Things to Do in Tokyo with Kids or Without — Tokyo Travel Blog

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Tokyo travel blog: the best things to do in Tokyo with kids. If going to Japan with kids isn’t on your bucket list, it should be. I lived in Tokyo for 13 years. My kids were born there, and our family returns regularly. And I can tell you that there are more things to do in Tokyo with children than you can ever do in one trip. In this Tokyo travel blog post, I list up some of out best Tokyo travel tips, as well as loads of link to other things to do in Japan with kids or without.

Tokyo with Kids - Things to Do in Tokyo Japan with Kids -Tokyo Travel Blog

Tokyo with Kids: Our Ultimate Tokyo Travel Blog Post

You could explore Tokyo with kids for a decade and still find new things to do. Believe me: I’ve done it. My kids were born in Tokyo (in 2002 and 2006), and we still haven’t run out of events, museums and other fun things to do in Tokyo. We probably never will. If you’re a family headed east, then this is the Tokyo travel blog post you are looking for.

Keiko and I arrived in Tokyo in January of 2001. Two years later, we had a brand new baby boy to share this amazing city with. Tokyo is an amazing city to explore with children, and family travel in Tokyo offers countless opportunities to learn, play and eat.

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Writing About Tokyo for Families – Tokyo Travel Blog

An Epic Education isn’t only a Tokyo travel blog — we’ve traveled all over. That said, I’ve been writing about various aspects of Tokyo life since 2002. First about music, then about the contemporary art scene, and then finally about exploring Tokyo with kids. A lot of that work is for the Japan Times, but for other publications, such as CNN, Bon Appétit Magazine and various blogs. You can find a lot of that stuff on my media page.

After 13 years, we left our life in Tokyo in 2013, but still visit Japan regularly. Nowadays, it’s mostly to visit Keiko’s family in her hometown of Osaka (or maybe take the train over to Kyoto for a night or two). That said, I visit Tokyo whenever I can, and recommend visiting Tokyo with kids no matter what age they are. Whether it’s Tokyo with a baby, Tokyo with a toddler or Tokyo with a teen, you’ll find plenty of fun things to do in Japan’s capital. I still consider this a Tokyo travel blog, even though we write about many destinations, especially places like Malaysia, Spain and Mexico, where we’ve lived for extended periods of time.

Best Tokyo Tours to Enjoy in Tokyo with Kids

I usually prefer DIY kind of travel, and most of the things you’ll find in our Tokyo travel blog posts can be done on your own. However, when we have limited time in a new place, we like to take a professional tour to cover more ground.

Tokyo can be confusing for beginners, especially when exploring Tokyo with kids if you don’t speak or read the language. That’s why we recommend that newbies a tour along the way just to have the insight of a local. Here are a few Tokyo tours to consider.

Tokyo Morning Tour: Meiji Shrine, Senso-ji Temple and Ginza Shopping District

Private Custom Tour: Tokyo in a Day

Tokyo Private Custom Walking Tour

Tokyo Small-Group Walking Tour: Ningyocho and Nihonbashi Districts

Half-day Food and Drink Walking Tour in Tsukiji and Asakusa

Challenge Sumo Wrestlers and Enjoy a Chanko Lunch

Tokyo by Bike: Skytree, Kiyosumi Garden and Sumo Stadium (11 y/o or up)

When to Go to Tokyo with Kids

Tokyo with Kids - Things to Do in Tokyo Japan with Kids -Tokyo Travel Blog

Spring, Fall, and Winter in Tokyo with Kids

Looking at visiting Tokyo with kids and wondering when the best time to visit is? When many people search Tokyo travel blogs, they’re looking at visiting Tokyo during a specific season. You can visit Tokyo with children any time of year. That said, we things some seasons may be better than others.

Spring in Tokyo

However, spring (March to early June) is when I usually recommend first. In the spring you get great walking temperatures, and of course, the hanami season when all the cherry blossoms bloom. If I could, I’d be in Japan for cherry blossom season every year. Almost every Tokyo travel blog will have pictures and tips on cherry blossom season, but few have been to as many hanami parties as I have!

Despite our love for Spring in Tokyo, we highly recommend that you don’t visit Japan with kids during the Golden Week holidays (April 29 to May 5). Why? Because that’s when many locals are off of work and naturally cause more traffic everywhere. Prices go up and many interesting things to do in Tokyo with kids will be mobbed.

Autumn in Tokyo

Tokyo travel blogs love to show the autumn colors of Japan, and with good reason. Tokyo in fall (late September to late November) has similar weather to spring in Tokyo. Instead of colorful flowers, however, you have blazing red maple leaves, yellow gingko trees, and other jaw-dropping colors on the mountainsides. And there are plenty of hikes in Japan that kids are capable of.

