After School Activities (from Art Classes to Farmstays to Rock-climbing to Zoo-trips)
L Parks & Gardens
A Science Museums ‘n Such (Dinosaur Parks, Astronomy Observatories, etc.)
X Educational Field Trips (Aquariums & Sea Parks; Beaches & Coasts; Caves, etc.)

If you are looking for classes, activities or spaces and places to suit your kids’ needs and interests, below is a VERY LONG list of afterschool activities, camps, workshops, “events & happenings” all over Japan that you can check out.

Adventure, afterschool, animals, art

Adventure clubs. The International Adventure Club organizes events ranging for trips to aquariums to winter alpine mountaineering. If someone wants to go somewhere, they organize the trip by means of a members email bulletin board. Membership is 5,000 yen a year — that includes all family members for one payment of 5,000 yen! Activities range throughout Japan but the bulk lean in favor of the Tokyo area. Meetings are once a month in Shibuya with usually interesting slide presentations on traveling and outdoor skills. There are skill level ratings for the trips.

Amusement parks, theme parks & leisure domes

Japan Adventures
has scheduled walks and hikes (currently to Okutama and Hokkaido) but can organize group trips too.

Yokohama Sportsland is an adventure park featuring over 50 obstacles, offering a physical outlet for your children. Four stages plus “Tom Sawyer’s Forest of Adventure” the park presents a variety of combinations of wood, rope, and metal that challenge strength, balance and flexibility. In August you can pick grapes in the park’s vineyard. BBQ pits and showers available. Access: 20 mins from Den’en-toshi Line’s Tsukushino Stn. Adult admission 800 yen; jr-hi school student 700 yen and elem. student 500 yen Hrs: 9:00-18:00

Kodomo no kuni is another adventure park Phone: 045-961-2111 Fax: 045-962-1366 Access: Kodomo no Kuni Sta. (Kodomo no Kuni Line). Large park with jungle gym, woods, and pond-rafting activities.

Afterschool academic programmes e.g. International Secondary School (ISS) where my sons are attending school is offering afterschool programmes that are open to all students living in TOkyo. The school has students from Grade 6 – Grade 12. Afterschool programmes in music, fine arts, performing arts and sport, etc., are offered. The fees per semester are 36,000 yen. The school is open to offering programmes that are of interest to homeschoolers. More information on their courses is available from their website. – Reviewed by Jill.

Ark (Animal Refuge Kansai) Shelter
in Osaka and Tokyo. ARK operates a hotline that offers advice and where people can report a situation in which an animal needs help. ARK also has a shelter that currently houses 300 dogs, 100 cats, several rabbits, chickens, and even a silver fox and a pig. The shelter is looking for people to help take care of the animals by taking them for walks and cleaning their cages. If you are interested in volunteering you can contact ARK by phone at: 072-737-0721, email: The organization has recently started an outreach project in Tokyo. You can offer you help by emailing

RBR Art Workshops and classes. Website in English and Japanese URL: or Beyond the very excellent core of art workshops, they have expanded to include Music, Dance and Performing Arts Workshops and Classes.
RBR The New Center for Creative Arts 1-5-15 Moto Azabu, Minato-ku (just across from the Korean Embassy).
Phone: 03-54-75-6171 Fax: 5420-6230. Email: Right Brain, so-called because The Right Brain Research Art Center (RBR) Kristin Newton, has long offered Tokyoites of all ages a chance to access the creative power of the right brain hemisphere. RBR has just moved into a fresh, spacious facility in Moto Azabu, and features classes in all sorts of studio arts, as well as calligraphy, etching, jewelry-making, and sculpting. Pace method music instruction, improvisation workshops, and even a Daddy and Me class have been scheduled as past summer activities, many conducted in both English and Japanese. Comments from our e-community member: The new creative arts center in Azabu Jyuban last week. Wow! the facility is great. It is big and well laid out with both an art room and a music room and an art room for children. It is also encouraging to see that they are starting to offer a wider range of arts than previously. Dave Gutteridge who offered the improvisation classes for older children is going to be offering the improvisation classes through this new center and he is offering a class in drawing cartoons. Location: 1-5-15 Moto Azabu, Minato-ku; Phone: 03-5484-3719 or 03-5475-6171; The RBR facility is right across from the Korean Embassy and a mere 7 minutes from Azabu Juban station.

Art Workshops and Classes in the student’s home. Note: Only in the Tokyo area. 1 hr class for children: 1-2 hrs for adults: group lessons at least 2 people. Any day of the week between 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 pm except Sun, Mon, Tues. Painting medium for children: watercolour / charcoal, crayons / graphite. For further details, please contact maurizio directly via email:

Autocamping – The following is a list of day Kanto area day campsites beside a river or waterfall:

*ACN Auto Resort Park Picnic Land in Yamanashi 11am-4pm River, waterfalls, BBQ & daycamp; America-Camp-Mura, Tokyo (River, BBQ and 10am-4pm day-camp);Cottage Forest Village (kotejishinrinmori) in Akiruno, Tokyo (river, BBQ and day camp site); Hadanotokawa-koen in Kanagawa (River, BBQ and 10am-3:30pm day camp); *Kannogawa Campsite in Sagamihara, Kanagawa (river, BBQ and 8am-5pm day camp); Kawasemigawara in Saitama (river, BBQ and day campsite); Nagatoro Autocampjyou in Saitama Phone: 0494-66-0640 (River, BBQ and 9am-4pm day-camp only); Ranzankeikoku BBQ Place in Saitama (river, BBQ and day camp only 8:30am-5 pm);*Seseragi-Campsite in Saitama River and BBQ site 9am-6pm day-camp site Phone: 042-979-0062; *Takinoen-yoroukeikoku-Autocampsite in Chiba (Waterfall and river and 11am-6 pm daycampsite);

Book activity clubs, bikes.

Bunko ICBA (International Children’s Bunko Association) ICBA is a voluntary association that aims to foster international understanding in children with international experience or backgrounds through reading good books in their original language. Bunko means storage of books, so each ICBA affiliate features a lending library of children’s books and consists of reading groups (including teaching reading groups) and activities connected with language, games, songs, stories, camping, and parties. At present about 50 IC Bunko are operating in Japan and overseas. We have a private lending library of some 300 children’s books in English. 2 affiliates are listed below. For more info on locations of ICBA around Japan, phone: 03-3496-8688

Koala Bunko : Meetings are held every other Wednesday, 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm at Yon-chu Gakushu Center Building in Musashino. DUring the first hour, the Book & Lending Library is open, and tables for Book Reports, Reading Aloud, Q&As and Books-on-Tape are staffed by parent volunteers. After the hour, children listen to a story read by one of the native-English speaking parents. A group game played in English follows, with the last half hour reserved for snack and free play for the children, and a meeting for parents. Ina ddition to regular meetings, special events are held throughout the year. Membership is not restricted to Musashino residents, but there is a small monthly membership fee for all.

Winnie the Pooh Bunko. Meetings are held every Wednesday from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm at Mikajima Public Hall (Kominkan) in Tokorozawa City, Saitama. Next station is Sayamagaoka. Buses are infrequent but can do pick ups. Membership: 1,000 yen per month per family. 3 years – 6th grade. (about 300 books in stock) Phone: Lindsay Nojiri.

Biblioteka Library Club
cordially invites you to our Wednesday afternoons of readings, songs, craft projects and friendship in English. Location: Yoyogi station, Tokyo 1 minute walk from the station, even on little legs. Members are invited to choose from our selection of over 500 English books for children, which range from books for newborns through chapter books. Our activities target preschoolers, but others are welcome. Please visit us, new members and friends of the library are always welcome. Become a member with a small yearly fee. We gather: Every Wed from 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm. Come and join us!

Bilingual Kids Club. “I want to introduce you to my club in Shibuya-ku area. I have 2 English-Japanese bilingual children who go to a Japanese public school. I think Japanese public school’s working pretty good for my kids, but I want them to keep up their ENGLISH education too. I decided to make a club for bilingual children to help them improve both English and Japanese. I met a good teacher who was a 1st grade teacher in Canada, and she is willing to teach bilingual children. I was a bilingual tutor at a US public shcoool for 3 years and a JUKU teacher for 8 years. We offer international school type education after school and JAPANESE class for children who are learning Japanese as a second language. As a club, we like to have a play group for little ones and tea party for moms and etc. We are are planning to do summer program and activities using English and Japanese. If you are interested, please email me: “.

Bikes (scroll down to see also Mountain Biking below):

BHB Home Page (A personal page edited by a small cycling group operating from Tokyo. While somewhat personal it has some good resources for cyclist.)
Bike Friday
Folding Bicycles
International Mountain Bicycling Association

Japan Cycling Navigatoran invaluable resource for anyone who wants to cycle long distances or to travel Japan by bicycle. A comprehensive resource.
Japan Mountain Bike Association.
Mountain Bike Resource
Tokyo Cycling (All-round cycling resource)
Canoeing, cooking & crafts & clubs, calligraphy, cloissone, culture:

Canoeing & Kayaking courses may be had at these facilities in the Kanto area:
Wiz Nature, Tokyo; Gravity, Tokyo; Nagatoro Canoe School, Saitama; Canoe Resort Tamayodo, Saitama; Sky Asa, Shizuoka; Ucdi Paddling School,Nagano; C&N Yamanakako Canoe School, Yamanashi; Camp Minoishi & Sagamihara Lake Canoe School, Kanagawa; Guranpore-kanu-Sentaa, Gunma; Tochigi Kayak Center, Tochigi; Canoe Center, Gunma; Nakayoshi Camp Grando, ;Lakewalk, Gunma; Sunday Planning, Nagano

Calligraphy (Western) and Bookbinding. Joei Western Calligraphy Bookbinding offers the service at the instructor’s home. Phone: 090-9957-6761. Email: Review: Joei was a very dear friend of mine. She has been doing somewonderful work as a calligrapher. She is great with little children and has a little boy herself. – Connie”
Brush-writing with Takahashi Chieko, graduate of Nara Univ of Education. Group or private lessons for all ages. Phone: 06-6714-7653.

Castles – a list of Japanese castles to visit

Caving or spelunking, see this page for a list of caves to visit

– Earth Kids Space has kids’ activities in 21 locations. A variety of hands-on activities, games, stories, exchanges with members of the local community, interactive workshops, sports and cultural activities are availabe, the aims of which are to offer a place for kids of different age groups to gather afterschool and on weekends. For locations refer to this page. Send an email to e-contacts for a list of activities and events available. Upon enquiry, the GOI Foundation which sponsors the Space replied, “Our English website is under construction, but if you read Japanese you can get more info at the website. This gives you contact info of 21 locations. And you can access to weblog pages of each location at

Computer classes (beginners) for foreigners. If you can read hiragana and katakana, you can attend. Cost for 10 classes: 5,000 yen. Child-care available. Various venues at Yumeooka Office Tower (at Konan Intl Lounge 13F, or 9F) beside Kamioka Stn. Phone: 045-848-0990

International Kids Club. “We are organizing an NPO group to support International children and their families in Tokyo. We are thinking to do afterschool programmes for International kids who go to Japanese school and parents oreinted clubs such as Young Scientists Club and Drama Club in English. Homeschoolers are welcome too. If you are interested, please contact me by email. We need members!

