Japan with children: Complete guide to enjoy Japan as a family

Japan with children: Complete guide to enjoy Japan as a family

Travel with children to Japan. That phrase can produce nerves and cold sweats for many. And it is that many doubts always arise when we consider traveling as children or as a family. And more if the trip is to a country as far away as Japan.

Will we survive so many hours on the plane without going crazy? How will we manage with food? Will we have problems moving around the country? Will the hotels give us facilities? And especially, can we travel with children to Japan? What can we watch with them so that they don't get bored... and so that we don't get bored either?

We are travelers forever. And since Eric was born, we are parents and travelers, having traveled long distances with him since he was just a few months old. So with this entry we would simply like to encourage all of you who are considering a trip to Japan as a family. And reassure you, help you and give you several ideas to enjoy your trip to Japan even more.

Because if traveling to Japan is incredible, seeing Japan through the eyes of your child or your family is even more so.

Table of contents hide 1 What to do in Japan when traveling with children2 Ideas and activities for the whole family in Japan2.1 Japanese castles2.2 Lookouts with a view2.3 Japanese festivals2.4 Theme and amusement parks2.5 Collecting stamps2.6 Museums2. 7 Fireworks (hanabi)2.8 Yukata, kimono and jinbei for children2.9 Parks and gardens2.10 Shinkansen (and trains!)2.11 More things for children to enjoy3 What to see on our trip to Japan with children?4 Practical tips to travel with children4.1 Air travel4.2 Food4.3 Accommodation4.4 Transportation with children

What to do in Japan when traveling with children

The first thing we are forced to say is that, for us, traveling with children does not mean making an itinerary almost exclusively for them. For us, traveling to Japan as a family means, on the one hand, teaching children to travel, to get to know another culture and to open their minds. And, on the other hand, enjoy the trip with them.

What does this mean? Well, we usually organize our itineraries and activities keeping you in mind, but without being exclusive. Thus, we distribute visits and activities that may interest him more specifically. And we mix them with other activities that are more typical or aimed at the elderly.

However, we always try to make you participate in everything through stories, tales and activities of the site we visit. For example, we can visit a castle, as we would if we were tourists without children, but turn it into an adventure in which the child is the protagonist: "they attack us, look, so we can defend ourselves" or "let's look for ninjas!". In the end, it's all a matter of imagination.

Thus, this and the following lists of places to visit and activities to do in Japan with children are not exclusively for children, but many are places and activities for all audiences. But, without a doubt, if you visit them with children, you will enjoy them twice as much.

  • Ideas and activities for the whole family in Japan

    In Japan, as happens anywhere, there is no need to go to a specific place or do a specific activity for children, since everything can be an adventure if we prepare it well, if we tell it well and if we make up a story. And this is especially true in this country, which is visually so different and where everything surprises from the first moment. From eating an obento on a shinkansen or bullet train to strolling in a jinbei or yukata through the alleys of a Japanese town or running around looking for ninjas in a castle. Everything can be an adventure.

    Here are some general ideas for your little ones to enjoy the trip to Japan.

    japanese castles

    The little ones love to enter Japanese castles, not so much because of the museums or explanations that we can find inside, but because they often go barefoot, run around and go up and down very steep stairs... it's quite an adventure! Obviously, the more real the castle is inside, the more they enjoy it.

    That is, castles with interior areas as well preserved as Himeji Castle will enjoy it in principle more than Nagoya Castle, completely rebuilt and with exhibitions inside.

    That's why our little one, for example, really enjoyed the visit to Hikone castle, with a very interesting interior, although he also had a great time in Nagoya, everything is said :) But perhaps his favorite was Matsumoto castle , up its very steep stairs, her favorite part! Or Matsue's castle, where he was able to learn to be a ninja...

    Then, of course, there are the pets of the castles (and many other places, for that matter). The yuru-kyara are one of those Japanese curiosities that we have talked about in Japonismo. These pets are present in cities, public entities (even the police!) and, of course, in some castles.

