Thursday, March 19, 2015

Yokosuka Children's Bicycle Park (in Kurihama)

It was nice outside today!  It was nice outside today!

So, outside we went!

The kids slowly finished their school this morning, just the basics, reading, writing, 'rithmatic.  We were headed out the door by 1015.  I thought I'd trick the kids into thinking we weren't doing a lot of walking by letting them ride on the bus from our building to Womble gate.  I didn't realize how long it takes the bus to get to the gate from here. usually takes us about 40 minutes to walk to Chuo station.  It took us 30 minutes to get to the gate on the bus!  Ha!  Oh well, the kids had fun riding around the ENTIRE base.  
So, we hop on the train at Yokosuka Chuo and head to Kita Kurihama Station.  Once off the train and out of the station we walked down to the intersection with Denny's across the street.  We went across the street, toward Denny's and made a right turn.  We walked two blocks to the FamilyMart, went across the street, and made a left turn. We walked two more blocks and then came to a fence with a cute sign showing incredibly happy animals riding bikes.

The rules, I think.  :)  I tried my translate app, but it didn't
translate well.  I think number one says elementary and
middle school children.  That's all the app translated that
made any sense.
We weren't quite sure where to go or what to do. So, we just walked into the park and started walking around.  The park is free.  The bike rental is free.  All free.  All directions were in Japanese, so we were just winging it.  We figured out where the bikes were stored pretty quick.  However, the attendant at the door didn't speak any English.  After he spoke and I just shook my head and shrugged my shoulders, he finally smiled politely and waved me into the room.  Both kids picked their bikes in the color they liked best and then put on the helmets provided.  And, off they went!

I think these are the instructions.  They are at the entrance to the bike room.
A map of the park

The triangle on the far left is the tiny track with designated cars.  The big gray square toward the bottom is the training wheels section.  There is a restroom here, bottom left, right next to the bike shack. 

I didn't get any pictures of Garytt on the bike because he was too wobbly and wanted my help around the park.  Both kids just learned to ride their bikes without the training wheels this past weekend, so it's still a little too new for him.  Mackenzie, however, took off!

We were the only people there for about ten minutes.  Then, for the next two hours there was one boy on the road and three kids in the training wheels section.

Garytt was doing ok on his bike for the first few laps.  But, he saw a boy go past us in one of the "cars" below and insisted that he ride that instead.  So, we parked his bike and checked out the car.  He hopped in and sped all over the park.

Before we came to the park I heard from several friends that the park attendants are very strict on the rules of the road.  There is a sign posted with all the signs the kids will see in the park.  I even heard they give out tickets...I'm not sure how true that is.  We didn't have any people enforcing traffic rules for the majority of our visit.  There was a gentleman on the road for about ten minutes, just making sure the kids were acting right, I guess.  Both my kids ran red lights on the back side of the park because they didn't think anyone was watching.  I caught them though, and told them to follow the rules.  Maybe on the weekends when the park is packed they are a little more forceful with the rules.

Flowers were pretty
Even I, as a pedestrian going across the roads, had to follow the crosswalk lights.

 He's heading the wrong way down a one-way street.  I had to stop him, show him the do not enter sign and then help him back up to the intersection and go the correct way.

There's the attendant

Eventually, Mackenzie wanted to ride in the car too.  

Waiting at the light.

The open area in the picture below is where all the training wheeled kids were riding.  I couldn't read the instructions, so I'm not sure if that is the only place training wheels are allowed, or if they can go on the roads.

He had so much fun!

At one end of the park there was a sandbox to play in, and if you asked the attendants, they would give you a big basket of toys to play with in the sand.

The kids even had to stop at a train crossing for the train.  Even though the train didn't actually move.

Train crossing.

This area was at the back of the park, next to the bike shack.  It looks like it's for little kids to ride on the road.  There were only a few cars designated for this section.  At one point, the kids said they saw some bigger kids getting in trouble for riding the cars back here, and they were kicked out.

After a couple hours the kids wanted lunch.  So, we checked the cars back into the shack and sat down on the bench to eat lunch.  Once they finished their sandwiches Mackenzie was ready to leave.  Garytt, though, wanted to ride the car some more.  So, I asked Mackenzie to hold tight for a little while longer while Brother rode around.  We went to the shack to get another car, the new attendant at the checkout desk asked how old Boy was.  I said, six.  He shook his head and held up seven fingers.  Darn!  I guess the language barrier helped us with the first guy and he preferred to let us have the car instead of checking the age.  So, Boy hung his head and sulked back to the bench.  I brightened his mood by offering to buy them both vending machine ice creams!  Yay!  Mood changed!

There's even a designated construction zone

After ice cream, we packed our bags back up and started back to the train station.  I decided that since we were only one stop from Keikyu Kurihama station that maybe we could just head off to Flower World for a little bit.  Both kids agreed and we made our way to the park.

Magnolia trees in bloom.

There were only a few poppies in bloom. 

Lots of yellow and purple on the way up the road.  When we got to Flower World, the kids begged to ride the train up to the park.  I couldn't read the sign, all I saw was a row of '00'.  I thought that meant the train wasn't running at all.  So, we started walking up the hill.  Much to Garytt's dismay.  He stomped and complained and pouted most of the way up the hill.  Mackenzie and I just ignored him and kept on walking.  After I thought about it though, I think the sign with the 00's was telling me that the train was there on each hour.  oh well.  We were halfway up the hill when the train started coming down the hill toward us.  Garytt yelled, "Quick, let's run back down so we can ride it!" way!  We are already halfway up!  This didn't make him any happier.

As Mackenzie and I were checking out the beautiful pink tree, Garytt said, very casually, "Hm.  There's a squirrel in that tree."

Why, yes, son there is!  Then, out of nowhere, two more squirrels joined him.  We stood there for probably ten minutes watching them bounce between the little grove of trees.  Thank you, squirrels, for helping to cheer up Boy!

Me, looking at him looking at me.
Finally, we were at the park.  Both kids took off in opposite directions.  Within minutes they both found friends and played for a couple hours while I saw and read a book.

Mackenzie, heading into the belly of the beast!

Once the clouds thickened and a little wind picked up, I decided my sweatshirt wasn't going to keep me warm much longer, and I convinced the kids it was time to leave.

On our way out we stopped at a little shrine on the side of the road.  Nothing in English (man, I really need to learn Japanese!), so we just walked around and took pictures, then left.  

Kurihama Tenjinsha Shrine

I can't find information on this shrine.  I've pieced together what others have written under their pictures, so no clue how accurate the info is.

I think this is Sugawara no Michizane.  A scholar, poet and politician from the late 800's.  I think he is regarded as the god of learning.  I guess that's why I saw a couple high school-ish girls touching the bull, maybe in hopes of doing good on a test.  

The kids loved this dog statue with the puppies playing at his feet.

Bull ema.

Wow!  What a busy day for us.  The kids had so much fun at the bike park.  It was a quick 10 minute train ride, then an easy 5-10 minute walk from the station.  Definitely a park we will return to many times.

We made it home by 5 and I got started on dinner while the kids played.  We all passed out as soon as our heads hit the pillows, I guess that's what ten miles of walking, plus two hours of bike riding, and then two hours of park playing will do to you!