Winter in Tokyo

Winters in Tokyo are usually quite mild — there is little rain, and even less snow. It’s still cold, but clear and dry. In fact, you can have a lot of fun with kids in Japan during wintertime. That goes double if you want to ski or snowboard in Japan.

Summer in Tokyo with Kids

Tokyo with Kids - Things to Do in Tokyo Japan with Kids -Tokyo Travel Blog

Of course, you can visit Tokyo with kids during the summer, too. But I’ll warn you that summer is the high season, and Tokyo summers are extremely hot and humid. Average temperatures are around 30-35 °C / 86-95 °F, which on its own isn’t too harsh. That said, you should expect over 70% humidity every day. If you and/or the kids aren’t used to it, it can hit you hard.

Walking Through Soup: Tokyo Summers

The combination of heat, humidity, and lots of concrete means that most of central Japan is sweltering in July and miserable in August. That includes Osaka and Kyoto, as well. The difference between Southeast Asia and Japan is walking. Few Tokyo travel blog posts really cover just how hot and humid it is. It doesn’t bother us as badly as it does others — we like that kind of weather. In contrast, some people wilt in weather like this.

Some places in Thailand and Malaysia have similar weather year-round, but there are also cheap taxis, motorbikes, and tuk-tuks all over. Not so in Japan. Sure, there are plenty of taxis, but the costs add up. Tokyo public transportation is the best in the world. However, the walking between stations and up and down on stairs can tire you out fast in this heat.

Am I saying don’t go to Tokyo in summer? No. However, I want you to be ready.

School Holidays

Another aspect of Tokyo in summer are the school holidays, usually mid-July to around the end of August. Just like Golden Week mentioned in Spring, everywhere is even more crowded than usual. That means any amusement park or other kids’ attraction will be swamped. When most people come to Tokyo with kids, they want to go to Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea, naturally.

These parks are great fun of course, but keep in mind that they are very crowded year-round (both school days and weekends). In the summer, they are absolutely mobbed. One summer, Keiko took our kids and their friends to Tokyo Disneyland, and they had to wait over two hours in the heat to ride Splash Mountain. No shade, either. Disney in summer is the last place I want to be.

Am I exaggerating a little? Perhaps. But I want you to be prepared for the worst.

Getting Around Tokyo with Kids – Tokyo Travel Blog

Tokyo with Kids - Things to Do in Tokyo Japan with Kids -Tokyo Travel Blog

This wouldn’t be a Tokyo travel blog if we didn’t talk about the trains. Here’s the good news: getting around Tokyo with kids can be fun and easy once you learn the basics. Sidewalks and street maps are plentiful. And unlike many parts of Asia, drivers follow the rules, and traffic is safe and predictable. On top of that, Japanese public transportation is some of the best in the world. It’s safe, clean, punctual, and just about as efficient as it gets.

In Tokyo, there is the JR (Japan Rail), the subway trains, two monorails and a complex system of buses. We mostly use the subway, the JR lines, and our feet to get around.

How to Navigate the Subway in Tokyo – Tokyo Travel Blog

Tokyo with Kids - Things to Do in Tokyo Japan with Kids -Tokyo Travel Blog

The Tokyo subway system is incredibly complex but is easier to navigate than it may appear at first. Each station is marked with a letter (for the train line) and a number (for the station). Look for these on the maps and on the walls of the platform. The subway is used mostly for downtown and the nearby suburbs. The JR Rail pass does not cover these lines.

There are two primary subway operators in Tokyo, covering 13 train lines in Tokyo. Some are owned by one company, and others are operated by a different company. Some maps of these train lines will emphasize certain train line over other, depending on who made the map.

One of the most important Subway lines to know when in Tokyo with kids is the Toei Oedo (大江戸) line. It makes a circle around the central Tokyo. It’s a very deep line (8+ floors down at some points), but has elevators throughout and connects to many important spots.

Taking JR (Japan Rail) in Tokyo with Kids

Tokyo with Kids - Things to Do in Tokyo Japan with Kids -Tokyo Travel Blog

Unlike the subway system, the JR train system covers the entire country, but there is a complex network of stations throughout greater Tokyo as well. If you’ve bought JR Rail passes for your trip, then these are the lines to look to the most. You can hop on and off of these without extra charges.

JR lines connect all major (and most minor) cities, including lots of great day trip spots from Tokyo, such as Yokohama, Kamakura, and Hakone (see below).

One of the most important JR lines to know when in Tokyo with kids is the Yamanote (山の手) line. It makes a circle around the city. You’ll likely take the Yamanote Line at least once during your time in Tokyo with kids.

