This year saw the first ever ‘Mountain Day’ national holiday in Japan. With Ricky being off from nursery we decided to visit one of Japan’s oldest amusement parks; Toshimaen, which originally opened in 1927.
Toshimaen is owned by the Seibu (railway) group, and is located at the very end of the line. Here’s Ricky about to get on Seibu’s distinctive yellow trains.
Passing through the entrance gate you’ll soon see a real Pikachu – and a ball to throw at it – real life Pokemon Go!
Ricky wondering what on earth this place is.
As Ricky’s still only 2-years-old he was free. However, at least one of us adults needed a 1-day unlimited ticket to be able to go on the kid’s rides with him, whilst the other could just buy a standard entrance ticket to get in (which didn’t include any rides, which wasn’t a problem for us as we were in parenting mode!).
That morning, when explaining to Ricky where we were going, rather than trying to explain that we were going to an amusement park (an explanation that he lacks the vocabulary to understand) we’d told him that we were going to see some animals (knowing that the park includes a petting zoo). His response was to ask to see a cow… Knowing that we were unlikely to find any bovine creatures we tried to persuade him that dogs and goats would be much more exciting.
He’s both scared and fascinated by animals.
On the way to the petting zoo we came across a giant Anpanman ride. Well, there was no missing this! With no queues, Ricky was flying up up up and away within seconds!
Shortly after that it was on to the sky train. With Ricky’s love of steam engines this was a big hit too.
Finally it was on to the petting zoo. This cost an additional 700yen per adult, but was well worth it! The pony was one of those big scary animals that Ricky prefers to keep a fair distance from – likewise with goats.
The turtles were a big hit; Ricky was fascinated watching them slowly demolish the carrot sticks he gave them.
Next on to the sheep. Being behind a fence it wasn’t too scary, and he was happy to feed it too (the food dispenser was an adapted Gachapon machine!)
They had a lot of cute little dogs too, but with 10 or so of them it was a bit much for Ricky, who likes to be able to monitor exactly where dogs are…!
The kangaroo was a bit of a surprise – Ricky’s first encounter with the real version of the creature he often imitates!
Back in the small animal section he fed the rabbits, and had a go at holding some little yellow chicks.
Once we were done with the animals it was on to the rides, starting with a couple of trains, a helicopter, a digger and a racing car.
Next was a classic carousel, which was originally built in Germany in 1907, toured the US for a number of years before being brought to Japan. Its decorations, wooden horses, pigs and sleighs were in stunning condition considering its age, and it fitted well with the general feel of Toshimaen – ‘vintage’.
When it comes to carousels, Ricky always opts for the bench-style seats.
Following lunch, Ricky’s driving lessons continued, this time with some classic cars and a log flume ride, both of which he loved. He also spent some time in the indoor ball-pool / climbing frame, which gave mummy and daddy the chance to take a break too.
Overall, it made for a great day out for a 2-year-9-month-old.
The park also has a number of adult rides (3 rollercoasters, big log flume, pirate ship etc, all the usual classic rides). In the summer, the big pool area which features multiple water slides, is hugely popular, meaning that the rest of the park is pretty quiet.
We barely had to queue at all, which was great for rides which Ricky wanted to go on multiple times. In that sense it was unlike any other theme park we’ve been to.
Provided your child is over 90cm, there’s plenty to keep them entertained. The kind of slightly run-down feel of the place actually adds to the atmosphere – at least as adults – it makes you feel a little more nostalgic!
That said, they are maintaining the rides, and renewing some areas such as the ‘kodomo no mori’ (reopening in November).
It’s definitely recommended, and is somewhere we’ll be visiting again next year.
The official home page is here.