Friday, May 8, 2015

Japan 2015 | Asakusa Hanayashiki {花やしき} Theme Park

While in Tokyo, we visited 3 theme parks! We went to DisneySea when the boy came {more on that in another post}, and Lil Pumpkin and I went to Japan's newest theme park, Tokyo One Piece Tower, as well as the oldest, Asakusa Hanashiki {花やしき}.

Hanayashiki is supposed to be Japan's first modern amusement park that started out in 1853! It was actually a well-known public flower garden and also had some exhibits of animals. After World War II, it added on the rides and attractions to be the amusement park that it is today.

Located in the bustling Asakusa with the famous Sensoji {浅草寺, Asakusa Kannon Temple}, which I recommend you to visit as well if you're in the area, it is kinda small but that made it really easy to cover in one day, especially with a small kid like Lil Pumpkin. The games and rides are old-fashioned, but nonetheless appealing to the old {ahem, me} for nostalgic reasons, and the young for fun! 

If you're tired of commercial theme parks like Disneyland, Universal Studios, Legoland etc. and want to experience something truly Japanese, this is the theme park to come to in Japan.

Usually I'd try to avoid amusement parks and tourist hotspots on weekends, but a Saturday was the only time we could go so a Saturday it was. Tried to get us there early and I think we arrived around 11am.

It's actually pretty easy to find because of its iconic Hanayashiki Bee Tower ride. You can see it even from Sensoji and it's about 10-15 minutes walk away.. if you don't get lost in the surrounding shopping streets! Don't worry though, there's usually a police officer or two around {Asakusa is an entertainment district so can be a little "messy"} that you can ask for directions.

There's 2 main entrances to the theme park - Shounkaku Gate and Asakusa Gate. At the entrance, you just have to pay for the entrance fee.

The rides and attractions inside cost separately. You can get either an unlimited rides wristband from an in-park booth, or just paper tickets to pay for each ride / attraction from the booth or machines. Kinda like what you've to do at  Resorts World Genting indoor theme park.

Each ticket costs 100 yen, and each ride / attraction costs 200 - 500 yen.

I think this system works well especially for those folks, like my parents, that don't like to sit rides, but still want to go to the theme park for a nice family day out.

Or for parents that want to limit the number of rides kids take. Also, some rides are safe enough for little kids to go by themselves too, so parents can save some money there if they don't want to hop on as well.

Personally I like to sit rides and join in the fun with Lil Pumpkin, so I bought both of us the unlimited rides wristbands. Didn't want to worry so much about how much each ride cost, or go searching for ride tickets if we run out.

Hanayashiki is not exactly pram/stroller-friendly and some rides you have to go to a second or third floor. View a bigger picture or download the Hanayashiki park map here.

There's a lift, but it's not near rides like Helicopter {why you have to cycle to manually move it!} and Kiddy Taxi. I lost count how many times I had to carry Lil Pumpkin's stroller up and down the stairs as we walked all over the place taking the rides. :p

At first I thought maybe we wouldn't make full use of our unlimited rides wristbands {2,300 yen for me and 1,800 yen for Lil Pumpkin} but we were at the park the whole day and took most of the rides multiple times!!

Luckily the queues are not mad crazy like in DisneySea or Tokyo One Piece Tower! Around 30, maybe max 40 minutes waiting time?

The good thing about Hanayashiki is that the attractions are really catered towards small kids so Lil Pumpkin could go for about 90% of them, except for 3 {Disk'O, Little Shot & Space Shot} because she didn't meet height restrictions.

Her favourite was the roller coaster that was built in 1953!! It's supposed to be Japan's oldest roller coaster and I was a bit skeptical on going on it. But many people did and survived so oh well.. I was surprised that they let her on actually, but the height limit is only 110cm so she passed!

It was pretty bumpy and usually when Lil Pumpkin rides fast rides, my little daredevil loves to raise her hands up. I was very worried she'd do that and kept reminding her not to, and even kept my hands over hers in case she forgot.

Being an old roller coaster ride in an old amusement park, it sometimes goes through really small spaces and if Lil Pumpkin had her hands raised up, it would surely have been cut off!! There's signs heeding riders to keep their hands in, not put their heads out etc. and it really is best to pay attention. Luckily, Lil Pumpkin listened to what I said and kept her hands down for both times we sat together.

She managed to sit on the last ride a third time before it closed for the night. There was only one seat available in the first row but she didn't mind to go alone and so I let her. My heart was pounding the whole time though!

This is the Space Shot... definitely not for the faint-hearted!!

Other than rides, there's also attractions like a Haunted House and arcade games zone. Shows are also put up by their mascots at the Hanayashiki Stage in the middle of the park.

Lil Pumpkin got to take a photo with one of them that's supposed to be a Sakura flower! :P

I suggest that you don't miss out on the rooftop garden, Sky Plaza, as well.

