When you travel with (young) kids, you are probably looking for some family-friendly destinations. But unfortunately this information is not always readily available to you in travel magazines or website for tourists, because they are focussing on other aspects of the destination. Planning a family trip and selecting the best activities can be challenging or stressful sometimes! Not to worry, Japan has many family-friendly destinations and we happily tell you all about them. We present you our proposed 10-days itinerary including family-friendly destinations with several tips and options!
- Overall suggested itinerary
- Day 1. Your arrival
- Day 2. Enjoy Tokyo
- Morning (9am – 11am)
- Afternoon & lunch time (11.30am – 1.30pm)
- Late afternoon (2pm – 4pm)
- Evening (4.30 pm ~ )
- Day 3. Have a Day Trip from Tokyo
- Morning (10.30 am)
- Afternoon (1am)
- Late afternoon (1pm)
- Suggestion 1: Arashiyama area & Kameoka city
- Suggestion 2: Exploring the central part of Kyoto
- Morning option 1: Kyoto Botanical Gardens
- Morning option 2: Kinkakuji, Golden Pavilion
- Afternoon option 1: Kyoto Manga Museum
- Afternoon option 2: Nishiki market
- Late afternoon option 1: Kiyomizu temple
- Late afternoon option 2: Fushimi Inari Shrine
- Evening option 1: Gion District & Yasaka Shrine
- Evening option 2: Teramachi & Shinkyogoku Shopping street
Overall suggested itinerary
- Day 1: Arrival in Japan
- Day 2: Enjoy Tokyo
– Shibuya crossing, Harajuku Pop culture town, Ueno park, Akihabara, etc
- Day 3: Make a day trip to somewhere close to Tokyo
– e.g. Tokyo Disneyland or Disneysea, Mt. Fuji, Snow Monkey Park, etc.
- Day 4: Free time in Tokyo
– e.g. Shopping, day trip, special activity
- Day 5: Take a bullet train to Kyoto and explore the Gion District
– Maiko town and Kiyomizu temple
- Day 6: Enjoy Kyoto city in family-friendly neighbourhood
– Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, Golden pavilion, etc
- Day 7: Free time in Kyoto
– e.g. Shopping, temple hopping, special activities
- Day 8: Day trip to Nara and Osaka
– Free-roaming deer park, Giant Buddha, and Osaka special street food
- Day 9: Free day in Osaka
– e.g. Universal Studio Japan, shopping, day trip to Hiroshima
- Day 10: Your departure
Day 1. Your arrival
If this is your first time to travel to Japan, probably it is nice to start your trip in Tokyo. Since it is the capital city and people are more used foreign tourists, there is more English information available. You can have a warm welcome to and good introduction about Japan in Tokyo. Tokyo has two international airports, so it is also likely that you fly in on either of them: Narita Airport & Haneda Airport. You can check how to go to Tokyo from each airport in the linked article.
Also, if you prefer cost-effective way to travel around Japan, we recommend you to purchase a JR Pass before coming to Japan. You can travel with it easily around Japan and save a lot of money!
Day 2. Enjoy Tokyo
Maybe you already explored the area around your hotel yesterday, but today will be your first full day in Japan. Our suggested itinerary with family friendly destinations is as follows. Enjoy!
Morning (9am – 11am)
Option 1. Ueno Park
Ueno park is a large lively public park. Although it might be a bit crowded especially in cherry blossom time, it is very family friendly destination in Tokyo-easy to walk around with small kids, because of its central location (walking distance from Ueno Station) and peaceful atmosphere. Moreover, there are a lot of options to enjoy this park. There are some different types of museums, the oldest zoo in Japan which is very famous for their pandas, old temples and shrines as a historical heritage and beautiful large natural ponds with lotus leaves. Whether you are with small kids or elderly parents, everyone can enjoy this park!
Option 2. Tsukiji Market
If your family loves seafood, it will be an enjoyable moment to have a breakfast at Tsukiji market. Also, this place is nice to learn Japanese food culture. There are a lot of individual vendors selling their special (local) food.
If you are curious about Japanese food culture and how to enjoy that properly, it is nice to join a food tour with a local guide. During the tour the guide will show you around Tsukiji market in small groups, explain more about the Japanese products and cuisine, and will have you try some of the most delicious thing!
