Who are you? Introduce yourself…
My name is Keiko and I was born and raised in Japan, but currently I’m living in Ticino, Switzerland. I have two kids, Izumi and Mirai. Upon request I organize authentic tea ceremonies (in Ticino). You can concact me by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
What’s your connection with Tokyo?
I was born and raised in a city near Tokyo. I visit the Japanese capital once a year to see my sister. To give you some figures: currently Tokyo has 13 million inhabitants, while in Japan there are 127 million inhabitants.
What do we have to see in Tokyo with our kids?
I would say that a mandatory stop is definitely the famous Buddhist temple of Senso-ji in the district of Asakusa, which is the largest, the most sacred and the oldest in Tokyo. To get there you will walk a tiny street (Nakamise Dori), where there are many shops selling fans, umbrellas, and many other souvenirs. This neighborhood is best visited on foot.
The beautiful Shinto temple of Meiji-Jingu is also worth a visit.
Kids will also be fascinated by the Tokyo Sky Tree, a 634 m high building, which is the tallest in Japan. You can climb to the top and enjoy amazing viws of the city from above.
AnotherTokyo attraction that kids love is the Aqua Park Shinagawa Aquarium. The peculiarity of this aquarium is that it is interactive, in the sense that you can touch the aquarium glass to activate the computers, as well as interact with fish. It is open until late at night.
Hanayashiki is a very charming old amusement park in Tokyo. It was built 150 years ago with old types of rides and a small Ferris wheel. There are also three haunted houses with soothsayers, witches and other a oddities things that might appeal to older kids.
Less cultural but always very appreciated by kids are Kidzania, Tokyo Disneyland, Legoland, Sony Building (to try out the newest video games), Sanrio Purio Land (Hello Kitty World).
What to do with kids in Tokyo?
A nice and slighty different activity is the boat tour along the river. From there you can see the whole city of Tokyo from a different perspective. You can also have lunch or dinner on board. It is certainly touristy but recommended.
Which is the best time to visit Tokyo with kids?
In spring you can admire the famous cherry blossoms. Under these spectacular plants there are many people who gather for picnics, drink sake and, in general, enjoy the atmosphere. The climate is ideal, as well as in autumn. In fact in autumn you can see the falling leaves and the colours of the plants. In summer, however, the climate is very hot and humid throughout Japan, while the winters are very cold.
How to travel with kids in Tokyo?
In Tokyo the subway (metro) is very convenient; even taxis are a great way to move about the city, as they are not too expensive. To travel around Japan you can buy the Japan Rail Pass, which allows you to travel on public transport throughout Japan at a good price for a number of days.
Where do you suggest we eat?
The restaurants of the Saizeriya & Gasto chain and of the Royal Host chain are both family restaurants. They are traditional places where the Japanese go with their children. The prices are affordable and the menus offer a lot of choices.
Local tip: on the ground floor of many department stores there are always free samples of food. Try them, so you can get to know new Japanese dishes.
And what do we need to taste?
Sushi, known all over the world, is rarely eaten in Japan. It is normally prepared when people have guests or on special occasions. It’s fun to go and eat it in restaurants with Kaiten-sushi, where small portions of sushi are served on a conveyor belt. Kids enjoy watching it go around. There are also restaurants where you can oder your food with an iPad.
Ramen is a typical Japanese dish made with wheat noodles in broth. Yakiniku is a barbeque cooked a special pot in the middle of the table.
Where to stay in Tokyo with kids
- $ Shinjuku Business Hotel, Apa Hotel Shinjuku (a very central district)
- $$ Royal Park Hotel a Yokohama (30 min. by train), great views
- $$$ Hotel Aman (traditional Japanese furniture) in the center
- Flats on Airbnb
An activitythat you can’t find in guidebooks
Go for a nice walk with kids in Yoyogi Park in central Tokyo. You can also rent bicycles to ride around the park.
Shimokitazawa is a non-tourist district with hippy style shops. It is also easy to spot bars where real karaoke sessions take place.
Have a drink in a bar surrounded by real cats in one of the many Neko cafes. There are 39 in Tokyo alone, with the most famous being the Calico Cat Café. If you prefer you can also have a drink with goats (Sakuragaoka Café), rabbits (Usagi Café Ohisama), porcupines, owls (Tori no Iru café) and even reptiles (Reptiles café).
Next time in Tokyo…
I would love to take my family to the thermal baths.
A souvenir to take home…
Stationery products, such as pens, notebooks, etc…are among the best in the world. Even electronics are really worth buying (but make sure they are compatible).
Very famous are also the typical traditional Japanese sweets (Wagashi): they are beautiful to look at, very artistic and usually served in tea ceremonies.
Keiko’s pro tip
Find a Daiso chain store: you can purchase all sorts of products at very low cost and high quality.
There are at least 3 destinations, all about 30 minutes by train from Tokyo, which you can easily visit with your kids.
- A trip to Mount Fuji
- The thermal baths in Odayba, near the sea.
- A visit to Yokohama, Japan’s second largest city
Tokyo and the sea, why not?
You can combine a visit to Tokyo with a seaside holiday with kids, choosing one of the islands of Okinawa. This archipelago is 3-4 hours by plane from the capital. It boasts a crystal clear sea similar to that of the Maldives. You can also snorkel there because there is a beautiful coral reef. Summer is the perfect time to go there.