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Tokyo One Day Itinerary: The Akasaka Area with Kids by Maven Mom, Olga

Tokyo One Day Itinerary: The Akasaka Area with Kids was written by Maven Mom, Olga – mother of two and Mom in Balance Tokyo Trainer.

When we came for our look-see, Akasaka was our main focus. I had lived in Akasaka before from 2000-2003 and we stayed in a hotel in Akasaka during our honeymoon in 2009. We loved the busyness of the nightlife and the numerous little intimate restaurants and bars. It probably was not the most kid-friendly neighbourhood we thought, but we had found a big 2-story house there and we were fine with having to travel to playgrounds and such. But boy, were we wrong. Akasaka turned out to be very kid-friendly and is a great neighbourhood to live in.
Let me tell you our ‘hoods secrets. Just don’t go telling too many people 🙂

*** The Akasaka Area with Kids ***

Akasaka Public Indoor Pool:
Inside the Akasaka Elementary school is a public swimming pool. Every 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month, all Minato-ku residents can swim for free (best to avoid it then) by showing their drivers’ license or residents permit.
Entering is easy, just buy a ticket from the vending machine (no change for 10,000/ 5,000/ 2,000 yen bills).

It is 500 JPY for adults or 100 JPY for students, which buys you 2 hours of swimming during certain time slots. It is worth checking their schedule in advance. Children under 3 years are not allowed. It is not a huge pool but big enough. Follow the rules (no jumping, no diving, no running, etc) and just enjoy.

Opening hours also depend on school closure and swim tournaments, so it is worth checking their website beforehand.

Phone: 03-3404-2943
Hours: Thursday and Friday 5:00pm to 8:00pm; Saturday, Sunday, Thursday or holiday and Friday from 10:00am to noon, 1:00pm to 3:00pm, 3:30pm to 5:30pm, and 6:00pm to 8:00pm.
Access: By bicycle, Chii bus Akasaka route or Chiyoda line Nogizaka station exit 1, turn left and walk 500m.
*** The Akasaka Area with Kids ***

Playground and Smoothies:
If you exit the front of the Akasaka Elementary school and head straight down the road, you will find a great playground on the top of the hill. It is called Hitotsugi playground and was featured earlier in a Best Living Article found here.

If you find yourself needing a boost before you climb the steep hill (!! do not say I did not warn you!) towards the playground, you will find a fantastic little vegetable shop run by a mother & daughter called Shunpachi Jinja Akasaka Shop, on your right hand side. They are open Monday – Saturday from 10.30am – 7:00pm and make their own smoothies and juices, adding no extra water or ice. Their juices cost 250 JPY and are truly delicious; a real treat for my kids. Besides the smoothies their organic, sugarless yoghurt from Hokkaido is rich and creamy in taste. (I am a huge fan.)

Phone: 03-6435-5843
Hours: Monday-Saturday 10.30-7:00pm
Access: 400m or 5 minutes from Akasaka station on the Chiyoda line; the Koban stop on the Akasaka Chii bus route.

    

When you get to the playground, you can park your stroller or bike and have a seat while the kids enjoy. Hitotsugi has a lot of space for running around and very clean toilets. Bonus: it is 20 metres away from a great pizzeria ‘Liana’ located within the B-Akasaka Hotel on the ground floor.

*** The Akasaka Area with Kids ***

Liana Pizzeria:
The size of their pizzas are perfect for my 6 & 7 year old as they share one; adults will want to opt for an extra salad on the side. The wood burning oven and glass separation make for an interesting viewpoint for the kids. Their Americana pizza has a mozzarella, hot-dogs and french fry topping (kids’ heaven) and their salsichianna has an amazing tasting sausage as topping. It is our family’s go to Friday Night Restaurant. The guys see us coming and they start rolling the dough; they know what we like!
The bathroom within Liana is located inside the hotel lobby, down some steps. It does not have a diaper changing table, has a sliding door and an awkward step up and step down. Tricky for little people.
There is an outside (heated) terrace which has stroller parking space.

Phone:
Hours: Daily 11:00am-11:00pm
Website: Pizzeria Liana
Access: 400m or 5 minutes from Akasaka station on the Chiyoda line; the Koban stop on the Akasaka Chii bus route.

