Reconsidering the caged park

I never played in a caged park until I came to Japan. Or had kids.

Something like this would be unthinkable in the Midwest of the US. Big open areas are a specialty of that region. Why box anything in?

I’ve discovered, however, that there are some nice advantages to having a caged play area.

After my middle son’s first day of daycare in over two weeks, we headed over to a nearby park with friends from daycare. The majority of the park is nestled in a grove of towering zelkova trees, but one section is a three-story high cage made from wire and nets. Just some weighted, net curtains that you enter through and then you can throw a frisbee, kick a soccer ball, or toss a baseball to your heart’s content without worrying about breaking a window or getting your disc stuck in a tree.

Such cages are common sights here in Tokyo. Sometimes the entire park is just the cage as you get closer to the city center.

Signs posted on the outside of the area say to give way to younger children. So don’t see adults practicing baseball or pickup games of futsal. For the little ones, it’s the best place I know to play catch. As a parent no more running large distances for errant throws or kicks. And likewise for the kids when I’m off target or they miss a catch.

A busy time of day is no fun inside one of these cages, but when you’ve got it mostly to yourself with your kids or friends, it’s a great spot to have some carefree sporting fun.