Tokyo With Kids – The Ultimate Guide

Updated: May 17, 2016

Helpful Information

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
    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 on 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
    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
    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
    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)
    Good fun in central Tokyo without making the trek to Disneyland. Reviews. Open 7 days a week.
  • Toyota Mega Web
    Toyota Mega Web in Tokyo
    There’s a mini-car racetrack, a car simulator, and race cars. Don’t make a special trip for this place but if you’re already in Odaiba it’s worth a visit. Reviews
  • Watch a Baseball Game
    Baseball game in Japan
    This is a lot of fun. Japanese fans are pretty crazy – they sing, and chant, and wave huge flags the entire game – but it’s still very family-friendly. Buy tickets through
  • Boat Tour around Tokyo
    River boat tour in Tokyo
    The best route is to take the Tokyo Water Bus from Asakusa to either Odaiba or Hama Rikyu (all 3 piers have subway stations nearby). Combine the boat trip with a few hours looking around Asakusa which has the Sensoji temple, the Nakamise Shopping Street, and the observation decks at Tokyo Skytree (across the river from Asakusa).

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 meters 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. 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.

57 questions and comments

  1. What Rail Pass for Family in Japan

    Hi David,

    We plan on going to Japan in the beginning of July for 10 days. I have 2 four year olds and a 10 year old. I’m trying to find activities that they would all enjoy so I’ll be looking into some of your advice.

    I would like to spend half of my time in Osaka and then the other half in Tokyo. What rail passes do you recommend?


    1. DavidDavid Post author

      If you are only going to Osaka and Tokyo, a 7-day rail pass costs much more (¥29,100) than a roundtrip ticket (about ¥17,500). Railpasses are only worth the price if you are traveling to several cities within the validity of the pass. Children 6-11 years old pay half price. Children younger than 6 do not need tickets if they do not require their own seat.

  2. Tokyo with Child in August

    Hi David,
    Great resource. My wife and I will be visiting Japan August 10 – 20 with my almost 6 year old boy. We plan on a week in Tokyo and 4 days on a short trip outside. Do you have any special must visit sight for us at that time in Tokyo? And, If you were to do a 4 day trip with a 6 year old old outside Tokyo, in mid August, where would you go?
    Thanks so much,
    Christian (Berkeley CA)

    1. DavidDavid Post author

      There are no major festivals in Tokyo in August, as this is the school holiday time for Japanese families. There are, however, plenty of attractions geared toward children. The main thing to keep in mind is that it’s hot and humid in Japan in August, making the indoor museums and sights listed below particularly appealing.

      Edo-Tokyo Museum – A fascinating introduction to Tokyo’s history, with lots of visual displays and replicas that appeal to youngsters.

      Tokyo Metropolitan Government Observatory – Just so your son can see how big Tokyo really is and it’s free (both Skytree and Tokyo tower are better picks if you’re willing to pay).

      Hanayashiki – An old-fashioned amusement park with lots of rids geared to youngsters, not far from famous Sensoji Temple in Asakusa

      Ueno Zoo and National Museum of Nature and Science
      – Both in Ueno Park (and the Shitamachi Museum if you can’t make it the Fukagawa Edo Museum, below)

      National Children’s Castle – a multi-level indoor educational/amusement playground for children

      Museum of Maritime Science – lots of hands-on, model ships, etc (and a public swimming pool right beside it)

      Fukagawa Edo Museum – A bit out of the way, but a great replica Edo-era village inside a hangar-like building that appeals enormously to kids.

      KidZania Tokyo – This isn’t the only KidZania in the world, but it’s a great place to let kids run wild with imagination in the “real” world.

      Tokyo Sea Life Park – Tokyo’s best aquarium, in Kasai Rinkai Park with plenty of room to roam.

      As for 4 days outside Tokyo, Nikko might be a good option. There are plenty of Japanese-style inns where you can experience traditional Japanese living conditions, plus there are the many temples associated with Japan’s most famous shogun.
      Hakone is a great roundtrip journey via train, mountain tram, cable car, and even a pirate ship, with plenty of Japanese inn or hotels on the loop trip (you’d want to leave heavy luggage in Tokyo).
      Izu Peninsula is also a popular getaway for Tokyoites, especially Atami with its beach and Shuzenji for its hot-spring baths and Japanese inns.
      Keep in mind, however, that it can be crowded in tourist towns in August, so make reservations as far in advance as possible.

