As homeschoolers we are always looking for a great bookstore and educational games and toys. We are also looking for places that are easy to access (especially when it comes to stroller friendly areas and wheelchair accessible areas), have some sort of English Language section, and have decent prices. Sometime in Japan all of these wants can be a difficult to find. However, Last week we found a newly opened book and educational supply store in Hino.
We were visiting one of our favorite Aeon Malls, the Tamadaira No Mori, it is about 30 minutes from our house, so it is not too bad to drive out and see whats new. This specific mall always has different vendors on the first floor. Many sell different kinds of traditional Japanese crafts (which make for great souvenirs and gifts to send back to family), homemade traditional snacks, and sometimes a yakitori vendor or two! My favorite of these has been a small shop that sells chopsticks of all kinds. They even have these expensive sets with glittery landscapes of Mt. Fuji that I am especially fond of! The first floor also has restaurants and a food court. Even if you are traveling here with picky eaters, you are sure to find something that everyone will like!
The second floor is where you will find the newly opened Orion Books. It is located on the back side next to a couple of dimly lit thrift stores. The bookstore it self is relatively large. The main aisle way of the 2nd floor goes right through the bookstore so you really can’t miss it! One side of the aisle has shelves of books grouped by section but we did not see any English books there. It is possible that we may have missed some but I will be sure to check back again.
The opposite side of the aisle had a children section. There are tables with popular children’s picture books, chapter books, and educational books. There is also a few aisles of popular character books like Moana, Sophia, and some other popular Disney characters. These books are in Japanese but my kids still found it to be great fun looking through the picture books and exploring their favorite characters anyway.
There is an aisle between the character book section and the educational toy section. This is where the English learning books are located. They had books about general low level English that were hardback, nice quality and durable. These would be great for a preschooler or even an early reader. They contained beginner English lessons and pictures of objects with their names and things like this. There are Japanese early learning books ground right beside them so you should be able to spot this educational section without a problem.
Behind the education books section we found a large section of education toys. There were 3-D maps of the world and Japan that you could build with puzzle like pieces, wooden magnet food cutting sets for motorskill practice, and brain teaser games of all types. These were really high quality toys and games.
Much better than we have seen at the chain toy stores, and typical department store toy sections. Some were a bit pricey but this was to be expected as most of the toys being sold were wooden and “natural” materials vs plastic at the chain stores. And honestly, they have a lot of things here that would serve as great birthday or Christmas gifts. Especially if you are sending something overseas and want to get something different than what you will find typically!
There were too many types of educational sets and toys to list and I am sure the selection changes frequently but it is worth checking out.
Access to the book store is easy. There are elevators and escalators. Elevators are also specifically marked for those with wheelchairs and strollers so you should not have too many issues fighting the crowd! The aisles are wide enough for strollers or wheel chairs and it is easy to navigate. As with most other Aeon Malls this one also offers the infant carts, and the toddler character carts. So you probably do not have to bring your own stroller or baby carrier as generally they are readily available.
Parking is also really easy. You can simply enter the parking garage connected to the mall and just take the elevator right down to enter the mall. Most of the times that we have visited the here the parking has been free. I am not sure what the actual policy on parking price is, so be sure to look for signs to be on the safe side!