Outdoor equipment, trampoline, wall-climbing, go-karting, building, and workshops. What do these things have in common? They are all activities that families can enjoy at Aneby Trimpark! I took a visit to this spacious play park to check out the activities, and to have a talk with Mrs. Iwai, who is in charge of Kids English classes. I also had the chance to interview one of the park’s regular special guests, Mrs. Candy-G, whose fun and tasty candy-making workshops regularly satisfy the sweet tooth and imaginations of both kids and their parents.
Located at VenusFort (Venus Family 1F) in Odaiba, Aneby Trimpark is one of Tokyo’s largest indoor play parks for kids. Their motto is “assemble education, amusement, and care in a park.” The facility is open to children ages 0–12 and their parents. The park, which opened July of 2014, operates according to concept that all kids are unique. The park utilizes equipment from various European countries to engage the senses and develop growth, satisfying kids both mentally and physically. All equipment provided meets the highest safety standards. The staff includes Japanese and international members, who can speak multiple languages. The members themselves are also quite diverse, including families from roughly 20 different countries. Equipment is designed to appeal to children of various ages, from infant toys to wall climbing, and many activities that capture the imaginations of children of all ages.
In addition to lots of play equipment, Aneby Trimpark also hosts activities and events that are fun as well as being educational. There are English language events held on a regular basis, enjoyable for native speakers and also kids who are interested in learning. And they also have special guests every other weekend, where kids can enjoy various events such as arts and crafts, music and storytelling.
Noriko Murakami, Aneby Trim park’s resident candy-maker has certainly led an interesting life. Known these days as “Mrs. Candy-G,” the Japanese native spent several years living in the United States, before returning to Japan. About 10 years earlier, she took up an interest in the candy art known as “amezaiku” that is native to her hometown of Kyoto. However, because it is an art that is traditionally passed down through family members, and also traditionally performed by men, she was unable to find an amezaiku master who would accept her as an apprentice.
Not one to give up, Mrs. Candy-G forged her own path in the world of Japanese candy making, by teaching herself. After years of trial and error (in her words, working in her kitchen was like performing a science experiments!), she was able to develop her technique, which was inspired not only by traditional amezaiku, but French candy making techniques as well. Through self-teaching, she fused elements of traditional amezaiku and her own creativity to make beautiful, colorful works of candy art.
Unlike traditional amezaiku, which is unflavored, Mrs. Candy-G uses over 30 different flavors, including several fruits, vanilla, cola, and chocolate. For the adults, she also features sophisticated flavors such as coffee, Earl Grey tea, rum, and champagne.
These days, Mrs. Candy G can be found regularly at Aneby Trimpark, where she holds Candy Workshops for kids and parents. I met up with Mrs. Candy-G at Aneby Trimpark to learn more.
LIVE JAPAN: How would you describe the candy you make?
Mrs. Candy-G: In three words: edible, adorable, and unforgettable. Some candy amezaiku artists think amezaiku candy is only ornamental, but I would also like people to enjoy the taste. I am the only candy artist who puts flavor in amezaiku. I always try to create original Japanese ‘kawaii’ (cute) designs. I don’t make characters. My candy is the tool of communication. It’s not only between the audience and me; I hope my candy becomes a conversation starter for people who get the candies. So, I don’t just sell candies. I make “Candy Sculpture” in front of an audience by their requests, or do “Candy Workshops.” I hope these candy experiences can be unforgettable!
LIVE JAPAN: What makes Japanese candy unique? How does it differ from the techniques and traditions used in other countries?
Mrs. Candy-G: In Europe, candy art is usually made with several separate pieces that are put together. In amezaiku, candy makers use ‘wabasami’ Japanese-style scissors for cutting and pulling a single lump of melted candy. So, each of my creations are made from just one lump of candy.
LIVE JAPAN: Your candies are real works of art. What is the most challenging candy for you to make? Which is your personal favorite?
Mrs. Candy-G: I create new designs often, so it’s very challenging when I make them for the first time. Also, any candies are hard to make in summer heat and humidity (making the same candy in mild California versus a sweltering Japanese summer was a big challenge!). My favorite Candy Sculpture is the Kappa (a mythical Japanese river creature), and my favorite Candy Workshop is the Candy Monster.
LIVE JAPAN: Which candies are most popular with kids?
Mrs. Candy-G: Hard to answer...It’s different depending on where I am in the world! For the Candy Sculpture, in Japan, the Strawberry Rabbit for girls, and Grape Lion for boys. In Canada and the US, the Lychee Dolphin is most popular with girls, and for boys, it’s the Blueberry Frog. As for the Candy Workshop, I’d have to say it’s the Candy Ring for girls, and Candy Monster for boys.
LIVE JAPAN: Thank you so much for talking about amezaiku and your candy art!
Mrs. Candy-G: My pleasure! I hope families will stop by and enjoy my performance and especially the unique taste of my one and only Japanese sweet treats!
BERG Odaiba Circuit
One of the most exciting and popular activities is the Pedal Go-Karts in the BERG Odaiba circuit. It’s more than just simple go-karts; Aneby Trimpark offers three licenses that kids use. The type of license matches the difficulty of operation. As a child improves their skills, they can rise the ranks and and obtain new licenses accordingly. And with each license, kids get access to new vehicles!
Playtime! HAGS UniPlay and UniMini
Let’s talk a bit about the different play areas now. I saw the equipment firsthand and even tried some of them out! The quality lives up to its reputation. The first areas I observed were UniPlay and UniMini from HAGS. HAGS is outdoor play equipment company from Sweden. Aneby Trimpark features two areas designed by this company. Kids can try different kinds of climbing and challenge themselves based on age and growth.
HABA Climbing Walls and Imaginative Play
Aneby Trimpark also features several play areas designed by German company HABA. For the littlest members, there’s an Infant Area with toys to encourage the development of the senses, and a Barefoot Area for kids 0–12 that includes a Role Play Area, Climbing Wall, Blocks, Puzzles, and a SUNALABO Marvelous Sand Laboratory. The Role Play Area includes five GEMINO+ indoor playhouses, where kids can act out various scenarios, from being a shopkeeper, to sailing on a ship. Recommended as training for balance and attention, the Climbing Wall, is actually made up of two walls: Mini Climbing for 1 ½ years and up, and a more advanced City Climbing wall for ages 3 and up.
A Chance to Build and Create
Using large Western Red Cedar wood blocks called “Dream Logs,” kids can build a house or other play structure that they can enter. In the Moov area, children, with the help of their parents, can build usable Netherlands brand BERG vehicles out of the wooden and rubber materials provided.
Jump, Bounce, and Tumble!
Kids also have the chance to jump and bounce in a safe environment on the BERG Trampoline.
Whether you are living in Japan as a resident, or visiting Tokyo on holiday with your family and are in search of kid-friendly activities, I highly recommend Aneby Trimpark as a great option for fun and education!