Kidzania: Putting Your Kids to Work in Tokyo
Kidzania lists itself as an edutainment center where kids can be leaders, make rules and rely on each other to join forces and build a kids-led community. The Mexico-based company has now spread across the globe and there is a strong following of little workers in Japan's big cities locally and in many of the world’s top travel locations too. Just look at Kidzania London, Kidzania Seoul or Kidzania Dubai. All have ignited the imaginations of their youthful patrons and worked their way into the hearts and wallets of many doting parents.
Here in this thriving kids entertainment center in Tokyo, Kidzania kids can open their own bank accounts, work in their chosen profession and earn money at the end of each work shift. Unless, they choose to spend their Kidzos, the Kidzania currency, to work a minus income job where they often eat or take home the product of their efforts. Our son learned how to make sofutokureemu, complete with sanitary hairnets that you incidentally dispose of after each job and don’t re-use. The Japanese soft serve booth is always a hit with the kids and if you are lucky, the budding professionals may choose to share their decorated ice cream with you before booking more shift work at another work station.
What a joy it is to see kids go about their daily living in the land of Kidzania Tokyo. This ‘land of kids, by the kids, for the kids’ allows children the freedom to experience their dream job while learning about the Japanese social system to boot! This ever-popular kids town in Tokyo brings youngsters from all walks of life together, as one experiences in adult working environments, to create a sense of purpose and understanding of the community around them. Whether they are selecting and packaging a ripe banana in the Dole factory plant or piloting an aircraft for the well-known Japanese airline All Nippon Airways (ANA), they are rubbing shoulders with kids of all ages, both from Tokyo and other Japanese cities and countries further afield. The language of work and physical instruction along with a shared interest in the activity bonds these kids in a short space of time.
Photo from Wikipedia
Families on holiday in Japan will be delighted and a little excited by the uniqueness of the Japanese corporations at Kidzania Tokyo. Whether a veteran of Kidzania or newbies, like we were, each city branch brings aspects of real life into the created world if Kidzania. From the Japanese bank they may use to save their earnings, to the Japanese department store, where they may spend them, Kidzania Tokyo is dripping with Japanese references and cultural themes.
Recognizable Japanese institutions in Kidzania, like the Japan Post, employ eager young travelers and Japanese children alike, to deliver mail at the Kidzania companies, whether Japanese can be spoken or not. In fact, the company is well-versed in accommodating travelers to Tokyo and although I live here, I was asked if English language assistance would be necessary for the children, and handed an English brochure. With Japanese companies making steps towards encouraging an English presence in global-facing companies in Japan, Kidzania Japan has taken this in their stride and on Wednesdays some of the activities are conducted in English. As our kids are bilingual, they could choose either, but whether the kids and parents understand Japanese or not, the Kidzania staff will happily guide you through the town until you get the hang of it. Their slow, careful guidance through the Kidzania Tokyo operations and documentation was indispensable.
A few Kidzania Tokyo jobs later, we could gleefully tag along taking photos of the young firemen, watch the performers, enjoy a coffee and take a look at tempting professional photos of our young aviators. All professional pictures are posed for and taken during each kid’s work session. We could then collect the children after their work was done and they had been paid and could recount the details as soap makers and Japanese TV personalities on the way to the next job opening. The Japanese TV job came complete with adult participation in the studio-audience and a DVD souvenir of Kidzania Tokyo. Quite the steal!
Other popular professions included a stint at Japanese cosmetic giant Shiseido and a Kidzania Tokyo fashion house allowed kids to try their hand at children's modeling in Japan for the day.
I am not sure I have ever enjoyed a theme park for children more. Anything that allows kids to forgo the stiff job interviews and then speed-work their way through a careers fair of options, should be on the bucket list of any parent looking for fun, educational things to do in Tokyo.
Situated in Urban Dock in Lalaport Toyosu 3F, it is a short walk from Toyosu station on the Tokyo Metro Yurakucho line, which is ideal when traipsing small kids around Tokyo and then back home again after a memorable evening of fun. Reservations can be made online or by phone prior to your visit, as can changes and cancellations to the reservation. As tickets are on a first-come, first-serve basis and it is usually very busy with a long queue is advisable to book and then to arrive early.
Make online reservations at Kidzania Tokyo