One of the reasons traditional cinemas have survived the onslaught of home video, streaming and mobile options is that the movie theater has always been the premier date destination. But when baby makes three, it gets hard to go out. Thankfully, Tokyo offers plenty of cinema options for kids and their parents.
Toho Cinemas’ Mama Club Theater offers “babies welcome” screenings at many of their locations on Thursday mornings. The house lights don’t go all the way down when the projector fires up, allowing parents to keep an eye on their little ones, and the air conditioning is adjusted with kids in mind. There are child seats, places to park carriages and staff on hand to help when little movie critics get vocal with their disapproval of a film. www.tohotheater.jp/service/mamas_club_theater
Hot Mama Cinema by Movix Cinemas offers special screenings for moms and babies on weekday mornings at its suburban locations. There are “stress free” ticket counters exclusively for moms, nursing and diaper-changing stations, as well as play mats in front of the screen. www.hotmama-cinema.jp
Shinagawa Prince Cinema holds events to encourage parents to bring their infants to the cinema for the very first time, as well as screenings of Japanese films aimed at slightly older kids. Upcoming releases include the latest installments of the Crayon Shin-chan and Detective Conan franchises. The cinema also offers a “mama’s day off plan” on Wednesdays, which includes a movie ticket, a drink and dessert set at the café and care for an infant in the dakko (nursery) room for the single price of ¥5,800. www.princehotels.co.jp/shinagawa/cinema
Kawasaki Art Center offers free nursery services staffed by volunteers for some screenings. http://kac-cinema.jp/barrierfree/
The Skip City Visual Museum in Kawaguchi boasts exhibitions on the technical side of the production of film and television, most of it interactive and geared toward kids, such as a booth where visitors can experience augmented reality or computer animation stations which allow the end results to be saved to a DVD to take home. Kids are also welcome to join Japanese language film production classes and workshops that introduce the basics of optics and film in a fun way. www.skipcity.jp/english
The Tokyo Kinder Film Festival is gearing up for its 22nd installment, running August 13-17 at Chofu City Green Hall. Young festivalgoers discover the joys of cinema through programs featuring international shorts and animated films. There are also Q&As with Japanese and international filmmakers and filmmaking workshops. www.kinder.co.jp/en