  3. JR Pass or SUICA Card

    Hi David.

    We are a family of four travelling to Japan this October. We will be there for two weeks and plan to visit Osaka, Mt. Koya, Kyoto, Takayama, and Tokyo. Would a JR Pass be the best way to get around or would you suggest a SUICA card as well?

    Marissa Morkel

    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Actually, I would suggest both. Rail passes are infinitely easier than buying individual tickets each time you board a train and during their validity also allow you to use JR commuter lines, like the JR Yamanote Line in Tokyo and the Loop Line in Osaka.

      That being said, it depends on which international airport you are flying into. If it’s Osaka, I would suggest spending a few days there first, then going to Mt. Koya, which is a private line and not valid with the Railpass (but there are discount tickets for that – the Koyasan-World Heritage Ticket). Then you could use the Railpass only for the Osaka-Tokyo-Takayama portion of you trip, provided you see Tokyo and Takayama within 7 days (you can). Kyoto is practically next door to Osaka and easily and cheaply reached via a number of train lines.

      If you’re flying into Tokyo, a 7-week rail pass wouldn’t give you enough time for the other three destinations you’re interested in, so individual train tickets would be cheaper than a 1- or 2-week pass.

      As for SUICA, it’s valid on subways and city buses throughout Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and you can add as much as you need onto your card. This saves much time and frustration trying to buy individual tickets for four people. By all means, buy SUICA regardless of rail pass.

  4. Tokyo with 2 Kids for 3 Nights

    Hi we are coming to Toyko for 3 nights early Sept with our 7 & 8 year old. We will arrive on a Sunday and leave on the Wednesday. Can you please recommend a good areas to stay? We are on a budget and are looking to use Airbnb to book through.
    I have been looking at Shibuya as a starting point but if there are other areas?
    We love markets if you can recommend any? We are planning on going on the bullet train but it’s quiet expensive. My little boy is train mad and it would be a shame to miss out.
    Thanks so much in advance for your wonderful advice.

    1. DavidDavid Post author

      So it looks like you have two full days but you’ll want to make the most of your time. While Shibuya is interesting, there isn’t really much to do there for young families (and is very crowded around the station), so I’d recommend staying closer to where you’ll probably be spending your time: Asakusa or Ueno, on the other end of town and both considered the “old downtown” part of Tokyo and with lots to do. In addition to the main tourist attractions, kid-oriented things include the Ueno Zoo and Shitamachi Museum in Ueno and the corny but historic Hanayashiki amusement park in Asakusa. From Narita airport, take the Keisei Skyliner to Ueno.

      Have you thought of staying in a Japanese inn? There are several that are inexpensive and have larger tatami rooms good for families. Try Ryokan Kamogawa in Asakusa or Kimi Ryokan in Ikebukuro. Another good choice is the New Izu Hotel in Ueno, which offers family rooms in both Western (with beds) and Japanese style (futon).

      Markets are generally on Sundays, but there’s a good market open daily in Ueno called Ameyacho (also referred to as Ameya Yokocho) that runs underneath the JR Yamanote train tracks from Ueno Station to Okachimachi Station.

      It would be expensive to take the Shinkansen bullet train just for experience. The JR Yamanote line runs in a loop around Tokyo and is above ground on elevated tracks. Or, from Asakusa, you could take the train to Nikko as a day’s side trip; the journey by train takes about 2 hours one way so that’s plenty of time on a train. Nikko is where the first shogun is buried.

