Tokyo With Kids – The Ultimate Guide

Updated: August, 2014

Essentials

The 24 Best Things To Do in Tokyo with Kids

Tokyo is a fantastic city to take kids and it’s far and away the most interesting destination in Japan for families. It has an incredible array of attractions and kid-friendly destinations (beyond Disneyland) that could easily keep a family very busy for a week or more.

  • National Museum of Nature and ScienceThe best museum in Tokyo for kids.
    A dizzying array of hands on fun can be found at this attraction, maybe Tokyo’s best science museum. Almost every floor of the museum has kid friendly exhibits that are as much about fun as learning. It’s a short 5 minute walk from Ueno Subway and JR Station. Reviews. Closed Monday – If Monday is a national holiday, the Museum is open Monday and closed the following Tuesday.
  • Ueno Zoo
    A panda at the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo.
    Kids will love this well spaced and relaxing area featuring a surprisingly wide array of animals (elephants, pandas and tigers being the highlights). Gets very busy on weekends. A 10 minute walk from Ueno Subway and JR Station. Reviews. Closed Monday – If Monday is a national holiday, the Museum is open Monday and closed the following Tuesday.
  • Fire Museum
    The Tokyo Fire Museum with kids.
    Dress up as a fireman and play in fire trucks and helicopters. The fun and games here are worth an hour or two of amusement for ages up to 8 or 9. Free admission is another plus. Accessed directly from the Yotsuya-Sanchome station. Reviews. Closed Monday – If Monday is a national holiday, the Museum is open Monday and closed the following Tuesday.
  • Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan)
    Asimo Robot at Tokyo Science Museum
    There’s so much here – all with excellent English explanations – families should probably plan on a 3 or 4 hour visit. The exhibits target a range of ages with many of the them clearly intended for adults too. Lots of kid friendly fun. Asimo the walking robot has demonstrations a few times per day. Fune-no-Kagakukan station. Reviews. Closed most Tuesdays – check website for exceptions.
  • Museum of Maritime Science
    A family friendly museum: The Maritime Museum (near Miraikan).
    Makes a good 2-stop visit with the nearby National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (above). Not specifically a child destination, there’s still lots to keep the kids intrigued. Particular fun are the boats and ships that you can climb aboard. Fune-no-Kagakukan station. Reviews. Closed Monday – If Monday is a national holiday, the Museum is open Monday and closed the following Tuesday. Reviews. (Update: As of October, 2013 the main building is closed due to major renovations. The outdoor exhibits are still open – no admission fee required.)
  • Legoland Discovery Center
    Tokyo Legoland
    A hands-on destination with lots of blocks (big and small), a play area, model builds of Tokyo, and a short ride where you shoot at different targets. The highlight might be the game where you try to walk through a hallway the fastest while avoiding laser beams (it’s right at the end of the museum and can be easily overlooked). Reviews. Open 7 days a week.
  • RiSuPia Panasonic Digital Network Museum
    Panasonic Technology Display Room
    A hands-on museum devoted to science and math (and panasonic products). Each visitor gets a handheld tablet that they scan at each exhibit for an explanation of the science behind the games. Reviews. Closed Mondays.
  • Science Museum (in Kitanomaru-koen)
    The science museum in Tokyo is great for kids.
    Located in Kitanomaru Park just north of the Imperial Gardens, this is one of Tokyo’s three science museums and needn’t be on a busy schedule. That said kids will enjoy the well designed interactive exhibits. The museum has many demonstrations led by museum staff. When you arrive try to do a quick walk through the museum to see what shows are being done so you can choose appropriately for your child’s interests. Reviews. Closed Wednesday – If Wednesday is a national holiday, the Museum is open Wednesday and closed the following day.
  • Imperial Palace & Gardens
    The Imperial Palace in Tokyo.
    Some children may not be intrigued by the palace and the details of the royal family’s lives, but regardless, the grounds and gardens make a good open air destination to wander with the kids and let them run about while you enjoy the stunning views of the palace. The palace is open only 2 days a year, January 2 and December 23. It’s a 10 minute walk from Tokyo Station. Reviews. The gardens are closed most Mondays and Fridays with many exceptions: calendar of opening days.
  • Sony Showroom
    Fun for kids and adults: The Sony showroom in Ginza.
    A decent rainy day destination as it can be accessed from the subway line without going outdoors (and on of the few kid-friendly attractions in Ginza). It would be easy to breeze through the 4 floors and wonder what the appeal was. But kids will find lots of fun here. All the newest gadgets are hands-on. Kids get have free reign over a collection of electronic gear that is usually off limits to little hands. There is also Sony ExploraScience if you are in Odaiba. Located directly above Ginza Station. Reviews. Open 7 days a week.
  • The Railway Museum (Saitama City)
    The wonderful Railway Museum in Saitama is great for kids.
    Awesome for both train buffs and young kids, this is a brand new museum located in the Tokyo suburb of Saitama. It takes a bit of effort and time to get to, but is well worth the trip. The emphasis here is on the trains (Locomotives, electric railcars, diesel railcars, passenger carriages, imperial carriages, freight vehicles) but kids will also like the train cab simulators and the mini train. See inside the trains, over the trains, even under the trains. JR from Ueno to Omiya station, then shuttle to Tetsudo-Hakubutsukan station – takes about an hour. Reviews. Closed every Tuesday.
  • Ghibli Museum
    ghibli-museum-tokyo
    A wonderful and whimsical museum from animator Miyazaki Hayao (who made films such as Ponyo and Spirited Away). Great for both kids and adults. Advanced purchases are mandatory and can be done up to 3 months before your visit. Reviews. Closed Tuesday.
  • Tokyo Tower
    Tokyo Tower
    Great views of Tokyo. Some will find it more enchanting at night than through the day. Walk a glass see-through floor one level below the main deck (it’s easy to miss if you don’t seek it out). Reviews. Open 7 days a week, year round.
  • Tokyo Disneyland
    Tokyo DisneySea
    Open year-round and swamped with visitors on weekends and holidays (go through the week instead). Its sister park Tokyo DisneySea is geared to older kids and adults never feels quite as busy. Disneyland gives you the typical Disney feel with lots of emphasis on Mickey, Minnie, and gang. DisneySea is unique to Tokyo and has more rides and thrills. My kids (ages 8 and 11 when we visited) ranked DisneySea as their favorite attraction in Japan. Reviews of Disneyland. Reviews of DisneySea. Open 7 days a week, year round.
  • Hato Bus Tokyo Tours
    hato-tour-bus-tokyo
    Full and half-day tours (in english) are a little hurries but are a fast way to see the highlights over a short visit. The one-hour open air bus that leaves from Shinjuku (subway exit 8a) is recommended for kids. Reviews. 7 days a week.
  • KidZania
    kidzania-tokyo
    This is a pretty awesome place and highly recommended for kids 4 to 12. Kids can play-act their favorite careers with full uniforms and lots of real-world accessories. From dentist to cook, engineer to fireman (there are about 40 different careers in all). Everything is 2/3 life size. Book tickets at least a month in advance. Wednesdays are devoted to english-speaking events but any day will do. Reviews. 7 days a week.
  • Joypolis Entertainment Center
    joyopolis-tokyo
    An indoor amusement park in Odaiba. Lots of games (electronic and otherwise) and even a couple small scale rides. Kids love this place (parents will find some of it pretty lame). Reviews. Open 7 days a week.
  • Tokyo Edo Museum
    Tokyo Edo Museum
    One of the best museums in Tokyo will replicas of Tokyo street life and home life. Free tours conducted in English (enquire inside after you arrive). Reviews. Closed Monday – If Monday is a national holiday, the Museum is open Monday and closed the following Tuesday.
  • Shinagawa Aquarium
    Dolphins at Shinagawa Aquarium
    Reviews. Closed every Tuesday and January 1.
  • Tokyo Sea Life Park
    Sea Life Park in Tokyo
    Reviews. Closed Wednesday – If Wednesday is a national holiday, the Museum is open Wednesday and closed the following Thursday.
  • Gas Science Center
    Gas Science Center in Tokyo
    Reviews. Free admission. Open 7 days a week but closed the day before a national holiday.
  • 21_21 Design Sight
    21_21 Design Sight Museum
    Reviews. Closed Tuesdays and New Years Day.
  • 3331 Arts Chiyoda
    Arts Chiyoda
    Review. Closed Tuesdays.
  • Tokyo Dome City (Amusement Park)
    tokyo-dome-city-roller-coaster
    Reviews. Open 7 days a week.
  • Toyota Mega Web
    Toyota Mega Web in Tokyo
  • Watch a Baseball Game
    Baseball game in Japan
  • Boat Tour around Tokyo
    River boat tour in Tokyo

Playgrounds in Tokyo

  • Robot Park in Roppongi Hills a short walk from a Roppongi Mall and the Grand Hyatt. It features several slides, a small play structures, and a huge totem-pole robot. Not huge but a great playground.
    Playground in Tokyo
  • Ueno Park has a good playground (just outside the zoo) with slides, play structure and swings. A nearby amusement park has a small collection of rides for kids aged 2 to 8.
  • Yoyogi-koen, north of Shibuya, doesn’t have a playground but does have wide open spaces and quiet paths for running and exploring. The Meiji Shrine is an interesting stop along the walk.
  • List of parks in Tokyo – with descriptions and maps

When is the Best Time to Visit Tokyo?

Anytime. Tokyo has so many indoor attractions and relatively few outdoor ones that Tokyo makes an attractive destination for kids and families almost any month of the year. Of course July and August will be very hot and humid and December, January and February will require an extra layer of clothing. The best months for a visit are probably April and May in the spring and September and October in the fall.

Tips for Visiting Tokyo with Kids

  • My number 1 tip for Tokyo: Buy a Suica or Pasmo card for getting around Tokyo (and the rest of Japan). These are purchased at subway stations and can be used on JR trains, subways, and buses in Tokyo and Japan (but not the Shinkansen). You scan the cards as you enter the station. If you don’t have a card you need to calculate the fare for your trip and buy the ticket from a kiosk before entering. This isn’t hard but you’ll be taking the subway a lot and doing it 4, 5, 6 times per day gets old quickly. With the card the system calculates the your fare based on where you enter and exit. There’s a 500 Yen deposit which is returned to you (plus any unused credit) when you return the card. For adults you simply buy the cards from a kiosk. For kids you’ll need to take their passports to a ticket office because they get a reduced rate (this is easier than it sounds and only takes 5 minutes). More info on Pasmo and Suica cards here.
    Suica Cards for the Subway
  • Riding the subway: Download this map (Tokyo subway map in english) and ask lots of questions (to the train driver, the ticket worker, fellow passengers). Asking people if this is the right train or is it going in the right direction will save you tons of time and effort.
  • Changing Money: ATMs that access American, Canadian, or European bank accounts are rare. Post offices and 7-11s will usually have ATMs that will accept western bank cards. If you’re traveling outside of Tokyo, Osaka, or Kyoto change all the money you’ll need before leaving. Changing money in smaller cities (even Hakone or Kamakura which see many tourists) is very difficult.
  • Best American Breakfast: Eggs n Things. If you or your kids are craving pancakes or breakfast from back home, this is the place to go. Often very busy (lunch is the busiest) but worth the wait. (Nearby Golden Browns serve the purported best hamburger in Tokyo if you’re in a day long western food craving.)
    Pancake breakfast in Tokyo
  • Many of the top attractions are closed on Monday (unless the Monday falls on a national holiday then they will close on the following Tuesday). If you’re enjoying an extended stay in Tokyo, this isn’t much of a problem, but if you only have a day or two and one of them is a Monday you’ll have a difficult time visiting all the attractions on your itinerary.
  • Almost all tourist attractions have good, reliable (and usually free) lockers for rent. They’re often of a pretty good size that will fit a large backpack. Ask at the Information desk to see where they’re located.
  • A confusing aspect of getting around Tokyo is the fact that many maps found on pamphlets or on city streets are turned about (seemingly randomly) to place north sometimes at the top, sometimes at the bottom, and even occasionally off to the right or left. This can make finding your destination particularly difficult, as you’ll have an idea in your head of where it is only to check a different map as you exit a subway station to see that it’s off in the opposite direction. Get used to checking where north is on any map and then reorienting it in your mind to best suit the coordinates in your head.
  • Best Place to Watch Trains: There’s a walkway that crosses the tracks that offers a great view of all sorts of trains coming and going from Shinjuku station. The easiest way to find it is to go to this Starbucks then walk south (away from Shinjuku station) for another 100 metros and you’ll see the walkway to your left. If you’re arriving at Shinjuku station take the Southern Terrace exit to get you heading towards the Starbucks.
    Viewing area of subway trains at Shinjuku station
  • Japanese Baths are great. So relaxing. You need to completely wash (using the stools and showers you see in the photo) before entering the bath. And when I say completely I mean wash every last inch of your body. No soap or shampoo should get in the bath so do a lengthy rinse after washing. It’s fine to shave in the showering area. There’s a separate area for storing your clothes, robe, and towel outside the bathing area. Older kids are welcome in Japanese baths but I’d ask staff about anyone younger than 6 just to be sure. The Mitsui Garden Hotel Shiodome has a wonderful Japanese bath on it’s top floor with views out over the city.
    Japanese Bath in Tokyo
  • Best Toy Store in Tokyo: Kiddyland in Harajuku. 4 floors of toys. It’s not cheap but fun to wander about and pick some Japanese toys (though western brands like Lego are well represented too)
    Kiddyland Toy Store in Tokyo.