Cloissone workshops are sometimes held in English at a cloissone workshop in Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto at the Namikawa Cloissone Museum of Kyoto, which was formerly a residence of Yasuyuki Namikawa, a noted cloisoone artist active in the Meiji and Taisho eras. Participants can view the museum collection and take part in a workshop to make a key ring, pendant or brooch with their own work of cloissone.

Coastal fieldtrips

Crafts Workshops at Fujino
, Kanagawa Fujino features an artist and atelier’s village where workshops are housed in the sunny lovely Italian style villa atmosphere.

Craft workshop for children using natural wood, Nagano prefecture. Cost 4,000 yen. Details and access info here.

Craft workshops at Rosemary Park, Chiba. Lots of crafts and activities for kids especially during summer holidays.

Craft workshops in Yoshinogawa-city, Tokushima at Fuji Paper Mills Awagami Factory featuring the making of washi paper using kozo bark and Mitsumata trees.

Craft at the Paper Museum in Kita-ward, Tokyo. Try their workshops on washi paper-making. For location and details, see Paper Museum website The museum is said to have the one of the most comprehensive origami collections in the world.

Craft workshops at Takuminosato in Gunma prefecture. The facility is located in natural furusato surroundings and the workshops focus on Japanese traditions such as soba-making, bamboo dragonfly toys, etc. 25 kinds of craft-making activities are available for visitors. Phone: 0278-64-2210.

Kawaguchiko Herb Museum. Studio workshops at Lake Kawaguchi on herb culture, how to make herbal wreaths in 30 mins from 350 yen. Phone: 0555-72-3082

Washi crafts: Try the Sakurahorikiri centre. If your kids are into crafts, this is a great place to go and good for wet weather. Each day they teach certain crafts for the cost of a small kit, and their range is great. I noticed also a bark-like wooden lamp shade kit that older kids might be interested in. A design is punched out so that light shines through…a do-able project and fun. They also have mail order.

The ORIGIN Program is a hands-on experience of traditional Japanese arts, taught in such a way that participants can appreciate the spiritual wisdom underlying the arts. By practicing a selection of core arts in succession, students are able to look past the details of each art form and begin to see what is common to them all. Through this program, students experience the origins of Japanese culture – hence the name “ORIGIN” Program.

Cultural Arts courses in Kyoto: The core curriculum of the ORIGIN program consists of (half-day/one-day/two-days or longer) tailored-to-client cultural arts courses in tea ceremony (sado); Noh Drama Dance(shimai); Calligraphy(shodo); Martial Arts (including waraku); Kyogen; Other courses also provided include: Flower Arrangement(kado); Zen Meditation; aizome indigo textile dyeing, and an introduction to ceramics. The ORIGIN traditional Japanese arts program has been especially designed by Alex Kerr and Iori Co. and is taught at Iori’s Sujiya-cho Kyoto townhouse (machiya). The old warehouse behind the machiya has been converted into an arts practice dojo, complete with practice Noh stage – the only one of its kind in Kyoto. Despite the rich program content and the attention paid to performing these arts correctly along traditional guidelines, these courses are aimed at beginners. Phone: 075-352-0211 Main Office: 144-6, Sujiya-cho, Takatsuji-agaru, Tominokoji-dori, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto 600-8061 Main website

Private instruction in Japanese cooking, clay craft, screen covering, washi craft, kimekomi dolls and mini kimono. A lady from Chiba Prefecture who instructs privately in English or Japanese – Reiko Takahashi. She lives in Chiba, phone: 0471-85-9589 but comes into Tokyo frequently. She also teaches Japanese cooking, clay craft, screen covering, washi craft, kimekomi dolls and mini kimono.

Silkworm crafts. Bryan Whitehead, a Canadian silkworm cultivator who has woven and dyed his own silk for more than 10 years sometimes holds indigo-themed textile basic-level workshops that provide participants with an opportunity to experience shibori (tie-dyeing), stencil dyeing and silk cocoon reeling. Students can learn how to make tenugui towels and traditional Japanese bags. Email Whitehead for brochures or make enquiries at phone/fax: 042-686-6757. Each course costs about 5,000 yen, including materials.

Dance/ Movement.

Actus Ballet Studio. Instructor Helen Price, graduate National Ballet School of Canada. 158, Kashimada, Saiwai-ku Kawasaki / Other location is at Yokohama’s Landmark Tower Phone / Fax: 0422-47-4664 Read a review here.

Ana’s School of Dance. The International Dance School in Tokyo, Green House, 5-2-9 Denenchofu, Ota-ku,Tokyo 145; phone: 3721-5495; fax, 3721-7429. Email International Dance for more information.

Austrian Ballet Company: Ballet Classes offered for ages 10 onwards. Directors: Christian Martinu / Rio Martinu / Rio Mitani Ballet. Languages spoken English/German/French/some Japanese Phone: 03-5420-4765 Location: Austrian Ballet Company – Tokyo (ABC Tokyo) Higashi Kasai, Edogawa-ku, Kasai Station, (Tozai Line) Review: “Rio and Christian are very dedicated artists and excellent teachers. They exhibit patience and concern for each student.” – Phyllis Papa, Director, Atlantic Contemporary.

Fun Kids’ Ballet offers unique ballet classes and creative dance in a fun environment, unleashing your child’s grace, poise and self expression. Private groups in the afternoons in central locations in Tokyo. From 3 years old. Phone / Fax: 042-383-5370.

IDA International Dance Academy offers various classes in various locations around Japan with some classes in English. You have to hunt around on the website a little for the English directions and schedules.

The Jenny Hosmer Ballet School, 1-4-1 Oji, Kita-ku, Tokyo 114-0002; Phone/fax, 3927-2772.

Steve Tomlinson’s Dance/Movement Classes by (tap/hip hop/jazz/song&dance/salsa/dance movement/dance choreography. Private lessons or at locations: *Sho Kosugi Institute, Tokyo Senzoku Station (Tokyo Meguro Line); *International Dance Academy (IDA) Tokyo Gakugeidaigaku Studio (Toyoko Line) *Yamato International School, Tokyo Shinagawa (JR Yamanote Line) Phone: 090-9957-6761 Email:

Rainbow School of the Arts is located in Tohoku New Town on the Denentoshi Line. For more information, please contact Diana Ishiyama at 2-7-9 Tsumura, Machida-shi, Tokyo; phone/fax, (0427) 99-6579.

A review of various schools in Tokyo is found at Tokyo Weekender

Choshi Ocean Research Center in Chiba conducts dolphin watching activities between April and September. Phone: 0479-24-8870.

Earthquake Learning Center helps you learn of the reality of the damage that is unleashed by major earthquakes and how to prevent earthquake damage and to make countermeasures. There is also a corner for learning how to put out fires. Earthquake Learning Center at Meguro Disaster Prevention Center 1-19-7 Meguro-ku, Tokyo. Phone: 03-5723-8517. Access: “Gakugei Daigaku” Station on the Tokyu Toyoko Line-15 minutes walk. Open 9:00am-5:00 pm closed Wed, 2nd Thurs.

Factories, farms.

Suggested field trips to factories that welcome visitors:

Kamoboko factory in Odawara; Chateraise Hakushuu-kojyo (dairy products factory) in Yamanashi Phone: 0551-35-4611; Yamasa Soya Sauce Factory, Chiba Phone: 0479-22-9809; Takano FoodsNatto(processed beans) factory puts on a play for kids at its museum and explains the history and secrets behind natto making, Ibaraki Phone: 0120-58-7010; Chiba Yakult Factory, Chiba Phone: 043-432-8960; Morinaga Factory, Tokyo Phone: 0120-369-744; ANA Kitai-kojyou-kengaku-tsua (Guided tour of ANA facilities), Tokyo (must write in formally).

Farms open to visitors:

Atsumi-en in Yamanashi allows the collecting of potatoes, beans, sweet potatoes and others.

Chyouei-bokujyou-ando-buratto-hausu. Phone: 04992-2-9233 for enquiries and directions. Surrounded by sea, this farm on Oshima island features grassy pastures with 100 heads of cattle put to pasture. All manner of dairy products may be sampled.

Farm stays for urban children in Mikohara district of Hakui, Ishikawa prefecture. The homestays are based on a traditional coming-of-age ritual that was started by court nobles but popularized by samurai. The man called an eboshi-oya or cap-father would in a ceremony put a similar hat on the head of the young man, the eboshi-go or cap-child, who was coming of age. With the ceremony, the two would form a special bond for life. Accommodation usually in modernized farmhouses costs 5,000 yen per day per person and lodgers will help with rice planting and harvesting and making soba. There are about 170 farms in the area, some recruited by the agriculture, forestry and fisheries section of the Hakui city government whom you should contact if interested: 0767-22-7138.

Farm visit with a difference! The Iwamura Kazuo Ehon-no-Oka Art Museum is known as a place where children can experience nature first hand in the surrounding copses, rice paddies, and other types of farmland. The museum on a hilltop overlooks the Nakagawa river and includes 4 hectares of fields and 15 cows. Iwamura gives talks every other Sunday reads his books and talks about frogs and dragonflies and potatoes or other such topics about Japanese country life. Sort of the male Japanese version of the English Tasha Tudor. 3097 Koisago, Nakagawa-machi, Nasu-gun, Tochigi Phone: 0287-92-5514. Email The author is good friends with Eric Carle and they made a joint picture book publication “Where are you going? To see my friend!”

Bouzuyama-kuraingarten (Kleingarten) in Azumino, Nagano applies a very interesting Dutch concept of farming for the people and community. Access info. Many activities open to visitors.

Chiba Chuo-Kankou Noen
Free entry. Phone: 043-231-2554. 5 pannets of sweet potatoes at 700 yen; chestnuts at 1,000 yen per kg; pears 600 yen per kg; grapes 300-2,000 yen. BBQ grill restaurant on the premises. Phone: 043-231-2554

Green Bokujo, Gunma Butter-making and cow-milking lessons, cattle petting and feeding activities. Phone: 0279-24-5335

Heda Tamago Mura (Heda Egg Farm) in Izu, has 1,200 chickens and offers sale of the freshest eggs only. Specialty are its pale grass-colored “emerald eggs”. Visitors can also look forward to grape-picking (mid Augus); apple-picking (apple-picking); mikan oranges (December) and mid-March onwards – shiitake picking. Phone: 0558-94-7111

Ibaraki’s Potiron-no-mori Park is where your family can feed sheep, goats ride horses, try your hand at bread/butter/sausage-making. Phone: 029-892-3911

(Ikaho Green Farm) in Ikaho. Sheep, lambs and goats and shaggy ponies at pasture in 40,000 m2 of land. Pony rides at 400 yen, cow-milking. Home-made dairy products and specialty ice-cream for sampling and sale. Entrance: 1,000 yen per adult and 600 yen per child.

Inawashiro Midori-no-mura is an agricultural farm that welcomes children to pick potatoes from August 15th onwards.

Jogasaki Orenji-Mura (Jogasaki Orange Village) at Izu. Other from July to September, there are always oranges to be enjoyed. Facilities include kitchen, bus, onsen and restaurant. Phone: 0557-51-7800 for info and access info.

