by Katherine Whatley
For most parents, the start of tsuyu, or the rainy season, is met with despair. It’s difficult enough to keep kids happy when they are able to go outside, so what do you do when it’s raining? Don’t be discouraged, there are plenty of activities you can turn to in order to keep your kids occupied during those rainy weeks.
First of all, you don’t always have to keep your kids inside. If there are no gusts of wind or thunder, let them go outside onto your terrace or garden to run around and play in swimsuits. There is nothing better than mizuasobi, or water play, to cool kids down and dissipate some of that boundless energy.
If it is thundering, why not take children to an indoor pool? There are a number of public pools around the city, including the pool at the National Stadium in Meiji Jingu as well as a Shibuya-ward owned pool next to Daikanyama station on the Toyoko Line. The entrance prices for these pools are quite reasonable at just ¥400 per adult and ¥100 per child for up to two hours. Many of these pools have a smaller kiddy pool, as well as classes and activities throughout July and August. Call your local ward office for more information specific to your area. Be aware, though, that most of the pools will require all bathers to wear a swim-cap; these can be purchased at the front desk if you’re caught off guard.
If you’ve been to your neighborhood pool a few to many times and the kids are growing weary of the same scenery, why not go a little farther afield? Odaiba has two museums that will easily satisfy the curiosity of children for a number of hours. The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, otherwise known as Miraikan, really looks like something out of the future with its glass sides and suspended globe. Kids can explore a life-sized model of a space station, or try their hands at being a surgeon or the operator of a maglev train, to name a few things. Though many of the explanations are in Japanese, most things are hands on, so should interest kids of any age and any nationality. On the weekends, the museum sometimes has English speaking guides as well. Check the website for upcoming events; if you’re lucky, you may be able to catch a glimpse of Asimo, a famous robot, on display. The Miraikan is on the Yurikamome line, three minutes’ walk from the station Telecom Center.
The Museum of Maritime Science, or Fune no Kagakukan, is a museum dedicated to boats and ships. There are models of many types of boats, from canoes to the famous 1898 battleship Shikishima. Kids will love exploring the first Japanese ship to go to Antarctica, the Soya, which is moored next to the museum. During July and August, check out the small water park next to the museum. The Museum of Maritime Science is one stop away from the Miraikan at the station Fune no Kagakukan, but the distance between the two is short and can easily be walked.
What better way to impress your kids than to let them experience the wonders of the oceans firsthand? The underwater tunnel through the main tank of Shinagawa Aquarium makes visitors feel just that. This aquarium is sure to get kids—and adults—excited. Try taking your children to the touching tank, where they can reach in and feel the starfish. To get Shinagawa Aquarium, either take the Keihin line from Shinagawa station to Omori-Kaigan station and walk eight minutes, or take the JR line to Omori station and catch the free shuttle bus which runs every 15 minutes during peak times from the number six bus stop.
As the rainy season gives way to hot, humid summer days, parents will find more and more difficulty coming up with ways to keep kids entertained and happy, but a little imagination and resourcefulness goes a long way. Most importantly in Japan, try to keep cool!
Both Shinagawa Aquarium and the Miraikan are closed on Tuesdays and Fune no Kagakunan is closed on Mondays.
For More Information:
Museum of Maritime Science: www.funenokagakukan.or.jp/index_e.html
List of some of the pools in Tokyo: www.liveworkexplore.com/tokyo/residents/activities/sports-_and_-activities/swimming
List of some aquariums: www.tokyowithkids.com/entertainment/aquarium_maps.html
Shinagawa Aquarium (Japanese only): www.aquarium.gr.jp/index.html