  • Most department stores have a play area for toddlers and pre-schoolers. Usually located on the upper floors or roof.
  • Japanese style rooms are great for families. Lots of room and easy to slip an extra body in somewhere on the floor. Plus, kids love them.
    Tatami mats in a hotel.
  • Vending machines are everywhere and are lots of fun for kids.
    Vending Machines in Tokyo

Subway and JR map of stations in Tokyo.

What are the Best Hotels in Tokyo for Families?

Tokyo is loaded with great hotels although many target business travelers and put little effort into pleasing kids.

Triples and quadruple rooms large enough to fit a family are rare. It’s often necessary to book 2 rooms for a family of 4 or more. If you go this route 2 good hotels in great locations are the Hotel Sunroute in Shinjuku and Hotel Wing in Yotsuya. Both are reasonably priced and though rooms are small they’re simple and clean and have nice beds and bathrooms.

Booking.com/Tokyo is the easiest way to book hotels and will usually have better prices than the hotel websites. They also offer free cancelations.

A couple notes:

Hotel demand in Tokyo is predicated on a complex holiday, business, and student exam calendar that is almost unknowable to foreigners. I strongly suggest booking early and confirming your hotel stay a few days before arriving in Japan.

Another factor is that email (at least for english-speaking customers) doesn’t seem to have a very high priority from many hotels – even top rated hotels. So you can often wait a day or two for a response to a simple question regarding your accommodations. This, once again, leads me to suggest getting a hotel booked early.

Great Excursions from Tokyo

While Tokyo has a ton to offer and should be the focus of any trip to Japan there are several nearby destinations that are perfect for 1 to 3 days of exploration.

