Best things to do in Japan with kids

Best things to do in Japan with kids

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A family trip to Japan is one we’ve dreamed of for years, have you?

Japan has an almost irresistible mix of ancient culture and fast paced modernity, amazing food and natural wonders. And by all accounts it is a country that is clean, safe and fun. In other words, perfect for a family adventure.

As we planned our first trip to Japan, we asked fellow travel writers for their insight on the best things to do in Japan with kids.

We think the best family vacations are full of variety – from cultural experiences and visiting museums, to trying new foods, getting out into nature and having fun at theme parks. In Japan it seems like you can have all these experiences rolled into one!

Which of these top activities in Japan for kids will you choose?

Japanese culture

japanese culture for kids

There is something so unique and intriguing about Japanese culture that fascinates children and adults alike.

I remember doing a school project about Japan when I was about ten. I read everything I could get my hands on about geisha, shinto temples, sumo and even manners. These days, our kids are excited by ninjas, tea ceremonies and modern life in the cities.

Experiencing Japanese culture is undoubtedly one of the highlights of visiting Japan as a family.

Dinner with a Maiko

dinner with a maiko - Japan for kids

Suggested by: Sally from Our 3 Kids v the World
Where: Kyoto

Visiting Kyoto was my most anticipated city visit in Japan, it’s the cultural capital and the place where many Japanese go for their own holidays. One of the main attractions in Kyoto is the chance of seeing Geisha, when they are moving between the evening commitments.

Geisha are traditional female Japanese entertainer and highly skilled in traditional dance and music. Maiko are apprentice Geisha, who one day will become fully fledged Geisha.

We only had a short stay in Kyoto and I was not willing to spend my one night running around on a walking tour in the hope of spotting one.

Traditional tea ceremonies with Geisha performers cost into the thousands of dollars and are generally utilised by Japanese business men who wish to impress their clients. A good amount of research revealed a tour through Viator which provided dinner with a Maiko at a resort hotel in Kyoto. This was an affordable option and just what I was looking for.

On the evening we enjoyed a mostly seafood bento box dinner while being entertained by the most beautifully elegant Maiko. After dinner our Maiko was happy to pose with us for photos. I highly recommend an organised tour like this if you are travelling to Kyoto.

Click for Maiko dinner and performance information

Sumo tournament

sumo tournament - japan family tours

Suggested by: Jason from An Epic Education
Where: Tokyo

Few activities are more quintessentially Japanese than going to watch sumo in Tokyo. Cities like Osaka and Nagoya have their own basho (sumo tournaments), but seeing sumo in Tokyo also means going to the Ryogoku Kokugikan, the Japanese stadium where the sport is based.

There are usually three tournaments per year in the capital (January, May and September), and they last for two weeks each. Sumo is still quite popular in Japan, so we usually advise going to matches in the middle of the week.

There are a variety of seating options, but when we go, it’s usually to the jiyu-seki (unreserved seats) section. These are the cheapest and first-come, first-served, but have always worked for us. Worried that they’ll be too far away? The Ryogoku Kokugikan isn’t that large, so you’ll still hear the sharp smack of the wrestlers’ bodies as they crash into one another.

Matches happen in quick succession from morning to afternoon, which helps keep kids’ attention. If they need a break from the action, then wander over to the display cases, where beautiful and bizarre trophies bestowed on the wrestlers reside. 

Click for sumo practice tour information

Fushimi Inari Shrine

fushimi inari - travel to japan with kids

Suggested by: Nancy from We Go with Kids
Where: Kyoto

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto is a can’t miss destination for those traveling to Japan with kids. The temple itself is expansive and pre-dates the capital’s move to Kyoto in 794 A.D.

During our visit, we not only witnessed live prayers, but also had the opportunity to view the many ways in which people come to Fushimi Inari in hopes of good fortune – including writing their names on small torii gate replicas and fox placards (foxes were believed to be Inari’s messengers).

Once past the main temple grounds, the iconic view of thousands of bright red torii gates is truly a sight to behold. The gates straddle a network of trails behind the Shinto shrine’s main buildings and the hike to the summit and back can take upwards of two hours.

Luckily, most of it is paved so making the walk with kids either on foot or in a stroller can be easily accomplished. We easily spent a few hours visiting the temple and its grounds and once we were done, we ventured outside to the main commercial area, where there little shops selling trinkets and providing tasty street foods for us to sample.

