Now that Miss Kaiju is no longer so little, I’ve been stepping out of my comfort zone to go on playdates. Our most recent adventure was a mommy daughter playdate at Gymboree Japan (Moto Azabu).
Gymboree Play & Music first got its start in 1976 when California mom Joan Barnes created a playspace with age-appropriate activities for parents and young children.
At present, Gymboree has 750 locations in 50 countries. In Japan, there are several locations: Moto Azabu (Hiroo), Jiyugaoka, and Sapporo. There’s also a preschool and international school!
Gymboree offers classes for newborns and kids up to 6 years old, including “mommy and me classes” (which we took) and drop off classes as well.
Gymboree Japan Moto Azabu
The Moto Azabu branch of Gymboree Japan is a 15 minute walk from Azabu Juban. Now, I walk to and from my home/work station every day, but I severely underestimated the 15 minute walk from Azabu Juban Station to the school!
You see, Azabu Juban is a hilly area and by the time I arrived at Gymboree (a sweaty mess) it was time for our first class.
Message to my future self: Give yourself plenty of time when heading to class! But, I made sure to take the bus on the way back to the station. (The nearest bus stop is Aiiku Clinic.)
I had to wait until later to enjoy the common area, but it is a spacious lounge with complimentary drinks and a coffee machine.
There are toys for kids and parenting and lifestyle magazines as well.
The lounge overlooks the main gym area, so parents can watch their children test their boundaries from a respectful distance. We waited here along with other parents between our two classes.
The gym features equipment designed by Jay Beckwith, a playground designer from the US with more than 30 years of experience.
Gymboree 6 is a very physical class that made use of ALL the equipment pictured above.
The theme for our lesson was “in the jungle,” and the lesson included story and song time related to the theme. Also, kids used the equipment to mimic animal movements with parental assistance.
Perhaps if I hadn’t huffed and puffed my way around Azabu Juban Station, I’d be fine but it definitely felt like a workout to me.
Miss Kaiju was shy at first, but quickly got to her cheeky self within 20 minutes of the start of the lesson. She had a ball interacting with her instructor and playing with the other kids.
For her, the highlight of this class was bubble play and using the starry parachute for song and dance.
Global Kids 2
When I looked at the list of classes at Moto Azabu, the one class that I knew I wanted to try was Global Kids.
Global Kids combines music, art and dance to introduce young learners to cultures and languages across the globe.
For our particular lesson, we took a trip to Egypt!
The age-appropriate crafts used a wonderful range of materials (paper plates, yarn, color sand, jewels, paint, glue).
All the kids had a blast being creative and it’s a great opportunity for parents to try art activities.
Speaking solely for myself, if I weren’t a kindergarten teacher, I don’t think I’d ever have the chance to finger paint or glue rhinestones. So, I think any parent can really benefit from these kinds of creative outlets.
We made funky necklaces (The Elmer’s glue took me back to my early school days. I never imagined that I’d see Elmer’s glue in Japan!)
We also did pyramid sand art!
The class also emphasized using “magic words”/target vocabulary in English to express their needs ( “____, please” and “Thank you.”)
As an early childhood educator, I’m thrilled with how Gymboree mommy and me classes combine rhythmic activities, motor skills, and critical thinking skills to nurture a child’s emotional development.
Fostering Miss Kaiju’s English language skills is also important to me, so having extra English “immersion” is a big help.
Attending classes at Gymboree was an excellent way to snap out of my funk and put much needed balance into my work-life schedule.
With my work schedule, my husband’s work schedule, and our weekly swim lessons, I hardly ever get a day “off.” But, I enjoyed the break and welcome future opportunities to connect with more international families in Tokyo!
Here’s to more mommy and me adventures!
I accepted an invitation to attend several complementary lessons at Gymboree Japan. Gymboree Japan offers free trial lessons, so chck out the website for details and to sign up!
Gymboree Japan Moto Azabu
Motoazabu Crest Building
2-3-30 Motoazabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo