Jumping for joy at Gymboree

By on October 1, 2008


Gymboree Play & Music classes have been helping tots and parents explore the joy of movement, music, and time together for over 25 years. With centers in over 30 countries, it was high time for Japan to join in the fun! We talked to Nicole Yamada, master franchisee for Gymboree Play & Music in Japan.


What is Gymboree Play & Music?

Gymboree Play & Music is one of the brands of the Gymboree Corporation. The majority of customers around the world (including Japan) think of Gymboree as a retailer of children’s clothes and accessories. However, the retail is just one part of their business and was actually added in 1986, ten years after Gymboree Play & Music, the education side of the Gymboree Corporation began. 


Gymboree Play & Music creates developmental play, music, and arts classes for parents and children ages newborn to five, and is based on a blend of early childhood development theories complemented by more than 26 years of hands-on experience.


How and when did Gymboree Play & Music come to Tokyo?

My husband and I purchased the master franchise for Japan, and opened our first center in Tokyo in May of 2006. 


I hear that you now have two locations. Please tell us about that.

Since Gymboree is an international brand, we knew right away that we wanted to start the business in an international area of Tokyo where there were a lot of embassies and international schools. We, therefore, chose Motoazabu for our first location. We currently have over 400 students at this location. We recently opened our second location, in Jiyugaoka, in June of this year.


How can children and parents benefit from Gymboree classes?

Gymboree Play & Music’s age-appropriate programs help develop the cognitive, physical and social skills of children as they play. Our programs are also recognized for their unique approach to parent involvement—which encourages participation in and understanding of each child’s development.


What languages are classes conducted in? Are bilingual staff on hand?

At Gymboree, all of our classes are conducted in English with added Japanese translations for the parents when necessary. All of our Japanese teachers are completely bilingual, and most of our native English-speaking teachers can speak conversational Japanese. Our classes provide a bilingual environment where children can easily pick up words in both languages.


What else can parents expect from Gymboree?

In addition to our age-appropriate programs, we provide an environment where children are free to move, play and explore safely. Our play equipment was designed by Jay Beckwith, a nationally respected playground designer with more than 30 years of experience, who created every structure with the needs of children in mind. Our play environments are designed to deliver the high-quality standard parents expect for their children. Our play area is available for all members enrolled in classes to use freely on a daily basis during what we call Play Gyms. Our Play Gyms give kids a chance to practice some of the moves they learned in classes and give parents a chance to network with each other.


Please tell us about your new expanded classes for preschool age kids.

Our specially designed classes for kids age three to five build the key social, emotional, and intellectual skills needed for school and life. Activities help develop confidence, curiosity, communication, perseverance, and cooperation, giving your child a solid foundation for future learning environments. These classes are all parent-optional, which give children a chance to be independent and learn to work with their peers, and a chance for parents to get a well-deserved break. Classes in this level include Art III, Music III and our new Sports Skills and School Skills programs. 


What other services does Gymboree Play & Music offer?

We also have weekend slots for birthday parties for ages one to four on Saturday afternoons and Sundays at our Motoazabu location. Our 1.5-hour to two-hour parties include teacher-led playtime and time for refreshments and birthday cake. 

Lastly, we also have a small shop selling Gymboree Play & Music toys and props at each of our locations.




Motoazabu Crest Building 

2-3-30 Motoazabu, Minato-ku

Tokyo, 106-0046, Japan

Tel: 03-5449-2311

Fax: 03-5449-2312



Feel Building – 2nd Floor

1-5-1 Jiyugaoka, Meguro-ku

Tokyo, 152-0035, Japan

Tel: 03-3723-0651

Fax: 03-3723-0652



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