    In the case of Hikone castle, its mascot Hikonyan was one of the first and aroused the interest of the Japanese in this type of mascot. The rest, as they say, is history because pets then began to proliferate throughout the country.

    viewpoints with views

    Seeing towers as impressive as the Tokyo Skytree or the Tokyo Tower from below and going up to their viewpoint to have the city at their feet usually entertains them a lot... and us too!

    Just going up in those very fast elevators, which often have transparent parts of the ceiling for us to see going up, they love it. But once at the top, the perspective of cities from above usually enchants them. If you also stay at sunset when the sun sets and the cities light up, the experience is even better.

    In Tokyo we have several viewpoints, several of them free, so there is no excuse, but there are also viewpoints like the Umeda Sky Building or the Abeno Harukas in Osaka and viewpoints that are worth climbing in many other cities. Wherever you are, if you find a viewpoint, do not doubt that success is guaranteed. In our city maps we always include them if they exist.

    But in addition to these viewpoints, in many places there are also places that, without being high, have wonderful views that they also love. If you see waterfalls like in Nachi, trains crossing bridges like in Kurobe or bridges illuminated at night, like the Rainbow Bridge from Odaiba, success is guaranteed.

    japanese festivals

    Japanese festivals or matsuri surprise everyone and children too. With so much color, street food to try, street stalls, music and dance… it is clear that they are a winning bet and they leave you speechless.

    Let them participate, either by experimenting with musical instruments or learning to dance the dance in question (depending on the festival), playing in one of the typical matsuri street stalls, buying some food... Let's live the festival!

    Theme and amusement parks

    In Japan there are many theme parks that everyone likes, adults and children. Two of the best known are obviously Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disneysea, but if you like Harry Potter, the Minions or Nintendo you can't miss Universal Studios Japan in Osaka.

    Japón con niños: Guía completa para disfrutar de Japón en familia

    Also, if you like LEGO, you can go to the Legoland Nagoya theme park, although if you don't have time, the Tokyo Legoland Discovery Center, although small, is also a great option. This one is located in Odaiba, an artificial island in Tokyo Bay full of things of interest for the youngest. Here is also the Sanrio Puroland, a theme park dedicated to Hello Kitty and the rest of the characters from the Sanrio factory.

    In the heart of Tokyo there is also a very interesting theme park: Tokyo Dome City. Located next to the Tokyo Dome and the traditional Koishikawa Korakuen gardens, this park has everything from a great roller coaster (yes, right in the center of Tokyo!) to a beautiful Ferris wheel where you can enjoy beautiful views of the city. In addition to a lot of small attractions and even water play spaces for the little ones. Regardless of the age of the children, they will surely enjoy themselves here.

    Another option is Fuji-Q Highland, an incredible amusement park located at the foot of Mount Fuji. A good option could be to stay in a ryokan with onsen in Kawaguchiko and thus enjoy the whole area calmly. If you like roller coasters, it's a must!

    In Kyoto we also recommend the Toei Uzumasa Eigamura theme park. In this case, there are no attractions, because it is a park that is commonly used in period series and movies to show the Japan of the Edo period. Thus, here you can walk through sets of feudal Japan, wear a kimono, learn to be ninjas... It is perfect to rest from so many sanctuaries and temples.

    Likewise, other places of interest are Edo Wonderland, near Nikko, also dedicated to the Tokyo of the Edo period; Meiji-mura, near Nagoya, dedicated to the Meiji period; and Nagasaki's Huis Ten Bosch theme park, inspired by Dutch landscapes.

    collect stamps

    In the same way that older people are attracted to collecting goshuin, the seals and calligraphies of temples and shrines, children will also like to be able to collect the many rubber stamps that are found throughout the country.

    Commemorative rubber stamps are everywhere, from castles to tube stations to traditional gardens, and feature designs that reference where you are.

    As we tell you in our list of tips when traveling to Japan, it is advisable to bring a specific notebook to collect these rubber stamps. So the little ones can have them all in one place.

    In addition, the notebook can serve as a kind of travel journal or travel diary... children love to see what stamps they have during the trip! We recommend that you take a look at our specific post on how to collect rubber stamps in Japan to enjoy it to the fullest.


    In Japan there are many museums with many different themes that are very attractive to children. For example, in Tokyo you have the Ghibli Museum, dedicated to the works of one of the great factories of Japanese animation.