  • Hakone – The most appealing day trip from Tokyo. There are a series of small towns set in the mountains that are connected by cable car, rope way, train, bus and boat. Hakone is the main town and the start (and end) of the Hakone loop which encompasses 4 different types of transport around the area. Buy the Hakone Free Pass which includes transport from Tokyo and unlimited use of transportation within the area. Hotel Senkei has large quadruple rooms, a beautiful location, and an indoor and outdoor Japanese bath. It’s a great place to stay to get the Hakone feel (the outdoor Japanese bath looks out into the hills) and be close to the train station for doing the Hakone loop. Highly recommended.
  • Kamakura – A series of beach hamlets spread around the main town of Kamakura and connected by tram. Good hikes, a few tourist attractions, and decent beaches make it a good day trip or overnight visit from Tokyo. Kakiya Ryokan has large family rooms and a nice Japanese bath. It’s not in the main part of Kamakura town but the tram stop is just down the street and the cheap rates make it worth the effort.
  • Kyoto – Many peoples highlight of a trip to Japan is Kyoto. But unless your kids have an intense passion for temples it will pale in comparison to Tokyo’s museums, theme parks, and lively neighborhoods. That said, there’s plenty enough here (including a train museum and lively market) to fill 2 or 3 days. The Ishicho is a ryokan hotel with large family rooms (with tatami mats) and a great Japanese bath. Good location too.
  • Osaka – A less intense version of Tokyo with a wonderful aquarium, some very cool shopping districts, and an interesting transportation museum kids will love. Hotel Naniwa is a good budget hotel with a great location and large family rooms.

Further Reading:

Photo credits and here.

30 questions and comments

  1. Mooncake

    hi! I just stumbled upon your website and have enjoyed reading through your posts. I find myself so inspired to travel with my kids (4 and 11 months). Thanks for this list of things to do with kids in Tokyo. We’ve lived in Tokyo for 1-1/2 years and haven’t done any of these… except Robot Park. Will definitely be checking these places out.

    Do you have any posts about your visit to Kyoto?

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Great. Thanks. Tokyo was incredible. What a great city to live in? You’re very lucky! We really enjoyed our time there.

      I haven’t done any posts on Kyoto yet. I had a lot planned when we set out to visit Kyoto, walk through Higashiyama, visit the Ryoan, Kinkakuju and Kiyomizu temples, tour some shrines, maybe the Botanical Gardens, then the kids heard about the Steam Locomotive Museum and, well, there went that day. We did manage to see Nijo-jo (the castle of the shogun), some smaller temples, and have some really good food. The kids definitely liked Tokyo a lot better.

      All the best,
      David

      Reply
  2. Peter H

    Great post,
    we’ve also found that some of the larger department stores in Shinjuku and Shibuya have reasonable children’s playgrounds on the roofs. I’m thinking Seibu or Parco but they all blur a bit, sorry :-) They are a bit exposed and not very ‘green’ but we founds a couple of good one that gave the kids something to do while one parent gets some serious shopping done. It was wonderful to see our kids playing with local boys and girls, and really communicating despite speaking different languages.
    thanks!
    PH

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Thanks for the great information Peter. Agreed – the interaction between the kids is great, and a big reason on why we travel. Playgrounds can be a little difficult to find in Tokyo, so when we found a good park or play area it was something the kids really enjoyed.

      David

      Reply
  3. Going to China and Japan

    Taking the kids back to Japan this summer. They’ve never been but I taught English there about 10 years back. Thanks for the exciting list. We’ll have a week there a week in the Kyoto region and then a week in the Okinawa islands. We’ve booked our hotel for our time in Tokyo (it seems much cheaper than what I remember) and now trying to plan our days touring the city. Any suggestions for the best guide book for Tokyo?

    Thx again.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Sounds like a great trip you’ve got planned. I’d love to get down to the beaches of Okinawa some time. Next trip I hope. I’m a Lonely Planet man, and that’s the guide book I’d recommend for Tokyo. They have a city guide which is slim and compact as you walk around the city. They also sell a Japan guide for the entire country which you might like since you’ll be in a couple different regions. It still has the Tokyo section, of course, but some of the material and information has been cut from the larger guide. The maps are the big draw with the Lonely Planet series. Frommer’s has a good guide as well but the layout and maps are really wanting in comparison to LP.

