Saturday, 8 October 2011

Toy Kingdom

H went back to work on Monday, after nearly 5 months of paternity leave. He didn't seem to find it too hard to get back into the working routine; I suspect that he'd had enough of being at home with his nagging wife...

Anyway, last Wednesday we decided to make the most of our work-free weekdays, and went to Toy Kingdom in Okayama for the day. It's a fair way from here, over 2 hours on the expressway, but the boys were really good in the car and it was definitely worth the drive. The park was open from 10 to 5; we were there from 10.20 until it closed!

Like our trip to a closer amusement park back in May, there was hardly anybody there. As it was a weekday and not the summer holidays, parking was not a problem..

All 4 of us went on the Big Wheel and admired the view of the Seto Inland Sea and its lovely cone-shaped islands. We also had a good view of the empty car park and the deserted park itself. See if you can spot a single person..

Entry to the park was 700yen for adults and 500yen for children. This included entrance to lots of different play areas including Wooden Toy House...

... Story Book House, Game House (I had fun playing Pop Up Pirate) and Train House. If he hadn't already seen what else there was in the park, I think that K would have happily spent all day just playing with the trains...

It was a lovely sunny day and a little too hot in the middle of the day, so the air-conditioned Train House was perfect for a couple of little breaks (and breast-feeding stops). K was quite happy to play by himself for a while. Look at all those train-tracks just waiting to be laid out!

There were also lots of ride-on toys to play with freely...

... as well as a sand pit and a whole other area of slides and playground equipment, neither of which we even got to! We didn't make it to the Building Block House either, although we did admire the giant models scattered around the park.

But even with all that on offer for only the park entrance price, we couldn't resist the 'free pass' tickets. The rides in the park cost at least 200yen a time, but an unlimited pass was only 1500yen. With so few people there we didn't have to worry about queuing, and we were able to go on as many rides as we wanted to.

K soon spotted this one, and went on it twice...

Actually, he went on everything twice I think! Of the 17 pay-for rides at the park, there were only 3 which K was too small for. There were several he could go on by himself but he generally preferred to ride with one of us. We worked our way around the park, with H and I taking it turns to go on with K, while the other one waited with T. And then later, we went back and did them again the other way around. H and I are both pretty wimpy when it comes to rollercoasters and the like, so this park suited us all very well :-)

There were lots of classic amusement park rides: teacups and merry-go-round, tiny flume ride and flying elephants. K and I even went on a little rollercoaster, which was just about in my comfort zone! As soon as we set off K cowered into my side and made lots of scared noises, but he later declared it his favourite ride...

H and I both enjoyed driving the go-carts, and the bumper boats. We were, in turn, the only people on them, so there was no-one to actually bump into, but that was probably a good thing.

The free passes also gave us entry to the exhibition hall, which is currently hosting a display on insects; perfect for the boys (of all ages) of the Monkey family! As well as big beetles in cases to look at, there was a big box filled with compost to dig for larvae in, and a little pond to fish for gengorou (predaceous diving beetles).

Finally, we explored the play gym, with its tunnels, slides and ball pool. There seem to be a lot of this kind of play area in the UK now but H and I had just been saying that you don't see them in Japan. But in Toy Kingdom, anything is possible!

We all really enjoyed our day. Another advantage of going when it was so quiet was that H and I could play freely too, with minimal embarrassment. If you are anywhere within a couple of hours of Okayama and have a young child or two to entertain (or a couple in their 30s...), I would heartily recommend it!

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