    You also have the Fujiko·F·Fujio museum dedicated to Doraemon (although there is also a Doraemon at the TV Asahi headquarters near the Mori Tower in Roppongi) or the brand new Gundam Factory in Yokohama, where there is a huge Gundam… move and all!

    If you like art and want to include an art museum in your visit, another museum that we want to highlight is the Hakone Open Air Museum. This is an art museum located near Gora that has some wonderful facilities for the little ones. Thus, both adults and children can enjoy the visit.

    Other interesting museums are the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan) in Odaiba, where we can see the ASIMO robot up close, among many other activities.

    We also recommend you visit the Edo-Tokyo Museum, located in the Ryogoku neighborhood, where we can learn more about the history of the city of Tokyo... it is full of very fun exhibitions for the youngest!

    Another option is to visit the museums and experiences of the teamLab team, specialized in digital art that stand out for their incredible light exhibitions. Perhaps its best-known museum is the teamLab Borderless Digital Art Museum where kids have a blast.

    But near Toyosu there is another interactive museum from the same team, the teamLab Planets, which also has facilities that will surprise both you and the children. The room that is dark but has water and you have to walk barefoot and with your pants rolled up leaves them with their mouths open.

    We also highlight Yokohama's Cup Noodles Museum, where you can learn how to make your own instant ramen, perhaps more fun than the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum (although if you like ramen, you have to go too ^^). Or the Kyoto International Manga Museum, if you are interested in the world of Japanese manga, and the Toyota Automobile Museum in Nagoya, if you like cars.

    Although if Nagoya isn't in your plans, you can also go to Toyota Megaweb (in Odaiba), which has all kinds of games related to the world of motoring and road safety, driving tracks, cars on display, etc.

    Almost in a separate category are the railway museums throughout Japan. We recommend at least three: Nagoya's SCMaglev and Railway Park; the Saitama Railway Museum, near Tokyo; and the New Kyoto Railway Museum, near Kyoto Station.

    But if you like trains, there are many other interesting museums, although perhaps smaller, such as the Ome Railway Park, which can lead to a nice excursion to the west of "greater Tokyo".

    Fireworks (hanabi)

    In summer, Japan lights up its skies with hundreds of fireworks, something that children usually love. And the older ones too, why fool ourselves.

    The fireworks festival that takes place at the end of July on the banks of the Sumida River in Tokyo is spectacular, for example, although it is very crowded. But there are many others, such as the Edogawa Hanabi Taikai, where you can sit on the grass and have a picnic while watching the fireworks, a real joy!

    Also, you will see that in convenience stores they also sell bags with small fireworks. Many Japanese love to go to the banks of a river and light them as a family, so see if it is something you would like to do.

    In some ryokan, especially onsen spa areas, it is easy to do small hanabi on their premises.

    Yukata, kimono and jinbei for children

    Another great option when we go with children is to walk in yukata or jinbei. And it is that in some ryokan they will lend us a yukata or jinbei to go for a walk around the town wearing this traditional outfit. The little ones love it, because they also get tons of kawaii comments (and they don't quickly learn what that means!).

    If we are not staying in a traditional hotel, another option is to rent a kimono to walk around the city. The kids love it and it's not too expensive, so check out all the options in Kyoto or Tokyo, where there's more to offer.

    Parks and gardens

    In Tokyo, the traditional gardens, such as the Hama-Rikyu gardens or the Koishikawa Korakuen gardens, will surprise the little ones with their very different design, while in parks such as Yoyogi, Shinjuku or even the Inokashira park in Mitaka we can play, rest or have a picnic.

    In Osaka, parks like the Banpaku Kinen Koen offer everything: adventure, relaxation, playgrounds, water games... And we must not forget the wonderful Nara park, where the little ones can feed the deer, which roam their widths in total freedom. And, at least in our experience, deer tend to be nicer to little ones.

    Shinkansen (and trains!)

    We had talked about how train museums are usually wonderful places for children. Then imagine the adventure of boarding a Japanese bullet train.

    In addition, sometimes it is enough to go to any station in time to show him the nose of the different shinkansen, explain what the platforms are like and in which line we have to wait (if he already knows the numbers, it is ideal that we make him look for him, so he participates of experience), etc.

