If your kids (or you) are into skateboarding, or using inline skates or BMX on ramps, there are two good options not far from Hatsukaichi station that you might be interested in knowing about.
The first is the “Seibu-metate Dairoku Park” around the Shoko Center, south of the Al Park shopping mall. It may be a bit overgrown, but offers a lot more fun on wheels than is usually available in the city.
This is the easiest one to access as it is just down from the AL Park shopping mall toward the sea, heading away from the mountain, over the main road. It is located just to the left, behind a large community center building. This Seibumetate Dairoku Park has a few ramps at differing angles and a grind rail.
This is a public park and has no gate, so it is open anytime you show up. There are rules posted, however, asking users to keep the noise down and wear helmets and protective clothing. Our kids took turns with some BMX’ers without any problem.
All skateparks post a similar disclaimer: Skateboarding and the use of ramps can be dangerous, so all users should accept personal liability for their actions and responsible adults should watch out for young riders. If injuries do happen, it cannot be blamed on the facility providers, maintenance crew (or websites that provide information), otherwise these skate facilities will likely be closed or destroyed. Please ride at your own risk.
The official name of the second park is “Hatsukaichi Multi-purpose Youth Open-space”, but we have nicknamed it the Skatebowl. This is a fantastic, purpose-made facility for intermediate to advanced skaters. I say more advanced skaters despite not having tried it myself, because it looks difficult and scary. However, it is used by riders of all ages and there are awesome little tikes catching serious air off the edge of the bowls every time I check it out. The boarder in our family reminds me that skating is about overcoming your fear and just going for it! So, maybe he is right and there are no real “levels” after all, but the bowls are definitely more of a challenge than trying a ramp in a flat park.
Skatebowl is located over a a 5% grade steep bridge that has a sign posted saying “no skateboarding” in Japanese so you know you are in the right area when you see it. On the sea side, you can find the Calbee snack factory. On the same side adjacent is the NAFCO One-Two-Style shop and some small boats are docked on the right side of this park as a continuation of the Hatsukaichi boat marina. There is some parking opposite the docks, or for the concrete park and toilets just in front of it.
This skate park was actually built a few years ago, but was closed for a while when they reconsidered to close it or not. Luckily, it is now open again and is now under the public management of Hatsukaichi city. With new management, new regulations have come into effect since October 2016 which require all users to first go to the Hatsukaichi Shiyakusho (city hall) to sign a waiver and get a registration sticker (Toroku-Shiru in Japanese) before you can be allowed to use this skatepark. This registration must be renewed each year, the park is closed if it is too wet and you can only use it between 10am-9pm if there is someone there with a key.
The Shiyakusho is located next to the big YouMe Town Shopping Center about 5 minutes away from the skatepark (closer to Hatsukaichi JR station). It seems that this registration booth is open everyday of the week (even on holidays but NOT open between 12/29-1/3 New Year holidays). If you register during the week, between 8:30-17:00 you go into the main city hall office to register.
Of course, it is a bit of extra hassle to do this registration (all the forms are only available in Japanese) but as long as you can write your address, telephone and emergency contact information in Japanese, it’s possible to complete it in less than 10 minutes. This registration booth is located in the main Shiyakusho building next to the Nishi exit. This allows Hatsukaichi city management of the facility to be covered for liability and allows them to keep this skatepark under public control which keeps it basically free for us to use. So, try to keep that in mind when dealing with this extra hassle- if you love boarding, it’s worth it!
Once you have your sticker on your helmet (and they recommend using safety pads too), you can sign in at the book and then enter and use the skatepark AS LONG AS there is a volunteer there who has done the extra hassle of further volunteer-management-registration to be in charge of the key. When we went, this was a really nice guy who looks like a skateboarder himself and his kids were into BMXing. Make sure you are appreciative of them being there and hanging out all day. I am not sure how smoothly this system can possibly work on weekdays.
According to the form the park CAN be open anytime between 10-21:00 each day, but in reality this would also be closed when no one is there who is in charge of the key. As far as I can tell, there is no website, twitter feed or any other efficient way to find out if the park is open or not until you actually get there. The original times open used to be on weekdays after 3pm (until 9pm) and on weekends from 10-9.
The staff at the booth said, “it is probably open” when we went there just because the key was still out, and although that system is less than perfect, it usually works. Just keep the first park in mind in case this one is closed so your kids aren’t too disappointed.
Official page about this skatepark on the Hatsukaichi city website and the park’s volunteers website and facebook page (all in Japanese) – the website and facebook pages don’t seem to be updated regularly, but they sometimes have updates about upcoming events at the park, a calendar and if it is closed due to wet weather.