Welcome to Moka City`s nature and recreation park of nearly 1,000 hectares, with tennis courts, fishing pond, barbecue area, soccer field, at least 1,000 species and an adjacent hotel. Believe me, Igashira Park has it all.
Field Athletic in Japan refers to an outdoor obstacle course. I imagine something similar is used for army training. You have to be first grader (6) or older to get a ticket, ¥150 for kids and ¥300 for adults. The ticket lady didn`t hand us a scoring card, perhaps because she assumed we are illiterate in Japanese, which we are. Others noted their scores at each station. Igashira course circles through a woodland, with lots of climbing, ropes, natural wood and balancing required, not for the faint of heart or those afraid of heights. It usually takes an hour, but we took two hours. I skipped the rope tunnels, designed more with kids in mind than big, gangly adults like myself.
A paved, shaded, fairly flat lane, wider than some Japanese roads, circles the lake in the middle of this park, and covers 3.1 km. Adults bicycles are 400 (you may chose one with a child carrier) and kids` bicycles cost ¥200 for the day.
My son and I needed energy after completing the field athletic. We found chocolate, other confectionery and hot snacks downstairs, in the big wooden structure on the lake. You can take a table on the huge wooden deck overlooking the lake, or sit indoors.
A signboard for pizza led me to a café with outdoor seating and a view overlooking the 10,000 Person Pool. The corn tuna pizza had a thick yet crispy crust. My yummy cheesecake had squash in it. My son had the ¥500 kids set that came with a bubble wand, and for dessert he choose yogurt-covered fruit with frosted corn flakes as a base.
Another day, we ordered an ice-cream cone at Restaurant Izumi no Hotori, a large windowed-in concrete-floored space with plastic tables and chairs, noodles and an ice-cream machine. Ice-cream and drinks can be had throughout the park from vending machines as well. I even noticed a popcorn vending machine at the bicycle rental hut.
Find a bird watching house, Torimi-tei, in the wooden structure on the south end of the lake, upstairs from the snack bar--what a sunny place, inviting, woody space! This is open November 1st until March 31st, when you can observe flocks of water birds from northern places like Siberia and Russia.
Birders with impressive zoom cameras come from as far away as Tokyo to see these water fowl. We met a few birders, who happily showed us their photographs. An attendant was on hand to help my son use the complimentary telescope. Torimi-tei has bird puzzles and badges for kids, nests on display and, when we visited, a chance to color and cut out a duck and display it on a pond.
Just before 5:30, we bought some bird/carp feed from a vending machine for ¥100 and rented a row boat. We didn`t find carp, but some ducks happily followed us and ate our offerings and we spotted a family of turtles sunning themselves. Boat rental is for thirty minutes, plenty of time to circle the lake. Pedal boats, suitable for a couple, cost ¥500 and row boats, which can accommodate up to three, cost just ¥250.
Ichi Man Nin Pool means 10,000 Person Pool which consists of eight pools, a speed slide, and two long, and curving tunnel slides. One pool is a wave pool, and another is circular flowing water pool. The pool is open 9:00 to 5:00, from the end of July until the end of August. Expect crowds. You will need allow plenty of time for parking and you will need to pay for parking during this time. Adults admittance costs 1,100 yen, senior high-school students, ¥900, elementary school pupils and junior high-school students, ¥400, and infants and pre-school children cost ¥200). Don`t forget to bring sun protection!
Flower and Blossom Viewing
Come April, the pink lace of cherry blossoms fringes the lake in the center of the park. Roses bloom late May through to June, and again in October. Especially memorable is taking a stroll through a tunnel of roses, so photo-worthy, and absolutely free! To get to the rose garden, pass through a peony garden which blossoms in May. In June, roses of all colors bloom in Igashira Park in the rose garden on the north side of the park, one parking lot past the butterfly and bird greenhouse, Kacho-Yukan. Also, an iris garden blooms during the rainy season, June through until early July. You can see many other flowers and blossoms in the park, but those are the main ones.
Across from the bird and butterfly house is an unremarkable building which I first thought might be a park administration office. The entrance is dimly lit. Turn left and you come to a nature library and display area. You can see some bees nests, photos and creatures preserved in glass containers.
Golf and Kid`s Vehicles Park
Find this area at the back of the south parking lot, across from the Information Center and 10,000 Person Pool entrance. Little ones can ride Y100 bumper cars with an adult and older kids can try various weird and interesting types of cycles. An hour costs just Y300; within that time they can try dozens of different vehicles. Adults are welcome to join. At the same reception area, pay 410 (300 for kids) to play a game of 9 Hole putter golf.
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