The Wonder of “KidZania”
NOTE: Images with an icon next to them have been artificially shrunk to better fit your screen; click the icon to restore them, in place, to their regular size.
Open Wide dental patient in a plastic-like stupor -- KidZania Koshien -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200 mm — 1/250 sec, f/2.8, ISO 1600 — full exif
Open Wide
dental patient in a plastic-like stupor

We took Anthony to KidZania yesterday, in Nishinomiya (near Kobe, about an hour and a half drive south from Kyoto). It's best described as “Vocational School meets Disneyland”... it's a place where kids get to pretend to be all kinds of things. The picture above is from the dental clinic, of course.

Auto Shop -- KidZania Koshien -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 32 mm — 1/100 sec, f/4, ISO 4000 — full exif
Auto Shop
Firefighters -- KidZania Koshien -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200 mm — 1/160 sec, f/3.5, ISO 6400 — full exif
Firefighters
Getting Ready to Tackle the Blaze -- KidZania Koshien -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 66 mm — 1/80 sec, f/3.5, ISO 6400 — full exif
Getting Ready to Tackle the Blaze
Dousing the Fire -- KidZania Koshien -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200 mm — 1/80 sec, f/3.5, ISO 6400 — full exif
Dousing the Fire
KidZania Koshien -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm — 1/100 sec, f/4, ISO 6400 — full exif
EMT Attends a Patient -- KidZania Koshien -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200 mm — 1/100 sec, f/2.8, ISO 6400 — full exif
EMT Attends a Patient
Changing a Tire -- KidZania Koshien -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 58 mm — 1/250 sec, f/3.5, ISO 4500 — full exif
Changing a Tire
TV News -- KidZania Koshien -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 35 mm — 1/100 sec, f/4, ISO 1600 — full exif
TV News
Food Prep -- KidZania Koshien -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm — 1/100 sec, f/4, ISO 900 — full exif
Food Prep
Maternity Ward -- KidZania Koshien -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/100 sec, f/4, ISO 1250 — full exif
Maternity Ward

KidZania is a two-story indoor area filled with more than 70 different “businesses” where the kids can participate as an employee or customer. They can move from business to business, with each event taking from 15 to 30 minutes, although, like Disneyland, much time is spent waiting your turn.

If they participate as an employee, they're paid (in KidZo monetary units), and if they participate as a customer, they must pay. The terms for each “business” are displayed out front... how much pay they'll get for participating, or how much it'll cost to participate.

A KidZania “Street” -- KidZania Koshien -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 27 mm — 1/100 sec, f/4, ISO 3600 — full exif
A KidZania “Street”
Electronics Repair the lady at right is holding a description of a fuse -- KidZania Koshien -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/100 sec, f/6.3, ISO 3600 — full exif
Electronics Repair
the lady at right is holding a description of a fuse
Armored Transport -- KidZania Koshien -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 40 mm — 1/100 sec, f/3.2, ISO 6400 — full exif
Armored Transport

All the businesses mimic in many ways their real-life sponsors. Anyone in a Japanese city will immediately recognize the uniforms of the kids above as that of ALSOK (the Japan equivalent of “Brinks” in the US). “Midori” in the photo above that is a well-known big-chain electronics store.

(Those familiar with Japan may look at the Autobacs sign in the second picture and note, correctly, that Autobacs' sign is orange, not yellow. Indeed, the sign at KidZania was retina-searing pure orange, but it came out as yellow in the pictures due to the same technological limitations mentioned in this post on spot metering. The jumpsuits were the exact same orange as the sign, but come across as reddish in the photo due to white-balance issues and the horrible mix of every known type of lighting on earth.... just in very limited overall quantities. Sigh.)

Anyway, I couldn't find a business that I didn't immediately recognize. Even the generic government services like the KidZania police force and fire department were sponsored by well-known conpanies.

The well-known names and uniforms, of course, make it all the more fun and real for the kids. The lead “guard” in the photo above is about to walk by a delivery truck for Yamato Kuroneko (the Japan equivalent of Federal Express), whose uniforms Anthony tried to mimic in his deliveryman play a few years ago.

