A paradise for active kids, this place. Absolutely brilliant: climbing frames, climbing ropes, ladders, zip lines, floating logs, and almost all of it under shade trees. One particularly challenging bit had us crawling through a rope tunnel that was practically a vertical loop-dee-loop.
This one tripped me up:
It was taking me so long to get through it that Gabrielle's 12-year-old daughter suggested I split my legs and leap rather than climb up and down. That, um, didn't work so well.
Whenever I had to scale a wall, I thought of that struggling navy cadet Casey Seeger (I just totally IMDB'ed that) in An Officer and a Gentleman. Where is Richard Gere to inspire me? I joked. None of the British mums knew what the heck I was talking about.
For those who want to go -- and I strongly recommend that you do -- I should say that we went during half term, on a Tuesday, and had the place to ourselves because Japanese schools were in session; I can imagine it being mobbed on weekends. Also, take note that there is a Heiwajima Park AND a "Heiwa no mori koen" marked on p. 74 of the bilingual Tokyo City Atlas I bring everywhere with me (and that I think every expat should have). These two parks are separated by a big road called Kannana dori (same name as the exit you take off the Shuto Expressway if you're driving there). The obstacle course is on the south side of the road, near the tennis courts, not far from the water (part of Tokyo Bay, or maybe a canal leading out to Tokyo Bay -- apparently there's a rocky beach worth exploring too). Click here to see a google map. There is a parking lot, but you can take the train too. The closest station is Heiwajima on the Keihin Kyuko line, 7 min. from Shinagawa, a major hub.
The kids (and you) should wear sturdy feet-hugging water shoes or sandals like Keens, something with good tread. Sneakers only get soggy; Crocs are terrible for climbing, or even running for that matter, and the course terrain is uneven, rocky, tree-rooty and muddy, though there are grassy bits too). Hide your food -- picnicking is against the rules and the maintenance man/rule enforcer does walk around checking the equipment (which is a good thing, I know). Bring lots of water or stock up at the entrance vending machine. Oh and don't forget Band-Aids and a change of clothes for each of you, including parents (we had some, ahem, adult mishaps on the raft that you "ride" across the pond, pulling yourself along via some low-hanging ropes. Let's just say Victoria was happy she didn't wear her white shorts.
Read more about Heiwa no mori koen and other Tokyo parks here.