Fact: Kids that go out to parks and playgrounds have been shown to be happier, smarter, and more attentive.
Assumption: Just doing a little simple math but, by taking my kids to 5 parks in 5 hours that will make them 5 times as smart? All jokes aside, challenge accepted.
Experiment: The Day of Play Challenge; 5 playgrounds in 5 hours
The Day of Play Challenge is the ultimate Play Day for kids where you challenge them to play at all the best playgrounds in a specific neighborhood. Going into this, I was thinking it would be less a challenge for the kids than it would be for me. Seeing that I am doing all the heavy lifting, dragging the kids to all these parks. Surprisingly, the kids also had a challenging day. It took a lot of determination, stamina, and teamwork from the kids to get through the day in one piece.
This time I took the kids to the streets of Azabujyuban to explore new playgrounds in an area they haven’t been. Equipped only with a backpack full of diapers, a collapsible stroller, and an emergency Ergo, we left the station on our 4km, 5 playground loop.
We took the train to AzabuJyuban station and set off on foot from there. All the rumors of AzabuJyuban being High Class and Fancy – they are all true. Many of the houses we walked by left me feeling belittled and poor. Within minutes of walking, we walked by not just one, but three Rolls Royces parked in front of a home. On the flipside, in such a fancy neighborhood came fancy cafes and great coffee for dad!
Walking Time: 50min
Walking Distance: 4.1km
Verticle incline: 60m
Play Time: 4-6hrs
From Starting Point to Park 1: 5mins (350m)
Park 1 – Ajiro Park
The first playground of the day is Ajiro Park, located in the heart of Azabyjyuban, just minutes from the station! This playground is better than your average city dweller flat dirt patch; it has a hill. Taking full advantage of the hill, by giving access to three different slides going off of it. One – Rainbow tube slide 2. Wall slide and 3. the long pin-roller slide.
The area is very downtown and is surrounded on all sides by roads, cafes and fancy people. So not surprisingly not every adult sitting down on a bench drinking a coffee were necessarily there with kids. I would presume that many of them were just taking a break. Either way, the coffee was good.
Juno’s Favorite: Rolling Pin Slide – its long and snakes down the hill.
Riley’s Favorite: The rainbow tube slide.
Awesome Perk: Easy access to coffee, snacks, and the station.
Kids Energy: [00000X] NEAR FULL (maybe had too much fun on the train)
From Partk 1 to Park 2: 9mins (700m) (UPHILL) (Then down a steep hill)
Park 2 – Miyamura Children’s Playground
This little-hidden playground was probably my favorite of the day. It’s small and tucked away behind a hill. The absolute best part was, it’s super quiet. This playground also had a Great Wall slide that the kids loved to climb up, but preferred to take the stairs down because the slide was a wee bit too scary. Now, the twisty slide was more their style, and that’s what they proceeded to do for the next 20-30mins, on repeat like a broken record.
Note: The hill on the way down can be a bit… holy and bumpy. While at the park I saw 2 kids faceplant going down the hill, which was a buzz kill to my great peace and quiet.
Juno’s Favorite: Spiral Slide
Riley’s Favorite: Stopping on the staircase to make her older sister mad. And Spiral Slide
Awesome Perk: Quiet, Good sun, great place to take a nap.
Kids Energy: [000XXX] HALFWAY (They went a little crazy on that slide)
From Park 2 to Park 3: 7mins (600m) (Down Hill)
Park 3 – Arisugawa-no-Miya Memorial Park
An awesome relic of a park that still uses wood, hidden in the woods of a forest. This place was absolutely amazing! There are little hiking trails, lots of greenery and a creek for good measure. It even smells like you are in a real forest. You can easily forget that you are in one of the worlds biggest super cities. Also the park has one of the biggest sandboxes I’ve seen to date and is well protected from the sun. Unfortunately, one kid already started to show signs of exhaustion and didn’t want to get off/share her pony spring toy. And things started to deteriorate from here.
Juno’s Favorite: Swing
Riley’s Favorite: Wooden Horse spring rider
Awesome Perk: Shade & Fresh Air
Kids Energy: [00XXXX] DANGEROUSLY LOW
From Park 3 to Park 4: 9mins (750m) (Back through the park)
Park 4 – Kogai Playground
Kogai Playground was the park that I was most excited for. This park has everything from a Tarzan rope zip-line to the awesome Mt. Fuji slide. Unfortunately, the kids were dangerously low on energy so we ate our riceballs and edamame and played on the swings.
Juno’s Favorite: The Swings
Riley’s Favorite: Edamame Beans
Awesome Perk: CONBINI Proximity is good.
Kids Energy: [XXXXXX] EMPTY
From Park 4 to Park 5: 8 mins (650m)
Park 5 – Sakurazaka Park (Robot Park)
The ultimate slide park. If your kids are anything like my kids, they love sliding. The only one thing they love more than sliding, is racing down slides. This park is literally just an entire row of progressively taller slides. It is a slide racing heaven! And both kids were dead asleep. By this time the stroller was already out and the emergency Ergo was in full use.
Juno’s Favorite: Stroller Nap
Riley’s Favorite: Ergo Nap
Awesome Perk: It was all downhill from here
Kids Energy: [XXXXXX] EMPTY
From Park 5 to Finishing Point: 13 mins (1km)
In the end, we didn’t complete the Challenge and failed to play at all of the great slides from Sakurazaka Park (Robot Park). But I did complete my main goal of getting the kids completely exhausted and tired! So I’d say the day was a big success.
About the Author
Mason Sturmer (blog[https://www.tokyosbestplaygrounds.com/]) – a friendly foreigner living and loving Tokyo.