      Good luck.

      Reply
  4. Hannah

    Hi David,

    I’m hoping you could help us. We are a family of four with two girls and planning to travel to Japan December/January this year. We are hoping to do 4days Tokyo, 3days Osaka. Do you have any tips on what to day to make the most of the limited stay, where to go, where to eat that is cheap, places to shop etc.. etc ?
    I’m lost with the transport rail details. Is this the best transport?

    Your help is most appreciated.

    thanks
    Hannah

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Hannah,

      I was surprised by how much my kids loved the museums – especially the science museums – in Tokyo. They’re really great. The train museum in Tokyo is very good as well, but it’s a fair distance outside the city so if you only visit one, maybe do the train museum in Osaka. It’s right in the city and just as good. The restaurant I mention in the article “Eggs N Things” is really great. Check it out if you’re craving some western style breakfast food. As for Japanese food, we just wandered around until we saw something that looked good, and most of it was delicious. The aquarium in Osaka is very good and the ferris wheel just beside it is worth a spin. Kyoto is less than an hours train ride from Osaka so makes a good day trip. (Kyoto also has a good train museum.)

      The train is definitely the way to go. Just show up at Tokyo Station and buy your tickets the day of travel – no need to book in advance. Don’t worry about buying a Japan rail pass as it’s not worth it if you’re just going to Osaka and back.

      Oh, and there is obviously Tokyo Disneyland, though it will probably be pretty cold and chilly in December or January so be sure to take some warm clothes. And even in the tourist low season there will still be plenty of lines.

      Good luck,
      David

      Reply
  5. Paul from Oakland

    Hi David,

    Thanks for this wonderful site. I loved everything, especially the video you posted of your kids exploring Tokyo. I am coming to work for the summer and the family will join when their vacation starts.

    I am in particular looking for “beat the heat” activities. Certainly the indoor activities will have some kind of AC. But wondering about the outside. Do you know anything about swimming? Looking for clean fun places to go to get wet. Does Disney Sea have that kind of thing as well?

    A colleague also offered this

    http://www.kidzania.jp/tokyo/about/e_index.html

    Seemed like kind of a wacky odd place to go. Wondering if enough english would be spoken for the kids to have fun. I have a boy 7 and girl 10 and my wife would be with the kids most of the time.

    Thanks again!

    Paul

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Paul. KidZania – I would definitely check it out if you have the opportunity. Take a look at this article: http://www.themorningnews.org/archives/profiles/state_of_play.php

      The Japanese support swimming and swimming pools almost as much as any activity in Japan so you shouldn’t have any difficulty finding a place to swim. If you’re having trouble walk through the doors at a 5 star hotel (e.g. The Hyatt) and ask about swimming pools. They’ll probably be able to give you a half dozen choices in the neighborhood. (Many parks have wading pools too.)

      Here are a couple good articles on swimming pools, outside swimming, and summertime activities in the Tokyo area:
      http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20010701a7.html
      http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fv20070817a1.html
      http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fv20040730a2.html

      And finally a list of the top water parks in Japan:
      http://gojapan.about.com/od/themeparksinjapan/tp/Top-Water-Parks-In-Japan.htm

      I hope that helps. Have fun.

      Reply
  6. Rebeca

    Hi,
    I am going to Japan for Christmas and New Years with my husband and two kids (13 yr and 4 1/2 yrs old) . I already got apartments for 8 nights in Tokyo and 6 days in Kyoto. I am not sure if to buy the JR pass for 7 days and use it when we are going to Kyoto and the towns around or to buy 14 days JR Pass and have it for Tokyo too.
    We are planning to go to Disney, Sanrio and one day trip outside Tokyo to Hakone or Kamakura or both. I read about a card that you can reload (SUICA) and use it when we are in Tokyo.
    What is better in terms of money? thanks

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Rebecca. I would probably go with the one week JR pass. They don’t pay off if you’re just hanging around a city so you want to be sure to activate for the week when you’ll be doing the most traveling. If you only go Tokyo-Kyoto-Tokyo then it’s likely not worth it at all. But add a few more trips and it should be a good deal. The SUICA card is more for convenience on local transit than saving money. It’s like a refillable prepaid card that can be used for a variety of things. If you’re arriving from Narita airport then the SUICA + NEX card can be a good deal: http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/suica-nex/ Good luck.

