Tokyo is an excellent destination with kids.
There are lots of attractions for all interests, it’s clean, safe and well-organised and people are friendly and polite. Public transport is cheap, relatively easy to navigate, runs frequently and on time. If you’re catching taxis the city streets are amazingly uncongested thanks to low car ownership and the high proportion of cyclists and public transport users.
Here are my Top 10 places to go with kids in Tokyo (so far, and in no particular order).
Find Hotels and Airbnbs near Tokyo Disneyland
The Japanese love Disneyland. It’s not just for children, it’s for teenage schoolkids and dating couples too, everyone dresses up and on a peak day they can receive 100,000 visitors!
Tokyo DisneySea, which is unique to Tokyo, is considered one of the world’s best parks in regards to the theming. It’s a park based on aquatic themes and many of the attractions are exclusive to Tokyo DisneySea.
If you can try to visit Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday as we noticed a large difference in crowds between a Monday and Tuesday. For some reason, Mondays can be as popular as weekends and public holidays.
I also recommend you read Top 10 Tips for visiting Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea.
The museum is split into two buildings and areas of interest – the Japan Gallery and Global Gallery. Kid-friendly and interactive exhibits are located throughout, from taxidermy animals to rockets.
Make sure you obtain a free ticket at the Global Gallery Information Desk for ComPaSS, an exhibition room for 4-6 years (though younger children are welcome). Inside ComPaSS is a climbing gym with fun animal exhibits, magnetic play, perspex specimens, a large art and craft area and children’s books (in Japanese). Facilitators are on hand to assist and demonstrate.
The ticket allows entry for a specific timed session, and each session runs for 45 minutes. There are generally 3-5 sessions running a day on the hour.
The National Museum of Science and Nature is located within Ueno Park, which is also home to Ueno Zoo, so you can spend a whole day in the precinct.
This is my top choice for Tokyo! A stunning museum and play space with three floors of a former elementary school filled with analogue, mostly wooden toys. The bottom floor has a special space for 0-2 years with curved cedar wood structures and gentle play. The middle floor houses the Wood Toy Forest and other wooden toys and exhibits. The top floor contains games, toys related to science, music and play-acting and traditional Japanese toys.
The Tokyo Fire Museum is enroute from the subway station and free. There kids can dress up as a fireman and play in fire trucks and helicopters
Legoland Discovery Centre is an indoor theme park all about Lego. While it’s relatively small it’s still worth visiting if your kids like playing with Lego, as there are lots of opportunities to build and you can still spend several hours there.
Odaiba offers other interesting and quirky attractions, including the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, the Giant Sky Wheel in Palette Town, a ramen museum at Aqua City and a takoyaki museum at Decks.
A really magical museum inspired by the animated films of Hayao Miyazaki. Even if you don’t know his work the space is wondrous for young and old.
Kids will love climbing inside the plush Cat Bus and filling it up with Dust Bunnies (no adults allowed) and adults can admire the tableaus showing the workings and inspirations behind the films.
The Tripadvisor reviews are mixed but if you’re a fan of Hello Kitty or Japanese kitsch generally then Sanrio Puroland is worth the trip. Just realise that mainly it’s about admiring the lurid interior design and buying Hello Kitty merch – and it’s really loud.
There are only two rides (one of which was not operating on our visit) and every attraction and meet-and-greet requires extensive queueing. The Character Food Court is surprisingly fun with lots of themed food, especially the cute Hello Kitty/train lunch boxes for kids.
An indoor play centre that’s set out as a miniature city where everything is two-thirds sized – complete with shops, utilities and vehicles! It’s just as intense and loud as a real Japanese city.
Kids earn ‘kidZos’ as they put on uniforms and ‘work’ in their chosen jobs. At the end, they can spend their kidZos in the miniature department store Mitsukoshi!
There are about 90 jobs and careers and it takes a bit of strategising to participate in the jobs you want. As there are lines for all of them, you need to sign up for your chosen career then visit something else in the meantime.
Wednesdays are technically ‘English’ days but most transactions are still conducted in Japanese,
The Robot Playground at Roppongi Hills is not very big but does feature some a bank of slides, a rather dangerous roller slide and some rocking seats.
9. Department store rooftops and sushi trains
Many department stores have a play area for children on the rooftops. We visited the Isetan rooftop at Shinjuku and the kids loved the wide open space, though they were expecting more of a playground.
Rooftop gardens are the ideal place to take your department store food court finds as the basements rarely have seating.
Another eating experience we loved was visiting a sushi train (kaiten sushi) restaurant. Uobei Sushi is next level sushi train – you order via touchscreen and your food is delivered to you via robot. Shinkansen sushi! They have a kids meal set and booster chairs but the main attraction for kids will be button-pushing and watching the food whizzing up and down the tracks.
The hot springs area of Hakone is a popular day trip destination from Tokyo but I urge you to take a few days to enjoy it. For the adults it is one of our highlights.
The Hakone Open Air Museum is a must-do and a fantastic destination for kids, with climbing sculptures, children’s gallery, foot baths, carp pond and contemporary art in a beautiful setting.
The Hakone Free Pass is a minimum half-day round trip excursion which covers a few of the towns in the area via four different modes of transport – a pirate ship, a ropeway, cable car and single gauge train. You can travel to the Hakone Open Air Museum during the loop but with little kids it makes for a really long day, so I think it’s better to split the two experiences.
The scenery is stunning and the spring water will leave you feeling soothed and your skin remarkably soft. Staying in a ryokan is a distinctively Japanese experience and the multi-course kaiseki served at the high-end ryokans will leave you extremely full and amazed by the beauty and delicacy of the food.
Klook offers lots of further ideas with discounted tickets of things to do and places to go in Tokyo and surrounds, including Traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony, Asakusa Rickshaw Tour, Robot Restaurant and Mt Fuji Day Trip.
- Top 10 tips for travelling to Tokyo with kids
- Top 10 tips for visiting Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea
- Picture books for children about Japan
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