Last week, I went to リトル・ママフェスタ (Little Mama Festa) with Baby A and a mom friend of mine to see what it was all about. Little Mama Festa is an event that is held a few times a year throughout Japan for parents and parents-to-be. There are various activities, vendors, workshops, seminars, and free items so it tends to be quite popular with a large number of attendees.
I had seen many Japanese moms tweet about リトルママフェスタ so I decided to check it out on the second day. The Tokyo event that I attended was held at a hall in Ikebukuro’s Sunshine City and was from 10 AM to 4:30 PM. I decided to take Baby A in her stroller because with my diaper bag I knew I wouldn’t last very long if I wore her from door to door; strollers, however, are supposed to be left outside of the event hall to prevent overcrowding (this wasn’t enforced, though). One annoying thing was that the elevator at Ichigaya Station was under construction so on the way to the event, I had to get a station attendant to help me carry the stroller down to the platform and then back up on the way home.
By the time I arrived at 11 AM, the outside of the hall was already packed with strollers. I guess that’s one of the good things about Japan, it’s easy to leave your stroller somewhere without having to worry about it getting stolen. Some people even left their personal belongings with their stroller although I wouldn’t recommend you do that. My friend and I picked up our omiyage or bag of freebies, which you can get if you sign up in advance on the event website. There are a limited number of these bags available and for the Tokyo event, it was 4000 for the first day of the event and 3500 for the second day. The bag was really heavy because alongside other things, it contained a 500ml bottle of 浅漬けの素 (asazukenomoto), which you use to pickle vegetables.
The omiyage I received, which consisted of 浅漬けの素, yuzu amazake (for mom), formula cubes, a pack of “Oral Rehydration Solution”, as well as a monthly milestone cards. A jar of Play-Dough was also included but as Baby A is too young to play with it, I gave it to my friend’s daughter. Also pictured are some free items I got from vendors: tomato soumen, preservative-free pudding, and some jelly that helps make medicine more palatable for babies and young children. Other gifts from vendors that we couldn’t be bothered to get included Nivea hand cream, a picture book by the real estate company LIFULL HOME’S, and vitamin tablets.
The monthly milestone cards laid out. The other months are on the back. These are quite cute and although I do something different for Baby A’s monthly milestones, I may use these as well.
We also received a pamphlet that contained some coupons to use in Sunshine City, such as 50% off admission to the aquarium and some other discounts for stores, as well as a page dedicated to their “stamp rally.” Basically, you receive a stamp for each vendor you visit and based on the number of stamps you get, you receive various prizes. Some attendees were already finished the stamp rally by the time I got there at 11. My friend and I collected a few but decided against continuing because some vendors required that you fill out surveys and give personal information, which we weren’t comfortable with, lines were long and we had fussy children in tow, and the prizes were not that great, some even the same as what we had already received in our bag of freebies.
The stamp rally page in the event pamphlet. Prizes included more Play-Doh (I saw some people walking away with three jars), a small sample of facial essence, and colored pens to write messages or draw pictures on plastic wrap (such as on wrapped onigiri)
Some of the events that were held for children including a crawling race (Baby A was too young to do that and my friend’s 2 year old was too old) and an “art” photo session where you could get your baby’s picture taken in an outfit while lying down on a cute Christmas or New Year’s themed background. I decided against that for Baby A as I do these kinds of photos myself at home (which I will talk about in another post next year), and I didn’t like the idea of her wearing clothes that other babies had just worn. There were likely other events but there were so many people that we didn’t want to brave the crowds to find out.
The vendors included real estate agencies, insurance companies, and food-related companies. As my friend and I were the only visible foreigners there, some vendors seemed apprehensive about talking to us. One in particular, 産直の東都生協 TOHTO CO-OP, didn’t seem to register that we were waiting in line to talk to them about their food delivery service and instead skipped us to help one mother, and then another, and then yet another, waiting behind us. My friend said that she experienced this kind of treatment often, which broke my heart. I knew there would be some difficulties as a foreign mother in Japan but as Baby A is only 5 months old, I hadn’t actually experienced any type of discrimination until then. It really put a sour note on the event, despite the fact that most of the vendors seemed fine speaking with us once they realized we knew Japanese. They gave us some samples or goods, such as origami (I gave mine to my friend’s daughter) as well as food and drinks. My friend’s daughter also got a paper Mickey Mouse hat from Disney English (which was nice of them to give because we were native English speakers and wouldn’t use their products) and various kinds of balloons, which she was happy about.
My friend and I then decided to split up briefly because her daughter wanted to watch a performance while I decided to take advantage of Baby A sleeping in her carrier to buy some handmade and customized goods. Personally I feel like this was the best part of the event.
Cute New Year’s footprint art featuring 2020’s Chinese zodiac, a mouse.
A booth selling customized calendars and badges where you can get your child’s name handwritten alongside a small cute message to your child based on a short form you fill out.
I got a badge made for Baby A. One funny thing is that I wrote that I wanted her to be strong (強く) and for some reason that was changed to cute (可愛く) on the badge. Oh well!
Custom-made 色紙 (shikishi). Similar to the badges, it features lovely calligraphy of your child’s name as well as a small message to them from you.
Some of the other handmade goods I got. On the left is a wooden plate and spoon with Baby A’s birthdate, an illustration I got to choose (a rabbit, of course), a message, and her name (blurred out). I also got a reversible bib and some cute hair clips (and I got one clip for free!).
We ended up staying at the event for about two hours when excluding a small break we took to feed our children and change them. By the time we left, the event hall was packed and there was a huge line for the elevator, both to go up to the event and down to leave.
Overall, it was nice to see what リトルママフェスタ was all about but I don’t think I will attend the event again. The omiyage seem to be getting more and more lackluster with each event, which is an opinion shared by other moms who attended the last few events and tweeted about it. For instance, at an event held earlier in the year, people received entire bags of nabe stock, Anpanman cloth bibs, baby wipes, and ICREO formula packs. The vendors were also not that great, which likely contributed to the samples and omiyage not being the best. I would say attend the event if it’s nearby and the commute is not long; otherwise, unless you want to get some personalized items made for your child, it just isn’t worth it, especially if you’re pregnant as there were hardly any products for pregnant women or new moms. This may change, however, depending on the vendors. One tip is to check Twitter and Instagram on the first day of a two-day event by searching リトルママフェスタ and see what people have to say.
If you’re interested in リトルママフェスタ, you can check out their upcoming events throughout Japan by visiting their homepage here.
This is not a sponsored post.