- Tokyo Fish Market Tour @Tsukiji – Enjoy Local Food and Drink
- Tokyo Sushi Making Experience+ Tsukiji Fish Market Explore Tour
Afternoon & lunch time (11.30am – 1.30pm)
Option 1. Asakusa
Asakusa is known as a traditional town with huge Sensoji temple. Among Japanese people, Asakusa is also famous for its’ big festival in October and that makes Asakusa have an enjoyable festival vibe all the time! Although there are many people coming here everyday for sightseeing, you can still enjoy spending time there. There are many enjoyable activities such as rickshaw ride, goldfish scooping game, candy craft workshop, food samples making experience, etc. Also, there are many nice Japanese restaurants around Asakusa which will be good for your lunch, too.
Recommended activities in Asakusa
Option 2. Tokyo Dome City
Less than 3 minutes from Suidobashi Station, you can find Tokyo Dome City. Besides Tokyo Dome (mainly for baseball game or live concert), there are various shops, restaurants, cafes, and also there is a game center and amusement park (like a small theme park), too! If your priority is making sure for your kids to have fun, Tokyo Dome City will be the best place. Also, there is a quiet traditional Japanese garden (Koishikawa garden) next to Tokyo Dome City. It is also nice to visit if you have a time.
Late afternoon (2pm – 4pm)
Option 1. Harajuku
Harajuku is known as a city for unique fashion and cool & cute pop culture. You can find various animal cafes, odd-looking sweets, eccentric “Kawaii” fashion and so on. If you have kids, it is ideal place for spending time to enjoy.
From Harajuku, Meiji Shrine and Omotesando Street (Modern Architecture district) are within a walking distance. So, after exploring Harajuku, we recommend you to visit either spots if you have time. In the area you will find many cafe’s and restaurants selling various snacks for you kids, to have a little break!
Option 2. Tokyo Skytree
Tokyo Skytree is known as a second tallest tower in the world next to Burj Khalifa in Dubai. You can enjoy the view with drinks or meals at 300 meters above the ground or the view at 451.2 meters above the ground! Also, it is nice place to enjoy shopping because there are more than 300 shops from 1st to 10th floors. including Pokemon official store. You can easily find some good souvenir gifts to bring back to your home!
Get your discounted tickets for Tokyo Skytree here
8am – 10pm (last admission 9pm)
Combi ticket from ¥3,100
Tembo Galleria from ¥1,000
Tembo Deck from ¥2,100
Evening (4.30 pm ~ )
Option 1. Shibuya Scramble Crossing & Shibuya Sky
These days, many people think of Shibuya scramble crossing when it comes to Tokyo.
Due to the crowds from morning to midnight, Shibuya is called “sleepless city” in Japanese. Especially in the evening, you can see large crowds of people walking on the crossing and you may come to realize and say, “Oh, I am in Tokyo!”. In 2019, a new observatory “Shibuya Sky” opened as a new trademark in Shibuya. Check out the 360 degrees of the panoramic view over Tokyo from this tallest building in Shibuya!
9am – 11pm (Last admission 10pm)
¥1,800 (online – reserved tickets for a specific date & time)
¥2,000 (counter – same-day tickets)
Option 2. Odaiba
Odaiba is known as the artificial island in Tokyo Bay. It was developed after the year 2.000 and currently it is a popular destination among couples or families. You can visit the Rainbow Bridge, a giant Gundam statue, big shopping malls, etc. You can even relax at the beach too. Just exploring this island is fun!
Day 3. Have a Day Trip from Tokyo
Option 1. Tokyo Disneyland or Disneysea
One of the day-trip destinations from Tokyo that all your family members can enjoy is the Tokyo Disney Resort. There are two theme parks, one is Tokyo Disneyland and another one is Tokyo Disneysea. Even if you are from U.S. where Disney parks originally come from, both theme parks are very enjoyable because their own attractions or uniqueness. You will be surprised how the dream place has been created here by the wonderful staffs with the best hospitality.
Our recommendation is get tickets with pickup at the closest train station (Maihama) and skip the (long) queues. This will save you time at the entrance! Check the link below.
