Tanbara Park sits on a hill in the countryside of western Saijo. One day in late March, I visited there with my 3-year old daughter and her grandmother. Even though it was a weekday and the park is in a remote rural area, many children were having fun there on their spring vacation.
This park includes many facilities such as a multipurpose open space, tennis courts, Mimigane Fort Playground, Kodomo Hiroba and trails. I think the most exciting place in this park is the Mimigane Fort Playground. There are various enjoyable activities including long slides, a rope tower, net tunnels, trampolines, a ball pool, and funny mirrors, and they are linked by thrilling bridges. Everything including parking is free of charge.
This park is located in the ruins of Mimigane Castle, which existed in medieval times. That’s why the appearance of the wall around the playground is in the style of an old Japanese castle, even though the playground structures are designed as space objects and rockets. Kumyoji Temple, a famous cherry blossom spot, can be seen through the crenels on the northern wall. The playground is on top of a hill a long way from the parking lot. You can get some exercise, and enjoy panoramic views at the top over the surrounding fields, the Seto Inland Sea and Mt. Ishizuchi. There are three routes up, a path that zigzags up the slope, a big net rope shortcut, and steep stairs. Most children take the shortcut, because it’s fun, and so did my daughter and I. Cherry blossoms were in bloom in the playground. Some families were having a picnic sitting on sheets that they brought with them. There are a few benches and shelters, too.
For smaller kids, Kodomo Hiroba is an enjoyable place in its own way. It’s located close to the parking area. There are see-saws, swings, bouncy cars to sit on, and a colorful climbing structure with a slide. There are also benches, shelters, tables, trees and fresh air, but there are no cherry blossoms. My daughter was interested in “ohanami”, and we were supposed to have a picnic under the cherry blossoms on the hilltop, but the slide was so amusing that my daughter wouldn’t leave, so we ate our box lunch there. I felt a little sorry about that.
Anyway, for most of the day, my daughter played in the park without getting bored. I think this is an enjoyable place for both the young and the elderly.
The road to the park is narrow, and my car navigation system showed me a roundabout way. But you can get there easily if you don’t miss the road signs. Take prefectural road 48 and you’ll see a sign that reads “Tanbara Sogo Park” on one side, and “1 km Kumyoji Temple” on the other side. If you get lost like me, just look for a brightly-colored tower-like playground structure which stands out on a forested hilltop surrounded by rice fields.