This past Saturday, the monster and I traveled from one end of Tokyo to the other. We ventured 60 km west all the way to Hino city. Our destination? Keio Asobi no Mori HUGHUG!
What is HUGHUG?
Keio Asobi no Mori HUGHUG, or HUGHUG for short, is a Montessori wonderland for children aged 6 months to 12 years old. It opened in March of 2018, so it’s all very new.
HUGHUG is a two story playspace located right next to Tama Doubutsuen Station. There’s also a cafe and gift shop inside the building.
HUGHUG is a part of the Keio Corporation, the same company that operates the chain of Keio Supermarkets, Keio Department Stores, and Keio Railways. You’ll see several nods to Keio Railways inside HUGHUG, especially when you first walk in.
To enter, you’ll need to purchase a special IC card.
Return it at the end of your visit or recharge and keep for your next visit.
Store your stroller…
Take off your shoes…
And it’s time to explore!
As I stated earlier, HUGHUG is a family oriented playspace for babies from 6 months to children up to 12 years old. That’s such a wide gap, there’s no way one place can cater to the needs of each age group. But, HUGHUG does!
There are six main activity areas inside HUGHUG, each falling within one of three categories. There’s the wooden playspace (木育スペース), featuring wooden toys that stimulates a child’s creativity and familiarity with nature.
Being in the mountainous area of western Tokyo, there’s plenty of space to share and you feel it in HUGHUG. It draws upon the natural resources of the area for inspiration.
Everything is wooden and in muted earth tones. The smell of wood fills the air and the wooden floor beneath your bare feet feels so good.
We spent most of the time in Stump House (きりかぶハウス), which has a fantastic kitchen area, wooden slide, and lots of other mini-activity areas.
She wasn’t too interested in Hai Hai Park, the space for babies and toddlers.
The physical play space (体育スペース) is where kids can release all their energy. We both had fun bouncing on the mattress underneath the HUGHUG Tree (ハグハグのき, for older kids), and there are mini bikes that kids can scoot around on.
There’s a ball pit inside Forest Playground (もりのあそびば) with more than 45,000 balls inside, and an obstacle course above the ball pit.
The final activity area is the rest area. For older kids, the Sun Lab is where they can chill out or do workshops.
For babies and toddlers and parents who want a break, the parents’ room is spacious and has all that you need (except for vending machines).
The kids’ bathrooms are mini-train cars — how awesome is that?
Inside HUGHUG Cafe
After playtime, you’ll naturally want to eat, right? We ended our day at the HUGHUG Cafe upstairs.
The entrance is quite narrow, but the cafe itself is very spacious. It takes up nearly the entire second floor.
You can also board a mini-steam engine that runs the perimeter of the second floor!
After you get to your table, order at the window and you’ll get a buzzer that will let you know when your food is ready.
One weird thing about HUGHUG Cafe is that it’s all self-service, making it hard to manage a child and a tray full of food.
Still, the food is very good and priced reasonably. The monster ate an onigiri (rice ball) and we shared my wakame (seaweed) soup and the toppings on my Korean beef bowl.
READ: 4 Reasons Why Baby Led Weaning Works For Me
I enjoyed our time at HUGHUG and will definitely be back when the weather cools down. Depending on where you live in Tokyo, getting to HUGHUG could definitely be a hassle, so give yourself plenty of time to unwind and enjoy all the play areas.
Before You Go
HUGHUG, despite being run by Keio Corporation and located right in front of a train station does not accept IC cards. Nor do they accept credit cards!
Curiously enough, the HUGHUG Cafe upstairs accepts credit cards, IC cards and other forms of cashless payments. I don’t get it, especially as touch ‘n go payments make life with a baby so much more manageable.
HUGHUG is conveniently located right next to Tama Doubutsuen Station (多摩動物園駅) on the Keio Line. You’ll see the building from the platform and on your immediate right as soon as you exit the ticket gates.
HUGHUG is open from 9:30 to 17:30, everyday except Wednesdays. The HUGHUG Cafe is open on weekdays 10:00 to 17:30 and on weekends 10:00 to 21:00. HUGHUG Shop is open on weekdays 9:00 to 18:00.
For more on HUGHUG, check out the “HUGHUG” highlights section on my Instagram profile, @wadateni. Don’t forget to head to The Real Japan to read my “12 Tips & Tricks For Exploring Japan With A Baby”