Option 2. Mt. Fuji & Lake Kawaguchi
When you decided to come to Japan, you may have considered to go close to Mt. Fuji at least once. Even though it is not very close to Tokyo, still it could be a suitable destination for a day trip from Tokyo. Of course, Mt. Fuji itself is incredibly beautiful, in addition, the surrounded nature is so beautiful, too. There are a lot of super photogenic spots such as Lake Kawaguchi, Arakurayama Sengen shrine, Oshino Hakkai village, and so on.
Option 3. Visit the Snow Monkey Park
You probably have seen the famous snow monkeys taking a bath in an outdoor onsen! If it is the right season to see Snow Monkey, it will also be a day-trip option from Tokyo.
How to visit Snow Monkey Park (Jigokudani)? When is proper season for seeing Snow Monkey? You may have a lot of questions, find the answers to all your questions in the linked article!
Day 4. Free day in Tokyo
Let’s have some free time for this day! Taking a rest for your upcoming trips is also fine but if you have still something you want to do in Tokyo, you can do it on this day. Since Tokyo is a mega city, your list must be super long but your time is limited and hard to decide everything beforehand. Having a free day and decide on the day depending on the weather or your kid’s mood may work out well for you.
Day 5. Move to Kyoto
It is time to leave Tokyo and head to the next destination -Kyoto, the center of Japanese culture & tradition. Although the popular activity in Kyoto is known as temple hopping for adults, there are enjoyable places for kids in Kyoto too.
Morning (10.30 am)
Take Shinkansen also known as Bullet Train
In the morning, take a Shinkansen bullet train to Kyoto Station. In Tokyo, there are two stations where bullet trains depart heading west. One is Tokyo Station and the other is Shinagawa Station. You can choose the closer station from your hotel. (For instance, from Ginza Station, Tokyo Station is super close but from Shinjuku Station, Shinagawa Station is closer). Riding the Shinkansen is a fun experience itself, relax, enjoy some food or drinks and watch the amazing scenery of Japan pass by. Don’t forgot to spot Mount Fuji on the way! Please also see the article below about fun things to do riding a bullet train.
Arrive at Kyoto Station and send your luggage to your hotel via Crosta Kyoto.
It will take 2.5 hours to get to Kyoto Station from Tokyo and you are probably very excited to start exploring Kyoto. To enjoy the rest of your time on this day, what you need to do first is sending your suitcases to your hotel. In Kyoto Station building, there is super useful luggage delivery service which name is Crosta Kyoto. Through Crost Kyoto, delivery service is available from Kyoto station to your accommodation/from your accommodation to Kyoto station/ between your accommodations/ from Kyoto station to Kansai airport. You can drop off your luggage at Kyoto Station between 8am – 2pm.
This service is available for most of hotels or ryokans in Kyoto. Check out more details of this convenient service from the link below.
Late afternoon (1pm)
After solving your luggage issue, let’s enjoy Kyoto city! How to enjoy and explore is up to you of course. But here are our suggestions for a day well spent after long train journey.
Option 1. Explore around Kyoto Station Building
If you are tired after bullet train ride, start sightseeing close-by. Just exploring Kyoto Station is fun! It is built through the collaboration with seven famous architects and it is one of the most notable modern architectures in Kyoto. Especially, it is nice to visit Ramen Street on 10th floor of Isetan department store (as you might have guessed there are ramen restaurants from all over Japan) and also to walk Skyway from the same floor to East Square of Kyoto Station. Also, if you still have time and enough energy, visit Kyoto Tower or Higashihonganji temple which are very close to Kyoto Station.
Oprion 2. Kyoto Handi Craft Center & Okazaki Park
Okazaki Park is the most peaceful park with open feeling in Kyoto. Around the park, there are several museums, a zoo, and the Kyoto Handicraft Center. In Handicraft Center, you can join various workshops related to traditional Japanese handicraft. Combine your workshop at the Handicraft Center with a visit to Okazaki Park and enjoy very nice atmosphere. If you have time, you can visit Nanzenji Zen temple to enjoy matcha green tea and see the view from the big Sanmon gate!
Option 3. Umekoji Park & Kyoto Railway Museum
Umekoji Park is just one stop from Kyoto Station by JR train (the station name is Umekoji-Kyotonishi Station). There are some playgrounds, a city aquarium, a nature park, unique restaurants, and the Kyoto Railway Museum.
