Shinrinkoen boasts of an area of 304 hectares and of being the first government park in all Japan. For perspective, the park is 65 times that of the Tokyo Dome. This park is so big there are four gates and it can take from 40 minutes to more than an hour to get from one gate to another by walking.
We trooped to the park on a Sunday afternoon with the intent of going to Pompoko Mountain, Japan's largest air trampoline. We arrived at the West Gate, the gate recommended for families with kids. Upon arriving, we learned that Pompoko Mountain was a good 40 minute walk from the West gate. Even from the Central Gate (the nearer gate), Pompoko Mountain is still a good 20 minute walk away.
With limited time, we decided to simply explore the attractions near the West Gate. We stopped at the Kid's Dome, designed for smaller children. It consists of over 50 pieces of colorful climbing bars, slides, and other play equipment packed into a small area. Most of it is covered and is an option for rainy days.
Then we moved on to the Adventure Course, which was well suited for our kids aged 7 and 9. The Adventure Course takes full advantage of Shinrinkoen's forests and swamps. Each of the 24 numbered athletic challenges are made of wood and blend into the natural terrain. Kids make their way through wobbly hanging bridges, steep hills, and uneven stepping blocks. There are rock climbing walls and rope trampolines. My kids spent the most time on a zip line that had a swing attached to it. The course starts and ends at the model of a ship, a popular play spot.
With a park this huge, there's much left to explore, which means that we will have to go back again sometime soon.