Raising kids in the United States can be a uniquely terrible experience for many reasons, not least of which being the lack of kid-friendly third places to hang out and spend time with your little ones outside the house. One American mom living in Japan is highlighting those deficiencies, showing off an incredible park and playground in Okinawa that looks clean, inviting, and—perhaps most important of all—so much fun.
Mom Nickelle Mickelsen has been chronicling her family’s adventures in Japan on TikTok, and it’s no surprise why she calls the country one of the “most kid-friendly cultures” she’s ever experienced. The playground alone is enough of a reminder that kids and parents are valued and respected in ways a lot of American parents might not be used to, and it will have you low-key packing your bags to go check it out.
“So parks in Japan are like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I’m going to show you what the one we came to today is like,” she begins the clip.
Then, Mickelsen shows the elaborate playsets at Comprehensive Park, including multiple slides, a rock climbing structure, a ropes course, and even a mini zip-lining area. She also showed the vending machine that serves both cold and hot drinks, so parents can enjoy coffee or tea while their kids run around and enjoy the park’s ample indoor and outdoor entertainment options.
Of course, there are parks in the U.S., but in many places, they’re run-down or in a state of disrepair, making them unsafe or just generally not enjoyable to bring your littles. And when the weather isn’t conducive to outdoor play, there simply aren’t many free indoor play areas to bring children. That’s without mentioning the overall hostility that parents face when bringing their kids to places like restaurants and libraries, something that seems far less prevalent in a place like Japan, where kids and parents alike are treated with love and respect, as Mickelsen shares on her TikTok page.
Along with seriously cool playgrounds and parks, she highlights the country’s readily accessible and well-stocked baby rooms (with hot water dispensers for formula and milk!), private and comfortable nursing rooms, sanitized and free strollers everywhere, play areas and free gifts for kids at restaurants, and even special amenities for kids at hotels.
While no place is perfect, it certainly seems as if some other countries invest in their littlest citizens far more than they do here. Perhaps if lawmakers and reps could spend more time and taxpayer dollars on playgrounds and less elsewhere, our families would feel nurtured and supported. Just a thought!