Due to the dynamic and various exhibitions, the Kyoto Railway Museum is a fun place for kids and it is also informative place if you have an interest in Japanese railway system (one of the world’s most punctual and efficient railway service).
Kyoto Railway Museum
10am – 5.30pm
Admission ¥1,200 (adults), ¥200 – ¥500 (children)
Day 6. Enjoy Kyoto City
Due to the access reasons, we have two suggestions to enjoy this day in Kyoto. Suggestion 1 is mainly spend Arashiyama area (west outskirt of Kyoto city) and Kameoka (the city next to Kyoto city) to enjoy special activities around there. Suggestion 2 is mainly in center of Kyoto city with two options (general & for kids).
Suggestion 1: Arashiyama area & Kameoka city
Tenryuji is a Zen temple with stunning pond garden surrounded by a mountainous landscape. Especially on sunny day, the scenery is incredibly beautiful. In addition, inside of the garden, there is a point you can take photos with bamboo without any other people!
After Tenryuji garden, the famous bamboo forest is just a 1 minute to walk. Due to the popularity, normally there are many people but you can still enjoy the nice scenery!
Torroko Journey to Kameoka Station
About 5 minutes walk from the bamboo forest, you can find Sagano Scenic Train Station.
That is a special train to enjoy surrounded beautiful nature. As you know, Japan is blessed with a rich natural beauty in each season. Be careful that the tickets will be sold out very soon if it is cherry blossom season or autumn foliage season. So we recommend to book as early as possible. From Torroko Arashiyama station, after one stop, you will arrive at Torroko Kameoka station.
Hozugawa-kudari (Hozu river boat riding)
From Torroko Kameoka station, you will arrive at Hozugawa-kudari after a 15 minutes bus ride (take Torokko Mahori Line 39 run by Keihan bus to Hozugawa-kudari boarding site). From there, you can have special local experience “Hozugawa-kudari” which is traditional Japanese style boat riding tour with a skilled rower. For more details including departure times, see their official site below.
After Hozugawa-kudari, you will finish the tour near Togetsu bridge and it means you are in Arashiyama area again! Togetsu bridge is surrounded by fantastic natural beauty.
Especially in autumn, the surrounded mountains change their colours and the landscape is incredibly beautiful! In the area around Togetsu bridge, there are many restaurants. It is also good to have some late lunch around there.
Arashiyama Monkey Park
Walk across Togetsu bridge to find the entrance of Monkey Park (fun fact: this is Tom Cruise’s most favourite place in Japan!). The Monkey Park is a peaceful place where you can enjoy meeting some monkeys and enjoy the view from the top of the mountain.
You will need to climb up the mountain for about 15-20 minutes. This can be a little tough for small children, so if you think it is hard to do so with your family, we recommend visiting Music Box Museum or Diorama Kyoto JAPAN instead.
Suggestion 2: Exploring the central part of Kyoto
Morning option 1: Kyoto Botanical Gardens
This is not a very well-known destination and that makes it kind of hidden spot only known by locals. The closest station is Kitayama station and you need to take the Kyoto Municipal Subway for approximately 15 minutes from down town Kyoto or Kyoto station. From kids to adults, everyone can enjoy this botanical garden with over 120,000 plants from 12,000 species. Especially, from the middle of November to early December, this place is recommended to visit for the beautiful autumn foliage leaves!
Morning option 2: Kinkakuji, Golden Pavilion
This is not something special for kids, but simply a nice place to visit even if you are with kids. The impressive shining golden colour reflects on the pond surrounded by trees, everyone can enjoy exploring around. To access Kinkakuji, you can take a local bus but it might be complicated if you are not used to the bus system in Japan. Taxi is also an option if you are worried about it.
Afternoon option 1: Kyoto Manga Museum
5 minutes walk from Karasuma-oike station, you will find a cream coloured complex. Those buildings are Kyoto Manga Museum. They are mainly focused on Japanese Manga but there are also English Manga too. Also, as you can see on the photo above, there is a large lawn area which is suitable for kids to play. Of course, you can sleep or take a rest if your family need. Doesn’t it sound amazing that you can lie down or sit down while you are enjoying Manga? To take Kyoto Municipal Subway is easiest way to get there and the closest station name is Karasuma-oike.