Kaneda Kajyuen in Tochigi. Pear picking in August and September. BBQ under the pear trees. Take home 350 yen-500 yen per kg (depending on type) of pear. Phone: 028-677-1429

Karuizawa’s farms: Karuizawa Mountain Farm has vegetable farm and sheep. Vegetable farming or picking, sheep-walking and butter-making activities are recommended. Entrance: 300 yen for all. 300 yen for 30 mins to “walk the sheep”. Phone: 0279-80-5151 for directions and enquiries. / Miruku-Mura is a small farm with dairy animals. Milk factory and dairy fresh cream-making facilities may be viewed. BBQ facilities in summer. Call in advance as activities are seasonal. Phone: 0279-84-4252.

Makiba-Koen near Mt Yatsugatake, Yamanashi prefecture, which is a 10 hectare farm with ponies, lambs and goats for petting. Soft-cream at 300 yen. Phone: 0551-38-0220.

Makaino Bokujo in Shizuoka is a farm where kids can enjoy horse-riding, sheep-shearing, milking cows and harvesting activities of the seasonal fruits and vegetables. Seasonal flower hanami(sakura-sunflowers-hydrangeas-cosmos) are also a reason for visiting this farm.

Mother Farm (Mazar Bokujo), Chiba One of those mega-farms that can accommodate thousands of tourists in one day. (there’s one in Hokkaido too) Phone: 0439-37-3211 Sheep shows, straw-berry picking in greenhouses, milking and feeding activities, pony rides. 1,000,000 trees on the farm make for good hanami-flower-viewing especially sakura trees and rape-blossoms in the spring. Entry at 1,500 yen (adult) /800 yen (child).

Namiai-mura Tonkira-noen in Nagano is a vegetable farm that allows you to pick vegetables. Phone: 0265-47-2040

Nasu Kogen Minamigaoka Bokujo
in Nasu, Tochigi Try your hand at ice-cream-making. Phone: 0287-76-2150

Narita Bokujo in Chiba is famous for its 700,000 giant sunflowers on display between mid July to mid August. Kids can also milk cows, try their hand at making bread and other activities.

Ooza Bokujo
in Nikko. This farm is 77 times the size of Tokyo Dome, and boasts of 400 heads of Holstein cows amidst charming wild highland scenery. Lambs and goats for petting. Facilties include an athletics and cycling course (bikes available for rental) and restaurants (Genghis Khan grilled lamb specialty) Phone: 0288-97-1116

Rindo Lake Family Farm in the Nasu Highlands, is a new Swiss-style mega farm facility beside a lake (with steam-paddle boat rides) to rival the established Mother Farms. Dairy products like ice cream and chesse are their specialty but also sausage-making. The usual farm-petting and milking activities also available. Kabuto-mushi or beetle catching (July-August) and fishing activities for kids as well. Phone: 0287-76-3111 for info.

Seisen Ryo, Kiyosato, Yamanashi prefecture is a charming dairy facility with American style barn and silo, in a pastoral setting. Bread, milk, soft cream, jam and other farm products are very popular. Phone: 0551-48-2111

Stock Farm Sai no Kuni Fureai Bokujo, Saitama Phone: 0493-82-1500 Access: 90-minute walk from Byoin-mae bus stop. (catch the bus bound for Chichibu via Misawa at Oyahana Sta. on the Chichibu Line) / 90-minute walk from Hashiba bus stop. Catch the bus bound for Shiro-ishi Shako at Ogawa-machi Sta. on the Tobu-Tojo or Hacchiko Lines.
2949-1 Sakamoto, Higashi-Chichibu-mura Closed Mondays

Takuminosato Fruit Garden
in Gunma allows visitors to pick peaches, plums, grapes.

Volunteer on this farm that allows visitors to work. More info at the website.

Fine Arts & Music. International Secondary School (ISS) is offering after school programs in music, fine arts, performing arts and sport that are open to all students living in Tokyo. The school has students from Grade 6 through Grade 12. See the ISS website for info. ISS is also offering a “Collision Course” which aims to provide an experiential environment for young people to explore music technology and experimental animation techniques. It begins on the 21st of Sept and will be conducted on Tues and Thurs evenings. More info here.

Fishing Sports:

Fujinoengeirandoyugiyoen Kanagawa. Free entry. BBQ facilities. To buy niji fish 1 kg costs 2,000 yen; yatai 1 kg: 600 yen; Hayato-gawako Kusai-masu-Tsuriba (Hayato River National Mass Fishing Center), Kanagawa Phone: 042-785-0704 and also Hatajyukuseiryu-masutsuri;Ibaraki Fishing Center Phone:0494-54-0078.; Kosuge Fishing Place in Yamanashi;Kannogawa Kyampu Masu Tsuriba Phone: 042-787-2116 River fishing in the Tanzawa, restaurant, onsen available; Kujuukuri Umi Tsuri Sentaa (Kujuukuri Sea Fishing Center) Sea fishing costs – adult: 10,000 yen; child: 5,000 yen; Nishi-Tanzawa Fishing Center, Kanagawa Phone: 0465-78-3143; Ohtaba Tsuriba in Okutama, Tokyo; Teganuma fuissingu sentaa (Teganuma Fishing Center), Chiba Fishing square ponds, not scenic;Tomiyama in Chiba allows visitors to help fishermen on the shore pull in the fish nets with their catches. Yatarougawamasu Tsuriba, Kanagawa Phone: 046-288-1500 Fishing at a picturesque river with rapids; For more on fishing for families with kids contact the following facilities: Shizenkyuyoumura-sakanen in Tokyo; Tochigi; Suzono-f-park in Shizuoka; Yuzawa; Yamane no sato in Yamanashi;

For a memorable fishing experience, go out deep-sea fishing on the Kimimaru fishing boat and stay at the Kimimaru minshuku in Asagi, Chiba. On their shorefront, watch them bring in and handle their haul of awabi, wakame, squids and other seafood – some of this fresh catch will be cooked in the kitchen for the guests. They have their own specialist ama women shellfish(awabi) divers.Access info and phone: 0470-68-3094. For kids, the sea is 30 seconds away, a big plus!

Yamatomaru in Chiba offers visitors the chance to participate in fishermen’s activities on the fisherman’s wharf such as clearing the nets of their early morning’s fish catch. Visitors get to see the sushi house and fishmongers come and buy the catch.

Furusato stays. Stay at any one of 5 villas in Okayama for the true Japanese country experience. Each villa is a traditional house set in a traditional farming village. Reserve through Okayama International Center which is a couple minutes’ walk from Okayama Station: 086-256-2535 or fax 086-256-2576. Villas have fully equipped kitchens, washing machines and futons/western-style bed-and-breakfast style rooms. 3,000 yen per night and 2,500 yen for exchange-students. Notes: Takebe Villa is located near the centre; Fukiya on the western side, Hattoji on the eastern and Shiraishi and Ushimado are near the Seto Inland Sea. Book Fukiya for furusato “hometown” feeling; Shiraishi Island and Ushimado for seaside villagelife with emerald-waters, rocky beaches, gentle breezes and a mild Mediterranean climate (Ushimado famous for Bizen pottery, is called the “Aegean of the Orient” and has olive gardens manufacturing cooling oil to chocolate to soao and other olive-based products). The most remote is Shiraishi Villa which is only accessible by ferry to Shiraishi Island but it has one of the newest villas and stunning sea views, moderately difficult hiking trails that wind up steep hills.

Water Tours. An intriguing notion mostly unknown to foreigners is the Japanese concept of water tours. Visit Global Waters K.K’s website (complete with access and other info) that recommends the top 100 best water tours as ranked by the Ministry of Environment.

Golf, gymnastics.

Golf lessons in English offered by Bob White Phone contact: 0468-72-2086. Bob lives in Zushi, Kanagawa Prefecture. Bob White has been in and around golf courses for 47 years playing, caddying and teaching. “I came up with the idea of teaching golf here to Japanese enthusiasts so that players could play abroad with ease. But I’m more than happy to teach native English speakers too.”

Yokohama Bahn Golf Course features a child-friendly nine-hole flat course and is home to Japan’s only officially-certifedi “Eternit” course for players over elementary school age. The course has tubes, mazes, loops and a spot for launching your ball up a ramp into a basket. Location: Roof of World Porters Access: 10 minute walk from Sakuragicho Station or 6 minutes walk from the Minatomirai Line’s Banshamachi Station. 10:30 – 19:00 hours. Phone: 045-222-2480

Glass-making workshop for kids in Kawasaki city, Kanagawa prefecture. Beautifully coloured glass crafts. Details here. Cost for 30 mins 3,000 yen. Inquiries: 044-798-2447

Glass making and much more at the Garasunosato, a whole theme park and museum in Hiroshima based on the glass industry – no need to go to Venice! there’s a model of the government building in Murano(glass-making capital of the west), Venice. Workshops, et. Access map

Brain Gym
educational kinesiology work of Paul and Gail Dennison. Their work has concentrated on the importance of movement in the learning process and they have over the years developed specific movements and training programs that frequently make an enormous difference in learning. They teach the basic Brain Gym course which is a terrific opportunity for homeschoolers as well as for teachers. The instructor is Lynedah Vartell who recently moved here from Beijing but who is from Vancouver originally. She has been working with Brain Gym since 1986 and teaching it since 1989. For more information on brain gym please see their website: To know more about the field, refer to a book by Carla Hannaford called Smart Moves or Enki Homeschooling Programme. Email Lynedah or call her at 090-1778-2550. The cost of the program which requires 24 hours of instruction and which gives you Brain Gym 101 Certification is US$500.

ICG (Instruction Guidance Care) Gymnastics Phone: 03-3440-0384 Email:

Hanami(flower-viewing), hands-on activities and projects, hot-air balloons.

Hanami (flower-viewing) is a seasonal Japanese traditional activity. If you want to know where to go, consult the Travel Bureau’s flower-calendar which lists the best locations for viewing different kinds of flowers through the year.

Pegasus Project welcomes people from the larger Kansai community to join in their adventure. Please come and share your knowledge with us. Past hands-on projects have included a dolphin research project and a Lake Biwa fall project. Please contact Kyoto International School for more information about the programme or read this write-up Phone: 075-451-1022 or email the school.

***Sonyexplorascience Museum the Museum of emerging technologies is one of the most popular hands-on places to visit for homeschooling families and just about anybody who’s seeking good educational fun. Featured in local “odekako” magazines.

Toyota Mega Web features a museum that has many interesting exhibits including simulations, particularly for older kids as kids 13 and up can drive an electric car (“E-com”) all over this place. Featured in local “odekako” magazines.

Hot-air ballooning can be carried out at these places: Kannonyama Family Park in Gunma offers hot-air ballooning at 1,000 yen (adult) and 500 yen (children)./ Senbonmatsu Bokujo‘s Horai-no-Nasu Cost: 1,500 yen(adults) 1,000 yen (child)/ Shirauma Alps Sports Club in Nagano offers hot-air balloon trials at 2,100 yen (adults) and 1,500 yen (upwards) below 3 yrs -free. You get a good view of the northern alps, weather-permitting.

Look under L for Lego hands-on activities.

Hiking – Online hiking / trekking Guides include Outdoorjapan’s websitethat has brief info on hiking attractions, spots around Japan and how to get there./ KAMP-High website, an online information source for mountain enthusiasts in Japan and Asia / Lonely Planet’s “Hiking in Japan” and Paul Hunt’s “Hiking in Japan: An Adventurer’s Guide to the Mountain Trails

Historical trails – Visit historical museums, temples, villages and World Heritage sites

Horse-riding – scroll down and look under Riding section.

