Things to do in Roppongi with Kids — Tokyo Family Travel

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Roppongi with kids? If someone in Tokyo asked me to recommend things to do in Roppongi in the early 2000’s or earlier, that person would have likely been interested in booze and depravity. Certainly not high culture. Things have changed.

Things to do in Roppongi with Kids — Tokyo Family Travel -- Is Roppongi just a crazy Tokyo nightlife district? No. Sure, the bars in this Tokyo neighborhood are lively at night, but by day Roppongi offers something for everyone: Art galleries, shopping, amazing museums and Tokyo restaurants. We tell you where to go and things to do in Roppongi with kids. Roppongi Tokyo | Roppongi Hills | Tokyo trip | Tokyo things to do | Mori Museum | Tokyo museums | Tokyo Galleries

Things to Do in Roppongi with Kids

This hilly, central Tokyo bar and “entertainment” district was once a sleazy center of expat iniquity. Well, actually it still is. However, now Roppongi is also known for its art venues and sophisticated multi-use spaces. I used to keep my children away from Roppongi. Now I recommend going to Roppongi with kids.

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Things to do in Roppongi with Kids — Tokyo Family Travel

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There are lots of fun things to do in Roppongi with children. This downtown neighborhood has three exceptional museums.  Specializing in modern art, contemporary art and design, this is a triangle of creativity that families all ages will enjoy. And when you need a break, there are pockets of open space for little ones to run around.

If taking the train to Roppongi with kids, the Oedo line is usually the best option — especially when pushing a stroller. The Oedo line is super-deep below ground, but every platform has elevators and escalators. This makes it easier to reach your destination.

As mentioned above, Roppongi’s bar district can get pretty rowdy — but only in certain places late at night.

Below I’ve listed up some of our favorite things to do in Roppongi with kids. I’ve listed places like Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown, which are best known as shopping centers. Please note that these places regularly have free public events and other things to do, so it’s worth visiting even if you don’t like shopping (window or otherwise) and even know what’s going on that day.

Roppongi Hills

Things to do in Roppongi with Kids — Tokyo Family Travel

At the vanguard of the area’s cultural shift, Roppongi Hills combines retail, an arts hub, and high-end apartments. This “lifestyle center” concept led the way for places like Tokyo Midtown (see below) and others. In the process, it helped remake the area’s image.

Roppongi’s image as an upstanding cosmopolitan center for creativity is due in large part to this project. As a result, thousands of locals and tourists showed up looking for new things to do in Roppongi. The shops and restaurants here are top-notch, usually with price tags to match, but the basement food area has a more reasonable fare. You can often find takeout bento (lunch boxes) here.

This is home to the Mori Museum (see below), as well as many kid-friendly events during the summer and holiday seasons. The cinema here has movies in English, and there are often free concerts or events at a nearby stage. Check the schedule.

Now for the downside: as interesting as this complex is to look at, it is incredibly confusing to navigate. There seem to be no direct routes anywhere. Elevators, escalators and stroller/wheelchair ramps are spread apart and often seem as if they were hidden. My advice: give yourself time to navigate this building.

The Mori Museum

Tokyo Travel: Things to do in Roppongi with Kids Mori Museum entrance

This is one of Japan’s best contemporary art museums, and certainly the highest: on the 53rd floor of the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower. Out of all the things to do in Roppongi, this is my favorite. First of all, the expertly curated exhibitions are often quite kid-friendly.

Exhibits frequently include audio/visual elements and bright, ornamental installation pieces. The Mori Museum also showcases retrospectives of legendary artists such as Andy Warhol and Ai Wei Wei. Check what’s on before you visit.

Still unsure about those? Read what others have to say about Mori Art Museum

Tokyo City View Observation Deck

Tokyo Travel: Things to do in Roppongi with Kids Roppongi Tokyo City View

On the 52nd floor of the same tower are the Tokyo Sky View and the entrance to the roof observation deck. You can buy a ticket for the museum that also gives you free access to Tokyo Sky View (the roof costs extra). You should definitely make time for this place — it’s my favorite view of the city.

While not as high as Tokyo Sky Tree on the northeastern reaches of the metropolis, the view from the Mori building is in the center of the metropolis. The location seems like it’s the center of a wheel, with roads branching out in every direction. If you can time your meal and (and kids’ nap times) appropriately, try to visit at or near sunset. Thank me later.

