"Travel daycare" for children of visiting couples, hoping for increase in visitors

The Higashi couple brought daughter Karen along on an Urakawa workation (photo taken inside the Urakawa Friend Forest Kindergarten building)

“Urakawa Friend Forest Kindergarten”, located in Urakawa in the Central Hokkaido Hidaka region, started a service for taking care of children of families staying temporarily within the town for opportunities including “workations”, or working vacations. From June 13 to 25, a married couple working at an IT company in Tokyo was the first family to use the service. Three more families are already slated to use the service, and the principal commented, “We want to do our part to help increase the number of town visitors and vitalize Urakawa.”

The kindergarten adopted the same system currently used in “travel daycares” elsewhere in Hokkaido that are so popular, the cancel waiting list has included up to about 80 families.

The Higashi couple became interested in second homes and trial stays when the COVID-19 pandemic started. But there were not many areas offering care for children of preschool age and younger (0-6 years old), which prevented them from getting started. This June, they stayed in Urakawa for two weeks. Both felt, “Having care service for our child set our minds at ease, and that is what let us really enjoy experiencing the daily life of this town. Next, we want to try living here in the winter season.”

Daughter Karen also enjoyed spending time at the kindergarten with its focus on nature-based activities. Mother Naoko was overjoyed, “She has not sprinted with all her might like that in a long time. I love exposing her to an environment where she can move around freely.”

Moving forward, the kindergarten is considering offering full-scale service in partnership with the town government, etc.

In the 2021 fiscal year, a total of 90 people in 52 households used temporary stay opportunities. The kindergarten believes, “There is a large potential demand from the child-raising age group,” and sees its service as one measure for advancing population influx and exchange.


Urakawa Friend Forest Kindergarten