Ice or figure skating. Inline skating.

Ice figure skating instruction offered by former-skating champion. Coaching for students (children and adults) at all levels. Lessons in English or Japanese, email Audrey.

Ice skating venues include:
– Edogawa-ku Sportsland Phone: 03-3677-1711 The rink is located in Eastern Tokyo along on the Edogawa River. Access via Toei Shinjuku subway line to Shinozaki station and then take one of the three buses that will take you straight to the Sportsland.
Hakone Prince Hotel. 144 Moto-hakone, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa 250-0592. Phone: 0460-3-111 (A small skating rink is set up in the carpark of the hotel. Seasonal only.
– Takadanobaba, Tokyo “Citizen’s” ice-skating rink. 4-29-27 Takadanobaba, Shinjuku, Tokyo 129-0075 (7 mins walk from Takadanobaba Station) Phone: 03-3371-0910.
Seibu Yuenchi, a rink located within an amusement park Location: 5 min walk fro Seibu-yuenchi station on the Seibu Shinjuku Line which starts from Kokubunji station. Phone: 0429-22-1371
– Ice Skating rink in Makomanai Park’s indoor athletics stadium.
– Ice Skating rink in the Hama Bowl facility near Yokohama Station
– Kanagawa Skate Rink Access: 5 min walk from JR Higashi Kanagawa Station Phone: 045-671-3286 Free skating lessons held here from time to time.
– Kokuritsu Yoyogi ice skating rink in Harajuku

Inline Skating. Tokyo Inline Skating Guide. See here for locations. / Musashino Skate-board Park in West Tokyo. Free Skate Park

Entomology col Nawa Insects Museum at Tajimi 2, Omiya-cho, Tajimi Phone: 0572-630038 A leading insect museum in Japan, which opened in 1919. About 18,000 species are exhibited here. You can see Gifu butterflies, the oldest species in Japan as well as rare species from abroad in the beautiful Western-style building.
Fabre Konchukan (Fabre Insect Museum) is a new facility in Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo. In the spirit of Fabre who wrote the book “Fabre Book of Insects” for children, the museum aspires to keep the world of children and insects connected.
Gunma Konchu-no-mori, in Gunma prefecture. Phone: 0277-74-6441 Guided nature tours in the forest through 4 different ecosystems: mountain-forest orwood-pond-agricultural field
Ishikawa Fureai Insect Museum Access: Tsurugi Phone: 0761-92-3417 Entry fee: adults 400yen; 18 and under 200 yen.
Tama Insect Ecological Land is an insect park that is part of Tama Zoo.
Beetle-catching (kabuto/kuwagata) from mid July to mid-August Fuji at Subaru Land Doggy Park, Fujikawaguchiko. Yamanashi prefecture Phone: 0555-72-229 / Shirakabako Family Land, Shinshu, part of the Shirakaba Resort has has 200,000 lilies on display during July to August. There is a Kabutomushi-kuwagata World, a beetle park for kids as well. / Beetle catching at Saku Parada forest and beetle studies programme at Saku Parada Kabuto-mushi Dome, see the Parada website for info and access. Sakudaira, Nagano Phone: 0267-67-8100

Japanese studies.

Bancho Japanese Learning Center See here for details.

Go classes in Japanese (or English) offered by Minato-ku Fureai Kan at very reasonable cost. Classes on Tues night, Wed afternoon, and Saturday morning. Phone: 03 5475 1305

Global Kids Academy Foreign kids can go to GKA in Moto-Azabu for Japanese lessons. They offer Japanese lessons for speakers of any level so those who have arrived in japan recently may benefit. GKA also offers bilingual afterschool and summer programmes. GKA uses the concept of immersion English and Immersion Japanese.

Livelogue Academy
classroom is in a Japanese house and you can come to class with your children. We have many toys, books and bedding for little children. We also arrange classes for children with various activities, such as games, crafts and music. Contact Rie Ariga, a professionsal Japanese language teacher. Location is in Hiro-o, Shibuya-ku. Phone: 03-3406-6398 or email

NPO Chikkyu-Gakko Japanese Class Pirvate lesson 3,000 yen per 1.5 hrs (12,000 yen per mth) or 4,000 yen per 2 hrs (16,000 yen per mth) Phone: 090-254687 Email

Judo classes at Saitama Prefectural Budokan (also offering Kyudo, Kendo classes) in Saitama Access: 10-minute walk from the west exit of Urawa Sta., Keihin-Tohoku Line. Phone: 048-777-2400

Karate, kendo, kyudo.

Karate dojos:
– Kyokushin Karate (orginated by Oyama sensei who lived from 1923-1994) Location: 3-3-9 Nishi-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku Tokyo 171-0021. Ikebukuro station west exit (Metropolitan side) Phone: 03-3988-0748 or email Between 4,000-5,000 yen for students.
– Maki dogo so-honbu is in Nishi-azabu. Walking distance from Nogizaka station wihch is on the Chiyoda line and Yogyogi-Uehara. Foreign students are welcome.
Daikanyama Karate School, Omotesando Class; Kagurazaka; Tsukishima; Daikanyama Class Email Phone: 03-3489-7553 Trial lesson 1,000 yen

Kendo. The Kyumeikan Dojo, Itabashi-ward, has many people from different countries in adult class, and in fact the Kids instructor is a Spanish gentleman. The Kancho-Sensei (the head instructor) is a Japanese gentleman, but he speaks fluent English and help out (instruct) non-Japanese speaking students. The Dojo is located in the North Western part of Tokyo in Itabashi-ku, but it is very close to Nerima-ku (near Hikarigaoka). It is about 15 min from Ikebukuro on Subway Yurakucho Line. Classes are held Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays, and
kids class starts around 5pm. They have adult class on the same days from 7pm. They call it adult class, but my sons (11 and 13 yrs old)
were attending this class. Also, they have lessons on Saturday and Sunday mornings. The cost is Y10,000 admission charge + \5,000/month.
Sensei, the head instructor’s name is Kubo-sensei. Kubo-sensei speaks English, and there are many other foreign people at the Dojo, too. I
think the instructors who were mainly teaching our kids were French guy and a Spanish guy. Address: 2-1-7, Akatsuka Shinmachi, Itabashi-ku, Tokyo Phone: 03-3930-4636. Access: Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line “Chikatetsu Akatsuka” Station Tobu Tojo Line (from Ikebukuro) “Shimo-Akatsuka” station.

Kyudo at Omiya Park, Saitama Access: 20-minute walk from the east exit of Omiya Sta., Keihin-Tohoku Line / 10-minute walk from Omiya Koen Sta., Tobu-Noda Line. Omiya Park Management Office Phone: 048-641-6391

Budokan (Kyudo, Kendoand also Judo) in Saitama Access: 10-minute walk from the west exit of Urawa Sta., Keihin-Tohoku Line.
Saitama Prefectural Budokan Phone: 048-777-2400

Language, Lego classes.

Bancho Japanese Learning Center See here for details.

Institute for Language Experience, Experiment & Exchange
Ace Shoto Bldg., 1-4-7 Shoto, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan 150-0046
Phone: (03)3467-6151
Branches : Osaka, Nagoya, Hiroshima, Fukuoka
See website for details of language programme in English and Japanese. Hippo Club has achieved some fame for great success with its child-friendly immersion techniques in learning multi-languages at basic level and in a warm environment. As the programme implies, it embodies foreign exchanges as an integral part of its programme.

Minato-ku Fureai Kan has Go classes in English or Japanese at very reasonable cost. Classes on Tues night, Wed afternoon, and Saturday morning. Phone: 03 5475 1305

Global Kids Academy Foreign kids can go to GKA in Moto-Azabu to Japanese lessons. They offer Japanese lessons for speakers of any level so those who have arrived in japan recently may benefit. GKA also offers bilingual afterschool and summer programmes. GKA uses the concept of immersion English and Immersion Japanese.

Livelogue Academy
classroom is in a Japanese house and you can come to class with your children. We have many toys, books and bedding for little children. We also arrange classes for children with various activities, such as games, crafts and music. Contact Rie Ariga, a professionsal Japanese language teacher. Location is in Hiro-o, SHibuya-ku. Phone: 03-3406-6398 or email

Lego Education Centers. Chez Irene Building 2F, 7-4-7 Akasaka, Minato-ku, (Aoyama) Tokyo 107-0052. Offers leading edge programs in both English and Japanese. Its curriculum is based on MIT Media Lab’s “Learning by Making” children learn creative problem-solving skills and cooperation skills Bright and friendly nvironment. The Centers focus on ages 3-6 but there are programmes for older kids as well. Phone: 03-3568-6433 or email

Lego Mindstorms Center opened recently in Kyoto. CAMP (Children’s Art Museum Park) is a hands-on museum dedicated to allowing children aged 7- 15 to explore the creative use of digital technologies. At the same time, researchers from the CSK Okawa Center work with the children as part of their studies on how children learn and interact in the digital age. Children also have the chance to try out other hands-on learning experiences at CAMP. The MIT Media Lab and the National Geographic Society also collaborate with CAMP, and the CAMP organizers have collected inspiration from some of the world’s leading children’s museums. A brand new location that opened in the Aoyama/Akasaka area in Nov 2004 runs programs in English and Japanese and a curriculum based on MIT Media Lab’s “Learning by Making” approach. MIT programmes are reputed to be of high quality. It focuses on ages 3-6 but there are programs for younger and older kids too. They have free trial lessons. Review: “My kids have done many of MITs programmes including two Lego programmes. I have been present for both Lego programmes (one involved making cars) and thought they were very good. The other reason I really like the MIT programmes they were inexpensive. Just my two cents to say the MIT programs generally are very high quality. – Jill

Mountain bikes, museums, Music & Movement:

Mountain bike (MTB) programmes, courses and rental bikes available at the following facilities:

Hooru-Asu Nature School, Shizuoka (parent-child nature camp focusing on outdoor activities including MTB); Hitachi Kaihin Park, Ibaraki offers a BMX course as well as a cycling course; Odawaracity Furusatonomori MTB Course, Ibaraki MTB cross-country course runs through natural surroundings, Phone: 0294-73-0800 for info and location; Fujiyama-mi Panorama Resort, Nagano offers Japan’s largest MTB field course – has a 7.2 km downhill course as well as a 10 km one. Make it a family event and bring your obento and own bikes; Mobility Park, Shizuoka, is adjacent to an autocamping facility and offers a 3.3 km cross-country course through the woods. BBQ facilities available; Haramura MTB Course in Nagano offers at-your-own-pace MTB course through beautiful green woods and fields, farmland Phone: 0266-79-72 for access and info; Muji Outdoor Campania in Gunma offers a spacious site with a MTB course that kids will enjoy. Adjacent autocamp site makes the facility very popular; Takamineyama MTB World, Ibaraki at the peak of Mt Takamine offers a wide variety of MTB and cycling courses.

ETC Education Through Music Workshops. “We enjoy playing song games all together and then we observe theinfants class, elemetnary school kids class, parent-adult game time, adult talking session, game for all again. We soak in ETM for 4 hours!” A bi-monthly Family-ETM meeting at Ochiai Kindergarten which is 5 minutes walk from Itabashi Kuyakushomae or the Itabsahi City Hall on the Mita Line. For more info in English visit the US ETM website. Entrance fee is 1,000 yen for the family (child care is available at 500 yen).

