Water Babies

Families - June 19th, 2009
Photo by CataractEye

Make a Splash at Tokyo’s Best Outdoor Pools

by Anne Roberts

Photo by CataractEye

It’s that time of year again—the sun is high, the days are long, and Tokyo’s outdoor swimming and wading pools have begun to open for business. Despite our beloved city’s notorious overpopulation, pollution, and muggy summers, there are surprisingly many venues available for cooling off, and most of them are extremely family-friendly, with many offering separate kids’ pools and even allowing inflatable tubes and other floating devices. Public pools have the advantage of very affordable rates, but can sometimes get overcrowded, especially on the weekends. For a slightly more private (yet pricier) dip, try the pools at some of Tokyo’s top hotels, many of which allow entrance to the public for a fee. Below are recommendations for some of the city’s most popular summer destinations, but for more information you may want to consider contacting your area’s city office (kuyakusho), which can provide details on local pools that are open to the public, along with hours and fees.

Public Pools Meguro Citizens Center Swimming Pool This public swimming complex includes indoor, outdoor and children’s pools. The outdoor pool is 50m long, with some lanes roped off for lap swimming and the rest available for more ‘leisurely’ visitors. 2-4-36 Meguro, Meguro-ku Tel. 03-3711-1139 Entrance: ¥200 for adults, ¥100 for children junior high school age or younger. Open: July 10–September 10 (closed Mondays).

Aqua Field Shiba Park This recently renovated sports facility is covered over to make a sports field in the spring and autumn, and used as an outdoor pool during summer months. There is a 50m by 18m swimming pool, a popular children’s pool (complete with slide), and even an onsite sauna. 2-7-2 Shiba-Koen, Minato-ku Tel. 03-5733-0575 Entrance: Adults ¥400, elementary and junior high school students ¥150, preschool children, the handicapped and Minato-ku residents aged 65 and older free. Open: July 1–September 15, 9am–5pm. Setagaya Park Swimming Pool The outdoor swimming pool is only one of the many attractions at Setagaya Park, about an 18-minute walk from Sangenjaya station. Tennis courts, a baseball diamond, a playground, and an archery area are sure to keep even difficult-to-please visitors busy. 1-5-27 Ikejiri, Setagaya-ku Tel. 03-3411-6519 Entrance: Adults ¥300, elementary and junior high school students, se¬niors, and the handicapped ¥100, infants free. Open: July 1–September 10, 9am–6:30pm (10am–5pm in September).

Tamagawa Nogemachi Park Swimming Pool This slightly L-shaped pool has ample space for floating, swimming, and playing, as well as a separate children’s pool. 1-25-1 Noge, Setagaya-ku Tel. 03-3702-4996 Entrance: Adults ¥300, elementary and junior high school students, seniors, and the handicapped ¥100, infants free. Open: July 1–September 10, 9am–6:30pm (10am–5pm in September).

Hotel Pools

New Otani Hotel One of Tokyo’s best outdoor hotel pools, the New Otani also has a hot tub and poolside bar, and is bordered by the attractive and peaceful Japanese garden, making you forget that you’re still in the city at all. Inflatable floating devices are available for no extra charge and there’s live entertainment on some evenings. 4-1 Kioicho, Chiyoda-ku Tel. 03-3265-1111 Entrance: Weekdays ¥12,000 (children ¥8,000), weekends ¥20,000 (chil¬dren ¥16,000), after 6pm ¥4,000. Open: July 17–September 23, 10am–7pm (until 10pm Wed–Sat and August 9–11). ANA Intercontinental Tokyo This hotel boasts a fantastic location in the heart of Tokyo. A 20m rect¬angular pool and a round children’s pool are bordered by a poolside snack bar accommodating up to 30 people. There are also great views of the surrounding skyline (see pages 12–15). 1-12-33 Akasaka, Minato-ku Tel. 03-3505-1111 Entrance: Weekdays ¥6,000, weekends, holidays, and August 8–16 ¥8,000, weekdays after 3pm ¥3,000. Open: July 1–September 6, 7am–8pm.

Hilton Tokyo Bay It may be a bit of a trek from the city, but this hotel pool is one of the better ones available. A large kidney-shaped pool, as well as a children’s pool, is surrounded by a lush Japanese garden and has a partial view of the sea. Located next to Tokyo Disney Resort, it’s the perfect place for a weekend away with the family. Entrance: Adults ¥6,000, children aged 4–12 ¥3,000, children under four free. Open: July 18–August 31, 8am–6:30pm.

Wading Pools Asukayama Park A very pleasant park in general, Asukayama isn’t the most green, but offers some of the best wading areas around, including artificial streams and waterfalls. Kita-ku Tel. 03-5320-7744 Entrance: Free. Open: Year round. Mitaoka no Ue Park Just behind the Westin Hotel near Ebisu Garden Place, this park offers plenty of space for wading in the shallow waters on a hot day. 2-19-15 Kamimeguro, Meguro-ku Tel. 03-5722-9741 Entrance: Free. Open: Year round.

Shiokaze Park Entire days could easily be spent at this extensive park in Odaiba, but the excellent wading and splash pools are located just next to the Maritime Museum. 1 Higashi Yashio, Shinagawa-ku Tel. 03-5500-2455 Entrance: Free. Open: Year round, 9am–5pm (closed Mondays).

ANA Intercontinental Tokyo pool

Photo courtesy of ANA Intercontinental Tokyo