Ultimate Guide To Family-Friendly Japan With Kids

Top 10 Destinations For Families To Visit In Japan *Open Visa-Free From October 11, 2022!

Japan With Kids

There is never a dull moment in Japan. Its magnificent culture is apparent everywhere you look –  traditional architecture, arts & handicrafts, and local cuisine, to name a few. And the juxtaposition of all these with modern technology, pop culture, and street couture, is not something that you will often find in other countries. Japan also has a little bit of everything for all ages, whether it’s an amusement park visit or a walk in one of Japan’s busiest districts, visiting a temple, or enjoying sushi from a sushi train – you will never run out of things to do for both adults and kids alike!

Good news for all lovers of Japan – it’s opening up again for travelers from October 11, 2022!  Let’s go!!

Want more? Check out our Family-Friendly Guide to Okinawa with Kids!

  • Restrictions When Traveling to Japan with Kids

    UPDATE ON TRAVELING TO JAPAN IN 2022: October 11, 2022 Re-Opening

    Effective October 11, 2022, the Japanese government has announced that independent travelers will be allowed to visit Japan visa-free!  Hoorah!

    What does this mean and how about masks?

    • Visitors can travel to Japan with ease again!

    What restrictions are still in place when traveling to Japan?

    • Visitors must still show proof of vaccination or recent recovery from Covid to enter Japan. Fully vaccinated individuals will not have to take a pre-departure test.
    • Visitors entering Japan will either need to show proof of vaccinations (three shots of a Covid-19 vaccine or take a pre-arrival PCR test (for those not vaccinated or less than 3 vaccinations) or show a recovery letter). More information is here.

    How about masks?  Do you need to wear a mask in Japan now?

    • There is no law requiring people to wear masks, but it is recommended by the local government to wear them in public places like trains and shops.
  • Top Culture Trips With Kids - Tokyo

    TOKYO WITH KIDS: Family-Friendly Guide To Tokyo

    Disney Resort + Skytree + Shopping + Museums + Animals + More

    The capital city of Japan, Tokyo will keep you busy until the wee hours of the night. There is so much to visit that you can focus on just going around Tokyo and possibly a day’s tour in Odaiba as it is just off its coast. The city has three big amusement parks - Disney Resort, Tokyo Dome City, and Sanrio Puroland. Disney Resort has two massive areas, one is Disneyland and the other is DisneySea. Both of which would most likely require a full day each to explore. Sanrio Puroland is indoors and not as huge as Disney, and half a day’s time would be good. For a more child-centered play center, Tokyo has KidZania. Ghibli Museum is another popular place to visit in Tokyo, especially if your kids are fans of the Japanese animation studio, Studio Ghibli. Even if they aren’t, the museum still has fun areas to explore, like the giant cat bus, and a special screening of a short animated film that is exclusively shown in the theater at the museum. Other museums that would surely pique your child’s interest would be the Railway Museum, the Fire Museum, the Cupnoodles Museum, and for the older kids, there is a Samurai Museum and the National Museum of Nature and Science. Aside from the samurai museum, if your child/ren are fans of samurais or ninjas, you can dine in Ninja Tokyo restaurant, where ninjas serve you and it will feel like entering a movie set.

    Take a break from all the activities and shop till you drop in the famous Character Street under the Tokyo Station, where your children’s jaws will drop. Kiddyland in Harajuku will also elicit the same effect (plus it's tax-free). If your kids would love to see animals, there is an aquarium and a zoo. For the more outdoors type, a quick trek up Mt. Takao is rewarding, plus there is also a monkey park on the trail. When you are not in the mood to trek down, you can always opt for a cable car ride. Another great attraction is the Tokyo Skytree - whether you would like to see Tokyo from the top or dine in the flashy 634 Musashi Restaurant - it will be an experience that you and your family won’t forget.

    If you want just one place that has it all, visit Ueno Park - it comes complete with its own zoo, museums, and library. Dabble in history and visit the Senso-ji Temple and the Meiji Shrine.