Samurai lessons

Samurai lessons - best things in japan for kids

Suggested by: Kiyoko from Footsteps of a Dreamer
Where: Kyoto

As a kid, there were few things that I thought were cooler than seeing a samurai. The only thing that would be cooler… learning how to be one! At Samurai Kembu Theater near Sanjo Station in northern Kyoto, you can do just that! There, they practice Kembu, the traditional sword art of the samurai.

Stop by for a performance where Kembu practitioners demonstrate what they practice on a regular basis. Stick around and learn Kembu from the practitioners themselves.

Learn the proper stances and movements of the sword. You can even try on the traditional hakama robes and demonstrate what you’ve learned on the stage at the end of your lesson!

>More info and ticket details

Staying in a ryokan

staying in a ryokan - japan family trip blog

Suggested by: Dawn from 5 Lost Together
Where: Kyoto and throughout Japan

When we planned our family trip to Japan, I really wanted the cultural experience of staying in a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn. It was one of the highlights of our time in Japan and something I recommend for all visitors to Japan.

We have three loud and rambunctious kids and I wasn’t sure how that would work with the serene and quiet atmosphere of a ryokan. I gave the kids a stern talking to before we checked-in about proper etiquette and behaviour, but they were so interested in the whole experience, that I didn’t have to worry.

Ryokans are located throughout Japan, but are very common in Kyoto and country towns known for their hot springs. The rooms are very traditional with futons on the tatami mat floor. Often you will eat your meals in your room, which are transformed from an eating and lounging space to a sleeping space by the attentive staff.

The meals are elaborate, seasonal, multi-course meals with artfully presented foods. Most ryokans will also have an onsen, communal bathing areas separated by gender. This was another thing I really wanted to experience in Japan, so staying in a ryokan was a great way to do both.

Some ryokans do not allow children, but there are many that welcome families. We stayed at Gion Shinmonso in Kyoto, which was good value and offered packages, including kids’ meals, for families. A ryokan stay is a wonderful way to experience the rich culture and traditions of Japan.

>More info and prices for Gion Shinmonso

Spotting Geisha in Gion

kyoto - family travel japan

Suggested by: Sylvia from Wapiti Travel
Where: Kyoto

Geishas are something unique to Japan. They’re beautiful and mysterious at the same time. Their richly decorated kimonos and perfect white faces with fierce red lips ensure a stunning appearance.

There’re only about 1000 geishas left in the whole of Japan which makes spotting one so much more special. Gion is one of the best districts in Japan to try your luck and so we did.

We loved wandering through the charming old streets of Gion, hoping to spot a Geisha with every corner we took. Walking through these streets lined with authentic old Japanese buildings felt like we had been flashed back into time.

It is exciting and interesting for children to hear the interesting stories about these companion ladies while they try to spot one. For us the experience was complete when we had spotted not just one but even 3 geishas’ by the end of the evening.

To increase your chances of spotting a geisha and to learn more about their fascinating history you can arrange a tour with a private guide.

Senso-ji Temple

sensoji - japan family holiday itinerary

Suggested by: Alexis from World Travel Adventurers
Where: Tokyo

Sensoji is Tokyo’s oldest and most popular temple and is a great place to visit with kids. The whole family will love Nakamise-dori, a street lined with shops selling traditional crafts and tasty treats.

Kids will enjoy shopping for souvenirs and tasting matcha ice cream as they head toward the colorful crimson temple and five-story pagoda at the end of the street. You will feel like you’ve stepped back in time as incense wafts through the air and locals practice ancient traditions.

Kids can learn about Buddhist traditions and buy o-mikuji, which are small pieces of paper that reveal your fortune. Take one of the hexagonal boxes with sticks inside and shake it until a stick with a number on it pokes out. Then find that number on one of the drawers and take a piece of paper from it, which will reveal your fortune or misfortune. Our kids loved this fun tradition!

Make sure to explore the beautiful gardens with fish ponds on the grounds so the kids can run around and burn off some energy. Sensoji is located in Asakusa and can be easily accessed by subway by the Ginza Line.

Ninja Mura Ninja Village

Ninja Village - visiting Japan with kids

Suggested by: Anne from PreTraveller
Where: Nagano

A great experience for families in Japan is to visit the Ninja Mura Village, which is located in Togakushi to the north of Nagano.

It is a great option for children aged 5 to 15, and has a series of different ‘ninja style’ obstacle courses for them to work their way through, as well as a heap of other uniquely Japanese activities such as a Ninja House, and the opportunity to fire a blow dart and throw a shuriken.

Don’t expect western style safety, the kids can actually be at greater risk but seemed to love it more for it by really getting them outside their comfort zone.

Onsite is an awesome ninja shop and also a café with affordable Japanese style food options. A great option is to either hire or purchase a ninja costume for the kids to wear while they do the obstacle course, and to take home as a memento of their trip.

Nearby you should also plan to check out Togakuchi Shrine – you have to go past it to get to Ninja Mura Village!

>More info: Ninja Mura

Hakone Onsen

travelling to japan with children

Suggested by: Shobha from Just Go Places
Where: Hakone

The Kowakien Yunessun onsen is a great place to visit if you want to experience the thermal baths culture of Japan with kids. This hot springs complex is a short ride away from Tokyo in the Hakone region and so easy to visit even for a day trip.

The Yunessun has two separate areas making it ideal for foreigners who want to experience a Japanese hot springs. There is a traditional bathing area that is gender-segregated where no clothes are allowed. There is also a family-friendly area set up like a water park where swimsuits are allowed. My children were squeamish about going naked in a strange place and so this was a perfect set up for us.

My children really enjoyed the water park complex – the water was warm and the setting in the mountains beautiful. There were several large pools, water slides and a fun water fountain area. This area also has a group of fun themed pools where they add something into the hot water to make it quirky – such as a coffee hot springs, a sake hot springs and a red wine hot springs. My kids thought it was hilarious to swim in red wine.

My husband played with the kids while I went into the traditional area as well because my daughter would not budge in her decision to stay in her swimsuit. The traditional area is absolutely beautiful – a set of serene bathing pools surrounded by a landscaped garden. It was totally relaxing. My son was braver and went into the male traditional area with his father.

We loved our Yunessun experience. After all the sightseeing and walking around we had done on the trip, it was nice to just spend a day relaxing in hot springs and pampering ourselves.

>More info – Yunessan onsen

Hida Folk Village

hida folk village - japan family trip blog

Suggested by: Tarah from Fit Two Travel
Where: Hakone

Hida Folk Village is open-air museum located in Takayama. The village is home to over 30 traditional houses that were built during the Edo period (1603-1867) and relocated to create the museum in Takayama.

A great experience for the whole family as all buildings are preserved and open for exploring. The buildings maintain unique wooden architecture and showcase tools and utensils that would have been used in the past.

There are different hands-on arts and crafts throughout several houses, including quilting, wood carving, weaving, and ceramics. The hida folk village is eye-opening, fun and educational for all ages!

> More info: Hida Folk Village 

Museums and attractions

Japanese temple museum

Japan has historic castles and museums dedicated to their ancient culture as well as modern and futuristic attractions. The country is well known for its wonderfully curated museums and galleries.

Not to mention a Disney park where themes and characters are embedded across every experience, even the bathrooms!

Tokyo Disney

tokyo disney - family itinerary japan

Suggested by: Emily from Henry and Andrew’s Guide
Where: Tokyo

Tokyo Disneyland is a quick 45 minute trip from the middle of Tokyo, and it’s so fun for Disney fans of any age! Even if you’ve gone to Disneyland in LA, which the Tokyo Disney is very similar in terms of layouts and rides, you don’t want to miss out on Tokyo Disney.

First, the food is so fun! They have cute Disney and Japanese themed foods that you can’t find anywhere else like Mickey churro, gyoza buns, and curry popcorn.

The amenities are unique there too – they have hand-washing stations throughout the park that dispenses the soap in a shape of Mickey.

Tokyo disney - attractions in japan for children

Last but not least, and I think this is the best part of Tokyo Disney – you can’t forget to check out the souvenirs and toys. The special Disney goods they have there are specifically made only for Tokyo Disney, and you won’t be able to get them anywhere else.

Some of them are even available on a limited time only basis – which makes it a must to get when you are in Japan!

Click here for the easiest way to book Tokyo Disney tickets online

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

osaka aquarium - japan top attractions for kids

Suggested by: Nick from Spiritual Travels
Where: Osaka

Simply put, the Osaka Aquarium is one of the best in Japan and the world. Located on the waterfront, it is only a 30-minute subway ride from central Osaka, and should be at the top of your list if you are visiting Osaka with kids. Come early to avoid the crowds!

