It’s not just for kids apparently!

With the school year ending and spring vacation beginning in Japan, many parents are left looking for ways to fill up all their kids’ newfound free time. In the case of our parenting reporter P.K. Sanjun, a trip to Tokyo Dome City was in order to spend some quality time in an elaborate play center there.

However, upon arrival P.K. learned that he wasn’t the only one with such a plan and was told that he’d have to wait three hours just to enter. Now, having to kill 180 minutes with a 6-year-old itching to get into her promised playland became a nightmare.

▼ Just then P.K. stumbled upon his savior: Animal Cracker Land!

More specifically this was Tabekko Dobutsu Land, dedicated to the Tabekko Dobutsu brand of animal crackers which has dominated the animal-shaped snack market in Japan for decades. Mustering up all of his fake enthusiasm, P.K. shouted at his disappointed daughter: “Look! Animal Cracker Land! Isn’t it great?!”

Inside, however, our reporter was full of nervousness. He had never heard of this place before and had no idea what was inside. But since his daughter was right in that perfect animal-cracker age, it promised to be worth the 880 yen (US$6.74) admission for an adult only since kids are free.

There were a lot of technical exhibits, such as charts detailing the history of Ginbis, the maker of Tabekko Dobutsu, and other cookie-cracker snacks like the Ginza Waffle and Asparagus Biscuits. Although kids aren’t innately attracted to corporate timelines, the displays were all large and colorful enough to get his daughter’s attention.

There were also certain attractions that made use of AR and 3-D glasses.

There was also a section with animal-cracker-themed snacks, supposing that actual animal crackers would have been too on the nose. P.K., who is well-experienced in pop-up cafes and the like, was not surprised by the prices, such as 700 yen ($5.36) for the little cup of popcorn pictured below alone.

However, he also knew that these kinds of places don’t skimp on quality either and all the food was very well-made and tasty.

Before he knew it, half of his three-hour wait had already flown by and there was still a lot of photo spots to stop by, such as this gigantic box of Tabekko Dobutsu that you can stand inside.

P.K. actually thought that this box might have been too big for kids and that’s when he made a surprising realization. He had spent most of the time focusing on his daughter that he never really looked around at the other guests, but when he did he noticed that most were adults.

He’d have guessed about 20 percent were kids with the rest being young adults in their 20s or so. Was there some kind of fashionable animal cracker trend going on that he wasn’t aware of?

Just then, he heard cries of joy coming from one corner of the exhibit and rushed over to see what all the commotion was about.

▼ Shohei Ohtani?!

Actually, it was a giant hippo and not the sultan of swing, but it might as well have been Ohtani, given the flurry of excitement and all the young women flocking to get their pictures taken with him.

P.K. was both surprised and intrigued by this, considering his profession of covering Japanese pop culture. Apparently Tabekko Dobutsu animal crackers — which thanks to this exhibit he now knows have been around since 1978 — were experiencing an unprecedented surge in popularity, and good for them! They’re a simple yet delicious snack and they just helped P.K. entertain his daughter for hours when the chips were down.

Event information
Tabekko Dobutsu Land / たべっ子どうぶつLAND
Tokyo Dome City Gallery AaMo / 東京ドームシティ Gallery AaMo
Tokyo-to, Bunkyo-ku, Koraku 1-3-61
18 March – 14 May
Hours: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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