It’s not here yet, but soon it will come; the hot and humid horror that is summer in Tokyo. Waking up in early July, one may feel that they have been transported to a new and formerly unbeknownst to Dante Alighieri tenth ring of hell. Tokyo is hot. Three simple words that do not do justice to the sweltering heat and humidity that can make a summer in Tokyo seem to last a lifetime. Thankfully, there are ways to battle the heat if you know where to go to escape the summer sweatbox.
The Rock Garden Pool is a 2,000 square meter collection of pools that are part of the Tama Tech amusement park which includes go-karts, barbeque areas and some rides. The pools are designed with the whole family in mind with a giant fire truck and hoses at the center to play with, the main pool is perfect for kids. With slides suitable for the whole family with the slider pool, body and inner tube slides offering up slippery solutions to the summertime sweats.
For outdoor pools, there are quite a few in around Tokyo. The Showa Kinen Park’s Rainbow Pool offers refuge away from the city center about 40 minutes out of Shinjuku. This massive complex offers up more than 20,000 square meters of splashtastic fun with a variety of pools; a slide pool, running water pool, mountain stream pool, adventure pool, toddler pool, mountain pool, big wave pool and a waterfall pool. The Showa Kinen Park offers more than just water fun; it is a huge park filled with gardens filled with flora to satisfy the nature lovers out there as well bicycle rentals, boat rentals, pitch-and-putt golf, disc golf, soccer, lawn bowling, barbeque facilities and huge open fields to lay about on those lazy summer afternoons.
The Edogawa Pool Garden offers up five different pools to cater to everyone. Their Jumbo Pool is huge and they also have a current pool for taking a leisurely ride on a tube that will cart you around on it’s current. A water slide is on offer as well as wading pool for the kids.
Tokyo Summerland boasts waterfalls, an adventure lagoon, the “Super Monkey Float,” a looooong current pool, “Screamer” water slides as well as some amusement park rides.
The Toshimaen amusement complex probably offers the biggest water experience, close to the center of Tokyo, but be warned; due to its proximity to the center of the city, it can be ridiculously crowded. Toshimaen has seven pools ranging from a wave pool, current pool, waterfall pool, diving pool, a kiddie pool and others. This site also offers the excellently named “Hydropolis,” an area replete with waterslides of all stripes. From body slides, to innertube liquid luges and the huge “Thrill Slide Tower,” a high-speed body slide, this oasis can handle just about any thrill seeker. As an added bonus to the pools, Toshimaen is a large amusement park with some decent roller coasters and plenty of rides for the younger set.
Unfortunately, the Grandaddy of all indoor pools was located in Japan; the Seagaia Ocean Dome was the largest indoor water park in the world until its closing in 2007, this pool boasted an indoor, beach and “ocean” 300 meters long and 100 meters wide.
For those more serious about their swim time than just splashing about, there are numerous high quality indoor pools available. The Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium has both a 50 meter and 25 meter lap pool and is a bargain at only ¥600.
The Chitose All Season Pool is another excellent indoor pool with a 25 meter pool set amongst a beautiful park with a training room, Jacuzzi and a pool for children.
These are just a couple of example of indoor facilities; it is not widely known to many foreigners in Tokyo, but virtually every ward in town has a public gym that more often than not includes a pool. In several wards such as Shinjuku, there are two public pools located within a few hundreds yards of each other; Cosmic Sports Center and the Shinjuku Sports Center. These government run facilities are taxpayer supported, so the cost is minimal to use the pools; usually between ¥250 and ¥600 for usage that ranges from two hours to unlimited.
For those with deeper pockets, most hotels in Tokyo that have pools are willing to have non-guests use their beautiful pools, Jacuzzis and spas, the prices can be quite steep ranging ¥4.500 to ¥6,500. These pools are pristine and immaculate gems in the city and guests paying the entry fees are also able to avail themselves of other hotel services such as massage, spa use and poolside dining (at extra cost, of course.)
It is important to keep in mind that almost all pools in Tokyo require a bathing cap and many pools will not admit people with visible tattoos, permanent or otherwise, gang-affiliated or not. Also of particular importance when swimming laps in the pools designated for that purpose, there are certain rules of etiquette that should be followed to ensure a good time is had by all.
Rock Garden Pool, Tama Tech, 40 minutes from Tokyo, nearest station: Tama Dobutsu Koen, www.tamatech.com
Showa Kinen Park, 40 minutes from Shinjuku on the JR Chuo Line, nearest station: Nishi Tachikawa, www.showakinenpark.go.jp/english
Edogawa Pool Garden, 15 minutes from Otemachi, nearest station: Nishi Kasai on the Tozai and JR lines, www.pool-garden.com
Tokyo Summerland, 50 minutes from Shinjuku station on the JR Chuo line & Musashi-Itsukaichi line, nearest station: Akigawa station, www.summerland.co.jp/english
Toshimaen, just 14 minutes from Ikebukuro on the Seibu Ikebukuro-Toshima line, nearest station: Toshimaen, www.toshimaen.co.jp
Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, 3 minutes from Shinjuku on the JR Chuo line, nearest station: Sendagaya, www.tef.or.jp/tmg/index.php
Chitose All Season Pool, 16 minutes from Shinjuku on the Keio line, nearest station: Hachimanyama, www.city.setagaya.tokyo.jp/030/d00004059.html
Story by James Souilliere
From J SELECT Magazine, August 2009