Although only open for a couple of months a year (7/1-8/31 in 2014), the outdoor Family Pool can be a life saver during Hiroshima’s long, hot and humid summer. Located in the heart of the city, it makes for a great place to let kids blow off steam on weekends and holidays, for frazzled teachers on split shifts to recharge their batteries, and those nursing beer garden hangovers to recuperate.
Open from the beginning of July to the end of August, the Chuo Koen Family Pool is located next to the Green Arena prefectural gymnasium, Children’s Museum and Hannover Koen. It can also be access from the Ota-gawa riverside. There are actually 3 pools; A 50 meter pool which is generally divided into two 25 meter sections and is 25m across (0.8-1.0m), a nagare pool which has a current that carries you along a 260m channel that loops around the park (1.1m), and shallow paddling pool (25-40cm) with a slide suitable for small children.
One half of the big pool has a false bottom, making it easier for small kids learning to swim, and there is an in between lane for older kids. There are no rules against kids under a certain age not being allowed in even with their parents (like most public pools in the city) so it is a great place for kids to get used to the water. You will be expected to observe the Japanese tradition of a mandatory pool break every hour, when everyone is asked to get out of the water.
This is not a place for serious swimming, and unless you get there right when the gates open (and even then there’s no guarantee) you are unlikely to be able to do laps. Those looking for a swim workout during the summer, should head to Ushita on the Astram Line to the excellent Big Wave 50m pool.
The place can get extremely busy on Sundays and during the Obon vacation when it is packed with sunbathers and water babies, however, arrive early or late in the day and it generally isn’t too bad, and you avoid the brutal midday heat. Bring a music player to drown out the almost constant drone of the bored lifeguards telling kids the multitude of things they’re not allowed to do, through a megaphone mixed with the piped J-pop.
The poolside areas offer a decent amount of shade, but again this can be at a premium at busy times. Much of the ground is covered with green astroturf, not very natural, but takes the edge off the roasting tiled sections.
Swimming rings can be rented for ¥100 each and you can use the pumps to blow up your own inflatables free of charge. If you get hungry there are couple of places where you can get basic fare, French Fries, curry and rice, fried noodles etc as well as kaki-goori shaved ice and ice cream. Generally, for cooked food, you are expected to buy a food ticket from the vending machine and hand it to the person at the counter. There are also lots of drink vending machines around the park. There are no restrictions on bringing in your own food, and although, in theory, no alcohol is allowed, you do see people surreptitiously enjoying a beer or a chuhai or two (just keep it quite and don’t overdo it).
In terms of safety, our feeling is that parents with small children should not rely on the the lifeguards round the pool. There are a lot of them and they seem to be watching, but we are not sure how much training they have. There are tragic fatalities here from time to time, especially when it gets very busy, so please keep and eye on your children.
Opening hours: 09:00-18:00 (final admission 17:00)
- Adults (18+): ¥780
- Children (7+): ¥340
- Seniors (65+): ¥340
Address: 4-41 Motomachi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi
View Family Pool in a larger map
Nearest streetcar stop: A-bomb Dome Mae
Nearest Astram Line Station: Kencho-mae