A tour of the aquarium starts on the 8th floor and spirals its way down. The moment we entered, our kids were mesmerized by the Aqua Gate, a glass tunnel with stingrays and other sea creatures surrounding us.

Unbelievably cute otters floating on their backs were another highlight before we reached the centerpiece display: an enormous, 9-meter deep tank containing a whale shark, giant spotted eagle rays, and more.

As you work your way down, you can admire these oversized giants from numerous windows, each offering a different angle. Our kids also loved the otherworldly jellyfish and giant spider grabs. Before leaving, we had a chance to touch stingrays and small sharks.

After you visit, eat at Naniwa Kuishinbo Yokochō, a food court designed to look like a 1960s Japanese alleyway, in the department store next door, or take a ride on the enormous Tempozan Ferris wheel.

This was our kids’ favorite day on our Japan trip!

>More info and skip the line tickets

Miraikan Museum

miraikan - tokyo with kids

Suggested by: Kylie from Our Overseas Adventures
Where: Tokyo

The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo – known locally as the Miraikan, is a fantastic museum dedicated to new technologies and perfect for families. The biggest highlight for our kids was seeing all the robots and droids in action – they were extremely life-like and one even runs, jumps and dances across the room!

Another great exhibition was a replica of the International Space Station. This showed what life is like for the astronauts on board – including what it’s like trying to brush their teeth, sleep and eat mainly freeze-dried food in a zero-gravity environment for months on end!

The museum also features some really interesting exhibits on how technology will affect the environment and climate change. It’s very hands-on, and is presented in a ‘what if’ scenario which makes for some great family conversations about the impacts and ethics of new technology!

If the kids are getting hungry, there’s a good reasonably priced cafe located on the 5th floor with both Japanese and Western style food on offer. Ideally, allow around half a day to see everything the Miraikan has to offer.

>More info: Miraikan – – The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation 2-3-6 Aomi, Koto-ku, Tokyo

Japanese food

ramen japan

Trying as much Japanese food as we possibly can is one of our main reasons for visiting Japan. From okonomiyaki pancakes to sushi and ramen, we try it all.

I love these family friendly activities that are sure to open kids eyes to the wonder that is Japanese cuisine.

Japanese cooking class

cooking class for kids japan

Suggested by: Thais from World Trip Diaries
Where: Tokyo

One of the best experiences we had in Japan was to take a cooking class. We chose a family-friendly class in the teacher’s home, and she taught us to make some awesome Japanese comfort foods!

Cooking classes are great because you interact with a local, learn about the culture, and learn how to cook something you’ll be able to make even when you’re home! And who doesn’t like Japanese food?

My kids had a blast learning how to make miso soup the traditional way, Japanese fried chicken, and Japanese rolled omelet! But they all agree that the best part was the decorated mochi (a sweet rice dough), which is the one in the photo. It ended up being extremely cute and super tasty!

We really liked this class because it was private, so we could choose the menu adjusting to our likes and dislikes, and she let the kids do all the work, from using knives to deep frying. It was a great experience – and a great investment!

Make your own Cup Noodles

cup noodle museum - fun with kids in japan

Suggested by: Lindsay from The Neverending Wanderlust
Where: Osaka

One of my favorite experiences in Japan was paying a visit to the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum in Osaka. I’ve never been a massive fan of cup noodles, though I’ve eaten my fair share, but this interactive museum definitely peaked my interest!

This museum is great for kids, because it is not only bright and colorful, but it also has an interactive section where the whole family can join in. For a very nominal fee, each guest can design their own cup noodle and take it home with them! You start out by purchasing a cup and decorating it.

You then take your cup through the line where you can choose your meat, vegetables, and flavors. Your cup is then sealed and should be consumed within a month. The best part is that you can watch the entire process There are even inflatable bags to keep their creation safe while you travel around.

I couldn’t recommend the Instant Ramen Museum in Osaka (there’s one in Tokyo too) more. It’s a great, inexpensive way to spend a few hours with your kids!

More info: Cup Noodle Museum – 8-25 Masumi-cho, Ikeda-shi, Osaka 563-0041

Eating sushi

japan sushi with kids

Suggested by: Katy from Untold Morsels
Where: Throughout Japan

One of the things our kids most look forward to when visiting Japan is feasting on sushi. They would eat it for every meal they tell me.

