Japan’s Benesse launches traveling educational Shimajiro play park in Indonesia

28, Sep. 2019

Shimajiro Play Park provides a place where children and parents together can play and learn about words and numbers. (Photo courtesy of PT. Benesse Indonesia)
Shimajiro Play Park provides a place where children and parents together can play and learn about words and numbers. (Photo courtesy of PT. Benesse Indonesia)

JAKARTA,NNA - Japanese education and publishing firm Benesse Corp. has brought its popular traveling theme park for children to Indonesia, featuring cartoon character Shimajiro to help children play and learn about numbers, words, and society.

“Shimajiro Play Park” which kicked off in Indonesia on Thursday is appearing at about six locations including commercial facilities in the Jakarta Metropolitan Area for two years, according to an official of Benesse’s Indonesian subsidiary, PT. Benesse Indonesia.

The play park is part of Benesse’s educational program based on its “Kodomo Challenge” preschool kits and featuring Shimajiro, a striped tiger character in the shape of a human boy.

The first stop is Summarecon Mall Bekasi, a commercial complex in Bekasi, West Java. The traveling park will be based there for about one month until October 20 aiming to attract 11,000 visitors, Kei Watanabe, an official of the local unit, told NNA.

Benesse and PT. Berkat Animasi Internasional Indonesia (AIIA), which holds commercial rights to Japanese animation character Doraemon, will operate the traveling park jointly.

Shimajiro Play Park, which Benesse launched in Japan in March last year, has drawn more than 250,000 visitors as it traveled across the country. Benesse has been taking advantage of the Shimajiro brand in animations, movies, concerts, YouTube posts, and other media while its core business of correspondence education is struggling to expand clients amid the declining birthrate in Japan.

As Kodomo Challenge, a package of preschool home education products, is getting on the right track in Indonesia, Benesse has moved the play park to the Southeast Asian country where there is a limited number of facilities where children can play and learn outside of their home, the official said. Benesse expects to attract a considerable number of visitors to the play park, aiming to raise the number of Kodomo Challenge users along the way.

At Summarecon Mall Bekasi, Benesse is providing 23 kinds of games and plays for nine sections of the play park in an area of 660 square meters, including building blocks and puzzles that enable children to play with words and numbers.

The concept is based on Shimajiro Play Park in Japan, and the equipment is partly sourced from Japan, Watanabe said. The facility has a shop with related merchandise and hosts several concerts and handshake events featuring Shimajiro every day.

The park targets visitors, particularly children aged between two and six. It is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The admission fee is 65,000 rupiah ($4.58) per child aged 15 or younger on Monday through Thursday; and 85,000 rupiah Friday through Sunday. An adult is charged 35,000 rupiah on any day of the week.

Overseas businesses accounted for 13 percent of Benesse’s revenue in fiscal year 2018, rising 8 percent yearly to 56.4 billion yen ($ 523.7 million). The number of Kodomo Challenge users overseas totals about 1.27 million. Benesse counts on Indonesia for Kodomo Challenge’s growth abroad as the birthrate continues declining in Taiwan and is peaking out in China.

Kodomo Challenge is gaining support among education-minded parents in their late 20’s and early 30s living in the Jakarta Metropolitan Area, Watanabe said.

Benesse has distributed sample kits to 400,000 people free of charge and organized seminars and hands-on sessions at hospitals and kindergartens to cultivate the customer base. “Although we cannot disclose the number of users, it has been growing steadily,” he said.