Check out this website to find out about their music,singing and movement class.

“Kindermusik, the world’s leading publisher of music and movement curricula for parents and their children, ages new born to 7 years old. We have been in business for almost 30 years and have more than 5,000 licensed educators in 35 countries, reaching 1 million families.” Learn more about training programs for parents and educators here or contact Sam Niburg.”

. MIC, established since 1990 and we strongly believe that “music lessons are basically fun.” For this we try to adjust to the need of each individual student and experienced instructors will provide the lessons which are very easy to understand. Moreover, you can have your lesson at home so you can save time and do not have to carry a heavy instrument. And also the genre, date, time, number of lessons, and languages – English, French, Spanish, German – this can be decided by you.” MIC offers lessons in Central Tokyo. Max Shimizu, international manager 1-17-3 Shoto, Shibuya-ku Tokyo 150-0046 Phone: 03-3460-0139 Fax: 03-3460-3990Email “I have used guitar and drum teachers through MIC for 3 years and have always been happy with the teachers. I have found that they adapted to my children’s needs and our travel schedule. They offer an opportunity to perform but it isn’t mandatory.”

Acoustic guitar lessons for beginners at Minami-ku, Yoshino-cho, Yoshinocho Shimin Plaza, Yokohama (3 min walk from subway’s Yoshinocho Stn). Must already possess one. Enquiries: 045-243-9261 Fax: 045-243-9263 Email

Piano lessons in the Tokyo and Saitama area by Andrew Tweed (English and basic Japanese spoken) for aged 5 onwards. Email Andrew.

Piano lessons in Setagaya-ku by (Mr) ARAYA Yuko (in English or Japanese) at Araya Piano Studio in Setagaya. Lessons may include, Music Theory, Rhythm Training, Ear Training, Sight Reading, Melody Harmonization, Hymn reading, Special preparations to Theory Examinations, Special preparations to piano competitions, special preparations to a college entrance. Specializes in American traditional methods such as Faber, Alfred’s, Bastien. Age range: age 6 to adults Email

PACE piano lessons (method developed by Dr Robert Pace at Columbia Univ.) is used exclusively at RBR Music Studio. Group lessons for kids by Utako Akemoto and Sawako Fujita on the staff. Cost: intermediate 80 min 12,600 yen for 4 sessions; Intermediate 90 min at 13,650 yen for 4 sessions; Advanced 90 min at 15,750 yen for 4 sessions; Advanced 100 min lessons at 16,800 yen for 4 sessions; Advanced 110 min lessons at 17,850 yen for 4 sessions.

Brain Gym programs. Instructor: Lynedah Vartell who has been working with Brain Gym since 1986 and teaching it since 1989. “Brain Gym is based on the work of Paul and Gail Dennison featuring educational kinesiology which focuses on the importance of movement in the learning process. Over the years, they have developed specific movements and training programs that frequently make an enormous difference in learning. In any case, there is now finally someone who is in Japan and who can teach the basic Brain Gym course and this is a terrific opportunity for homeschoolers as well as for teachers. I also highly recommend a book by Carla Hannaford called Smart Moves (whether or not you are interested in the course). To register please email Lynedah or phone her at 090-1778-2550. The cost of the program which requires 24 hours instruction and which gives you Brain Gym 101 Certification is US$500.”

Music Concerts at Fujino Art Resort, see their Events page.
See our Museums page

Kyushu’s new National Museum has workship activities during the weekends for kids.

Nature Programmes; Nature Museums and Conservations Centers (for more updated pages, see this page)

Nature programmes popular with Japanese include:

Alps & Azumino National Government Park in Nagano. Phone: 0263-71-5511 to enquire about their summer programmes. Alps Park is a nature park located at a hill 800 meters above sea level and offers a magnificent panoramic view of the Japan Alps and Azumino. The park features a 995 meters long Alps Dream Coaster, Alps Photographic Gallery, and a grove full of birds and small animals. There are nature facilities that offer science, cultural and other “taiken-gakushu” programmes and activities. Kids can try their hands at handcrafts, make their own onigiri, listen to kamishibai stories while eating grilled ayu and examine the river aquarium that simulates the river eco-system: Azumino is situated in the mid and upstream areas of the Azusa-gawa River to the south of Hakuba and features a pastoral area that stretches to the north of the Matsumoto Basin. Azumino is famous for the many rivers that flow with snow water. The Daio horseradish farm, the largest farm in Azumino is evidence of the purity of the waters as high quality horseradishes grow only in clean, pure water. The magnificent view of the Northern Japan Alps and other mountains is the most recommended feature of this area. There is a 6km long Happo-one Natural Study Path, a popular easy trekking course. A ropeway and lift run throughout the year, offering the attractive aerial walk looking down on the sea of trees. Sanjiro-ikoi-no-hiroba is another park: Athletic courses and auto-camping grounds are the major features of this park located half way up Utsukushigahara Kogen Heights, the rolling hills of this park are covered with abundant greenery. There are hiking and trekking courses to Utsukushihara Kogen Heights which – at an altitude of 2,000 meters, the 360-degree panoramic views are considered the most beautiful in Japan. Stay at the Utsukushihara Onsen or Utsukushihara minshuku(accessible by the Matsumoto bus service). Book for minshuku stays in Happo, Utsukushihara here, see listings or phone: 03-5858-0103 (English OK). Access to Alps Park and Sanjiro hiroba by free Matsumoto Dentetsu Bus from Matsumoto city. See info about Azumino and the Alps Park including access info.

Near Hachioji city, Tokyo combine visits to Akigawa Valley and to Okutama. Hike or walk the natural countryscape of Akigawa Valley and Akigawa River with beautiful views near the Nishi Aokidaira bridge. Access: Get to Musashi Itsukaichi Stn on the JR Itsukaichi Line. Enjoy playing in Akigawa River at these BBQ and day campsites: – at the foot of Higashi Akigawa Bridge is a spacious river bed area Access: 20 min walk from Higashi Akiru Stn on the JR Itsukaichi Line; or at the Akigawabashi River Park Barbecue Garden (350 car-park facility). Access: 5 min walk from Musashi Itsukaichi Stn on the JR Itsukaichi Line. / Okutama area is good for hiking (info here and here and for JA’s monthly scheduled walks in Okutama)- visit Lake Okutama and visit the Nippara Limestone Caves (the best in the Kanto area) for a variety of stalactites Access: Take a bus from Okutama Stn on the JR Ome Line. The caves are a 5 min walk from the Higashi Nippara bus stop (final stop). You can take a 40 min tour of the caves. There are other places nearby such as the Nippara Shinrinkan forest museum, the Furusato Bijutsukan art museum, Okutama-onsen-moeginoyu(phone: 0428-82-7770) and a fishing center. Access maps here.

Visit Uenomura for hikes and walks through the Uenomuranuma marshes (a sanctuary for waterfowl), to caves, fishing, hikes and Kana river. Uenomura has some interesting cultural events such as firewalking rituals and matsuri and an Edo-period warehouse. Stay in a hotel or at the Uenomuranuma Yasuragi no Sato Campsite phone: 0296-76-0952.

Forest of Toyota
(Toyota-no-mori) in Aichi prefecture. The Foresta Hills is a model satoyama forest in which various kinds of experiments aimed to realize “coexistence with nature” are conducted, including those for vitalization of forest uses in suburban areas which can improve the urban environment and those to explore new ways of forest utilization. The hills had been the active part of local people’s life as coppice forests known as Satoyama until approximately 1960s when the coppice forests were destroyed through the lack of maintenance and proper care for a long time. For access and info see the official Toyota website. Visit the Satoyama Learning Institute Eco-no-Mori House where you can can learn how human beings and all creatures can live to their fullest potential through hands-on exhibits on the wisdom of folkways, the future lifestyles that use biomass power, etc.

Hello Woods, Tochigi (satoyama, nature reserves, insect studies); Yama-no-furusatomura Visitor Center, Tokyo; Tanuki-ko-fureai Nature Programme, Shizuoka (climbing – 500 yen & cave -1,500 yen field trips are organized); Picchio, Nagano offers courses that allow kids to explore nature in the field and forest and to study the wildlife; National Outfitters Training School in Yamanashi offers popular summer camps involving mostly river activities but it also organizes many other activities in the mountains like its Hinomaru School that has a satoyama setting in the Minami-Alps and Mt Yatsugatake vicinity; Yatsugatake Nature Fureai Center in Yamanashi offer ranger guided tours, trail walks to study Yatsugatake and the environs’ eco-systems; Aokigahara Wood & Sea Nature Guide Tour in Yamanashi A programme that takes you on a 1 hour hike through forest and coast with an explanation of the history and formation of the volcanic landscape in the Mt Fuji volcanic zone; Free Suntori Guided Tour at the Suntouri tennensuihakushyuukoujyou (Suntori Mineral Water & White Wine Factory) in Yamanashi. Nearby the factory is a wooded bird sanctuary where wild birds, tanuki (racoon) can be spotted.

Yatsugatake Nature Club 3545 Kiyosato, Takanecho, Yamanashi prefecture Phone/Fax : 0551-48-2885. Visit Yatsugatake. Make Kiyosato or Hara-mura village in Nagano your base for nature walks. / Kiyosato offers a full variety of skiing, horseback riding and other sports facilities as well as numerous spa facilities. Since the area is dotted with many museums it has also become famous as a cultured district. Kiyosato is one of the most popular resorts in Japan and flourishing with young visitors from all over Japan. The area is a sanctuary for wildlife and for wild birds. More info here. /Hara-mura village is located between Mt Yatsu and Lake Suwa at 900m-1,300m). The highlands in summer offer rich nature and outdoor activities such trekking, walks along nature trails. Take the hiking courses at Yatsugatake Chuo Nojo farm and the Yatsugatake Shizen Bunkaen gardens where you can view alpine botanical and marshland plants as well as visit the Planetarium there to view the spectacular nightsky. Yatsugatake is considered the best place in Honshu to observe the night sky. Early August hosts the Summer Holiday Hara-mura Star Festival, attracting astronomy enthusiasts from throughout Japan. Another astronomical spot is the Nobeyama National Radio Observatory is conspicuous with huge parabolic antennas. Contact the Yatsugatake Nature Club(webpage in English) for nature activities in the area. Join them on their monthly observation meetings to observe wildlife and plant life when they go walking on the trails. Tour guide available for private groups or schools. // Accommodation: In Kiyosato stay at KEEP’s Seisen Ryo, or in bungalows or lodges or tents at the Choei Utsukushi-mori Takane-so Campsite, Kiyosato, Takanecho, Kita-koma-gun. Phone: 0551-48-2311 Access: 10 minutes by bus from Kiyosato Station, Koumi Line to Takaneso-iriguchi Bus Stop. In Hara-mura, stay at Pension Zigzag or book a minshuku.

Educational Nature Societies or Groups. To find out about an educational nature study or conservation group near you, consult this huge nationwide listing of volunteer groups that carry out educational activities such as nature observation, conservation, cultivation, biotope-growing, recycling and other environmental activities. These groups were nominated for Coca Cola environmental awards.

Museums and Conservations Centers also conduct many organized nature activities. Some of these are listed below:

Hakusan Nature Conservation Center The website has information on the hiking trail and the log cabin accommodation that is available to hikers.

