Having spent the last six weeks in the States, it's a trip to be back and see things here in Tokyo with fresh (if jet-lagged and cranky) eyes. Yesterday Terry and I took the boys to a public pool I read about called Aqua Field in Shiba Koen. What a great place! Big and clean and well run (of course), and pleasant and manageable despite being crowded. In fact the place was teeming with men, young and old, in little Speedos and snug boy-short style suits (tee hee). Relatively few women (maybe it's a gay guy hangout?), and most of them were with their little ones, and so sequestered by the kiddie pool (which was nice, with its little plastic slide, but too babyish for our 7- and almost-9-year-olds).
At the main pool, an Olympic size with no deep end (4 ft. all across as far as I could tell) and lap lanes along one side, the lifeguards were diligent and on-task (unlike the spacey teens "in charge" at my parents' American country club-- I almost bought my own whistle), but here the behavior in and around the pool was so mild, they seemed to get little action, aside from policing the use of sunscreen and shades. You can't wear either if you plan to go swimming. Not sure why it was so objectionable for me to wear my sunglasses while standing around in chest-high water, ordering the kids to get off me, but signs posted in both Japanese and English did reveal that in the case of the former, sunblock and tanning lotion was prohibited "in order to keep the water clean." Just as Terry finished slathering SPF 30 on his head and shoulders, a staff member politely asked him to go shower off. Which was no big deal, as there are showers conveniently located in the little passageway between the locker room and pool deck, triggered by motion sensors (when it comes to the shower-before-entering policy, as with all rules, nobody is exempt). And the sun wasn't really that strong, after all. (But still!)
In any case I loved that the surface of the pool's edge was smooth yet non-slippery plastic; you can totally sit there without worrying about snagging the threads of your suit. And the areas where you walk around are covered in a more textured material that did not hurt my feet like those dreadfully hard slatted mats other places use.
It's a shame this pool, which opens daily at 9 am, closes at 5 pm. Otherwise I would bring the boys after school this week and next, until the place shuts for the season on Sept 15.
Check it out while you still can: address is 2-7-2 Shiba Koen, Minato-ku. Oh and there's an unobstructed view of the Tokyo Tower from the pool deck. It's nearby, so it looms large.