Since having a child, my travel priorities have changed a bit. On my own, I love to linger over that two-hour kaiseki dinner and wander unhurried through a traditional garden, waiting for the light to cooperate so I can capture that "perfect" shot. With my toddler in tow, we often find ourselves logging in many minutes at local playgrounds to give her a break from the sightseeing schedule.
Thankfully, Sasebo City has a playground that any kid would go crazy for, with plenty of shaded benches where a parent can kick back and relax. Kirara Park is perfectly situated in downtown Sasebo, within easy walking distance of the covered shopping arcade and the local US military base. It's technically a part of the larger Sasebo Park, where the toronagashi (or floating lanterns) event takes place every August 15th to mark the end of Obon.
As befits any seaside city, the main jungle gym in Kirara Park resembles a pirate ship, complete with masts and a crow's nest. This sprawling piece of equipment - marked as suitable for 6-12 year olds but manageable for a toddler with an adult in tow - comprises a series of slides, climbing ropes, a swinging bridge and even a two-storey covered tube slide. Just behind it is a kid-friendly zipline that runs half the length of the park. The only downside to this area of the playground is the lack of decent shading during Sasebo's humid summers.
Right next to the large jungle gym is a smaller play area that's designated for 3-6 year olds. The equipment here is easy enough to navigate for toddlers as well, and includes a few bouncy animals on springs, a short slide, and some large plastic puzzles that kids can manipulate. This area is much more shaded and a number of benches are placed along the side.
The park would be a great place to bring a picnic and make a day of it. There's ample grass on which to spread a blanket and both restrooms and water fountains are located right around the playground. If you do need to take a break from a hectic travel schedule with your kids, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better place.