TV Asahi Headquarters

Located next door to Roppongi Hills and the Mori Museum, the TV Asahi television network has a glass-and-steel headquarters that’s worth a walk through.

The massive entrance is often festooned with exhibits promoting their latest programs. These include some famous children’s shows, such as Doraemon, Crayon Shin-chan, and whatever the latest version of Power-rangers is. You’ll usually find some games and video displays, as well.

Out of all the things to do in Roppongi, this isn’t somewhere you’ll spend hours. But it’s right next to the Roppongi Hills complex and other places you’ll want to go. There are a pond and the arena next door — both excellent options for kids who need to run.

Tokyo Midtown

Things to do in Roppongi with Kids — Tokyo Family Travel

Like Roppongi Hills above, Tokyo Midtown is a sleek, modern “lifestyle center.” Expect nice shops, excellent restaurants, open spaces and a predilection for art and creativity.

Infinitely easier to navigate than Roppongi Hills, Tokyo Midtown has genuine grass and a park. The B1 restaurant area has plenty to to-go boxed lunches. If you’re looking for more familiar Western flavors, there’s a Dean & Deluca.

Near the Dean & Deluca, you’ll find a baby nursing space. I think that it’s worth mentioning because it’s designed to be comfortable, spacious (by Japanese standards) and entertaining for a baby’s older brothers & sisters, too. Keep in mind that part of that “entertainment” is a flat-screen TV.

In addition to the food options and the outdoor space nearby, Tokyo Midtown also shares its space with the Suntory Museum and 21_21 Design site, which I describe below.

For more detail, I wrote about Midtown in the Japan Times.

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Suntory Museum of Art

Where the Mori Museum is edgy and innovative, the Suntory Museum’s focus is more reserved and historical. Exhibits usually center on Japanese artisans, focusing mostly on ancient paintings, ceramics, and religious objects. Some kids will find it fascinating, while others will be bored to death. Decide accordingly.

21_21 Design Site

Tokyo Travel: Things to do in Roppongi with Kids 21_21 birds eye

This is easily one of my favorite creative spaces in Tokyo.Exhibits are always interesting and thought-provoking, and usually interactive. Expect some sort of hands-on element. Co-founded by fashion icon Issey Miyake, 21_21 showcases designers tackling broad concepts such as water, rice, motion, bones, and measurement.

Things to do in Roppongi with Kids — Tokyo Family Travel

For example, our favorite exhibit so far was based on chocolate. On display in one room were everyday objects made from chocolate: cell phones, nails, and electric outlets. On a different wall were incredibly detailed, larger-than-life portraits of Sierra Leone cacao farmers. You get the idea: wide-ranging displays, designed to stimulate.

The National Art Center

This immense structure is a hodgepodge of exhibition spaces. Sometimes you’ll find cutting-edge contemporary work in one hall. Two doors down there will be a show of watercolor flowers painted by little old ladies.

Moreover, many exhibits are free or priced reasonably, so it’s worth dropping by even if you don’t know what’s on. The Japan Media Arts Festival is held here every year and it’s one of our favorites. If you’re in Tokyo with kids around that time, the building alone is worth a visit. However, try to go on a weekday afternoon to avoid the crowds, as it is mobbed on weekends.

More Artsy Things to Do in Roppongi with Kids

In addition to the museums, Roppongi is also home to some of the most respected galleries. A 5-minute walk from Roppongi Hills is the Piramide building, where you find Roti Roppongi, one of the best restaurants in the area. Here you’ll find two of my favorite galleries: Wako Works of Art and Ota Fine Arts. The other galleries here are merely very good.

The all-night art event Roppongi Art Night is also something to look into. And don’t worry about staying out late if you don’t want to. There are still plenty of things to do in Roppongi before the kids’ bedtime.

Parks: Things to do in Roppongi with Kids

All this time in museums may mean that kiddos need to blow off some steam. If you’re looking for some open space to run around, I offer three choices.

Mori Garden

Things to do in Roppongi with Kids — Tokyo Family Travel

Set just behind the Mori Building, here you’ll find a pond and some stone paths through the trees. An open-air arena is next door, and regular concerts and other events happen here often. The entrance to the above-mentioned TV Asahi building is right here, as well. This area is for a family stroll by the pond, and not for running around or kicking a ball around. If that’s what you are looking for, then see Hinokicho Park below.