      Reply
  7. Erin

    Thanks for linking to our Japan accommodation options post. Great round up of things to do in Tokyo. As two adults we loved Disney Tokyo and especially Disney Sea (which is more adult and teenager friendly).

    Reply
    1. Carmen

      Hi Erin,

      How do you like Disney Sea, we are planning to bring our kids (11 and 13) to Disney Sea in this Dec 2013, worry is the park is too young for them?

      Thanks

      Reply
  8. Rebeca

    Thanks for your answer and your page is very helpful to organize my trip towards the kids. We are planning to go to Hiroshima and Nara from Kyoto , then the JR will be good. Unfortunatelly, we arrive at Haneda airport and it is very late, I need to get a taxi that it is expensive. No other option.
    I read yesterday about Hakone, do you think we can do all the loop in one day with the kids. Looks like it is good to get the Free pass (that it is not free but good price). We can’t stay, I already arrange acommodations in Tokyo. Anything you recomend to do the weekend of Christmas in Tokyo, I don’t want to travel outside Tokyo because it may be crowded.

    Reply
  9. Trish

    Hi we are heading to Japan for our third time to ski. We normally just stop in Narita for the night and then head onto our final ski destination. This time we are planning to spend 3 days in Tokyo and one of them is Christmas Day. We are definitely thinking of visiting the fish markets & the palace and maybe Tokyo Dome? Do you have any suggestions for xmas day? We have already been to Disney at Tokyo on a previous trip. We would love to see a sumo match. Do you have information about how to find out about these? Our kids are big kids 11,12,13,14.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Trish. I don’t have any specific recommendations for Christmas day in Tokyo. Christmas is an ordinary workday in Japan so everything should be open. (Things close early afternoon on Dec. 31st and are closed for New Years Day.) For sumo wrestling in Tokyo check this schedule: http://www.sumo.or.jp/eng/index.html. Good luck.

      Reply
  10. Heba

    Hi David

    Your website is very interesting, I would like to thank you for sharing this information, need to ask your opinion,
    We are living in Dubai and thinking to visit Tokio for the summer vacation in July, me, my husband and 2 kids (10 and 2.5 years) looking into hotels which one you recommend? I can see most of the hotels donot have kids pool which is important for the small kid…is there any which u recommend that has kids facilities? Also which area /location will be suitable for kids? Would the language barrier be a big challenge? I heard almost all signs in streets in japanese… Do you have any suggestions? Also what places beside Disney land would be suiting the kids? Many thanks

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Here are the best hotels with swimming pools for kids:

      All of these have outside pools and they are only open in the summer. The Prince has both an inside and an outside pool however.

      Most of these hotels will have a charge for using the pool. Sometimes this is described as “free if you join our hotel club” – which doesn’t sound very free to me. Last time I checked the Keio doesn’t have a charge for its swimming pool.

      As for location, just be sure you’re within walking distance of a subway station and you’ll be fine. None of the neighborhoods have a monopoly on fun family-friendly attractions so you’ll be taking the subway a lot, and your proximity to a station is more important than any specific district.

      The language barrier can be a challenge but it’s never something that prevents you from getting what you need or going where you want. You will need plenty of patience though.

      Good luck.

