birthday April 1 (go figger; sic), born Oahu Island, Hawaii) and their pals come alive for the kids who clamor for their souvenirs to adorn their preschool bento boxes.
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To get the most out of the day without spending the most, buy a "passport," a pass which gives access to all events. Or pay admittance and buy "Joy Tickets" for 100 yen (attractions and shows require four or five tickets each).

After entering on the third floor, go down to the second and first floors where the goodies are located. In the middle, the Wisdom Tree spreads out its branches. Several niches on the tree feature tableaux such as Miss Kitty's room or "Our Best Friends," comprising three mirrors on the wall showing the most beautiful person in the world. Just push the button and your picture is in there. Funny faces are funny.

The Fantastic Puro Adventure boat ride circles the whole place. You pass mystery forests, treasure seekers, a space room, a world of inventions; all accompanied by characteristic dramatic fairy-tale music. It is a beautiful and impressive experience -- not at all scary.

For something thrilling, go for the pre-historical monster Godzilla. "Dream Time Machine" takes you on a 4-D adventure on board Spaceship Earth in search of the Great Scaled One, Fasten your seat belt on the moving chair (only for kids taller than 110cm) and put on your 3-D glasses.

Slightly scary monsters and dragons also appear at the Legend of Goal attraction. You follow the princess' adventures in this 360 degrees theater with very hi-tech robots.

Fairyland Theater offers a musical set in a mysterious forest where the trees and stones speak as background accompaniment to the main pig, dog and monkey characters.

You can easily spend the whole day at this place -- there are so many shows, attractions and they last about 30 min. each. To fill other needs, check out Kan no Restaurant's buffet; Food Machine Restaurant's cheaper food and cakes, all made by the Robot Chef; or Gourmet Bazaar's fast food, despite the name.

One thing that could definitely bother kids with ants in their pants is the long queues for everything, even if you go on a weekday. After a few impatient waits, we tried going into a show at the last moment, when there were only tachimi (standing) places left, so we sat on the stairs. People usually sit down and wait around 30 minutes for the Starlight Parade of characters (costumed performers) to dance around the Wisdom Tree. The lights go out and the floats with all their "stuffed stars" seem almost unreal.

The big pull seems to be touching your TV idol in the (costumed) flesh. Miss Kitty & Co. walk around and let the kids feel them, then wonder why their heads are so hard. You can also find Kitty and other of your favorite characters at the Harmonyland, 5933 Fujiwara, Oaza, Hiji-machi, Hayami-gun, Oita-ken Prefeture in Kyushu (on Highway 10). Tel: (0977) 73-1111.

Access: Take the Odakyu-Tama Line or Hashimoto-bound Keio-Sagamihara Line to Tama Center Sta. It takes about 35 min. from Shinjuku Sta. by express. Walk 5 min.

Open: Mon.-Fri., 10am-5pm; Sat., Sun. & hol., 10am-8pm.

Closed: 2nd & 3rd Wed.; Thurs.

One-day Pass: 18 yrs. and up 4,400 yen, 12-17 yrs. 4,000 yen, 4-11 yrs. 3,300 yen (4,000 yen, 3,700 yen & 3,000 yen in advance). Sat., Sun. & hol. Evening Pass (after 4pm): 3,400 yen, 3,000 yen & 2,600 yen (3,000 yen, 2,700 yen & 2,300 yen in advance).

Tel: (042) 339-1111.

(URL: http://www.sanrio.co.jp/) in Chinese, English & Japanese

(URL: http://www.sanrio.co.jp/english/welcome.html)

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Others

Amusement Parks

(Yuuenchi) and Theme Parks (Teema Parks) (URL: http://www.yuuenchi.com) in Japanese only but has more or less everything

Asakusa Hanayashiki

Asakusa Sta. (Ginza/Toei-Asakusa lines). Tel: (03) 3842-8780. Open 10:30am to 6pm.

Fujikyu Highland

Take JR Chuo Honsen Line to Otsuki Sta. (1hr. by tokkyu train), then change to Fuji-Kyuko Line (50 min.). Or, take a Chuo Kosoku Bus, Fuji Goko Line (1hr. 40 min.) from Shinjuku Sta. W. Exit. Tel: (0555) 72-5111.

Keio Bus Yoyaku (Reservation) Center

(03) 5376-2222. (URL: http://www.fujikyu.co.jp) in English and Japanese. Also look at Odakyu Group (URL: http://www.odakyu-group.co.jp/) in Chinese, English, Japanese and Korean.

Fuji Subaruland Doggy Park

Kawaguchiko Sta. (Fuji-Kyuko Line), 15 min. by bus. Daily, 8:30-5:30pm. 1,800 yen. Tel: (0555) 72-2239.

Korakuen Yuenchi

Korakuen Sta. (Marunouchi Line). Tel: (03) 3811-2111.

Marble Village Rock Heart Castle (Dairiseki-mura Rokku Haatojou)

Numata Sta. (JR Joetsu Line), 15 min. by bus. Daily, 9am-5pm. 1,000 yen: 50o yen for kids up to 6 years old. Tel: (0279) 63-2101.