  

More playgrounds & parks:
Besides Hitotsugi park and the obvious Tokyo Midtown Park, there is another playground located in a park next to the Canadian Embassy, Takahashi Korekiyo Memorial Park. It has two swings, a roller slide, seesaw and a sand pit, a drinking fountain and a spacious bathroom which has a diaper changing table. Parking on the road.
Although the playground itself is small, Takahashi Korekiyo park has lots of winding paths, a beautiful stone lantern, stone bridge and a small stream with stepping stones in the middle. As the park is lined with the Japanese maple leaf trees, the four colours of leaves during the changing of the season make this a wonderful place to take photos.

The stream is ankle deep so there is no real danger if your child falls in. My kids spent a good few hours building rafts and dams with leaves and branches, while office workers sat on big boulders surrounding the small stream, enjoying their laughter. I did not expect my kids to spend so long in this relatively small park, but they had a fantastic time and did not want to leave. There are a few konbini’s nearby that saved us from starvation during the hours spent here.

Phone: 03-5413-7015 (Minato-ward office)
Hours: Daily 24hrs
Access: By bicycle or the Takahashi Korekiyo park stop on the Chii bus: Akasaka Mitsuke Stationa or Aoyama Itchome station are station 800 m away.


Photo-credit: japoniahortus

*** The Akasaka Area with Kids ***

Akasaka Hikawa Shrine playground is located next to the US Embassy compound, off the grounds of the Akasaka Hikawa Shrine. This shrine survived the big earthquakes of 1855, 1923 plus the WW2 bombings, so a lot of the shrine is original and the trees are wonderful and give lots of shade. The playground has a sandy underground so your kids will get dirty, but it is great for finding sticks, leaves, insects and there is a slide and swings.

Adress: 6-10-18 Akasaka Minato-ku Tokyo 107-0052
Phone: 03-3583-1935 (shrine)
Website: http://www.akasakahikawa.or.jp/about/en/
Access: Roppongi-Itchome, Akasaka, Roppongi exit 8 towards the US Embassy compound

Next to Nogizaka station exit 1 lies Nogizaka Shrine which has a garden some red torrii leading up a winding road. This makes for a great & cheap photo opportunity (as you don’t have to travel all the way to fushimi-inari-shrine in Kyoto.)

Phone: 03-3478-3001
Hours: Daily 5am-6pm
Website: nogijinja.or.jp
Access: Nogizaka station exit 1

The Akasaka Area with Kids

If you cannot get enough of these red torrii, visit the Hie Shrine in Akasaka. At the back of the shrine there are some steep stairs leading down with at least 100 torrii. The kids can release some energy climbing the numerous stairs leading up to the shrine (there is also an escalator) and across the road is a supermarket called Ville Marche which sells pre-packed food; perfect to pick up a bento to have as a reward afterwards.

Phone: 03-3581-2471
Hours: Daily 5am-6pm.
Website: hiejinja.net
Access: Walking distance from Akasaka-Mitsuke, Tameike-Sanno and Akasaka stations.

The Akasaka Area with Kids 

Indoor playground Akasaka Kids-Teens Hall NanDemo was featured on Best Living in 2017.
Please see a link to the article here.

Other Best Living Secrets to be found in Akasaka:
Cake shopKamihikoki is a family run cake shop that make the most delicious cakes. The elderly couple speak no English, but they have a picture book outside with examples. They also have a Facebook page. They serve lunch and have a cake menu with coffee and tea. As they are located around the corner from the Akasaka Swimming Pool, guess where we always go after a swim?
For my 6yo’s birthday I ordered a victorian sponge cake with fruit topping, 21cm, and a small edible message on top, which ended up costing less than JPY8.000. The couple apologised on the high price of the cake (!!!) as the strawberries were expensive (end of December)…The cake was divine; no left overs.
They also serve cupcakes and small slices of cake with tea and coffee at the shop.

Phone: 03-6804-3552
Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-6.30pm.
Access: Chii bus Akasaka route, stop Akasaka elementary school or walking distance from Nogizaka station exit 1

*** The Akasaka Area with Kids ***

Pet hotels & grooming shops:
Next to the cake shop Kamihikoki is a pet-grooming shop next door called Muru-Na, which has a big window. My kids love looking at the poodles being fluffed up. See a map here.
Back towards the main road alongside Akasaka Elementary school is pet hotel & dog trimming salon Niccolo. The front of the shop has huge windows and some of the dogs wear nappies, so you can imagine that my kids spend hours in front of the window, looking at these dogs.

