I had a bit of an unscheduled trip to Tokyo last week, tacked on right before a weekend in Kyoto from which I am just now returning as this posts. I’m not complaining, mind you. I love my former hometown of Tokyo as much as a girl can and will take any excuse to go back. This time, however, I had my toddler in tow ago and while my husband was off at various work-related events, I found myself with some hours to kill and a desire to find an activity out of this endless summer humidity.
Thankfully, I remembered a website I had seen ages ago on ASOBono, part of the entertainment complex attached to the Tokyo Dome City complex (where the Tokyo Giants play). It seemed like the perfect indoor activity so when the hot temperatures of early afternoon rolled around, off we trundled to ASOBono.
Here in Kumamoto, the city runs a (free) play center that houses activity spaces for kids of all ages (a bit like Kichijoji 123 if you remember this post from a year ago). ASOBono is a private enterprise but the set-up they have is like my local play center on steroids. The first room you enter is a huge indoor jungle gym, complete with slides, climbing ropes, a climbing wall and a pirate ship themed area. At the base of that is a ball pit and padded boundaries where parents could sit and observe. A bouncy house stands next to that and frankly, if I hadn’t insisted, my daughter would never have left this little playground heaven.
But don’t let your kids spend all their time here. They might want to construct their own mini town and train set in the massive train room (at least 15 different sets were being used when we were there). Or perhaps they can shop for plastic food at the mini market and cook up something good for you to eat at the attached pretend restaurant area. There was a music corner, an area with all the accessories needed for playing house with a selection of dolls, a game room (think checkers with bear-shaped pieces and cool mind-engaging games) and a wall devoted to designs that kids could add magnetic puzzles pieces to.
For the younger set, an entire playroom was devoted to 0-24 months only and was conveniently located right next to the nursing area and the bathrooms, both of which were equipped with baby changing areas.
The only downside to ASOBono is that this playtime comes at a hefty price. Adults pay a flat fee of ¥900 for the day. Kids above 6 months cost ¥900 for the first hour and ¥400 for each additional half hour. An all day pass for the kids is an excellent value at ¥1500, and is usually available on weekdays but we didn’t have it offered to us this trip. (Perhaps because the site was extremely crowded on these last few days of summer vacation.) I hustled my daughter out of there right at the 60 minute mark to keep the financial damage low, but she would have happily stayed for hours had I let her.
This isn’t the cheapest option to entertain your kids in Tokyo, but on a hot or rainy day, I would absolutely suggest this as an alternative. Parents can take turns exploring the Tokyo Dome Complex or the nearby Koishikawa Korakuen Garden while junior plays happily for an hour or so. Judging from my daughter’s delight, we’ll definitely make a return trip here someday.
The Tokyo Dome City website has a bit of information in English about ASOBono.