Hinokicho Park

This park is just behind Tokyo Midtown, and a 2-minute walk from 21_21 Design Site. Hinokicho Park has a field, some swings, and a slide. Therefore, if your little ones are ready to run around, this might be the best place in the area. In addition, there are often engaging events happening on the lawn next door (light displays, promotional events, ice skating in the winter, etc). On the other side, there is a small pond, some stone pathways, and a traditional covered seating area.

Sakura-Zaka Koen (aka Robot Park)

For a more colorful playground experience in Roppongi with kids, I recommend Robot Park. This was built for local kids to go to after school, so it’s not in the tourist area and not the easiest place to locate (here are the GPS coordinates). However, it’s worth the walk if your kids like slides and playground equipment. This is a small park — again, not really a place to play soccer or baseball, but more to use the playground equipment.

Where to Eat in Roppongi with Kids

One of my favorite things to do in Roppongi is eating. You can find almost any type of food here. This is an expat center and hub for most nationalities in Japan, so if it’s in Tokyo, it’s probably here.

You can go cheap with fast food, cafes, and bakeries. You can buy ready-made sushi packs in the grocery store. Or you can hit high-end restaurants for Japanese, Italian, French, or Chinese.

There are a handful of establishments that turn away kids and families in keeping with the “adults only” atmosphere of old Roppongi. But there is plenty of middle ground: good food, decent prices, and a family-friendly atmosphere.

Here are a few of them. Try to go before lunch rush hits (usually 11:30-12:00) or after lunch hours (13:00). Otherwise, you might wait in line at some places for 20-40 minutes.

My top recommendation is the main food area on B1 of Tokyo Midtown. Plenty of boxed lunch sets here. Just pick one up and walk over to the park or nearby benches for an impromptu picnic. The supermarket has everything you need, as well.

Another favorite in the area is Frijoles. Yes, this is a Mexican place and no, you didn’t come to Tokyo to eat Mexican. But I ate here maybe once a month. Don’t judge: 13 years is a long time to live without burritos, ok?

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More Places to Eat in Roppongi with Kids

Ippudo

Ramen is everywhere in Japan, but this is one of Tokyo’s most dependable chains. A 3-minute walk from Roppongi station, Ippudo has an English menu, but only 28 seats. It is tourist-friendly, but not stroller friendly. Try to avoid lunch crowd.

Kyutoku

Another noodle place, but not ramen. Instead, they specialize in udon, a thick wheat flour noodle that’s very popular with kids in Japan. Kyutoku is on the fifth floor of Roppongi Hills West Walk. Their kids’ lunch set comes with six small dishes.

Yasaiya Mei

If you have a craving for vegetables, this is an excellent option. Located on the same floor as Kyutoku (Roppongi Hills West Walk 5th Floor), they offer a couple of lunch sets at a decent price. If you are feeling fancy, try their exquisite vegetarian shabu shabu (with meat optional).

Green Asia Tokyo

If you’re tired of eating Japanese food, but not yet ready for western food, try Green Asia. They have green curry (Thai), nasi goreng (Indonesian) and pho (Vietnamese). Located in Roppongi Hills, Hillside B1F.

Arata

Located in Roppongi Hills Hillside B2F. Arata offers a variety of Japanese food from a lunch set menu, ramen noodles, to donburi (Japanese style with rice bowl topped with a choice of fish, meat, vegetable or a mix of them). You have several choices for whatever set you decide on.

There are many other places to eat at the Roppongi Hills West Walk 5th floor or Roppongi Hills Hillside B1F and B2F.

Conclusion: Things to Do in Roppongi with Kids

I left Japan with a very different impression of Roppongi that when I first walked through it more than a decade before. Sure, the area still has a wild side, but you can avoid the nightlife if that’s not your thing.

Have you spent time in Roppongi with kids? Where did you go? What fun, family-friendly things to do in Roppongi can you recommend?

Things to do in Roppongi with Kids — Tokyo Family Travel

Image credits: #3, #4, #5, #8, #10, #11, #13

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you,  we might receive a small commission if you make a purchase or book using those links. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help you find fun things to do in Roppongi during your Tokyo family travel. 

Comments

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