Niccolo Address: AS Building 1 F, 7-11-10 Akasaka Minato Tokyo 107-0052
Phone: 03-6441-3015
Hours: Daily 10am-7pm.
Website: niccolo.jp
Access: Chii bus Akasaka route, stop Akasaka elementary school or walking distance from Nogizaka station exit 1

Italian Food:
Past the cake shop and the pet shop heading north towards the Canadian Embassy, a hidden gem called Louis Prima is located on a corner. It is a tiny Italian restaurant, and the kids get warned beforehand not to act like wild animals (they behave amazingly now that they have tasted the food!) Their homemade cream sauce with Iberico ham is out of this world delicious as are their assorted sausages which get inhaled by my two carnivores. No stroller parking and not great for younger kids, due to limited space, but so worth going to!

Address: 8-12-12 Akasaka Minato Tokyo 107-0052.
Phone: 03-6441-3015
Hours: Mon-Fri 11.30am-3pm & 7pm-11pm, Sat 7pm-11pm
Website: home-of-prima-style.com
Access: Chii bus Akasaka route, stop Akasaka elementary school or walking distance from Nogizaka station exit 1

 


Photo-credits: babycar.co.jp

Old fashioned baby-strollers:
Across from the Akasaka Elementary school and Niccolo Pet Hotel is a small little shop called Ubaguruma. They hand-make old fashioned wicker baby strollers which look absolutely divine and cost a fortune (from JPY 84,000) but I love the artisan fact of this shop and really hope they will get more clientele if more people know about this gorgeous shop.

Address: Tokyo Ubaguruma, 9-1-26 Akasaka Minato Tokyo 107-0052
Phone: 03-6434-7941
Website: babycar.co.jp
Access: Chii bus Akasaka route, stop Akasaka elementary school or walking distance from Nogizaka station exit 1

Learning to ride a bike and overall great play area:
Behind the Akasaka Park Building, which is behind the TBS building, there is a huge empty tiled square. On Sundays, this square is completely deserted, while during weekdays, the square has anywhere between 4-8 food trucks during lunch time. As this square is only 200 meters away from Hitotsugi playground, we often combine a trip.
There is no shade from the sun, so depending on the season, hanging out here is either pleasant or unbearable. It is a great location for kids learning to ride their bikes, play tag, fly kites, blow bubbles or practise routines, as the glass of a small building across is mirrored and they can see their own reflection. You can park underneath the Akasaka Park Building.

Address: 5 Chome-2-20 Akasaka, Minato, Tokyo 107-0052
Access: Chii bus Akasaka route, stop Akasaka koban or walking distance from Akasaka station exit Sacas

*** The Akasaka Area with Kids ***

Green Tea Shop
Dobashien Tea Speciality Store has been around since 1892 and is located close to Akasaka station. We come here and taste the different teas like sencha, houjicha and genmaicha (my kids’ favorite) and then the shop owner uses paper bags and scales to weigh the tea. The teas are bought locally from farms in Kagoshima, Shizuoka and Kyoto.
They speak very little English but my son enjoys practising his little Japanese with them. There are a couple of locals that hang out there a lot and I wish I knew the gossip they were sharing with the owners; I am imagining they are the like the people on the TV show “Friends”, only older and Japanese. I adore this little shop, even though it has no real space for strollers without moving chairs around.

Address: 1F Dobashi Building, 3-17-8 Akasaka, Minato-ku Tokyo 107-0052
Phone: 03-3583-3788
Hours: Mon-Fri 10am-6.30pm Sat 11am-6pm
Website: dobashientea.com
Access: Walking distance from Akasaka-Mitsuke, Akasaka and Tameike-Sanno stations

Dobashien Tea Store

Hope to see you around in Akasaka some time!

Best Living Japan`s Maven Mom, Olga Grant

I am a Dutch mother of 2 (born May 2010 and Dec 2011), married to a South African. We have lived in London, Amsterdam and Singapore before arriving in Tokyo in August 2017.
I lived in Japan before; Kyoto in 1997 and in Tokyo from 2000-2003.
JOB: Ruler of Household Grant & Mom in Balance Tokyo Trainer
PASSION: Food, dancing like no one is watching, city walks & nature hikes and reading
FAVORITE SPORT: BodyCombat and a variety of martial arts: karate (brown belt), tae kwon do (green belt) and kickboxing (black and blue bruises)
GUILTY PLEASURE(s): Playing Hungry Shark World on my son’s iPad and Tony Chocolonely milk chocolate

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Tokyo One Day Itinerary: The Akasaka Area with Kids by Maven Mom, Olga

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