by Samantha Z. Cairney
Well there’s no time like now to give the old ardour meter a good kick. Cupid’s firing away on all bows and one of them has hit your behind, giving you a much needed push to rip off those smelly rubber Marigolds, check your nasal hair is under control and inject a dollop of romance back into your life! Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching, ready to assail us all with candy, cards, and a variety of chocolates wrapped up in every conceivable design to tempt even die-hard dieters from the path of light! Just because you have young kids now doesn’t mean you have to miss out—more a mere adjustment to expectations.
Kichijoji is a hugely popular area to young and old alike with its diverse variety of shopping and restaurants. A mere 10 minutes on the express train (Chuo Line) and Sobu Line from Shinjuku. Seventeen from Shibuya on the Keio Inokashira Line. Take the park exit from the station, go straight ahead to Marui Department (you can see a Body Shop inside). Take the first street on the left, you’ll find yourself walking down toward the park through an eclectic array of shops and restaurants to then be greeted by the delightful sight of Inokashira Pond. (Yeah, I know the word “pond” automatically makes you think of a small mass of muddy, brown, smelly water with bikes and other junk protruding from it, but bear with me!)
Boats can be rented for ¥600 an hour. Many couples go on dates here and actually the park has a dark history connecting it to the topic of “love.” A shrine sits framed by drooping trees on the edge of the pond, dedicated to a vengeful goddess of love called Benzaiten. It is said that she puts curses on couples who dare to venture out onto the water. However, this doesn’t seem to deter any of the thousands of couples who enjoy a “cruise” up and down the expanse of the lakeside!
Just ambling along the huge perimeter is a wonderfully, relaxing experience in itself. Have a picnic as a family, hold hands with your other half as you watch your gorgeous offspring run around ragged and think about that early bedtime which looks more and more like a tangible option with every step they take. Cafes are situated in the park area but if you fancy some authentic child friendly dining, Kichijoji has the perfect place for smaller kids.
Sylvania Mori no Kitchen is a
cafe designed for families.
Nestled behind Tokyu Department store across from Starbucks on the third floor, it is a welcome relief to parents dealing with toddlers who are infamous at this age for suddenly flying off into a temper tantrum for no apparent reason at all. Not one eyelid will bat as your wee treasure does the Russian highland flail dance right in the middle of the aisle, screaming blue murder and rotating their head 360 simultaneously. It’s almost expected! The booths are spacious and easy to maneuver young ones in and out of—also to confine them if needed! Highchairs available. A little play area is next to the dining area with a shop that sells a wide range of the Sylvanian toys. The restaurant also caters for parties. Please check out their site at sylvanian-families.jp/store/kitchen.
Odaiba is also a hot dating spot where couples can be seen galore holding hands, exchanging knowing little looks and giggles. When was the last time you went to the movies together, as a couple? Can’t remember? RIGHT! Well here’s your chance! Aqua City can help you to relight that fire, baby! A huge complex consisting of 60 restaurants, 80 fashion, goods and service shops and the first Multiplex in Tokyo boasting 13 cinemas. Professional childcare service is available for a fee where you can leave your kids and pop off to catch that movie, go to one of the many restaurants for a romantic meal or splurge out and treat yourself to some goodies. Or even all of the aforementioned!! There is a children’s park on the fourth floor, which is free, and a whole host of other services well worth going to see. Check it out at www.aquacity.co.jp.
The site is in English for your lengthy perusal. On the Yurikamome Line, Daiba Station. Rinkai Line, Osaki Station-Yamanote Line, Tokyo Teleport Station.
For those who really feel like pulling out all the stops, why not try a Symphony Cruise. Take your pick from a lunch, afternoon, sunset or dinner options. Set sail from Hinode Terminal and enjoy scrummy yummy cuisine heightened by panoramic views of Rainbow Bridge and the bay. www.symphony-cruise.co.jp/english/index.html
Well, I hope I’ve put your already overworked brain cells onto the scent for this year’s Valentine’s Day and it proves fruitful. Have a great Valentine’s Day everyone! I hope to see Tokyo aglow with all those fires being furiously fanned whilst I look on playing Beethoven’s Romance No2 on my fiddle!