Hakone-En Cottage Nature School
offers traditional fire-making (800 yen) tree-climbing (800 yen) and night-hiking activities (1,999 yen). Phone: 0460-3-1151 Nearby are the Hakone-en Aquarium and Hakone Picnic Garden and Lily Garden – 1,000(adults) and 300 yen(child) entry fee. Accommodation in cottages and log cabins.

Ibaraki Nature Museum often organizes nature walks and field trips for Japanese school kids. The museum also has many exhibitions, Iwai, Ibaraki prefecture. Phone: 046-841-1533

Kamoike Tanbou Eco Kids Club, Kaga city, Ishikawa. Contact and more info here.

Kanagawa Zoo Park
has a nature station which has fun organized activities, teaches some crafts like making acorn tops. It has specimens of wasp-hives, stuffed moles and other small animals. Access: Keikyu Bus to Natsuyama-sakaue from Kanazawa-bunko station (Keikyu line). and a 3 min walk from bus stop.

Kanagawa Prefectural Nature Conservation Center

Kannonzaki Nature Museum, Yokosuka, Kanagawa prefecture Phone: 046-841-1533 The focus is on marine life and ancient lifestyles by the sea. There is a tactile pool where you can touch octopi, sea slugs, etc. Combine museum visit with trip to the Tatara beach and lighthouse within immediate walking distances. Access: From Uraga station (Keikyu line) 15 mins ride on Shonan Keikyu Bus bound for “Kannozaki” and get off at the final stop. / From Maborikaigan station (on the Keikyu line), 15 mins ride on the Shonan Keikyu Bus bound for “Kannozaki” and get off at the final stop. You can also take the bus bound for “Kannonzaki-shizen-hakubutsukan” Kannonzaki Nature Museum that is operating on Sundays only./ From Yokosuka station of JR Yokosuka line, 35 mins ride on Shonan Keikyu bus bound for Kannonzaki. Get off at Kannonzaki. There is also a bus bound for “Kannonzaki-shizen-hakubutsukan” Kannonzaki Nature Museum that is operating on Sundays only.

KEEP Kiyosato Educational Experimental Project, Takenocho, Yamanaishi Prefecture orgnanizes outdoor expeditions, e.g. one expedition had participants making a pair of traditional snowshoes from straw and go on treks through the forest and fox and marten spotting, etc. Phone: 055-148-3795 for details.

KIYOSATO Seminar House often arranges nature-talks and activities. 3545-1, Kiyasato, Takane-cho, Kitakoma-gun 407-0300 part of Univ of Yamanaishi.

Maioka Park is a major bird-watching centre that offers satoyama (rice-field) activities, marsh and woodland conservation activities and an area where traditional satoyama village lifestyle activities are taught, e.g. straw-sandal making; rice-harvesting; wooden toycraft-making. Phone: Koyato-no Sato, 045-824-0107 Access: A 25 min. walk from Maioka Sta. (Subway), City Bus to Keikyu New Town from Totsuka Sta. (JR)

Mt Takao has a conservation center where you can learn all about the vegetation and wildlife in the area. After taking the ropeway up the mountain, walk along the main road to the view point for seeing Mt Fuji where the nature station is, then hike any of the walking trails. Access: via train to Takao-san Stn from Shinjuku (Keio line or Chuo Line changing for the Keio line at Takao Stn).

Nature Conservation Society of Japan “Nature Conservation Educators” has volunteers who organize and lead outings to observe various kinds of natural ecosystems. These outings are designed to instill a feeling for the importance of nature in participants though directly experiencing the outdoors. In addition, NACS-J holds “Nature Conservation Seminars” on various topics as well as nature outings. One annual event is the “Feeling Nature” event for the disabled, in which participants learn to use all their senses to discover the natural world around them.Another annual event is a “National Nature Survey” held on 5th June to coincide with World Environment Day. Its purpose is to help everyone become interested in nature through simple scientific observation.

Nature Study Center, Saitama Phone: 048-593-2891 5-200 Arai, Kitamoto-shi Access: Catch the bus bound for Kitazato Media Center Hospital from the west exit of Kitamoto Sta., Takasaki Line. Get off at the Shizen Kansatsu Koen bus stop. Closed: Mondays (excluding national holidays), the day following a holiday (except if this day is a weekend or holiday), and over the New Year.

Nojima Nature Explorers, Yokohama. Contact and more info here.

Oze’s Summer Challenge Programme in Gunma/Fukushima(7/22-8/13) include many nature-activities such as beetle-catching, hiking the Oze marshland, river-play and iwana-fishing and of course hotspas at the Hinoemata Hot Springs; accommodation at autocamp, bungalow or onsen inns, for access map in Japanese and info in English, or phone: 0241-75-2432 or email. Access via public transport to the Oze Marsh Visitor Centre: At Aizukogen Station, take a bus. After a 2-hr. ride, get off at Numayamaguchi. The site is a 1-hr. walk from the bus stop.

Ramsar Wetlands. Japan is nearly 80% mountainous terrain, so the complement is the many valleys AND wetlands that were once abundant and natural. The remaining Japanese wetlands today are still hugely significant as stopover sanctuaries for birds, or as spawning grounds for marine life. A field trip to one of the many wetlands is a must. To know more about Ramsar wetlands and plan your field trips in Japan, see this fully annotated list at the Ramsar website. Email the Ramsar Convention Bureau for a copy of this Ramsar guide “People and Wetlands of Japan” which can be used as part of a field trip and a classroom curriculum.

Regina-no-mori is a mountain resort in Hatoriko-kogen, Fukushima prefecture that focuses on delivering outdoor and nature activities to families. They offer a varied trial plan that includes mountain bicycling, canadian canoeing, disc golf, tennis and fishing. One summer holiday 2 day 1 night package costs 6,200 yen per adult and 3,300 yen per child or a family package deal at 2 adults plus 2 children at 18,800 yen. A number of types of accommodation are provided from cabins, to tents to trailer houses around the lake. Access info.

Saku Parada is an amazing nature facility-cum-resort in the Sakudaira, Nagano that includes a famous beetle forest and studies center (Beetle Dome), a Biotope Garden and botanical park. There is also a kids land, terrific slide, athletic course, lake, doggy park and many hands on activities like soba making offered to children and families.

Science Educational Foundation of Japan (SEFJ) organizes wildlife experience tours, nature world school, nature-watching, cross-country skiing and animal-tracking programmes for elementary school students see its website in English. Call at SEFJ’s Tokyo office 02-3354-8231 or email them for info.

Yokosuka City Nature and Cultural Museum

Yokohama Kodomo Botanical Garden (Kodomo Shizen Koen) is a wonderful place for nature activities. The botanical park has a small building where many children’s reference books and encyclopedias may be consulted, and across the road, the flower beds, bamboo grove and pond are a good place for watching and catching bugs, crayfish, tadpoles. Access: A 20 min. walk from Futamatagawa Sta. (Sotetsu Line) Phone: Western Parks and Greenery Office (Seibu Koen Ryokuchi Jimusho) 045-351-5024

For a list of nature spots around Tokyo (with access info and directions given) see this page.

For more suggestions on nature activities around the country, see our Field Trip list.

Mark Brazil is a naturalist who writes on environment and nature in Japan (he is also known for his birding guide, now Out Of Print). Find his archives of writings at this link. And under “advanced search” type in Wild Watch which will take you to a link there that archives his articles dating back to 2002.

Noh performances at Yokohama Nohgakudo (bus from Sakuragicho Stn to “Tobe Icchome” stop) Inquiries at 045-263-3055

Outdoor activity training. For details of outdoor activities visit this website (mostly in Japanese).

One of the best websites to look at for outdoor activity suggestions is the Outdoorjapan website.

Hosc Outdoor Land is an outdoor sports center in Hakuba that focuses on a variety of adventure sports in the Shirauma mountain alpine area including rafting, horse-riding, wall-climbing, MTB (mountain biking), fishing, hot-air ballooning and other activities such as bread and ice-cream making. They put together pretty good summer packages including assorted activities for trial.

Outdoor Nagatoro Center
in Saitama. Phone: 0120-66-4162 Rafting and other activities offered.

Shizuoka Prefectural Asagiri Outdoors Activity Center, 1 Nebara, Fujinomiya, Shizuoka 418-0101 Phone: 054-452-0321.

Alpine outdoor activities like trekking, adventure sports and skiing are to be had at Hakuba. The special interest is in trekking Shirouma mountain part of the alps. For the many different packages offered take a look at the Hakuba1 website. On getting there see IAC’s page.

A walking and trekking club in Kansai called Musubu organizes meetings and walks every second Saturday of the month. Read their online geo-log in English or Japanese.

Walking and trekking clubs that are Tokyo-based include: The International Adventure Club that organizes events ranging for trips to aquariums to winter alpine mountaineering. If someone wants to go somewhere, they organize the trip by means of a members email bulletin board. Membership is 5,000 yen a year — that includes all family members for one payment of 5,000 yen! Activities range throughout Japan but the bulk lean in favor of the Tokyo area. Meetings are once a month in Shibuya with usually interesting slide presentations on traveling and outdoor skills. There are skill level ratings for the trips. / Japan Adventures has scheduled walks and hikes (currently to Okutama and Hokkaido) but can organize group trips too.

Paragliding, pottery, puppetry

Paragliding and parasailing for kids at Para Glider School, Tochigi prefecture. / Kebiesu Nasu Kougen Para Gudraida-Sukuru trial course: 6,300 yen. Phone: 0287-76-4740. / Sky Asagiri in Shizuoka

Pottery classes. Traditional pottery making lessons in English offered at the Agape Ceramic Studio in Motomachi Yokohama by American potter Tom Morris. 9:30 am-12:30, 14:00-17:00; 18:30-21:30 Tues – Sun. 12,000 yen per mth for 3 hrs. Kids lessons trial lessons available. Phone/fax: 045-212-5002 or 0467-25-0821 Email

Pottery for kids classes in Tochigi (in Japanese only) Classes for pottery-making on the pottery-wheel is hard to come by for kids. Cost: 4,000-5,000 yen Access map /Sendai City Jomon Forest Place in Sendai offers pottery-making classes. Phone: 022-307-5665/ Pottery workshops in Kamogawa-shi, Chiba summer workshops for children

Pottery tools and resources. Essential Japanese pottery and ceramic tools are now available at JAPAN POTTERY TOOLS. Good tools can save time and frustration, and the right tools can help you improve your technique and produce better pieces. Stop by Japan Pottery Tools today.

Ceramic-Art-Messe, Mashiko is a Pottery Theme Park and an internationally known pottery production center of Mashiko ware pottery. Located in Mashiko town in the southeastern part of Tochigi (belonging to the Prefectural Nature Park in the northernmost part of the Kanto Plain).
With more than 380 master potters here, ceramics fairs are held every spring and autumn, and about 300,000 visitors in spring and 170,000 visitors in autumn attend. In the middle of the 19th century, Keizaburo Otsuka found potter’s clay at Ohtsu-sawa and built a kiln to bake it, which was the origin of Mashiko ceramics. Later at the beginning of the 20th century, a ceramist, Shoji Hamada, built a kiln in Mashiko. There is a pottery studio at the site where you can try your hand at making pottery and painting it yourself. In Mashiko Sanko-kan, a reference collection museum of Hamada, not only his ceramic works, the kiln with stepped chambers he used, and the house he lived in, but also craftwork made in his lifetime and a collection of works by his associates are on display. Access: Get to Oyama Station which is 45 minutes from Tokyo Station by the JR Tohoku Shinkansen Line. Then go to Shimodate Station which is 20 minutes from Oyama Station by the JR Mito Line. From Shimodate Stn get to Mashiko Station which is 40 minutes via the Mo-oka Line. (Tokyo Station is 2 hours 30 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station by the JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line.)

