What did you want to be when you grew up? Did you spend hours playing doctors and nurses? Did you imitate your school teachers? Did you pretend to be a fireman, a policewoman or a bus driver? At Kidzania, your children can do just that, but for real.
Following the success of initial projects in Mexico City and Monterrey, the Tokyo KidZania at Urban Dock LaLaport Toyosu was built in 2006 and is a creative edutainment system giving children an opportunity to try about various jobs and professions. While your kids likely already imitate adults the difference at KidZania is the level of realism that is apparent from the moment that your children enter the ‘town’.
The multi-story buildings, shops, restaurants and offices with traffic on the roads all look like they could have come from Tokyo itself, were they not shrunken down to a kid-friendly two-thirds size. Also were it not for the fact that the pizza chefs, the bank clerks, the radio DJs are all children.
The aim of KidZania is to encourage children to learn about the enjoyment and empowerment that can come with working hard, accepting responsibility and doing a job done well. The looks of dedication and concentration on the children taking part is testament to its success.
Children can sign up for work at any of the 80+ places of business and after they have done so, they are given a time to report to work. After being trained by adult staff, they are then given a uniform and it is time to try the job out for themselves.
Each job offers activities with different ranges of difficulty to meet and test the abilities and interests of the various age ranges. Not all jobs are available for all children and the recommended starting ages are clearly shown at each place of work, while some jobs have a height requirement, however there is something for everyone from ages 3-15.
Once they have finished their shift they receive their pay in kidZos, the currency of KidZania. This they can spend in any of the multitude of shops in which their fellow children are working, or deposit it in the bank where they can receive an ATM card for withdrawal around the town. The more they work, the more they earn, and the more they can do in KidZania.
Although parents and guardians are not permitted amongst the working children they can watch through windows, or from the city streets, their children baking real pizzas, putting out real fires or nursing to health incredibly realistic newborn baby dolls.
Another particularly realistic aspect of KidZania is the level of sponsorship that is evident around the city, with most pavilions bearing the name of some major corporation or another. This has clearly been done in order to fund such a large undertaking, and it is no different than seeing Mickey’s face and merchandise all over the various Disney enterprises, but whether or not you are happy to expose your child to such a high level of branding is something to consider when taking them to KidZania.
Every Wednesday is English@Kidzania day. Of course, this being Japan, this is not in fact a day for non-Japanese speakers, but rather a way for young English learners to put their language skills, simple phrases and vocabulary to good use in a practical environment. That said, it is probably the ideal time for English speaking children to visit, although, while there are no activities conducted only in English most can be enjoyed on any day without Japanese. Where possible, accommodations for English speakers are made to ensure that the experience is enjoyable for all.
Getting to KidZania
8 minutes by foot from Toyosu Station on the Yurakucho and Yurikamome lines
Approximately 1 km from the Toyosu exit off the Shuto Expressway #10 Harumi line
Approximately 1 km from the Edagawa exit off the Shuto Expressway #9 Fukagawa line
Tickets are age, time, and date dependent. For full details and restrictions see website
Opening Hours :
1st Shift: 9:00am-3:00pm 6 hours
2nd Shift: 4:00pm-9:00pm 5 hours
The two shifts are completely separate.
Open all year. *Periodically closed for maintenance.
Doors open for the park 15-30 minutes before the park is officially open and the Activities start.
Urban Dock LaLaport Toyosu, North Port 3rd floor 33200 2-4-9 Toyosu, Koto-ku Tokyo (Google Map)
Image: flickr.com "Kidzania Tokyo" by J Lippold (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) – Modified Image: flickr.com "Kidzania - Fireman" by James Hart (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) – Modified