Namco Nanja Town

Higashi Ikebukuro Sta. (Yurakucho Line), walk 5 min. Tel: (03) 5950-0765. Open 10am to 10pm.

Nasu Animals' Kingdom
(Nasu Doubutsu Oukoku) Kuroiso Sta. (JR Keihin-Tohoku Line), by shuttle bus. Tel: (0287) 77-1110. Open 10am to 5pm. 1,700 yen for adults; 1,000 yen for kids.
Nasu Highland Park
Kuroiso Sta. (JR Keihin-Tohoku Line), 1 hr. by bus. Daily, 9am-6pm. 1,500 yen for adults; 800 yen for kids + rides. Tel: (0287) 76-3111 / (0287) 78-1150.
Niigata Russian Village
(Niigata Rosha-mura) Niigata Sta., 20 min. by bus. Tel: (0250) 63-1111. Open Tues. to Sun., 9am to 5pm.
Nikko Edo Mura Kinugawa
Onsen Sta. (Tobu-Kinugawa Line), 20 min. by bus. Tel: (0288) 77-1777. (URL: http://www.jidaimura.co.jp) in Chinese, English and Japanese
Nikko Kinugawa Western-mura
(Tobu-Kinugawa Line from Tobu-Asakusa Sta.) / Kinugawa Onsen Sta., 20 min. by bus. Tel: (0288) 21-8731. (URL: http://www.western-mura.co.jp) in Japanese only
Nippon Land HOW Yuenchi
Shuttle bus from Gotenba Station (Gotenba Line), Mishima or Fuji stations (JR Tokaido Line). Tel: (0559) 98-0636.
Seibuen Yuenchi
Seibu-Yuenchi Sta. (Seibu-Shinjuku Line). Saitama-ken Prefecture. Tel: (042) 922-1371. Open 10am to 5pm. 1,000 yen for adults; 500 yen for kids.
Nishi-Sendai Highland
Tel: (022) 395-2832. Open 9am to 5pm. 1,000 yen for adults, 700 yen for kids. Adult “Free Pass” is 3,800 yen; kids “Free Pass” is 3,200 yen.
Tama Tech
Tama Dobutsu Koen Sta. (Keio Line/Tama Toshi Monorail), walk 15 min. Daily, 9am-5pm. 1,600 yen. Tel: (042) 591-0820.
Tobu Dobutsu Koen
Tobu Dobutsu Koen Sta. (Tobu-Isesaki Line), walk 10 min. Daily, 9:30am-5:30pm. 1,500 yen + rides. Tel: (0480) 93-1200. (URL: http://www.tobuzoo.com/no-plugin-index.html)
Tobu World Square
Fun park with miniatures of famous landmarks from around the world. Kinugawa Onsen Sta. (Tobu-Kinugawa Line), 5 min. by bus. Daily, 9am-5pm. 2,500 yen for adults; 1,200 yen for children. Tel: (0288) 77-1055.
Tokyo Disneyland
Tel: (0473) 54-0001. (URL: http://www.tokyodisneyland.co.jp) in Chinese, English, Japanese and Korean
Tokyo Joypolis
O-Daiba Kaihin Koen Sta. (Tokyo Rinkai Shin-Kotsu/New Transit Yurikamome from Shinbashi Sta.). Daily, 10am-11pm. 500 yen for adults; 300 yen for kids; Passport: 3,800 yen for adults, 3,3000 yen for kids. Tel: (03) 5500-1801.
Tokyo Sesame Place
Hachioji Sta., then by bus to Summerland. Tel: (042) 596-5811/(042) 558-6511. (URL: http://www.sesameplace.co.jp) in Japanese
Tokyo Summerland
Hachioji Sta. (JR Chuo Line) / Keio-Hachioji Sta. (Keio Line), 30 min. by bus. Tel: (042) 558-6511.
Toshimaen
Toshimaen Sta. (Seibu-Ikebukuro Line). Tel: (03) 3990-8844. (URL: http://www.toshimaen.co.jp/) in Japanese only

Tsukuba Wan-Wan Land

Tsuchiura Sta. (JR Joban Line), 40 min. by bus. Daily, 10am-5pm. 1,500 yen for adults; 700 yen for kids. Tel: (0298) 66-1001.

Wan-Wan Dobutsuen

201 Niigata Sta., 20 min. by bus. Tel: (0250) 63-0201. Yokohama Dreamland Totsuka Sta. (JR Tokaido Line), 20 min. by bus. Tel: (045) 851-1411.

Yomiuri Land
Yomiuri Land-mae Sta. (Odakyu Line), by bus 10 min. or Keio-Yomiuri Land Sta. (Keio-Sagamihara Line from Chofu Sta.), 6 min. by Sky Road. Tel: (044) 966-1111. (URL: http://www.yomiuriland.co.jp) in Japanese only

 


 

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