  5. Japan with 4 Children

    Hi David,

    Great info, thanks. We are a family with 4 children (15, 13, 5 and 3 years old), we will be in Japan the last week of April for 10 days. We are planning to spend a few days in Tokyo then head to Kyoto and Osaka and maybe Hiroshima.
    I’m getting stressed about the trip as I learnt we will be there during the Golden Week!
    Is it easy to travel around with the kids? We bought the JR pass, what do we need for traveling inside the city?
    What do you recommend the best way to travel from airport to the city? (We will be staying in Asakusa). Will it be ok to visit Disney during this time or it will be too crowded and not value for the money?
    We would like to do a day trip or two from Tokyo, thinking maybe to Fuji, is it doable with all the kids? Can we take the train or better book a tour? Any recommendations for day trips from Tokyo?
    Thanks a lot,

    1. DavidDavid Post author

      You didn’t provide exact dates, but I’m guessing you’ll be in Japan a few days outside Golden Week. I expect Golden Week travel to extend beyond the usual May 5, however, because that falls on a Thursday and some people might presumably take an extra day off on Friday to make their vacation even longer. To complicate things, the Chinese Golden Week falls around the same time (about April 28 to May 4), and since travelers from China have skyrocketed in recent years, you will also be competing for seats and space with them.

      To reach Asakusa (I assume you are arriving in Narita, as there are not as many US flights into Haneda), I recommend taking the Keisei Skyliner to Ueno and then a short taxi ride to your accommodations. Most convenient are limousine buses that go to major hotels, but the one going to Asakusa View is only twice a day. As for getting around cities, your JR passes are valid on trains operated by Japan Railways (JR) once they’ve been activated (like the Yamanote loop line in Tokyo), but you will also be best off buying a Suica card, which you can add money to during your trip and then swipe it to ride subways, JR commuter trains, and buses in Tokyo, Osaka/Kyoto and many other areas. It’s much easier than purchasing tickets each time you board a conveyance.You can even use them in 7-Eleven and vending machines.

      If you’re arriving in Tokyo before April 28, I suggest you do as much as possible in terms of the big tourist draws, like Disney (I would suggest going to DisneySea, as it’s unique to Tokyo and is just as fun as Disneyland) or any side trips you might take. Speaking of which, I think you are better off going someplace other than Mt. Fuji. For one thing, it’s not as visible in summer as on clear winter days, and the effort of taking the train/bus to its Fifth Stage will be disappointing because it’s rare you can actually see the mountain from there, and hiking above the clouds with a 5- and 3-year old would be a herculean task. If you’re lucky, you might get a glimpse of the great mountain from the Shinkansen bullet train, about an hour out of Tokyo (sit on the right side of the train). Otherwise, for a day trip, consider going to Nikko (World Heritage Site, burial ground of the first shogun) or Kamakura (the Big Buddha and other temples and shrines), but ONLY if it isn’t during Golden Week. Buses and trains to tourist sites like these will be crowded beyond belief during Golden Week.

      As for travel onward to Osaka-Kyoto-Hiroshima, you cannot purchase tickets for the Shinkansen going to those cities online. I suggest, therefore, reserving seats for those legs of your journey as soon as you are in Tokyo, which you can do in any JR station (like Ueno, the airport). Reservations are free with the JR railpass, and might be the only way to be sure you can sit together as a family. Bullet trains depart frequently, but they will be crowded during Golden Week. And pack luggage as small as you can get away with, because there is not much overhead space and the luggage racks will probably be pretty full.

  6. Aditi

    Loved all the info you have put up on travelling with kids! Really useful for me as i plan our travel to Japan! Thanks!!!

  7. AhJian / 阿健

    Thanks for this informative post and it really helps me as I’ll be travelling with the kids.
    What you have – The starbucks that can watch the trains… this is what I’m looking for and something special than the ordinary places!
    Great one!

  8. Good Family Hotel near Tokyo Station

    Hi David,

    Thanks for great website. We are staying in Tokyo at the moment, and I would also add Hotel Ryumeikan to the list of family friendly hotels to stay at. The hotel is very close to Tokyo station (no more than a 5 min walk), and great sized family rooms (for Japan anyway!). My husband and I are staying here with our 2 kids, and think it is fabulous!

    Regards Melanie

  9. KidZania in Tokyo

    Thank you for all of the wonderful suggestions. I wanted to take my son to KidZania while we are in Japan in November but we will not be in Tokyo on a Wednesday for English day. I see that you recommend going any day. Will my 5 yr old be able to understand and enjoy things on other days?


    1. DavidDavid Post author

      It’s a really fun place with lots going on (that doesn’t always require words and speaking). I’d go for it.

  10. Inka

    You have forgotten to mention one place which would be very interesting for children and equals the Ghibli museum and thats the Doraemon museum in Kawasaki.
    Also in Odaiba, Aqua city or what is it called has a children playground and food court on the highest floor, plus special children toilets.

