"Thumbelina," "The Little Mermaid," "The Ugly Duckling" — I remember these books from my childhood. Then, decades later, I remember reading them to my own kids. They are just a few of the most famous works of Hans Christian Andersen (1805-75), the prolific Danish author whose work has a permanent place in Western culture. Andersen has firm footholds into the East as well. Perhaps the most resplendent of these attractions is found east of Tokyo.

In Funabashi's H.C. Andersen Park, in Chiba Prefecture, Denmark's most celebrated writer lives on for Japanese of all ages. Here you'll find playgrounds, workshops and impressive recreations of Danish village life. You'll also find rolling hills and gardens that are beautiful year-round. Funabashi is a sister city of Odense, the Danish city where Hans Christian Andersen was born, and the park honors him well.

H.C. Andersen Park is divided into five main zones, all accessible for ¥900 for adults and ¥100 to ¥600 for kids (under 3s can enter for free). Most people enter by the North Gate, which is good because you can walk straight into the Wanpaku Kingdom Park Zone, where most little ones will want to be anyway. Kids run wild over a wide variety of playground areas here. Our kids love obstacle courses, and Wanpaku Kingdom has some of the largest in the country. These include tunnels, ropeways and balance beams, as well as other opportunities to test their mettle. Most primary school-aged children handle these without supervision, but if there are stubborn younger siblings who want to join in, then I'd suggest giving them a helping hand.