Here are my top picks in Ichinoseki for your young children to enjoy. For the full list, which includes swimming pools, playgrounds, sports facilities, please check out the city's webpage.
Ichinoseki Yusuichi Memorial Park 一関遊水地記念緑地公園
This expansive park is famed for its 1,000 cherry trees of 100 varieties that bloom in the spring. On sunny days you’ll see people enjoying nature walks, jogging, and cycling. It’s a wonderful place for picnic and there is also a barbecue area that can be reserved. A small, shallow rock pond is also a popular place for children to gather and play in.
There are two playgrounds in the vicinity which cater to children of all ages. One of which is the Australia Japan Friendship Park which opened in 2015 and was developed by Ichinoseki’s sister city (region), the Central Highlands, Australia. The park introduced Japan’s first swing that can be ridden in a wheelchair which is in line with the concept of the park, ‘A place with no barriers’. The park is adjacent to the Ichinoseki General Gymnasium, so there is plenty of parking.
Kid’s Land Mo-ri キッズランド モーリー
Raining? We’ve got you covered. Kid’s Land Mo-ri is a play area for young children. Admission to this brand-new indoor playground, which is located in Hana-to- Izumi Park, is free for everyone. The repurposed Begonia pavilion, with its glassed roof and six play areas that include a sandbox, bouldering, and a drawing area, is perfect for families. Younger children can play with toys, picture books, and cardboard equipment in the baby area. The adjacent Hazumi restaurant serves adorable ice cream crepes and ice creams with animal themes.
A sizable outdoor begonia garden, which is in full bloom in May, is located on the same grounds. The 4,000 peony trees and 3,000 peony plants of numerous species blossom exquisitely in the 3-hectare park, which is one of the largest in the Tohoku region.
Admission: Free Hours: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays. For inquiries, call the park (0191-82-4066)
Shinyu Onsen (hot spring) Center Area
The Shinyu hot spring area has some wonderful seasonal activities. May is personally my favourite time of year as you are greeted with the intensely bright, young green leaves. Across from the hot spring center is a campsite with beautiful log cabins.
In the summer months of ~mid-July and August, Jyabu Jyabu Park has fresh water flowing from the mountain into its large star-shaped mini pond. There’s also a playground area which is open generally from late April to October. In winter, keep an eye out for snow events. Last year, a large snow maze, equivalent to that of 4 tennis courts was built. In the free space, families can get creative and build igloos or have a good ol’ snowball fight.
Matsurube Snowland, is also a five-minute drive from the hot spring center and is great for beginner snowboarders or skiers. After the snow, there’s nothing better than a dip in the hot spring to finish off the day.
TEL: 0191-39-2713（Shinyu Onsen Center） For enquiries regarding the snow event inquire to the Ichinoseki Hiraizumi DMO.
This article was orginally written for The Kitakami Times