Surgery -- KidZania Koshien -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/100 sec, f/3.2, ISO 1000 — full exif
Surgery
Car Manufacture this Mitsubishi awaits its passenger seat and door -- KidZania Koshien -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/125 sec, f/3.2, ISO 200 — full exif
Car Manufacture
this Mitsubishi awaits its passenger seat and door
Seiko Watch for some reason, Seiko Watch's activity was a dance performance (????) -- KidZania Koshien -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 125 mm — 1/250 sec, f/2.8, ISO 3600 — full exif
Seiko Watch
for some reason, Seiko Watch's activity was a dance performance (????)
Radio Broadcast the kids get to use the most-excellent Sony MDR-V6 headphones -- KidZania Koshien -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 120 mm — 1/200 sec, f/3.5, ISO 6400 — full exif
Radio Broadcast
the kids get to use the most-excellent Sony MDR-V6 headphones
Baking -- KidZania Koshien -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 175 mm — 1/250 sec, f/3.5, ISO 1800 — full exif
Baking

According to the sign above the kid at right, up to 10 kids can do this “job” at a time, and it takes about 30 minutes. Recommended for kids age 3 and above. Salary is 5 KidZo bucks. These kids were next in line, after the group inside was done.

The netting under their hats looks perfectly normal for someone in a bakery, but it's a general hygiene thing at KidZania... kids get a hair net to wear under whatever headgear goes with the uniform.

It was quite dark inside, so I had trouble getting good shots. I wonder how well the photojournalists in the shot below did with their Sony cameras, as they covered the KidZania fire department rolling on yet another fire....

Photojournalists -- KidZania Koshien -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 175 mm — 1/60 sec, f/3.5, ISO 6400 — full exif
Photojournalists

KidZania seems to be fire prone, with the FD getting called out just about every 30 minutes. And there must be something in the water, because the city produces a lot of babies...

Another Look at the Maternity Ward -- KidZania Koshien -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 28 mm — 1/250 sec, f/3.5, ISO 1100 — full exif
Another Look at the Maternity Ward

Other “businesses” include rent-a-car (where the kids actually get to drive a car), fashion boutique (designer or model), flight attendant, magician, building maintenance, ice-cream shop, hotel work (various positions), department store clerk / customer, financial consulting, flower shop, pet store, cell-phone sales, glass-making, barber / beautician, mayonnaise production, new-home sales, offset printing, pizza shop, train-conductor.... well, there are just oodles more.

There's a KidZania in Tokyo that Fumie had heard about from a friend, so when one opened here in March, she wanted to bring Anthony. As you might imagine, this kind of place is popular, so it's difficult to get a reservation (Fumie had made one months ago), and it's really expensive: $40 per kid, more than $20 per adult. Adults get absolutely nothing for their $20, except the ability to watch their kid. (And of course, it's worth it.)

There are two sessions per day, five or six hours long each; we went to the second one yesterday.

Here's the scene in the adjacent mall, waiting to get in...

Waiting To Be Let In after about half of the 450 or so families have already been let in -- KidZania Koshien -- Nishinomiya, Hyogo, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm — 1/100 sec, f/9, ISO 2500 — full exif
Waiting To Be Let In
after about half of the 450 or so families have already been let in

They're very regimented. They check your reservation, put RFID bracelets on you that can't be removed without a special tool or a bone-cutting chainsaw, and give you a card that indicates your place in line. Noting the crowd, I casually asked the registration lady how many people came each day, to which she replied in service-field Japanese of the most humble and floral variety: “I'm not at liberty to divulge such information to you”. Whoa, just asking! It was very odd, as if I had asked a secret service agent “So, where will The President be most vulnerable?”. Weird.

Our group of three got entry position “G-18”. Each letter went from 1 through 60, and they had signs for up through “H-60”, so that means they're ready for up to 480 groups. Some groups might have just one parent and one adult, but many had multiple adults and multiple kids. I'll guess on average 2 adults and 1.75 kids per group, which would put the total crowd at 1,800 (and, for what it's worth, the total gross for the half-day session at $54,000).