From there you get a beautiful view from the top of the whole park, as well as the surrounding Asakura area.

It has nice, shaded areas with beautiful flowers to relax and eat your meals too. A very pretty nod back to the old days when they were just a big flower garden..

We bought food from food kiosks that sell corn dogs, crepes, french fries etc. There are also an outdoor Japanese restaurant and a few other small cafés there.

We ate so many corn dogs while we were in Japan!! A nice hot treat during the chilly Spring days... they usually cost just 100 yen at the convenience stores. Can't remember how much it was in the park though..

Apparently one of the unofficial mascots of Hanayashiki is the panda car.. these rides are found just outside the small souvenir shop.

Lots of nostalgic Japanese toys and knick-knacks inside!

You can bring home a mini panda car too haha.

The park usually closes at 6pm but that day it closed at 10pm. Since it's Sakura season, when night fell the park lit up lights on their sakura trees and opened up areas for ohanami. There were also special performances by real maikos {apprentice geishas} from the Asakusa! What a treat!!

Totally mesmerised by their enchanting songs and's the first time that Lil Pumpkin saw them up-close and personal.

I mentioned that Asakusa is an entertainment district and has been since the Edo period. It is also home to Tokyo's oldest geisha district.

Sometimes at places like Kyoto's Gion and Asakusa, you might see a maiko walking around. However, these are usually just tourists {including Japanese tourists from other parts of Japan} wearing a costume. To see a real geisha or maiko, you'd usually have to pay for private performances at a teahouse, or go to their public dance performances. You'd very seldom just see them walking on the streets in full costume taking in the sights and sounds! 

We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves that day and will definitely be back the next time we are in Tokyo. Been to Tokyo DisneyLand and DisneySea so many times, and we definitely love those theme parks... however, even though they are world-class and a definite must-visit if you haven't been, sometimes the long journey there and the crowd can be a turn-off.

Hanashiyaki is so much more convenient to get to, and so much more manageable to complete and sit the amount of rides that we did, which is what Lil Pumpkin enjoys most anyway.

Made this short video of our day at Hanyashiki. It'll give a better idea of what to expect from a 1-day visit there :) If it's not working, watch it on my YouTube channel here

Asakura Hanayashiki {花やしき}
2-28-1 Asakusa, Taito, Tokyo, Japan
Nearest station: Asakusa station {Ginza line, Asakusa line and Isezaki line}
Opening hrs: Usually 10am - 6pm daily {changes according to weather and season}
Entrance Fee {does not include rides / attractions}: 1,000 yen {13 - 64 years old}, 500 yen {7-12 & over 65 years old}, free for kids 6 and under.
Rides / Attractions: 200 - 500 yen per ride / attraction
Unlimited rides / attraction pass: 2,300 yen {13 - 64 years old}, 2,000 yen {7-12 & over 65 years old}, 1,800 yen {6 and under}

Read more about our Japan travels here
Also see the Sakura at Yoyogi Park and Sakura at Ueno Park.


An Apel a Day said...

You got some amazing photos! I love all the color. The silly face photo brought a smile to my face. :)

Masshole Mommy said...

I love it! I love seeing the cultural diferences :)

Grace said...

Asakusa Jinja is amazing, isn't it? I had no idea that an amusement park was so close by! We're planning to go to Japan at the end of the year. I'm going to have to do some research on where yo take my kids! When I ived there I only knew cool restaurants, pubs and karaoke studios!

Unknown said...

We were at Asakusa but totally didn't know about this theme park! Also didn't get to try the corn dogs, good excuses to persuade the hubs for a return visit hehe :) Thanks for sharing!

Unknown said...

I love the photo of the dancers with the sakura tree framing it. Lovely.

Bumble Bee Mum said...

Gah.. I stayed at Asakusa for most of my Tokyo trips (coz that's where most of the cheap hotels and hostels are), and never even knew this place existed! Considering it's THE older theme park, it doesn't look that old at all from your photos. I've seen older-looking amusement parks in Japan.

May said...

Wah! What a cute theme park! I love it that there's so much potential to take great pictures everywhere you walked. hahahah And it's so manga!

yAnn said...

How is it that I didn't know of this theme park back when I was planning my Tokyo trip? The rides look so fun and oh my, such beautiful skies and light!

Phoebe said...

The traditional theme park looks pretty cool too. I must visit Japan when my kids are older.. hopefully it won't be too kiddy for me to go to amusement park.

Justine said...

What a cultural buffet! I've been to Japan 4 times in my life, and we keep revisiting the same areas cos there is always so much more to explore. Definitely keeping this on my to-do list when we next visit Japan. Probably without the boys!

Waiwai said...

I visited Asakusa twice, but didn't know about this place at all! Thanks for sharing!

Susan said...

You really know Japan well to discover this gem. I've been to Asakusa but never noticed that they have a themepark.