Whether you come to Japan on a family holiday or whether you live here with kids, it is always good to know a few tried and tested spots and activities that make both kids and adults happy. And the good news is that there are many fun things to do in Japan for families!
Did you know that some of the best fruits in the world are produced in Japan?
So it is no wonder that many people in Japan enjoy fruit picking as an activity especially on weekends and national holidays. No matter which season you are coming, there is always something in season and ready to be picked. Usually it is an all-you-can-eat affair, meaning that you get to eat everything that you pick, but you don’t get to take boxes home. So you’d better come hungry and leave happy!
On Japan Fruits you can search for a spot to go picking by area and type of produce.
- Strawberry picking 30 minutes all-you-can-eat & stone BBQ (Saitama)
- Enjoy Seasonal Fruit Picking at a Japanese Farm in Hiroshima (Hiroshima)
- Experience Picking Fruit and Making Jam in Jozankei (Sapporo)
With locations spread all over Japan, there is usually a Forest Adventure park within travel distance of where you are. The original concept is French, and because of the abundance of great green locations with height differences Forest Adventure found a good home in Japan. The parks are all about being active outdoors in harmony with nature. This means that the parks were made without destroying the natural area, making it a good spot for sustainable tourism.
You can enjoy zip lines, climbing all kinds of objects, and even a jump from a high place. The most adventurous course is for kids who are at least 140cm tall, so that is something to keep in mind. There are activities for smaller kids as well, but you will make the most out of your trip if everyone in the family is at least 140cm.
Japan is pretty famous for its historical warriors and spies, known as samurai and ninja. So it is only logical that many who come to Japan want to experience a bit of this old culture.
The famous two historical Ninja villages in Japan are Shiga and Mie in the Kansai area. Ninja in Shiga is designated as Japan’s cultural heritage and you can visit the real Ninja house there. Kids and adults will have an educational and fun time at Koga Ninja Village in Shiga and Iga-Ryu Ninja Museum in Mie. The former has a two day Ninja Camp and the latter prepares Ninja Experience Package. In the package, after you complete Ninja Missions, the delicious cuisine are prepared.
Shiga has amazing samurai-related spots like castles and Mie is famous for Ise Grand Shrine, the head shrine in Japan. A trip to those Ninja Villages could be combined with sightseeing in the region. The whole villages are ninja-themed, and you can do activities such as dressing up like a ninja, watch a ninja show, take part in a treasure hunt, and try your hand at weapons like the shuriken and fukiya. Of course, the food in the restaurant is ninja-themed as well.
Rabbit Island near Hiroshima
Who doesn’t like cute, fluffy bunnies? If your family are animal-lovers, Rabbit Island, or Okunoshima, is a dream destination. While the history is quite sad with the original rabbits being brought to the island for war-time experiments, now it is a peaceful island with many hundreds of happy free-ranging bunnies. Most people go here for a daytrip as there is not much else to do besides interacting with the rabbits and seeing the small gas museum, but seeing so many tame rabbits in one place is worth it!
One typical Japanese activity that can’t be skipped if you come to Japan is a visit to one of the many arcades. Your kids aged 4 and up will thank you! They are ubiquitous in all larger cities in Japan, so you are bound to run into a few of them at least. All you need is a bunch of 100 yen coins (change machines are available) and you’re ready to go! Kids and adults can enjoy fun and interactive games side by side, and some of the best ones are taiko drumming, dance dance revolution, Mario Kart racing, old-school street fighter games, and the fishing game that is played at a large table.
It is also fun to watch the super experts play, as there are some real game fans in Japan who spend almost all of their free time perfecting their skills. Don’t forget to take some cool purikura pictures in one of the photo booths, and if you’d like to try and win something you will like the crane games with prizes that range from your usual stuffed animals to stranger stuff.
It is surprising that many people don’t know that Japan is actually a great destination for winter sports like skiing and snowboarding. So why not take your family on a combination of a winter sports trip and a cultural holiday? Our recommendation would be to first travel through Japan and see highlights such as Tokyo, Kyoto, Takayama, and catch the impressive winter illuminations of Nabana no Sato, and then head to Nagano or Hokkaido to hit the slopes? Niseko in Hokkaido gets some of the best powder snow in the world.
There are multiple large amusement parks in the vicinity of Tokyo, including Disneyland, but FujiQ Highland is the park that has the most unique and interesting rides. For the smaller kids, there’s a Thomas the Tank Engine park right next to FujiQ, but let’s be honest, the actual park is definitely the highlight here. If kids are at least 130cm, they can enjoy most of the rides, which are quite frankly exhilarating for anyone. Dododonpa, Takabisha, and Eejanaika are the most extreme, and the Fuji Mountain wooden coaster is amazingly long. Don’t skip out on the Ghost House as it will be one of the scariest you’ve ever experienced. This cool amusement park gets bonus points for being very walkable without long distances between rides, and having a great view of Mt Fuji in the background.
There are two teamLab exhibitions, but as teamLab Borderless in Odaiba was closed in 2021, we will recommend you the equally beautiful teamLab Planets. teamLab’s digital and immersive art installations are stunning and are easy to enjoy for people of all ages. You don’t even have to be an art connoisseur, as you simply have to walk in and you will feel like you’ve been swallowed whole by the art installation. Your teens will also love this place for its many Instagram opportunities.
Bathing Family-friendly Onsen
Going to the onsen (hot spring) is one of the favorite ways to relax for many Japanese people. It is usually a family affair, with babies less than one year old already joining mom in the ladies’ bath. Kids who don’t grow up with the custom of nude bathing in public may be hesitant about going to a regular onsen, which is why Oedo Onsen Monogatari is such a great find. Being one of the largest onsen complexes in Japan, you can easily find the area you want to visit and spend a half day or a whole evening bathing here. If you’d prefer private hot springs, you can utilize the family-sized onsen. There’s a nice large restaurant on-site as well where you can have traditional Japanese food.
As KidZania is not available in every country in the world, taking the opportunity to go here while in Japan will definitely make your kids happy. KidZania’s concept revolves around roleplaying adults’ jobs, so the kids get to become doctors, pilots, and bakers and so on while the parents relax in the parents’ room upstairs. The kids even make ‘real money’ that they can use inside the park to pay for products and services! They built a whole world that resembles the outside world but at a kid’s size. Be sure to go on a Wednesday and make a reservation beforehand, as this is the only day that they have an English session.
A Family Trip to Japan
This is only a small selection of family-friendly things to do for locals and travelers in Japan. The Land of the Rising Sun is actually a very good destination for a family trip, and kids of all ages will have an unforgettable holiday here. Especially teens love traveling in Japan, as there are many pop culture and subculture-related destinations within the country. Doing a private tour is also a very good activity for a family. In fact, private tours are often cheaper if you travel with 4 or more people compared to joining a group tour. We offer a special teen-centric tour in Harajuku, and kids also enjoy our food tours.
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Stefanie Akkerman moved from the Netherlands to Japan in 2013 with her Japanese husband and son. She jumped into the niche of Dutch tour guiding in Tokyo and Kamakura in 2015 and occasionally writes articles about all the great sights and activities Japan has to offer. She loves (Japanese) food, and to work that all off she goes diving, snorkeling, cycling, or hiking.
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