a perfect park for kids in tokyo

For a great outdoor experience for kids in Tokyo, try Showa Memorial Park (Showa Kinen Koen). About a 45 minute train ride outside of Tokyo, this park is just another one of the happy surprises we keep finding on our Tokyo tours. I’m not sure that words can honestly describe Showa park — it is huge, and has such an array of offerings, there is no way to see everything in one visit. And to think, we almost didn’t make it. It was sunny when we left our house on a lovely spring day in April, but by the time we got to the train station for the park, it was freezing cold and pouring rain. We stopped for lunch and were going to head back home, but the rain stopped and the sun came out in time for us to play!

At the entrance gates, we paid our 400 Yen ($3.70) and made our way into what seemed to be sort of a typical Japanese public park. We headed to the left, knowing we wanted to explore the “Children’s Forest”. We first came upon the water park section, which was closed until the warmer weather arrives. But it looks like a great place to splash around during the hot summer. Further along we encountered the beginnings of the Children’s Forest where we found an installation of mosaic tiles in fantastical shapes, including some pretty scary snakes!

We continued on our way and found a colorful playground of gigantic rope hammocks for kids to bounce around on. Our daughter, Emilia, had a great time, but we big kids weren’t allowed to play on the hammocks, so after a little while we moved on. The best was yet to come — huge air-filled trampolines in the shape of clouds appeared around a little hill, and we went wild! I think Mike and I had as much fun bouncing as Emilia did. We both agreed that a place like this, astounding and wonderful as it is, would never be developed in the States. Too great an opportunity for injury and lawsuits. But what great fun we had!

Exploring West Africa

Why West Africa? Our design team was enormously inspired by the extraordinary architecture,  hand-dyed textiles, and bold colors and motifs of this beautiful region of the world. Visiting Mali, Burkina Faso, and Ghana, we were surrounded by vivid color.  Against the minimalist backdrop of earth buildings such as the great mosque at Djenne, women went about their daily duties wearing brightly patterned swaths of cloth that kept them cool against the hot sun.  Marketplaces were a visually stimulating cacophony of scarves, head wraps, fruit, piles of fabric, and food cooking in the sun.

While there we learned a huge amount about the unique textiles that are so prevalent in this region. One printing method is to use all natural dyes made from leaves, the hand-wove cotton is colored first, followed by mud painting which is used to illustrate patterns and symbols. The cloths are laid out to dry in the sun and the dry mud is removed, exposing beautiful symbols that can represent such core West African themes as family, journeys, or fathers and mothers.

The vibrancy of these cultures traveled with us all the way back to San Francisco, where we created our West Africa collection. Enjoy!

Testing Items

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