      Reply
  11. Victoria

    Hi David, thanks for a very helpful link. I’m traveling to Singapore in two weeks and have a stop over flight in Narita. So we’re thinking to look around the city for two nights. But we are bringing two young children 7 and 4. Is it too crowded there to walk around with stroller? Also we have 6 luggages, what’s the best and inexpensive way to get to hotel? I’m thinking a hotel in Shibuya or Shinjuku or Ginza. Thanks in advance for your help.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Victoria, the easiest way into the city is on the N’EX train from Narita terminals 1 and 2. (It’s not quite the cheapest but it’s not a huge difference so I’d go with the NEX.) It takes about an hour into the city. Tickets can be purchased at the airport or in advance (more info here). It stops at Tokyo Station, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, Shibuya, and Shinagawa stations.

      What you want is a hotel close to a subway stop (preferably one of the stops for the NEX train). I’ll recommend two.

      The Dai Ichi Inn Hotel is steps from the Ikebukuro station and thus very convenient. It’s a mid-range hotel with nice rooms. Good value.

      More expensive but a wonderful hotel is the Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi. The hotel offers a greeting service at Narita that will help you find your train, buy your tickets, and just make the transition to the Tokyo easy and effortless. (There is a fee for this service however.) There is a similar complementary service for arriving at Tokyo Station. So if you can get yourself on the N’EX train, get off at Tokyo Station and then find the Four Seasons staff they’ll direct you out of the station (which even at the smaller stations can be tricky to get right) and get you to the hotel. If you have a lot of bags they may direct you to a taxi to do the quick trip though it’s a short walk.

      Hope this helps. Good luck.

      Reply
  12. Jill

    Thank you for the wonderful site! Quick question for you as I don’t seem to know many families that have traveled to Tokyo. I would like to bring my 2 boys (9 and 11) –My husband has a meeting but to make it worth the trip I’d like to head there 5 days early. Would a single woman with 2 kids be comfortable traveling Tokyo. I do not speak the language (will try to learn as much as possible but only have 2 months!). I think we should be fine –am just concerned about potential emergency. I’m adventurous but try to be mindful of safety for the kids. Thanks for your feedback! Jill

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Sounds like fun! You’ll be fine. The most stressful thing to negotiate is the subway system. (I mean this half-jokingly, half seriously. The first time or two you take it you’ll be a little stressed – but figuring things out is half the fun.) So much to do in Tokyo with kids. It’s close to London for having a ton of stuff that kids love to do. And it’s a very safe environment. Have fun.

      Reply
  13. Sharad

    Hi,

    A very informative smwebsite. I’m planning to stop over at Tokyo for 5 days in April 1st week, while transiting. This is going to be my first visit to Japan and I do not understand Japanese language. I’ll have my wife and 11 month old daughter with me. I was wondering what Tokyo has to offer for a family with such a little kid. We love site seeing plus shopping. Would love to take my daughter to a zoo one day. Any recommendations would be highly appreciated.
    Regards,
    Sharad

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Ueno has a zoo, small amusement park, playground, nice walks, and places to eat – so I’d recommend a visit there. Lots of other small parks dot the city – ask your hotel for what’s nearby. Good luck.

      Reply
  14. Keri Gostelow

    Hi, We are travelling to Tokyo in September for 2 weeks. How far is a train ride to Osaka? Do you think to hang around Tokyo for 2 weeks or do you suggest going out to other places?

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      The bullet train from Tokyo to Osaka takes 2.5 hours. 1 week in Tokyo is easy to fill but for the 2nd week I would definitely try to see somewhere else. The Osaka/Kyoto area is a good choice.

      Reply
  15. patton

    Hi sir, what a great website, very informative, I m patton, from indonesia, please mind my not so fluent english.
    We plan to visit tokyo and osaka japan for about 10 days with my wife, 2 and 4 year old kid and also my father, does hotel in japan have a very strict policy that if the hotel mentions max 2 adult in room, they means that only 2 person can be in the room including kids?
    I m confuse about booking one triple room or two double rooms?
    Thank u for your recommendation, really appreciated it

    Best regards,
    Patton

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hello. It can be different with each hotel. If you book through Booking.com you can book any room you wish and simply write a message stating who will be staying there. They will write back saying that’s ok or is not – and you can cancel the room without charge if it’s not allowed.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>