Afternoon option 2: Nishiki market
The closest station to Nishiki Market is Shijo Station. From one side to the other side of Nishiki market, you can see and enjoy more than 160 shops. In Kyoto, there are lots of high quality vegetables, chickens, ducks, tofu products, and river fishes. Since Kyoto is a birth place of Japanese cuisines, you can experience the rich culinary culture in the market. There are also very kids-friendly foods such as Tofu ice cream, green tea fondue, honey fruits juice, and so on!
Late afternoon option 1: Kiyomizu temple
If you do not mind the long walking and various steps, Kiyomizu temple is one of the most must-visit places in Kyoto. Although Kiyomizu is a temple, it is like an ancient theme park with various attractions. So, even the small kids can enjoy this place. From the terrace at the main hall of Kiyomizu temple, you can have a fantastic view of the surroundings. This place is also great to visit in autumn, when the leaves turn red again!
Late afternoon option 2: Fushimi Inari Shrine
The most popular spot in Kyoto city for the tourists is Fushimi Inari Shrine with thousands of red Torii gates! This is also not something special just for kids but everyone can enjoy this amazing place and it is easy to walk around because there are not so many steps until the middle.
In the middle of this shrine, there is Omokaruishi, the stone telling about your wish. Let’s try to lift up the stone. If you feel it is heavy, your wish will take some time to come true but if it is very light, it will come true soon!
From the middle in the path, it is getting tougher to climb up. So, walking until the middle is easy plan to enjoy Fushimi Inari especially if you are with kids.
Evening option 1: Gion District & Yasaka Shrine
Gion is the biggest traditional Maiko (Geisha) town in Kyoto. Even in daytime, this place is beautiful but between 5pm and 6 pm, there is high possibility that you see Maiko with full make up, because it is just before their working time. Even if you cannot see them, the quaint atmosphere with traditional Kyoto town houses is very nice. Also, you can visit Yasaka Shrine from this place by foot and that is enjoyable place for kids.
Evening option 2: Teramachi & Shinkyogoku Shopping street
Teramachi & Shinkyogoku Shopping Street is in downtown Kyoto, close to Kyoto Kawaramachi station. There are many souvenir shops, restaurants, animal cafes, a very unique Samurai & Ninja museum, Manga & Anime shops, street food venders, etc.
For a family with small kids, this is recommended to visit and enjoy Kyoto before you leave Kyoto on the next day!
Day 7. Move to Osaka and enjoy Osaka city
Travel to Osaka
From Kyoto, Osaka is very close. Even by a local train, it takes less than one hour. We recommend you to book reserved seats if you have a your luggage and you can get your reserved seats for JR Ltd. Express Haruka or bullet trains. If you travel with a large family, using a private big taxi is one of the options. You can also take a local train but it might be difficult with the big suitcases.
Arrive at Osaka Station and go to your hote
Whichever transportation you use, you will arrive Osaka one hour later after you leave Kyoto city. Then we suggest you first leave your luggage at your hotel.
Late afternoon (2pm – 4.30pm)
Option 1: Osaka Castle Park and cruising Aqualiner
Osaka Castle is an icon of Osaka city. You can enjoy peaceful walk in the park and imagine how Samurai war was like more than 400 years ago. After enjoying Osaka Castle, it is nice to have a river cruise by Aqualiner. It leaves from Osaka Castle Park and will bring you to Nakanoshima area. You can enjoy the view of Osaka city as a canal city like Amsterdam by Aqualiner.
Operating times 11am – 4pm (can vary seasonally)
Adults ¥1,740, children ¥870
Option 2: Cup Noodles Museum
Taking Hankyu Takarazuka line train for about 30 minutes from Osaka Umeda Station, you will arrive at Ikeda Station. From there, the Cup Noodle Museum is within the walking distance (less than 10 minutes). Although the uniqueness of the exhibition about history and variety are fun, the special and fun experience you can have is making your own original cup noodle! Also, you can enjoy some cup noodle tasting from their numerous products. The museum is opened daily from 9.30am to 4.30pm and free of charge!
