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Kodomo no Hi and boys activities!


May is the perfect time to introduce some activities that will appeal to both male and female students, especially some activities that will appeal particularly to boys.


The beginning of May signals Kodomo no Hi (Children’s Day) celebrations with a public holiday for children. Kodomo no Hi is celebrated on 05 May and is traditionally a celebration for families with boys. Originally it was known as Tango no Sekku (端午の節句) meaning ‘double fifth'. In 1948 the Japanese government changed the official name to Children’s Day however most Japanese still celebrate this day with boys in their families.


During the month of May colourful carp fish flags called koinobori can be seen flying from balconies and neighbourhoods. A black carp represents the father, red for mother and blue for the oldest son. Other colourful carp may represent younger siblings. Just like the carp need to swim upstream against the current parents hope that their children will grow with a strong spirit and perseverance to overcome obstacles. Parents of boys also decorate their homes with samurai armour and kabuto helmets representing their wish for strong boys. Since Kodomo no Hi is a public holiday there are fun activities, new anime movie releases and special food prepared for all children to celebrate. Japan is awash with colour and May is a lovely time to visit.


MAZDA MUSEUM HIROSHIMA

Hiroshima is a beautiful city, now known as the City of Peace due to its history as the first city targeted by an atomic bomb in 1945. The Atomic Bomb Dome, Sadako’s Statue, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum are important landmarks for visiting school groups. However Hiroshima has many places of interest and one of my favourites is the Mazda Museum and Mazda Factory.


The Mazda tour begins with a short video presentation and then visitors board a bus for the short trip to the Mazda Plant and assembly line. A walk through the Mazda Museum with a tour guide to explain the vehicles and history of Mazda culminates in a viewing of the actual car assembly line. It is fascinating to watch as the cars move on conveyor belts through the factory assembly line. The tour takes a total of ninety minutes. Access is easy by taking the local train from Hiroshima to Mukainada Station (5 minutes, ¥190 for adults) and then a 5-minute walk to the Mazda Head Office. Reservations are compulsory, tours are free of charge and since daily tours are limited the tours book out quickly. Contact us for bookings as Saizen Tours can make all group arrangements in advance.


TOYOTA MEGA WEB ODAIBA

Take the JR Yamanote Line to Shimbashi Station and change to the Tokyo Waterfront New Transit Yurikamome monorail for Aomi Station - 21 minutes, ¥390 adults. Or purchase a 1-Day Pass for ¥820 per adult to visit multiple areas at Odaiba. I have taken many student groups to Odaiba and always head straight to Aomi Station where students can enjoy not only Toyota Megawab but also the large, three-storied Venus Forte Shopping Mall, TeamLab Borderless and Odaiba Ferris Wheel.

Toyota Megaweb is divided into three areas – Toyota City Showcase, History Garage and Ride Studio. Students can have fun sitting in the latest Toyota cars and taking photos! History Garage features historical cars from around the world. Ride Studio has an electric go-cart circuit that will appeal to students. Entrance is free however there are fees for some hands-on activities such as the go-carts (¥300 for 15 minutes).


TEAMLAB BORDERLESS ODAIBA

Whilst you are visiting Odaiba you cannot miss the delightful digital museum called teamLab Borderless. Conveniently, it is also located at Aomi Station and will definitely be a highlight for everyone! teamLab is a kaleidoscope of colour featuring a three-dimensional world of art and Instagram photo opportunities galore. Understandably this museum is extremely popular and pre-purchased tickets are necessary. Tickets are ¥3,200 for adults and high school students and ¥1,000 for primary school students. Be aware that teamLab has a strict condition of admission of one adult per three primary school aged students. Session numbers are limited throughout the day therefore contact us to have pre-booked tickets included in your tour.


MIRAIKAN ODAIBA

Still in Odaiba is the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, simply known as the Miraikan. The Miraikan can be easily accessed on the Yurikamome monorail line and is a 4-minute walk from the Telecom Center Station. There is also a free shuttle bus ‘Tokyo Bay Shuttle’ which connects popular tourist spots for shopping and sightseeing in the Odaiba area. The bus is free and runs every 20 minutes from 11:30am to 7:30pm daily. The bus stops at the Miraikan which is open from 10:00am to 5:00pm. Group admission fees are ¥500 for adults and ¥160 for primary and high school students.

Besides hands-on activities there are many performances and workshops including a demonstration by ASIMO, a futuristic humanoid robot. The demonstration lets students imagine a future society in which everyone lives alongside robots.  There are four demonstrations per day of approximately 10 minutes - 11:00 / 13:00 /14:00 / 16:00. The Permanent Exhibition has a number of zones that explore space, the solar system and earth.


DIVERCITY TOKYO PLAZA AND UNICORN GUNDAM STATUE

Gundam fans will be pleased to know that Odaiba's much-loved full-scale replica Gundam is back – now even bigger and better than before with the replica Unicorn Gundam from the Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn series. It can be found in front of DiverCity Tokyo Plaza with the new life-sized Gundam statue towering over spectators at a staggering height of 19.7 metres high. Unicorn Gundam transforms a number of times daily, switching between Unicorn and Destroyer. Transformation times are 11am, 1pm, 3pm and 5pm.

DiverCity Tokyo Plaza is a shopping mall designed as a large-scale entertainment facility where you can have many different experiences. The shopping mall would also be popular with students; offering entertainment, a wide selection of Japan-themed souvenirs at many of its shops and authentic Japanese restaurants.

Access is via a 7-minute walk from Daiba Station on the New Transit Yurikamome Line.


GUNDAM CAFE ODAIBA AND AKIHABARA

There are two Gundam themed cafes in Tokyo. One is situated at DiverCity Odaiba and the other is at Akihabara, right next door to JR Akihabara Station. The Akihabara cafe has Gundam's iconic "V-antenna" sitting above the entrance and Gundam statues out front for easy spotting. The cafes each have a themed menu, Gundam display cases and a gift shop selling a variety of Gundam souvenirs. Reviews of food are not fantastic however the themed restaurants are popular with Gundam fans.


NINJA AKASAKA AND NINJA SHINJUKU RESTAURANTS TOKYO

These restaurants offer ninja-themed entertainment from the moment you walk through the front doors. Private and communal rooms are arranged in a labrynth-like dining area which replicates a hidden ninja village from the Edo period. The entertainment, ninja costumes, non-stop surprises, illusions and ninja tricks make for a really fun interactive evening. The food is superb but prices are on the expensive side for school group budgets. However we have made quite a number of bookings for school groups seeking a special experience. Bookings are essential and we can suggest a set menu and prices to suit your group’s budget.


EDO WONDERLAND NIKKO

A full day of fun can be found with a visit to Edo Wonderland. Situated at Nikko in Tochigi Prefecture Edo Wonderland can be visited during a day trip. Or alternatively an overnight trip, staying in Nikko and also visiting other Nikko sites such as the famous Tōshōgū Shrine.

Access to Nikko is via the JR Line whereby groups can use the shinkansen and local trains utilising their JR Pass if they have a valid pass. Or from Tobu Asakusa Station using the Tobu Kinugawa Line by purchasing a One-day Nikko Pass and reserved seats. Local buses depart regularly from local train stations direct to Edo Wonderland.

So what is Edo Wonderland? It is a step back in time to 17th century Japan. The village is divided into five traditional areas, Kaido (Road to Edo), Shukuba-machi (Inn Town), Shokagai