Japan is known for great design, and playground design is no exception. Take Takino Hillside Park, which lies just outside the city of Sapporo, the capital of Japan’s northernmost island. The park’s Children’s Valley is a magical place full of unique play structures inspired by the natural world.
Divided into five “stages,” the play zones are designed to slowly release children from the urban environment and reintroduce them to the wild experience of nature.
The central theme for the playground is nests — most famously a giant tower based on computer models of real ant nests and a rainbow-colored net “nest” designed by Fumiaki Takano and fabric artist Toshiko Macadam.
There are also bouncy hills made of plastic and foam, a field where kids can roll giant balls, and the usual slides and climbing structures.
Takino Hillside Park is a natural wonder in its own right, with diverse areas like a Country Garden with year-round blooms, a Mountain Stream Zone where local families love to hike and picnic, and a Lodging Zone with camping sites. In winter, “Takino Snow World” offers cold-weather activities like cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, and a hugely popular sledding hill.
Free wheelchair and stroller rentals are available at the park, and there are changing tables and nursing rooms for the youngest visitors. The park has a small entrance fee. Paid parking is available.
Photos: City of Sapporo