  • ODAIBA Japan With Kids

    ODAIBA WITH KIDS: Family-Friendly Guide To Odaiba

    Amusement Parks + Museums + Landmarks + Marine Park + Beach

    Although Odaiba is located in Tokyo, it has so much to offer that you might want to consider doing a separate tour of the artificial island itself. Reaching it is an adventure as you will be riding an automated monorail, sans driver, and enter the island through the rainbow bridge (it is lit up in rainbow colors at night time). There are several landmarks that you might want to see, such as the smaller version of the Statue of Liberty in New York with an amazing backdrop of Tokyo Bay, a lifesize Gundam outside a mall (for fans of the anime), and a store dedicated to it, plus the Giant Sky Wheel (do take note that it's seasonal) for an unforgettable view.

    You will keep the children amused when you visit the teamLab installations - Borderless allows you to explore openly, and Planets - where you can walk on water. But if you’d like to get the kids into action, visit Legoland Discovery Center and Joypolis (an indoor amusement park that the older kids and teens can also enjoy). Madame Tussaud’s is renowned worldwide, but it might be more entertaining for adults and teens. The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, also known as Miraikan, has a curiosity field that is free to enter where children can do active play or experiments. There is also a Tokyo cruise pier located at Odaiba Seaside Park and Palette Town, and you can view their timetables and fares, here.

  • Osaka With Kids And toddlers

    OSAKA WITH KIDS: Family-Friendly Guide To Osaka

    Ferris Wheels + Amusement Parks + River Cruise + Museums + Castle +Street Food

    Osaka is a one-stop destination that will have you wishing you stayed longer. The second most populous city after Tokyo, Osaka’s to-visit list includes at least two Ferris wheels, the HEP Five Ferris Wheel (the red colored one), and the uniquely oblong-shaped, Don Quijote Dotombori Ferris Wheel beside Ebisu Tower. And if you want to continue seeing Osaka from above, they have an observation tower as well - Abeno Harukas 360 view. There are also several amusement parks including the famous Universal Studios Japan featuring the newly-opened Super Nintendo World and a Legoland Discovery Center as well. Adults will also enjoy a different kind of theme park where relaxation is more of the end goal than fun, at Solaniwa Onsen Theme Park, as it is an onsen after all. For shopping, visit Rinku Pleasure Town Seacle.

    There are two different kinds of zoos in Osaka - a more futuristic and modern looking is Nifrel Zoo and Aquarium, but if you’re more traditional, there is the Osaka Tennoji Zoo and Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan. Or visit both for comparison. You’d think that museums are a dime a dozen, but the ones in Osaka are uniquely made for kids- they are interactive and also an area for playtimes, such as the Kids Plaza and Big Bang Children's Museum. Osaka also has a Cupnoodles Museum (just like in Tokyo). A glimpse of the past can be seen by visiting the Osaka Museum of Housing and Living. Older kids might appreciate the Osaka Science Museum, and the teens and adults would definitely get a kick out of visiting the Dotonbori Konamon Museum as it’s more of a cooking school/tasting place. If you are keen on a different kind of eating experience, you can share the space with owls at the Happy Owl Cafe.

    For an outdoor experience, a trek on Mount Kongo will be a memorable one as you can also visit the Chihaya Akasaka Village. There is also Hirakata Park (in between Kyoto and Osaka) for a more relaxing time or a Tombori River Cruise for those wanting to be on the water. But make sure that whatever you do in Osaka, you don’t skip the majestic Osaka Castle.

  • Visiting Kyoto With Kids

    KYOTO WITH KIDS: Family-Friendly Guide To Kyoto

    Temples + Ninjas + Traditional Crafts + Cruise + Monkeys + Manga

    With at least 2,000 shrines and temples, you might never have the chance to visit all of them in Kyoto. If you have a limited time, there are a couple of places that are a must-visit whilst here. This city used to be the imperial capital of Japan, which is probably why the juxtaposition of old and new is more prominent here than in any other city in the country. For a unique experience and a step into the past, have a Geisha experience, which includes a kimono and tea ceremony, and a walk through Gion, one of the popular Geisha streets. You can also visit the Interactive Samurai and Ninja Museum, and the famous Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine. Interested in how Japan makes its period TV shows and movies? Head to the TOEI Kyoto Studio Park, the only jidaigeki theme park in Japan.