Evening (5pm ~ )
Dotonbori Street with Ebisu Bridge
If you wan to see something super fun, let’s visit Dotonbori! You can say it is the craziest spot in Japan, you will be overwhelmed by so many flashy, colourful, eye-catching and strange neon signs around the area. There are so many street food shops, restaurants, animal cafes, game center, and so on! While exploring the area, you can experience the funny and friendly Osaka culture.
Kaiyukan is the worlds’ largest aquarium with huge whale sharks, jelly fishes, emperor penguins, and odd-looking fishes like aliens from seabed. Just walking around is fun, but don’t forget to check the timetable to see their events (staff feeding penguins, dolphins, or else). Among their various displays, the most overwhelming thing is to see big fish tank for uncountable migratory fishes. Also, there is a special light up after 5pm. It is nice to visit in the evening.
10am – 8pm (can very seasonally)
Admission ¥2,400 (adults), ¥0 – 1,200 (children)
Day 8. Have a day trip from Osaka
From downtown Osaka, there are many destinations for a day trip. In this itinerary, we will suggest three of very accessible places you can add to a long trip with your kids. The most recommended place is Kobe city because there are lots of spots which are suitable for all family members to enjoy together! Another recommendation is Nara with free-roaming deer park and Universal Studio in Osaka!
Option 1. Kobe
You can arrive at Kobe city by taking a local train for just 30 minutes from Osaka city. Unlike Osaka, Nara or Kyoto, Kobe is quite a new city with just 150 years of history and is very familiar with the western culture. Also, it is well-known as a city for fashion. Nevertheless, this is one of the most enjoyable cities for family. There are many sites and attractions for both adults and kids to enjoy together. To know more about Kobe city, we recommend reading the article below.
Option 2. Nara
If you prefer Kyoto to Osaka or Tokyo, you may also like Nara city. From Osaka, it takes one hour to get there by a local train. Nara is the older capital, before Kyoto even. Kyoto had functioned as a center of Japanese religion and academics for more than 1,000 years until Tokyo became capital city.
Although the city of nara was destroyed in a conflict in 19th century, there are still a lot of ruins and cultural or religious remains. The deer in Nara Park are one example; people have been protecting them carefully for years as natural monuments considering they are the god helpers. That’s why Nara Park is called as “Deer Park”. You can feed special cracker to those friendly deer.
Another highlight of your day trip to Nara will be a visit to Todaiji Giant Buddha Hall. Let’s take your family photos with deer or Giant Buddha in this historical and religious city. See the link below if you want to know more about Nara!
Option 3. Universal Studio Japan
As you might know, Universal Studio Japan is located in Osaka city. Though the location is nearby Osaka port, not in the downtown. So, you need to take a train for about 30 minutes. In the park, you can enjoy the unique collaboration between Universal Studio and Japanese Anime or Manga. Universal Studios Japan is the most popular destination for the local people in Osaka and therefore often crowded with locals. Since your time is very limited, it might be smart to have Universal Express Pass, if possible, to avoid the long waiting hours to enjoy some rides and attractions.
Universal Studios Japan Osaka 1-Day Studio Pass E-Tickets
Day 9. Free day in Osaka
If you want to explore Osaka city a little more, it is a good idea and you can do it on this day. Also, it is good time to buy souvenir gifts in Osaka. There are a lot of big department stores around Osaka station (same to Umeda station) and Namba Station (nearby Dotonbori). Especially, Hankyu Department Store Osaka Umeda Main Store and Takashimaya Osaka Store (Namba) are two main department stores in Osaka city.
If you have JR Pass and still have a great energy, a day trip to Hiroshima is also an option. Visiting this beautiful city will be very impressive! In any case have a nice last full day in Japan!
Day 10. Fly back home
Finally, it is time to fly back to your country. Depending on your flight, the way to return will be different. If it is from Haneda or Narita Airport, you need to go back to Shinagawa station (to Haneda) or Tokyo station (to Narita Airport) at firs, taking a bullet train from Shin-Osaka Station. Then, head to each airport by train or taxi. In total, the trip will take approximately 3.5 ~ 4.5 hours.
If your flight is from Kansai International Airport, you can take Ltd Express Haruka or taxi. Although the airport is also in Osaka prefecture, it takes about 1 hour to get there. Please check your flight information carefully and make a plan!
We hope your 10 days trip will be a great time for all of your family!
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