When it came time to “load” the rope alleys with “G” groups, they called out each number one by one, and confirmed our group of three by name as we presented our “G-18” card. Our tickets were eventually checked, and our RFID bands rechecked, and finally we gained admittance. Anthony had many activities he wanted to try, but one was clearly on top of his must-do list, and so we made a bee-line directly there.... only to find out that he'd have to wait 20 minutes before getting to start.

But that begins a story left for another post....but as a hint, none of the activities that Anthony did have been mentioned in this post.

All the posts about KidZania are listed in (in reverse order) my KidZania category, or, you can just read them in order starting here.


All 12 comments so far, oldest first...

Awesome. This would make my niece super happy. Thanks for your detailed shots and thoughtful captions. Cheers!

— comment by sean on June 28th, 2009 at 11:25pm JST (8 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

Wow! What a fascinating concept! Reminds me somewhat of the “Kids Science Museum” that began, I believe, in Toronto, Canada, in the 1970’s. Now, of course, they are everywhere. My guess is that Anthony headed right for the “Drive a Backhoe/other Huge Construction Vehicle exhibit. But I won’t hazard a guess on how one becomes a “customer” in the Maternity Ward there.

— comment by Grandma Friedl, Ohio, USA on June 28th, 2009 at 11:26pm JST (8 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

“All the businesses mimic in many ways their real-life sponsors.”

Did Lawsons sponsor a business? A bit of nostalgia for those of us with NE Ohio ties!!

— comment by Ray on June 29th, 2009 at 12:33am JST (8 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

Wow!

Hmmm. My guess is that Anthony went straight a construction crew of some sort. I see him as a heavy machinery operator.

Or maybe he has learned from his Daddy, and went to a Yakiniku restaurant, where he could pay Kidzo dollars to be able to do the cooking 🙂

— comment by Marcina, USA on June 29th, 2009 at 5:04am JST (8 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

Wow this is such an eye-opener for me! I wish I had something like this around while I was growing up.. I think it’s a wonderful experience for the children, and it exposes them to so many different jobs.. I was born and educated in Malaysia, and I think we should REALLY take a leaf out of Japan’s books. Everything seems so organized.. I really had fun looking through this post. Thanks!

— comment by Stephanie on June 29th, 2009 at 5:27am JST (8 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

He missed fire fighting? Now, that’s a surprise…. My vote is for driving a truck or flying a helicopter, but lets see 🙂

— comment by mmk on June 29th, 2009 at 5:59am JST (8 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

“And there must be something in the water, because the city produces a lot of babies…”, that’s hysterical. lol They wouldn’t happen to have a demolition department, would they? It would be kind of cool to destroy things with a wrecking ball.
Earnie

— comment by Earnest Barr in Amami, Japan on June 29th, 2009 at 4:47pm JST (8 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

This is wonderful. What a great idea! I guess Anthony tried being an Astronaut and Paleontologist.

— comment by Sonal, MN on June 29th, 2009 at 11:56pm JST (8 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

“But I won’t hazard a guess on how one becomes a “customer” in the Maternity Ward there.”

He he he that was funny!

— comment by Nibar on June 30th, 2009 at 3:06am JST (8 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

from San Diego:

There’s also a “Wannado City” in Florida from the same creator — the first two KidZania locations are in Mexico.

— comment by Mike on July 1st, 2009 at 1:09pm JST (8 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

This place seems amazing! Would love to take my kids there but they probably need a few more years, and a fairly long plane ride…

— comment by Matt Dawson on July 6th, 2009 at 1:03pm JST (8 years, 5 months ago) comment permalink

What a great concept! I would imagine kids have a blast here, I would’ve gone nuts with the firefighting station back when I was a kid.

— comment by Kennymatic on July 14th, 2009 at 9:00am JST (8 years, 5 months ago) comment permalink
Leave a comment...


All comments are invisible to others until Jeffrey approves them.

Please mention what part of the world you're writing from, if you don't mind. It's always interesting to see where people are visiting from.


You can use basic HTML; be sure to close tags properly.

Subscribe without commenting