    For an outdoor experience, pass through the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, visit the Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama, trek in Mt. Hiei, or ride a Hozugawa River Cruise. Fans of animals can visit the Kyoto City Zoo and the Kyoto Aquarium. For kid-friendly museums, they have the Kyoto Railway Museum, Kaleidoscope Museum, The National Museum of Modern Art, and the Kyoto International Manga Museum for manga fans. For craft lovers, you can visit the Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts (where there are also workshops for kids) but it’s not the only museum featuring arts and crafts from Kyoto, there are a lot more others, and you can check out what else piques your interest, here. And for a view of Kyoto from above, visit the Kyoto Tower.

  • Best Beaches In Okinawa

    OKINAWA WITH KIDS: Family-Friendly Guide To Okinawa

    Beach + Underwater And Water Activities + Ruins + Parks & Nature

    A trip to Okinawa will definitely involve a visit to the beach as this is an island, whether you choose to spend a day on the shore and do water activities or just for a view of the outlook - there is always something for your particular desire. It was once a separate country under the Ryukyu Kingdom, and a visit to the Shurijo Castle Park would be a great start to learning about its past. The Katsuren Castle Ruins opened a new historical and cultural facility, called Amawari Park and you can visit it first prior to climbing up to the ruins. Another great ruin to visit would be the Zakimi Castle Ruins, and also a stop at The Yuntaza Museum is recommended before proceeding. Sefa Utaki (a sacred, UNESCO world heritage site) and Gangala Valley would satisfy your outdoor adventure needs. If interested in flora and fauna, there is a botanical garden and a Tropical Dream Center.

    Okinawa World is a one-stop destination - a ticket for all attractions grants you entrance to the Gyokusendo Cave, the Craft Village (where you can create your own handicraft, including the following - Bingata studio, Indigo dyeing studio, Weaving studio, Papermaking studio, Ryukyuan glass), and the HABU museum park and shows (including the Eisa Dance). If you have older children, you can also pass by the brewery and the cultural center. If the handicraft center inside Okinawa World is not enough, visit the Shuri Ryusen, which was built to preserve and spread awareness about the traditional crafts of Okinawa. For animal lovers, visit the Okinawa Zoo & Museum and the Okinawa Churaumi AquariumBios no Oka offers several experiences such as a lake tour, a water buffalo cart ride, and a small fish clinic, to name a few. The adventure playground and petting/walking the goats is free of charge. Another free park that is a blast for locals and tourists alike is Nakagusuku Park - which is also a camping site.

    Love pineapples? Whether you are a fan or not, a visit to Pineapple Park is going to be a unique experience. Make your own Purple Sweet Potato Tart by enlisting in the Beni-imo Tart Making Experience. Want a break from history and traditional Japan? Head over to the American Village for shopping and dining. For water lovers, Cape Maeda is great for snorkeling and scuba diving and provides basic facilities. Sea Park Chatan Water Playground (only for 110 cm and taller and must know how to swim) is also a great place for kids. Venturing to other islands is not a problem, but make sure that you have the schedule of the transfers and the island regulations. For beach information, check here. And if you would like to know more about the islands, click accordingly: Kume Island, Miyako Islands, Kerama Islands, and Yaeyama Islands.

  • Nara With Kids

    NARA WITH KIDS: Family-Friendly Guide To Nara

    Deer Park + Temples and Shrines + Cherry Blossoms

    Nara is all about the great outdoors, and it comes as no surprise that the Nara deer park is the main attraction when visiting the area. The park also encompasses the Todaiji Temple, Kohfukuji Temple, and Kasugataisha Shrine. For the older children, a visit to the Nara National Museum and the Nara City Museum of Photography could be added to the itinerary.