    Everything can be fun, even a simple ride on the shinkansen (our little one loves going to the bathroom on the shinkansen, hahahaha), so let's take advantage of it.

    And whoever says shinkansen says any type of train... that in Japan there is a lot of variety! From themed trains like the Tamaden or the Hello Kitty Shinkansen to tourist trains with beautiful landscapes.

    More things for children to enjoy

    Like, for example, getting on a rickshaw or jinrikisha, which is a 100% Japanese experience. The older ones can take advantage of it as another tourist excursion, but for the children it is an adventure that they do not find when they return from Japan. You can do it in Arashiyama, in Asakusa, in Takayama...

    What to see on our trip to Japan with children?

    Depending on the age of the children, we will do one activity or another, but we leave you with some ideas of things that we believe are suitable for children of different ages, although we know that there are many more activities. We will be expanding this list little by little, so be patient, please :)

    Practical tips for traveling with children

    In addition to where to go, many times you ask us questions you have about the trip and the stay, so here are a series of recommendations and practical advice.

    The trip by plane

    Traveling by plane with a baby or a small child always makes us nervous and more so in the case of Japan, because it is usually a long flight. In addition, it is often a trip that usually has stops, with all that that implies.

    Unfortunately, there is no magic formula to overcome this process successfully. As advice we can only tell you one thing: patience. A lot of patience, because if we, who are adults and know why we are locked up in that plane, the flight seems eternal, imagine a small child. And now you're going to tell me okay, that's not great advice, so here are some more specific thoughts.


    If your little one weighs less than 10 kilos, you can request a cot on the plane. It is practical for when they are small, so you do not have to carry the little one with you at all times, but they are usually short so if your child is tall it may not fit.

    In any case, it is good to request these seats from the airline, so we will have more space not only for the legs, but also to leave the specific bag with all the child's things on the floor, to have it close at hand.


    Normally we will be able to take the stroller to the door of the plane, where it will be collected and stored in the hold. When we get off the plane, it will depend on the airline and the handling of the airport: in the vast majority of cases they will bring the stroller to the door of the plane, although sometimes we will have to pick it up at the baggage carousels.

    For this reason, it is often advisable to carry a carrying system such as a scarf or backpack, for journeys in which we do not have the stroller with us.

  • Seat

    children under 2 years of age do not pay for a ticket (only airline taxes and insurance) so they do not have the right to a seat either. Airlines often do their best to accommodate families in low-occupancy rows, but if the plane is full, we're not going to have extra space.

    If we don't want to carry our little one on our lap all the time, we can buy a seat for him. Many families take the little one in the maxicosi that they will then use in the car at their destination. Likewise, from the age of 2, children pay between 50% and 75% of the ticket, depending on the destination, but naturally they already have their own seat, with entertainment and meals on board specifically for them.

  • Hand bag

    It is important to bring everything we need during those hours, which is a long list: spare clothes, jacket and socks, diapers and creams (if you still need them), wipes, spare bibs, food or jars or milk, water and juices, in addition to the basic first-aid kit (thermometer, paracetamol, ibuprofen and single-dose serum to hydrate eyes and nose, etc.).

    As for food, even if our little one already eats a children's menu, it is good to bring something that he likes such as breadsticks, potatoes, sweets, etc., so that he can "snack" between meals. If we travel with a baby, we can take our jars/milk in a thermos (recommended, so we can give them to the little one when we need it) or ask the airline to heat them for us (we will have to wait).

    Toys and games

    In the case of a trip to Japan it is a long flight, so it is advisable to bring a wide variety of toys. Or game applications if we have, for example, a tablet, a great ally on long flights.

    Also, on these types of flights there are usually individual television screens with cartoons and animated films, but it is good to bring our own assortment of more “traditional” toys and games when the children are very young. Oh, and we must be willing to walk several kilometers through the corridors of the plane :)

  • Also, many airlines will give you a box with games such as memory or coloring pages for the little ones. It's a way to keep them entertained for a little while longer... Of course, when they are a little older, things change: they are so comfortable watching their favorite movies and series on the television in their seat.


