Kids playing outside learn from nature, each other

Children in Ota Ward, Tokyo, play a game with cards they made out of cardboard. Children quickly become friends by playing games together even if they are meeting for the first time.

Children can learn a lot from nature and when they play with other children outdoors.

Serigaya Boken Asobiba (Serigaya adventure playground) in Machida, western Tokyo, serves as a "secret base" in which children can enjoy themselves without constraints. On one recent day, a boy was dangling from a vine hanging from a tree in a thickly wooded area, while another was absorbed in using a saw to make something out of wood.

The playing field is run by a local incorporated nonprofit organisation, Kodomo Hiroba Asobe Kodomotachi (Children, let's play at the playing plaza). The field was a 5,000-square-meter slope in Serigaya Park before it was leveled and opened as a playground in September.

At least two adults watch over the safety of the children, although the children will suffer the usual scrapes and scratches from playing outdoors.

Keiko Okamoto, director of the NPO, said, "Children will learn which branch will not break easily and what is dangerous through their experience while playing."

Haruta Noto, 7, a first-year primary school student who visited the park with his father, said with a look of satisfaction, "It's fun here as I can use a saw, which I'm not normally allowed to."

In Heiwajima Park in Ota Ward, Tokyo, an event titled "Hey, come together children of Ota Ward!" was jointly sponsored by two youth associations in the ward. The motto of the event is to play games created by the children themselves.

The children made huge cards from cardboard for a card game. About 40 participants, ranging from first-year primary school to third-year middle school students, competed in the card game. As the kids were so excited, some cards became tattered during the game.

Haruna Morimoto, 13, the leader of the game, said with a smile, "It's difficult get everything together with so many children, but it's fun and worth it."

Her mother, Junko, added, "Activities for children with such a wide range of ages helps them learn about society."