Of course sushi is one of Japan’s most famous dishes and it is very simply rice with fish and/or vegetables. Served in bite sized pieces perfect for kids, sushi is the perfect all day snack or lunch.

If you children are not so adventurous, we suggest taking them to a sushi train restaurant like Katsu Midori in Shibuya Tokyo on the 8th floor of the Seibu department store.

Here they can choose what they would like to eat from an iPad and wait a few minutes before it comes rolling along down the conveyor belt. There are plenty of vegetarian options if they don’t like fish.

Prices here are very reasonable (from 100Y per piece) so it’s a great way to introduce kids to this delicious Japanese food.

Nature experiences

mount fuji

Outside of its bustling cities, the picturesque Japanese landscape is waiting to be explored. More than three quarters of this nation of islands is mountainous – the highest being Mount Fuji. 

You might be surprised to learn about the native wildlife too. There are monkeys, deer and even a rabbit island to discover.

Monkey onsen

snow monkey japan - children's activities japan

Suggested by: Robert from Japan Starts Here
Where: Near Nagano

One wild way to engage your kids in your trip to Japan is to visit Jigokudani, a mountain onsen near the city of Nagano in the Japanese Alps.

This is not a place for people to bathe, however. Rather, you’ll have dozens of red-faced macaques here, particularly between about October and April, when snow and cold temperature force the monkeys into the hot spring.

The hike up to the onsen is relatively easy, but does last about 45 minutes. If your child isn’t old enough to walk this long on his or her own, make sure you’re OK with up to 45 minutes of carry duty.

During the colder parts of the year, a bus runs directly from Nagano Station to the trail head.

Nara deer park

nara japan - where to go with kids in japan

Suggested by: Megan from Red Around the World
Where: Nara

About an hour train ride from Kyoto, you’ll find the town of Nara and it’s famous deer park. The deer, which are wild, just roam around the park property waiting, not always so patiently, to be fed these little deer biscuits that you can buy for about 500 Yen for a bundle.

Once you have those, you’ll be the most popular person there. With the deer at least. Simply hold out a biscuit to a deer and it will nibble it right out of your hand. Just be careful, they can get a little aggressive and they will tug on purses, backpack straps, and even loose clothing.

Don’t forget, they are still wild deer. When you’re at the main park entrance where most of the people, deer, and biscuit vendors are, the deer will be more aggressive, so definitely keep an eye on your kids here.

After you’re done feeding the deer, take a walk around the rest of the park and admire the temples and solitude outside of the main walkway. There will be the occasional stray deer, who may follow you, but far fewer people. Also, if you hold out a biscuit but don’t give it to them right away, they will bow to you.

This is such a fun stop for kids getting to experience Japanese culture in the temples, but also getting to interact with the deer.

Rabbit Island

japan rabbit island - where to go with kids in japan

Suggested by: Robert from Japan Starts Here
Where: Near Nagano

You’ll also find an easy animal adventure only a short distance from the history-filled city of Hiroshima.

Colloquially known as “Rabbit Island,” Okunoshima’s rabbit residents outnumber its human ones due to de-population in the wake of scientific testing carried out there several decades ago.

The island is perfectly safe these days, don’t worry, though you might never want to leave on account of how cute its residents are.

To reach Okunoshima, ride the Shinkansen bullet train from Hiroshima to Mihara. There, transfer to a local train and get off at Takehara, whose ferry terminal offers frequent service to Okunoshima.

Shinhotaka Ropeway

shinhotka ropeway - japan kids trip

Suggested by: Elaine and David from Show them the Globe
Where: Near Takayama

The Shinhotaka Ropeway is a cable car ropeway that climbs high into the Japanese Alps. Located just north of the quaint town of Takayama in the Gifu prefecture of Japan the ropeway is day trip for families.

A 90-minute bus ride from the ancient teak town of Takayama takes visitors to the base of the Japanese Alps and the cable car station. One of the most fun parts of the trip is riding the double-decker gondolas that whisk visitors up to the top of the mountain. These massive cable cars carry passengers over 1000 metres up into the clouds and to the summit.

The view from the observation deck at the summit of the second station is simply breath-taking, offering panoramic views of the mountains and surrounding Okuhida region countryside for miles around. During winter, the snow-capped mountains are a delight and the observation deck is often covered in snow, much to the delight of children.

