Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Hanayashiki Amusement Park, Asakusa

Hanayashiki is an charming old amusement park. It may not thrill older kids, but those below 12 should fine it exciting.

It claims to be Japan's oldest amusement park, and while some rides are quite modern, there are some rides which are clearly legacy rides and meant to charm and entertain in a different (earlier) era.

Which is still great if you are a 3 year old.

Like my daughter.

The Hanayashiki is in Asakusa (A-Sak-Sa. The "U" in the middle is silent.) We traveled on the Ginza subway from Ueno (where we were staying) to Asakusa (part of Tokyo). Then we headed towards the Senso-ji temple and turn left at the temple. And guided by Google maps, we easily found Hanayashiki.

Admission is 1000 yen per adult, free for children below 6, but we got our 3 year old a "Free Ride Pass" which gives her unlimited rides on all the attractions for 1800 yen. And because she is under 4, one adult gets to ride with her for free (attendant).

Even so, she was excluded from some rides due to her age or height. There was one which is a "Star" Merry-go-round. You sit in a star-shaped capsule, and it goes round like a merry-go-round. Then it starts to spin on its horizontal axis. If you ever wondered how your laundry feels in a front-load washing machine, you should try this ride.

There were a few other "high-G" rides. Including an adult version of the "Pyong-pyong". My daughter wanted to try the pyong-pyong (or boing-boing) which is a ride that brings you up to about 2 metres and then drops and rises and drops and rises (hence the name). She wanted to try it first, she held on to her tears for a while, but then gave in to her fears and tears. Later she wanted to try the ride again. She's braver (or dumber) than I thought.

There was an adult version of that ride ("Spaceshot") that went up 10 m or so. She's too short for that one. Lucky me. And my lunch.

Speaking of lunch, we had "long potatoes" which is sort of like fries, except about a foot-long. It's made from potato batter. Z liked it.

Another ride which scared her was "Surprising House" or House of Surprises. You enter a small house, sit down in the centre of the house. And then the house turns head over heels (or roof over cellar?) about you. My daughter was scared by the disorientation and cried. I was able to figure out that the outer "shell" of the house was being turned over the occupants, and this was disorienting.

What my daughter really liked and went again and again, was the "Crazy Taxi". Here, you get to role-play a New York cabby. Or any cab drivers really. (Apologies to any cab drivers reading this, but you guys really got a bad rep).

This ride has about 7 individual cabs which each can take a family of 4 (if not too large). I let my daughter take the "driver's" seat, and I sit in the back where I can stretch my legs. The cabs ride on a single track along a pre-determined path with sharp turns, screeching brakes sounds, as well as revving engines. In the backseat, I hammed up my backseat driver and panicked passenger persona - "Look out for the Bee Boy!" - There was anthropomorphised bee by the side of the track. "Look out for the doggie in the Yellow Suit!"  "Look out for the sink!" "Look out for the Lion!"

My 3-year-old lapped it all up laughing. And at the end of the ride, she would go, "I wanna go again!"

"Okay. You want to go with mommy?"

"No! I want to go with you, daddy!"

So we went again.

And again.

And again.

I can't be sure, but I think she went over 20 times in the crazy taxi.

Towards the end, I managed to persuade her to let PL ride with her.

Another ride she liked was the "Helicopter". There are two rides which are sort of "helicopter-ish". This one on a sky-track, and is pedal-powered. That is, the ride goes as fast or as slow as you pedal. It was not too exhausting, but it did take some effort. I managed to convince her to take my wife (the 3-year-old is too small to pedal, so the adult does all the work!)

The other "helicopter-ish" ride is more like a "Gyrocopter". Not sure what was the real name. It's a merry-go-round as in the two-person ride goes round and round and if you pedal furiously, you can cause your "vehicle" to rise higher into the air!

Again, she was too short to pedal so it was all my work.

"Sky Ship" was just a ship-shaped cabin on a sky-track.

She went for almost all the rides she was eligible (meet the minimum height) for. She took the Merry Go Round, the petite Ferris Wheel (you have to see it to believe how petite it is!), and the snooze-inducing (for adults) Swan ride. But she had fun.

And many of the rides were pitched at her age, I feel.

And when she gets older, she can try to more High-G rides.

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