    The Naramachi Mechanical Toy Museum showcases toys from the Edo Period and a walk along Naramachi gives you a glimpse of traditional Japan. Another good place to walk is on the Tanize Suspension Bridge. One of the best places to see the cherry blossoms is Mt. Yoshino as the whole mountain turns pink from April to May. The cable car ride up to it is also a good activity for kids.  Outdoor activities, such as trekking, rafting, snowshoeing, and the like can be arranged with Evaguri. A cable car ride on the cute Kintetsu Ikoma Cable Car would be a good accompaniment to the Ikoma Amusement Park. Strawberry Picking is available at Asuka Strawberry Farm, view artwork in a park at the Murou Art Forest, and learn more about insects at the Kashihara City Museum of Insects.

  • NAGOYA WITH KIDS: Family-Friendly Guide To Nagoya

    Vehicle Museums + Legoland Resort + Walk Along A Spaceship

    Yes, we kid you not. Nagoya is home to Oasis 21 - an oval-shaped platform that has water in the center and is located a couple of floors above ground level. Underneath is a bus terminal and an event space, surrounded by greenery. A walk along the spaceship, especially at night, would definitely be memorable. If your kids are into vehicles, there is a Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology, a SCMaglev and Railway Park, and the Fuji Antarctic Museum (a ship that was turned into a museum) which is located in the port area, which also houses the Maritime Museum and the Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium.

    Nagoya also has a garden and zoo, Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens, and a fruit park. There is also a Legoland Resort, which includes Sea Life, another amusement park located at the port is Nagoya Port Sea Train Land and there is also for smaller children, Todagawa Children's Land. Another museum that’s great for kids is the Nagoya City Science Museum.

  • Niseko-With-Kids-Guide-To-Skiing

    NISEKO AND HOKKAIDO REGION WITH KIDS: Family-Friendly Guide To Hokkaido

    Winter (Ski And Snow Activities) + Summer (Immerse In Nature)

    Niseko is popular for its powder-like snow, which is why tourists flock to it during the wintertime. And if skiing is your thing, there are lots of ski schools offering great packages to kids and families. GoSnow is an international ski school in Hirafu, Niseko Base Snowsports has classes for kids 3 and up, and NISS in Hanazono. If skiing is not on the agenda, Galaxy Of Kids in Hanazono is a huge indoor play space, Hanazono Park offers tons of fun, such as sledding, snow tubing, zip-lining, and winter rafting. Jo Jo's is also popular with families as it offers a three-story indoor playground and a climbing wall within the NAC (Niseko Adventure Centre - also offers family activities such as rafting in the summer) building. If you feel like wandering inside a museum or an exhibit, there are two places that you can go to - Kutchan Museum of Natural Sciences and the Ogawara Museum. Get rid of the snow feeling and dip into an onsen with your whole family at Kanronomori Hotel.

    Hokkaido’s biggest city, Sapporo, is also a great destination for families with children. For animal fans, visit the Asahiyama Zoo in Asahikawa which is popular for its penguin walk in the winter, and the Sapporo City Maruyama Zoo. There is also the Otaru Aquarium for a more indoor affair. If you prefer animals that are not caged, visit the North Safari Park. The Northern Horse Park is also a great place for horseback riding and interacting with horses - it turns into a winter park in the winter season.

    Aside from zoos, farms and parks are abundant in the region as well. Sapporo Satoland and Lake Hill Farm (famous for their ice cream) are interactive farms that you can visit. Shiroi Koibito Park is a chocolate entertainment park, Sapporo Art Park is a huge area that has a museum, an art hall, a children’s atelier, and an outdoor stage, and Moerenuma Park has art installations. Takino Suzuran Hillside National Park is famous for snow activities in the winter and it is the only government park in the region. For local entertainment, visit the Sapporo Children’s Puppet Theater in Nakajima Park.

Additional Info:​

Notes when traveling:

  • Most museums or restaurants need reservations before going, so it’s best to go to their websites once you have your vacation dates and book your tickets or your table.
  • Not all attractions are open all year round. For example, the Hozugawa River Cruise in Kyoto is not open for certain times during winter. It is best to check the websites for the schedules.

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