If you are travelling on the Shinhotaka Ropeway with children try and arrive at the first cable car station early to avoid long queues.

>Click here for more information on the Shinhotaka Ropeway

Quirky and cute things to do

best things to do in japan for kids

In modern Japan the culture of cuteness is known as kawaii. Across the country this love for the childlike and charming, whether it be animal or human, is a national pastime. Think Hello Kitty, pastel colored everything and themed food.

But Japanese don’t just love cute stuff. They also create some of the most out there, crazy things to do that are sure to keep your family entertained for hours.

Here are some of the best kawaii and just plain quirky things to do in Japan that kids will love.

Kawaii Monster Café

kawaii monster cafe - theme cafes for kids japan

Suggested by: Alex from Swedish Nomad
Where: Tokyo

In the fashionable and popular district of Harajuku, you will find one of the coolest and unique cafes in the world. Going to the Kawaii Monster Cafe is definitely one of the more memorable things to do in Tokyo. It’s hard to explain the experience in words, it’s simply something that you have to see for yourself.

But, to give you a small taste of what awaits you, I can mention rainbow spaghetti, cat food for humans, neon lights, unicorns, dressed up kawaii monster girls, mirrors, giant mushrooms in every color you can imagine, spinning wheels, music and dancing shows.

Think of Alice in Wonderland and multiple by 10 times. There are various room and booths where you can sit and enjoy a meal, for example the Mushroom disco room, Milk stand, Bar experiment and the Mel-Tea room.

In other words, it’s a kid’s heaven and a dream come true. Definitely one of the best experiences for kids in Japan, and something that shouldn’t be missed out while visiting Tokyo.

The kids (or anyone for that matter) are welcome up to the stage after the performance that happens several times a day, and take a picture with the kawaii monster cafe girls. Some of the crowd will also be invited onto the stage to join the dance and singing. All in all, it’s a fun and unique experience for the whole family.

Not only is the Kawaii Monster Cafe a fun experience, but the food is also of good quality, something that can’t be said for most themed cafes in Tokyo. But of course, the looks of the food is not very appetizing, but it’s tasty, so you won’t be buying food just for fun here.

It’s pricier than a regular restaurant though, so don’t go here just for the food, but rather for the experience, and it’s totally worth the extra price. Sometimes you need to book a table in advance, but if you come here when they open it’s usually not full.

Kawaii Monster Café – Jingumae, 4 Chome−31-1, Shibuya, Tokyo

Click for more information and to book the Kawaii Monster Cafe

Hakuhinken toy store

hakuhinkan toy store

Suggested by: Rachel from Adventure and Sunshine
Where: Ginza, Tokyo

If you are a hoping to explore a few temples whilst in Tokyo, a visit to Hakuhinkan Toy Store is an excellent negotiating tool to motivate little people.

Located in the high end shopping district of Ginza, avert your eyes from the gorgeous fashion on display and brace yourself for the craziness that is Hakuhinkan Toy Park.

Spread over four floors, your child may declare they are permanently moving to the enormous soft toy section, or find their new favourite dress up amongst the amazing range on display.

You might be tempted to purchase one of the many kit kat flavours unique to Japan or purchase a sushi phone holder.
Star Wars fans could well spend hours poring over the selection of novelties available only in Japan.

Make sure you climb all the way to the fourth floor to race at the enormous slot car track for a small fee. Word of warning: It may be difficult to extract parents from the racetrack.

Best to plan a couple of hours here and know you will not come out empty handed! The store is open every day. The closest train station is JR/Tokyo Metro Shinbashi Station.

Hakuhinkan Toy Park, 8 Chome-8-1 1 Ginza, Chūō, Tokyo 104-0061, Japan

Vending machines

japan vending machines - fun for kids in japan

Suggested by: Jean from Traveling Honeybird
Where: Throughout Japan

One of the best things to do in Japan, that won’t break the bank, is to explore the many wonderful vending machines. Now I’m not talking about the cheap beer, coke light or even the many many snack vending machines. Though in all honesty that is a whole lot of fun too and is something that you shouldn’t miss.

What I’m talking about is gashapon. These are a crazily popular little vending machine that dispense capsule toys. Toys for children, vegetable hats for cats, popular anime characters and even some very openly not-safe-for-work style manga characters. There’s something to please everyone in your family.