    Another important point when it comes to surviving a plane trip to Japan with children is that the little one is comfortable. It's a lot of hours and we don't want you to be overwhelmed by your belt buckle, jeans or whatever.

    If they are little, the best option is pajamas and bodysuits, which keep their kidneys covered at all times (and thus they do not get cold). If they are a bit older, the best option is tracksuits and loose-fitting shirts.

    Flight schedule and jet lag

    Some recommend a night flight so that our little one sleeps as long as possible on the plane. Be that as it may, it is important to take into account the arrival time and the plans we have for that first day and adjust to it. And it is that the time change affects us all, so let's not expect much from that first day.

    In fact, we may have to check out of the hotel later or take it easy at nap time, depending on the child.

    However, and despite what we may think, the little ones tend to deal with jet lag better than the older ones. It is important that we try to enter the target schedule as soon as possible, while maintaining the well-being of our little one. We tried to go to sleep early that first day, but already at an hour "at night." And if we wake up around 4 in the morning (which is usually the case), we eat something, chat a bit and try to go back to sleep.

    Also, the first day they usually eat little and at odd hours, but they usually catch up very quickly.

  • You see that in the end it all comes down to a lot of preparation, organization and a lot of patience.


    One of the most typical doubts of parents who want to travel with children to Japan is food, not only because of its availability, but also because of the difficulty in locating it in supermarkets and understanding its composition and labelling. If we don't know Japanese, it will be a bit more complicated, but here are some tips.


    Breastfeeding in public is still not very common in Japan. But, on the other hand, there are lactation rooms that are really wonderful: they are huge, they are very clean and they offer a lot of tranquility and privacy. You will find them in shopping centers and in large train stations, so do not hesitate to use them.

    Baby food and purees

    If your little one still eats jars and purees, keep in mind that jars, in Japan, are not bought in konbini convenience stores or supermarkets, but beware! in drugstores. Yes, you read that right, in drugstores like the hyper-present everywhere Matsumoto Kiyoshi, for example.

    If we are not sure of the ingredients that the jar in question has, it is best to make a list with drawings and in Japanese of fruits and vegetables and write down next to it if our little one can eat them or not (very practical if we do not trust our Japanese too much). Thus, we can show it to the store clerk and he can tell us if there is any conflicting ingredient.

    Another option is to talk to our hotel and find out if they have the option of preparing the purees for us daily. In higher category hotels there is usually no problem. Finally, another option is to prepare it ourselves, if we have rented a flat with a kitchen through airbnb, for example.

    Children's menus and other options

    If your little one already eats solids, there are many restaurants, both traditional and family-style, that have very well-structured children's menus made especially for the little ones. These menus are called "okosama ranchi", so ask if in doubt.

    If this were not the case, in the vast majority of restaurants they will offer us a bowl of rice, often completely free. And so we can share part of our food while the little one also eats his vol of rice. Also, in the konbini or stores open 24 hours we can find fresh products (such as bananas) as well as white rice (which can be cooked right there), pasta, soups, etc.

    Obviously it will depend a lot on each child, but there are foods like tonkatsu, yakiniku or karaage that the little ones tend to like a lot. Ramen is also usually a good option, and we can also share it without any problem (we can ask for an empty bowl for the little one and distribute it as we want).

  • Accommodation

    One of the facilities that Japan has when we travel with children is its wide range of traditional accommodation. In the ryokan or minshuku we sleep on a futon on the tatami floor, so it is very comfortable when we stay with children.

    At the time of booking, we can simply request a children's futon or make room in ours if the child is very young. If not, in the vast majority of hotel chains they have cots that we can request when making the reservation.

    Children under 6 years old usually do not pay anything as long as they do not need an extra bed (ie as long as they sleep with their parents).

    Extra beds for children do have to be paid for separately and not all rooms have space for them, so it is important to contact the hotel before making the reservation, although in the vast majority of hotel search engines, such as the one you have in the right column, we can do searches and reservations with children.

    transportation with children

    If we are going to travel through Japan by train, we must take into account the following considerations:

    Enjoy Japan with children!

    Entry originally published on July 18, 2012. Last update: January 18, 2021

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