Puppetry. Genesis Creative Studio/The Grant & Howl Puppet Theatre conducts children’s workshops in English for 4-10 year olds. 4-7-13 Himonya Meguro-ku, Tokyo 152-0003 Email Phone: Liane Wakabayashi at 03-5722-2792.

Dave’s Puppet Shutter
offers Puppet Shows for the hearing -impaired and for everyone! There will be no language barriers to overcome. Phone: 044-777-2228

Racing, rafting, riding clubs, rock climbing

Racing: Matchbox car-racing at Nakaiinta-sakkito (Naka Inter-Circuit) Phone: 0465-81-116

Rafting and canoeing:

Big Wave Rafting
Gumboat rafting in Gunma prefecture. Phone: 0278-20-4116 5,600 yen for kids adults 6,500 yen. / Gurandekkusu in Saitama prefecture. Phone: 0494-69-2030 Gumboat rafting. 7,000 yen for adult/child for half-day. / The Happy Place Yoshino, Shikoku comes highly recommended in Outdoorjapan’s White Water in Japan guide as possibly the best white water rafting spot in Japan and rafting locations are reviewed in Big Fun on the Little Island / Kanute in Saitama prefecture. Phone: 0494-66-0529 Lunch packed or BBQ options available with river rafting activity packages./ Montbell Outdoor Challenge M.O.C. in Saitama, a branch of Montbell outdoor good manufacturer offers canoe-rafting-kayaking from 3rd grade onwards. / Nagatoro Furusawaen. Phone: 0494-66-3511 River rafting and BBQ facilities./ Outdoor Nagatoro Center Phone: 0120-66-4162 Rafting and other activities offered. Nagatoro River is also famous for the Nagatoro-Rain (Nagatoro Line) which is plied by bamboo pole-boatman through picturesque river-gorge scenery especially during the splendour of autumn. 30 min boat-rides for 1,550 yen (adult) and 750 yen(child) Phone: 0494-66-0950 / Nature Navigate in Gunma / Summit Adventures in Gunma. Phone: 0278-72-9011 / Wonder-Egg-Nature-and-Child in Nagano offers gentle rafting activities for ages 4 yrs and above.

A list for Riding clubs all over Japan (Locations: Hokkaido, Tohoku, Misawa; Tokyo, Yokohama, Saitama, Chiba, North Kanto, Koshietsu, Hokuriku, Nagoya, Tokai, Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Chugoku, Shikoku, Iwakuni, Kyushu, Okinawa) is available from the website. For riding facilities in the Kanto area, contact these riding ranches in Yamanashi Koyoudai-kisouma-bokujo & White Saddle &Western Ranch, Gunma Asamakure-ru Riding Circle & Baji Fureai, Shizuoka Ableman & Big Mountain Ranch, Nagano’s Nihon Trekking & Hope Lodge Riding Ranch; Ichinomiya Riding Center phone: 0475-42-2851 and also Machida Riding Center, Chiba Phone: 042-782-0262; Saitama’s Kurio Stable, phone: 0494-75-2001; Kanagawa’s Negishi-keiba-kinen-koen. Phone: 045-662-75-81.

Chirorin-mura is a sports and leisure park in Nikko where you can go on 4WD trials, putter-golf and archery lessons and more, for both parents and kids. Phone: 0288-54-3355.

Rock climbing. REI Tokyo Store has a climbing wall and sells a huge selection of road and mountain bikes, parts, accessories. Tsuruma 3-4-1, Machida, Tokyo Phone: 042-788-3535 Minami-Machida Station on Tokyu Denentoshi Line. 36 mins from Shibuya.

Rock-climbing spots are reviewed here.

Climbing Facilities include:
Pump Climbing – Largest and Best Climbing Gym in Japan (and Asia) Many locations.
Climbing Gym List Japan(Yuuko Yamaguchi’s Home Page) (English and Japanese) gives info on mountaineering schools.
City Rock Gym (OCS)
(Osaka) (website in Japanese)
Crux Climbing School and Gym (Osaka) (website in Japanese only)
Science activities, scouts, shakuhachi, silkworms, skateboarding, ski, snowboarding, soccer

Sea Kayak Sailing Class. Venue: Yokohama-city Sports Shinkou Jigyoudan, naka-ku, Yokohama. Inquire at 045-640-0014

Scouts Association and Scouting goods and equipment Phone: 0422-31-5165 Email

Shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute) Gunnar ‘Jinmei’ Linder speaks Swedish, English and Japanese and some German. Locations: Lesson Room in Tachikawa (‘keiko-ba’) Tamagawa-Josui Station (Seibu Shinjuku-Hajima Line/Tama Monorail) Tachikawa Station (JR Chuo Line) / Lesson Room in Ota-ku, (‘shutcho-jo’) Ootorii Station (Keihin Kyuuko-Haneda Line) / Asahi Culture center Tachikawa (in Japanese) / Asahi Culture Center Yokohama (in Japanese) Phone: 090-8090-0922 Fax: 042-534-0864. Email Gunnar. Review: “I’ve been to a few of Gunnar’s recitals and lectures, and besides being an accomplished musician he gives excellent explanations. Gunnar has a warm personality He has three young children.” – Connie

Shell-fish sazae-collecting activities in Shizuoka and East Izu organized by the Onsen Association. Phone 0557-95-2901 for access and information.

Shichida Child Academy. Famous Shichida method of learning featuring brain-based learning and perfect recall training and other skills. Children between 1-9 years Instructor has lessons about 50 minutes long, with around 6 students in a classroom, average 5 lessons per day) doing flash cards, singing, dancing and so on. Parents have to join the baby classes. Shichida method after schools (now worldwide) have been developed by Professor Shichida and his concepts and philosophy based on decades of research. They are often covered by the press and media. 1-1-1-5F Manpukuji, Asao, Kawasaki, Kanagawa. Phone: 044-959-4002 Email / Also in Shin-kashigaya in Saitama. 1-48-1 Minami showa-cho, Tokushima, 770-0944. Phone: 81-886-255 Fax: 81-886-255-324

Silkworm crafts. Bryan Whitehead, a Canadian silkworm cultivator who has woven and dyed his own silk for more than 10 years sometimes holds indigo-themed textile basic-level workshops that provide participants with an opportunity to experience shibori (tie-dyeing), stencil dyeing and silk cocoon reeling. Students can learn how to make tenugui towels and traditional Japanese bags. Email Whitehead for brochures or make enquiries at phone/fax: 042-686-6757. Each course costs about 5,000 yen, including materials.

Sightseeing online guide. Go sightseeing. discover Japan with the help of this Discover Japan! database

Skate boarding sites by prefecture

Ski – Japan is a ski-haven with ski resorts numbering over 600 according to – start with Skijapan in your search for a good ski resort. Another good guide is the Snowjapan website (in English and Japanese) a site that bills itself as the “ultimate guide to winter sports”, as well as this Asiatrek website. Virtually all resorts have ski instructors and classes for kiddies. Apparently they start really young in Japan, from age 1 years (i.e. from the moment they begin walking). We personally recommend picking ski slopes that do not allow snowboarders if possible when your kids are starting out – as the risk of injury is considerably reduced when there are no snowboarders to watch out for. When we ski with our kids in Japan, we head for Mt Moiwa’s slopes (the oldest ski resort in Hokkaido and the closest to Sapporo and which bans snowboarders). Hakuba in the Japan Alps hires English-speaking ski and snowboarding instructors – Hakuba, Nagano. Niigata
– AK helps you book for a weekend at Yuzawa. Yuzawa has 5 1/2 km of ropeway linking two ski slopes and the largest gondola in the world, carrying 166 people. Yuzawa, a large resort, offers 2,500 rooms; it’s a huge resort facility with enormous potential. Being so close to Kanto, even day trips are possible., with a comprehensive Web site in English and Japanese that makes booking a weekend away. Japan Worldwide KK, Shougetsu Bldg., 2F, 2448 Yuzawa, Yuzawa-machi, Minamiuonuma-gun, Niigata-ken, Japan 949-3107. Telephone 025-784-3117, fax 025-784-3107, mobile 090- 5799-7188, email.

Snowboarding : Northstar Camp offers winter camps that are highly recommended by our members. Winter camps have featured snowboarding at Northstar in Nagano Prefecture in the past. Busing from Tokyo is provided. Says an e-community member: “My daughter has been to the camp several times before (for skiing and snowboarding in the winter, and for hiking in the Alps during the summer), and she has had a great time. She has met other homeschoolers there, as well. The staff includes both Japanese and North American counselors. The cost is 29,800 yen including transportation from Shinjuku; the cost is less for people who get there on their own (about 22,800 yen). Incidentally, at other times Northstar is operated as a lodge. So if the camp doesn’t work out, you could always go as a family, rent a room at the lodge, and go skiing/snowboarding/snowshoeing/etc.” More info is to be had at the Northstar webpage

Soccer KISP Akasaka School / Kids international soccer park. in Japanese. They have English-speaking Japanese coaches and 3 age groups: 3 to 6, 7 to 8 and 9 to 10. It costs 6,000 yen / month for the youngest group and 7,000 yen per month for the two older groups. Location: Foot Square Akasaka 3 minutes from Nagatacho Station. Phone: 3272-5761 Email KISP.
Futsal (Indoor) Soccer classes by coach of Yokohama F. Marinos at Yokohama Bunka Taiikukan. Inquiries: 045-641-5741.

Spelunking – for a list of famous caves to visit, see this page

Summer camps in Japan see this page for a listing

Swimming lessons for kids. 10 am – noon every Tues through Thurs until Aug 31 at Portopia Hotel in Chuo Ward, Kobe. Children aged 2-pr . 3. 4,200 yen per lesson. Reserve 5 days beforehand. Phone: 078-303-5247.

Science activities see our science museums section below.

Maishima Sports Island
is an artificial island in Osaka Bay that provides every type of sports facility by the water as well as cultural activities. Access: 2 Hokko-ryokuchi, Konohana-ku, Osaka. 35 min by no. 81from JR Nishi-kujo Stn.

For Sports in Tokyo from archery to ice hockey to lacross to sumo consult the TOKYO SPORTS & LEISURE DIRECTORY

For Sports in Yokohama, all manner of sports from soccer to parent-and-child classes to maternity classes to dance to gym, check out the listings of activities and locations of sports centers atHamaspo website(in Japanese only).

Chirorin-mura is a sports and leisure park in Nikko where you can go on 4WD trials, putter-golf and archery lessons and more, for both parents and kids. Phone: 0288-54-3355.

Field Athletic Yokohama Tsukushino Course, Kanagawa Phone: 045-983-9254. Athletic field equiment and course in the midst of greenery. BBQ facilities available.

