Water parks to cool off you and the kids

by Danielle Tate-Stratton

Kids tired of splashing in the kiddy pool you crammed onto your balcony under the drying laundry? Wishing you had the room to set up a sprin­kler to run through or slip and slide to rush down? Pining away for the waterslides you used to zip down in your youth? Well, while we might not be able to help you with the first few woes of summer, it’s time to stop reminiscing and start sliding! Tokyo and the sur­rounding area is home to several waterslide and splash parks which make a great day out for the entire family. There are also some very impressive parks a bit further away (but still in Japan), which would make for a love­ly weekend away.

Close to Home

Located in Tokyo’s Nerima-ku, Toshimaen Hydropolis is a large family water park with thirty-one slides of nine varieties. There is also an onsen and wave pool. Besides the water attractions, the complex includes an amuse­ment park with a roller coaster, ‘flying pirates’ (where you swing back and forth in large ‘pirate ships’ suspended in the air), and other thrill rides, along with rides bet­ter suited for the smaller ones in your family such as a small train, carousel, and more, including a 4-D theater. Entrance fees vary depending on what parts of the park you buy admission for, but for tickets including the rides and water park, prices are as follows: adults: ¥4,200, chil­dren over 110cm tall: ¥3,200, children under 110cm tall: ¥1,900. Tel. 03-3990-8800, www.toshimaen.co.jp/.

In Hachioji, Summerland is another great place for a watery day trip. This park includes a wave pool/beach area, kids splash area where you can wait for a large bucket to fill up and soak you, onsen, fruit-themed in­door kids slide area, a water obstacle course, large tub­ing ‘river’, traditionally exciting slides, and outdoor kids slide area. The complex also includes dry-land amusement rides such as fly­ing swings and spinning tea­cups, places to eat, bowling, a golf driving range, and more! All-park tickets range from ¥2,000-¥4,500 during the summer. For lots of pictures and information in Japanese, plus access and ticket infor­mation in English, visit www.summerland.co.jp. Tel. 04-2558-6511.

Weekender Water Getaways

Although the word onsen doesn’t exactly conjure up images of cooling water, the Hakone Kowakien Yunessun (hotsprings and amuse­ment park) not only features un-heated zones, but is also totally cool in the other sense of the word. Sure to appeal to kids, the unique amusement park geared towards families (wear your swimsuit!) includes wa­terslides, themed Roman and Turkish baths (in the Turkish bath, you can get your feet nibbled by small fish—sure to make kids and adults alike giggle!), and lots of different types of onsen. Try the red wine onsen (good for your skin), coffee bath (supposedly rejuvenat­ing), green tea spa, and more. Mini-golf style, each bath includes a large decorative model of the onsen‘s theme. The complex also includes a replica Dead Sea for effort­less floating, large waterfall, a jungle gym, and about a doz­en more. For lots of English information about the park, access, tickets, and more, visit www.yunessun.com/english/. For general information about Hakone, a great weekend getaway loca­tion, visit wikitravel.org/en/Hakone.

For a truly impressive wa­tery weekend, head to Miyazaki (a one-and-a-half hour flight from Tokyo) and visit the Ocean Dome at the Phoenix Seagaia Resort. Ocean Dome is the largest indoor water park in the world, measuring 100m by 300m by 38m high. The entire complex is covered by a retractable sliding roof. In­side, Ocean Dome is a large beach without the salt or pol­lution. With the temperature controlled to approximate­ly 30 degrees C, the ‘beach’ sports a white sand-stretch by the crystal clear water. There is a floating pool, kids pool, and three waterslides as well as the main ‘ocean’, which even features regulated waves. Watch a surfing show or try your hand at body boarding. You can rent the board and the regular waves are perfect for learning how to ride in to the beach. An added bonus is knowing that you won’t get a nose full of saltwater when you flip over on the way in!

Stay at one of several hotels that are part of the resort, including the 743-room Sheraton Grande Ocean Resort or the 14-wing, 72-room Cottage Himuka, which offers both western and Japanese-style family rooms. These can hold up to eight people each, and boast a washer, dryer, and kitchen, making them ideal for a trip with the kids.

Ocean Dome

The large resort complex also features other hotels, four golf courses, a spa and onsen, and numerous shopping and dining opportunities.