  11. 10 Days in Japan with Kids

    Hi David,
    Fabulous website! I have only scraped the surface and am really enjoying it!
    My husband and I along with our 3 daughters (7, 6 & 4) have just recently booked our first overseas trip as a family. 10 days in Japan – 4 nights/3 days in Tokyo followed by 6 nights skiing in Niseko. I would love to know what you recommend we do in Tokyo for 2 full days, as the 3rd day we are planning a day trip to Tokyo Disney. We live near the Great Barrier Reef so have no need to go to any aquariums etc, as have amazing aquariums where we live and seeing as we are going to Disneyland I don’t think we need to go to any amusements parks either. We are staying in the Asakusa area. Any suggestions would be very much appreciated.

    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Asakusa is a great area and lots to see (temples, shopping, markets) within walking distance – and the Skytree across the river. Take a river cruise from the Asakusa pier to either Odiaba or central Tokyo. Kidzania, the Edo Museum, the Railway Museum, and the National Museum of Nature and Science are all top picks.

  12. Luggage on Subway

    Hi, we are planning to visit Tokyo in the last week on May. We will stay near disneyland. After that, we want to change hotel to shiba park. Is it possible for us to carry our luggage along (two medium size) if we use the train/subway? Thank you for your advice.

    1. DavidDavid Post author

      It shouldn’t be a problem as long as you don’t travel during rush hour. Try to travel between 10am and 3pm.

  13. Where To Go Between Kyoto and Tokyo

    Hi David,

    what a great site! Congratulations! We will be in Japan in May, and I would like to do something between Kyoto and Tokyo (coming from Kyoto). I was thinking of doing an overnight stay in Hakone, but now wonder whether it will be too touristy, and also a hassle with luggage, check-in, etc. Alternatively, we could do a day trip from Tokyo. I have been to Kamakura before, so would like to see something else. Oh yes, our little one is a 5 year old girl, who is the fastest runner but when it comes to “walking” may need a sherpa 😉
    Greetings from super kid friendly Berlin,

    1. DavidDavid Post author

      I think Hakone would be a great choice. The train station is right in the center of the town with many hotels a short walk away – many with very good Japanese baths. Be sure to get the Hakone Loop ticket. If you do the loop there’s not a lot of walking.

  14. 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,

    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Hello. It can be different with each hotel. If you book through 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.

  15. 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?

    1. DavidDavid 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.

  16. Sharad


    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.

    1. DavidDavid 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.

  17. 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

    1. DavidDavid 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.

  18. 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.

    1. DavidDavid 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.

      1. Gianna

        This is one of the best, and trustworthy sights, I’ve visited! It helps others experience, and recommendations of the country! Thank you so much, and I hope you have a good time for all your trips hereon.

  19. 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

    1. DavidDavid 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.

  20. 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.

    1. DavidDavid 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: Good luck.

  21. 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.

  22. 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).

    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?


  23. Rebeca

    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

    1. DavidDavid 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: Good luck.

    2. Mary Ann

      Hi Rebecca. May I know what apartment you got in Tokyo? How much? And is the place near shopping and tourist destinations? We are 5 travelling, me, my husband, kids ages 27, 16 and 8.
      And David. Your site is such a great help esp. your tips.

      1. Rebeca

        We stayed in two apartments in Tokyo. One small and cute but you won’t fit there. The second one good size but I won’t recommend it.
        I have a recommendation if you go to Kyoto. Good size for apartment. Not walking distance to tourist places but easy to get by bus or train. Manager nice and price was good. This is the contact:
        Hiro Araki (Manager)
        Love Japan. We had a great time. Great for kids, very secure. People very friendly and helpful with directions.


  24. 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

    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!


    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Hi Paul. KidZania – I would definitely check it out if you have the opportunity. Here’s some more info.

      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: 1, 2, and 3.

      And finally a list of the top water parks in Japan.

      I hope that helps. Have fun.

  25. 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.


    1. DavidDavid 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,

  26. 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.

    1. DavidDavid 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.

  27. 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.

    1. DavidDavid 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.


  28. 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?

    1. DavidDavid 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,


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