Taiko, tennis, theater.
Taiko. There are about 10,000 taiko groups in Japan.
– In Tokyo, Asakusa Arukode Asakusa 3F. 3-4-9 Asakusa Taito-ku, Tokyo 111-0032 Phone: 03-5824-0210
– In Nagano, take week-long courses are available comprising of 5 hours of playing time each day; a visit to the Suwa area to spend a day and practice with Grandmaster Daihachi Oguchi and Suwa Daiko; a tour of the Osuwa Taiko; and the option of performing a short piece on stage in a taiko concert with Art Lee and Tokara plus accommodation at one of Japan’s foremost popular hotspring resorts included in the course fee. More details here.
– In Kyoto, courses are available for kids from K onwards. 113-4 Takatsuji Oomiya-cho, Shimogyou-ku, Kyoto City, 600-8387 Phone: 075-813-8615 Fax: 075-813-8616 or email them
– For details about the INADANI Taiko Course, visit this link
– In Fukui, visit this link.

Tea ceremony – check with the following schools:

Enshu Sado School
26 Wakamiya-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162-0827 Phone: 03-3260-3551
123 Shin-Honmachi, Toyohashi-shi, Aichi 440-0892
Senchado Ogasawara-ryu Zuihoan
12-2 Higashiyama-cho, Ashiya-shi, Hyogo 659-0091 Phone: 0797-22-5405
Urasenke Konnichian 613 Honpojimae-cho, Ogawa-dori Teranouchi-agaru, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto 602-8688 Phone: 075-431-3111

Tennis. Jinji Tennis Center offers lessons held in English. This is ideal for the international community but is also a unique opportunity for Japanese students who wish to enjoy English conversation while playing tennis. All basic explanations are provided in Japanese too, so please don’t be afraid to come if you think your English is not good enough!

Theatre. Yokohama Theatre Group or YTG as they are known. Acting and improvisation Workshops are offered on a monthly basis. You too can join the mayhem, and learn the techniques to creating a character with YTG’s Beginners and Intermediate Workshops held on Sunday from 2 pm-4pm at the Black Box Theatre, Yokohama International School. The first workshop is entirely free, and after that each 2 hour session costs only 2,000 yen. YTGis always searching for new talent so if you wish to know about auditions or become involved in acting more details about YTG, Improvisation or Theatre in Yokohama, please visit the Yokohama Theatre website. Location: 11-1 Yaguchidai Naka-ku Yokohama-shi 231-0831 Phone: 045-625-2569 or email them.

The Global Rock ChallengeTM is a chance for school students to take part in a dance, drama and design spectacular. While the result is a professionally staged event, the Global Rock Challenge is about having fun while making healthy lifestyle choices and enjoying a 100% drug free experience. Students, teachers, parents and communities work together over many months helping to prepare the school’s eight-minute performance. STudents take part in an exhilarating day, culminating in a live event performance in front of family and friends. Almost a million young people aged 11-19 have now performed on stage from Belfast to Albany, Dresden to Melbourne, Aberdeen to Auckland and everywhere in between! This year 65,000 young people from 800 schools will take part in one of 110 shows staged worldwide. We are in the early stages of bringing the Global Rock ChallengeTM to japan and would like to find out if your organization would like to participate in the event as an event sponsor or provide ‘in kind’ support. *** If you would like more information please visit the website or contact the Principal Shawn Hutchinson, International Secondary School. Phone: 090-6034-1963 (English).

Tokyo Comedy Store offers Young Children’s Improvisation Comedy Workshops for 5-7 year olds/8-19 year olds. Duration: 8 weeks. Cost: 10,000 yen per student. Email them at their website. The classes are taught by Ann Doherty-Hardbattle an experienced teacher at the Yotsuya Studio. Through various basic improvisation games and techniques, your child will have the opportunity to create their own stories and dialogue, feel comfortable in taking risks and expressing themselves in front of an audience and relate and respond to their peers nd to their environment.

Tree Climbing Activities. John Galato is often featured on TV. Visit his website for a really interesting account of his work as well as for a look at his tree-house. And the outdoor activity training website.
Other websites promoting tree-climbing include the Tree Climbing Japan and the Outdoor Activity Training websitee whose activities among others also include tree climbing.

***Turtle-watching activities. Summer is the nesting season for sea turtles in Japan. Senrihama and other spots, including Inakahama on Yakushima Island, Kyushu are well-known for nesting turtles and attract a lot of visitors, especially on weekends. Advisory: “While it is both educational and a rare privilege to see such animals in the wild, some sites in Japan (and elsewhere) are not managed by trained conservationists and can degenerate into spectacles for camera-clicking rubberneckers. Worse, some places confine hatchlings for events to allow children to release into the sea, which severely interferes with the biologically-important hatching process. Matsuzawa says the media is partly to blame. “Taking pictures or making a lot of noise or shining lights on them is unnecessary and invasive. There are enough pictures of nesting turtles already; the media should use those instead of always taking new ones. And people who come to watch have to realize it’s not a movie or TV show, but a beautiful phenomenon which must be observed with patience and respect.” For more information, check out the Japan Sea Turtle Association’s bilingual website. Many conservation projects need volunteers for night patrols and other duties.

Trekking (see outdoor activities)

Volcanoes, volunteer work.

Find a Japanese volcano to visit

Izu peninsula fieldtrip to Omuro-yama

Mt Mihara, Oshima Drive and go one of the hiking trails to the live volcano of Miharayama, Oshima (which is Izu peninsula’s largest island). Hiking trails on Oshima island provide spectacular views of sea and volcanic landscape. Miharayama is the world’s third most frequently erupting volcano. Hike to see the crater but beware as it is a live volcano. Phone: 04992-2-1446 (Oshima’s Tourist Bureau). More info at the Oshima Tourist Association website.

Volunteer opportunities. See the Volunteering Directory for volunteering opportunities. In large cities, contact your local volunteer action center. The Tokyo Voluntary Action Center operates awebsite from which you may get more info on opportunities in Tokyo. OXFAM has jobs and is seeking volunteers, email them.

Virtual Town. Kidzania Billed as “Japan’s First Facility For Children to Experience Various Professions Hands-on”, Kidzania is a virtual town with a collection of shops and facilities called pavilions. Underlying Concept – edu-tainment plus “Today, with the NEET (young people Not in Education, Employment or Training) phenomenon becoming an increasingly serious social concern, hopes are that the pavilion will help children formulate positive occupational values from an early age.” – from Idemitsu’s press release. Scheduled to open in Toyosu, Tokyo in October 2006, Kidzania is a facility designed to emulate many of the same services actually found in society, enabling children to experience a variety of professions firsthand. Children will be given the chance to work at a gas station, where they will also experience the vital importance of customer service for themselves. In the process, children will learn the valuable rules and manners they will need in the adult world. In addition to the gas station there will be 50 other pavilions, i.e., facilities including TV station, airport, hospital, restaurant, an automotive maintenance shop, a confectionery plant, a beauty salon, a fire department and others (from the website the facilities look real). The first Kidzania opened in 1999 in Mexico city and was a huge hit it seems and often used by elementary schools for field trips. Location: Urban Dock, LalaPort, Toyosu 2-chome (6th block), Koto-ku, Tokyo. Admission charges: 3,000 yen for children; 2,000 yen for adults (note this is not an error – presumably because kids participate and have the most fun). I think this should be really fun and cool! place for all families with young kids from preschool-primary ages when it opens in October 2006, don’t you?

X‘mas illuminations

Washi, whale watching

For washi crafts look under C – for (paper) crafts.

***Kerama Islands, 25 miles west of Okinawa is a mecca for whale watchers. The waters around here are breeding grounds for humpbackwhales and after raising their offpsring here, the whales migrate to Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. The whale watching season is at its peak season from February 15th to March 10th, when about 600 whales are expected to appear and it is said that during this period, there is a 90% chance that whales can be seen on whale watching tours. Especially famous are the humpback whales that often appear around the seas near the Kerama Islands. Whale watching tour info here.

Ogasawara Islands, 1,000 km south of Tokyo. An excellent writeup here by Jim Nollsen director of Interspecies Inc. Humpback, sperm and spinner whales are seen here. Visit the Ogasawara Island Whale Watching Association online or Ogasawara Kaiun K.K. Asahi Bldg., 5-29-19 Shiba, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 108-0014 Phone 03-3451-5171 for tour info.

Choshi Experience Whale watching (and dolphin watching) conducted by the Choushi-kaiyou-kenkyuu-jyo. (Choshi Ocean Research Station) Phone: 0479-25-8870. You are advised to enquire by phone from the station regarding the season, availability and price of programmes before you travel there. Choushi-gyokou (daisanoroshi-uri-ichiba) is the third largest wholesale seafood market in Japan. Many kinds of fish sardines, sanma, saba, katsuo, tuna, etc sold here. Kimiga-hama-kaikan Phone the Choshi city tourist association: 0479-22-1544 Visit the fishmarket website. At Togawa fishing port you can board a dolphin-or whale watching boat from spring to autumn. Access: Take a Limited Express of the JR Sobu Line for 1 hour and 50 minutes from Tokyo Station to Choshi Station. Transfer to the Choshi Dentetsu Line for 20 minutes from Choshi Station to Inubo-saki Station.

ICERC conducts tours

Kohkamairu dolphin and whale-watching tours from Futo, off Izu Peninsula here and from Mito city, off Shizuoka info here. Read about it at Jenny’s Dolphin page (in English) and in Japanese here.

Read the American Cetacean Society’s Conservation Commitee’s Whaling Advisory!

Taiji Whale Museum in Taiji which was the location of one of Japan’s great whaling industry. Did you know whalers at Taiji…”If they found that the whale they killed was pregnant, the men responsible for the killing would run home to get their best silk overcoats. They would return and wrap the fetus in their coats. Depending on the species, the carcass might be eight feet long, so, as you might imagine, it sometimes took a lot of overcoats. Then they’d bury the whale on the temple grounds after a ceremony of atonement.” – Satory Yamamoto.


YOGA for Kids from 5 -12 years old. Class instruction: Bibi. Location: Sun & Moon Yoga in Meguro station (1 minute walk) Cost of class: 2,000 yen per class. Phone: 035478-9626.

Shizen Yoga
offers classes at their studio located in Kichichoji. Bilingual Instructor: Watanabe Nao. Contact Taryn Loveman for more info.

Yoga classes near ASIJ. Tuesdays at Tama Shrine (down the road from Ricketson Theater) 2,000 yen per class for drop ins. Contact Dominica. Dominica Serigano has a yoga studio in Kichijoji with a full range of classes that can be seen at Shizen Yoga’s website.

Zoos n’such. Visit this page for suggestions.









INDOOR PARKS & PLAYSPACES click here; see also Amusement & theme parks, leisure domes, etc.




EDUCATIONAL FIELDTRIPS (click on “Fieldtripper’s Corner” here for lots and lots of suggestions. We are always adding more info on coasts and other geography-spots, so check back frequently here)





J-Castles & Castle Towns. See a list here.

The best castles and castle towns in Japan are listed below, but you can consult Japanese Castles‘s guide that lists more than 50 castles and ruins. On castle towns see JTNO listing. See also Guide to Japanese Castles provides online information on 66 castles in Japan and a castles in Japan map.






SUMMER CAMPS click here for info and listings; See also Camp programs in Hokkaido


TRIPS TO VISIT VOLCANOES (click here ; also for images here)





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