'Can we go to the park?" In our household, this refrain is heard almost as frequently as "I want ice cream" and "I don't want to go to bed."

It is a question asked on a near-daily basis, regardless of weather, season or time of day. Yes, we would go at 10 p.m. in the middle of a winter snowstorm while dressed only in pyjamas, if my 3-year-old daughter and her 1-year-old sister could have their way.

Their perennial desire to escape to a park taps into children's near-universal love of running around outside among trees and slides — and is perhaps more noticeable among those raised in an urban environment such as Tokyo.