If you’re like me and child free it’s almost as most fun asking the local children to pick a few for you. Hand over the coins and watch the immensely serious task of choosing the perfect machine for you.

You’ll find gashapon all over Japan just waiting for you.

Robot restaurant

robot restaurant

Suggested by: Kirstie from Family Adventure Project
Where: Tokyo

You won’t have seen anything like Tokyo’s Robot Restaurant before. For a start, ‘restaurant’ is a loose term. Think cabaret rather than gourmet and you’ll be along the right lines with your expectations. (Even the band that greets you in the bar has more sparkle than a toddlers colouring kit.)

When the action starts in the main auditorium you won’t have a moment to breathe, let alone eat. It’s impossible to describe what follows but if you imagine a cross section of the world’s biggest and blingiest robots suddenly got the urge to dance, fight, parade and have fun then your appetite will be whetted sufficiently.

Have dinner when you come out; you’ll want to savour every moment of the delicious show without distractions.

Click for more information and to book the Robot restaurant

Explore Harajuku

harajuku - japan experiences for kids

Suggested by: Noel from Travel Photo Discovery
Where: Tokyo

One of the fun places to take family to experience something unique in Tokyo would be Harajuku. Just take the JR train to Harajuku station and once out of the station you’ll see a small area fronting the entrance to a large park called Yoyogi Park. Here you’ll see a lot of Japanese dressed up in Cos Play fashions, fun dance troupes in 70s to 80s get ups called takenoko-zoku and doing some cool dance moves from rockabilly to rock and roll moves.

Later you can explore the cool shopping district at Takeshita street to explore the bizarre fashion trends, vintage shops and one of the largest Daiso stores in Japan. There’s plenty to see, eat and shop around this famous shopping alley in Tokyo. There are also some less hectic side streets that are fun to explore for the interesting design, clothing and vintage shops along with unusual foodie spots to try along the way.

If you’re on a tight budget in expensive Tokyo, check out my free things to do around Tokyo for fun adventures and attractions around this exciting city to explore.

Reptile Cafe

reptile cafe osaka

Suggested by: Tina from Hangry by Nature
Where: Osaka

If there’s one place to take the kids to relinquish the whole family’s creepy crawly fears, it’s gotta be the Rockstar Reptile Cafe in Osaka. You’ll find this hair-raising cafe nestled between Den Den Town and Namba Station – if you’re coming from the station, it’s only a short 5-minute walk.

Look – bunny and hedgehog cafes are cute and all, but how often can you tell friends and family about that one time you sipped on a Cappuccino with an Iguana in your lap, or cradled a tarantula in the palm of your hand?

The cafe is home to a host of scaly and hairy creatures – take your pick between lizards, snakes, chameleons, geckos, owls, and other spine-tingling bugs.

If you’re feeling extra game, the cafe also offers what they call a ‘Survival Kit’ on the menu, serving roaches, scorpions, fried worms and centipedes. But, if that’s not your cuppa tea, there’s pizza, too.

I have to say though, our whole fam came out of the place slightly less scared of spiders and snakes. Just slightly.

Rockstar Reptile Cafe – 1-1-13 Nippombashi Nishi, Naniwa-ku, Osaka 

Japan is for kids

japan neon

In planning our family trip to Japan it has been hard to narrow down all the experiences we want to do. There are just so many exciting, fun and interesting activities for kids in Japan to choose from.

And we haven’t even mentioned the beaches!

I guess we will just have to plan another trip to the land of the rising sun.


What are your favorite family friendly activities to try in Japan?


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The creator, writer and photographer behind Untold Morsels, Katy has been travelling and tasting the world since she was a teenager.

Now the proud mum of twins, she hopes they grow up to share her passions of great food, wine and travel. Favourite destination: Italy

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6 Comments

  1. 9th September 2018 / 1:03 PM

    This is such a very nice and fun read. Your shots are really good. It really looks like you had tons of fun traveling and exploring in Japan. This is such a great way of learning and introducing other countries’ culture to your family.

  2. 9th September 2018 / 7:57 PM

    I so want to go back to Japan with my daughter. Making a note of all these suggestions, they sound fantastic.

  3. 10th September 2018 / 5:12 AM

    Wow! That truly sounds like an amazing family vacation😊 how long did you spend there in total?

    • 25th September 2018 / 1:41 PM

      Hi Jacob – we were there for just over 2 weeks and had a wonderful time. Japan is a great country to visit with kids

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