Challenges to Trains in Tokyo with Kids

There are, however, a few challenges to getting around Tokyo with kids worth mentioning. The most obvious one is the language barrier, but all stations are written in English as well.

Size of Tokyo Train Stations

Another challenge to getting around Tokyo with kids is the sheer size and scale of the train and bus systems. Some underground stations can be confusing to navigate. Shinjuku station is one of the most confusing. Lots of  Tokyo travel blog posts talk about Shinjuku station, but it’s one thing to read about it, and another to actually get through it!

Tokyo Train Stations have Multiple Exits

This may seem obvious, but worth mentioning: Remember that many stations have multiple exits and entries. For example, let’s say you’re going to meet someone at Shibuya station. Decide exactly which exit and which side of the exit is best. Don’t just say “I’ll meet you at the entrance to Ebisu station.” Make sure to specify which exit or entrance. Otherwise, you may not see each other through crowds of people or may be waiting at a completely different part of the station.

Stairs & Strollers in Tokyo Subway Stations

Another challenge for those navigating Tokyo with kids is strollers is stairs. When I first started this Tokyo travel blog, I needed to point out the many stations that were stairs only. However, wheeled accesibility has improved dramatically over the last 10-15 years, as more and more elevators and escalators are installed. That said, not every exit has them.

Carrying a stroller up and down stairs can be challenging — especially during morning and evening rush hours. In fact, I’d suggest avoiding morning rush hours altogether if possible. I’d also consider carrying an umbrella stroller and a baby carrier option.

The Oedo line has long been the gold standard for stroller-toting families. Being one of the most recent lines (opened December 2000), every station has elevators from street level to the train platform, and the Oedo line loops all the way around the city. Keep in mind, however, that the Oedo line is deep underground. Up to 8 or 9 stories deep, actually.

READ MORE: See Our 48 Hours in Tokyo with Family

Taxis in Tokyo with Kids

If you don’t want to bother with navigating public transportation, then you’ll have no problem finding a taxi. They’re everywhere in Tokyo, and most of them take credit cards. There should be signs in the window saying which cards they take.

Don’t worry. Taxi drivers in Japan use the meter and drive with integrity for the most part. Taxi scams are extremely rare. The base fare starts at 410 yen for the first 1.05km (0.65mile). If you travel less than that distance with four people, it might end up cheaper to use a taxi than public transport, so consider it a good option for short distances in town when time is an issue.

Be careful, however, after the first 1km, it’s 80 yen every 237m (778ft). This can add up fast. Also, it’d be much more expensive, even for short distances, if you get trapped in a traffic jam which could often be the case in Tokyo.

Taxi Doors

Warning: the back door of Japanese taxis open and close on their own. The driver operates it. Make sure the kids aren’t leaning against it when the car stops. And don’t slam the door yourself when you get out unless you want to see your driver curse. He’ll close the door himself.

More Tips for Getting Around Tokyo with Kids

Whether you’re in the city for a day or a month, the more you know about getting around Tokyo with children, the better. If you’re going to be looking for things to do in Tokyo with kids for more than a few days, then check out the below info.

Buy a PASMO or SUICA (IC Card)

Tokyo with Kids - Things to Do in Tokyo Japan with Kids -Tokyo Travel Blog

PASMO cards are prepaid cards that make it much easier to go in and out of the subway. They can be obtained at many machines near the ticket gate. Look for ones that have the PASMO logo. The cards themselves require a refundable ¥500 deposit when you first get one. Then you add more money (credit) onto the card to use it.

Once the card is charged, you can simply touch it to the ticket gate and you’re in. This saves you the hassle of buying separate tickets for every train ride and figuring out how much they cost. You can also use the card to buy things at many convenience stores and some vending machines.

Kids PASMO for Tokyo Subways & Trains

There are Tokyo kids’ PASMO cards as well, and they use children’s rates on the train. However, in order to obtain cards for kids, you must show your child’s ID to prove he or she is under 12 y/o. This is easy to do but requires one more step.

If you plan to return to Tokyo with kids within the next 10 years, you can keep the card for your next visit. If you don’t know when you’ll visit again, you can have your ¥500 deposit refunded when you cancel the card. One disadvantage to this card is that your charged amount cannot be refunded if you lose the card. So make sure to keep up with the card. I once charged my PASMO ¥3,000 (approx USD $30) and then somehow misplaced it. I was much more careful after that.

Online help for navigating Tokyo with kids

There are a number of apps for getting around Tokyo. These are a great place to start.

Shoes Off on Seats

Sometimes, the little ones want to stand on their seat. If you do this in a taxi or on a train, then shoes off, please. Same as in a Japanese house.

Maps are Aligned to Your Perspective

There are street maps all over Tokyo, but they can be confusing to some on first look. That’s because they’re usually not set to the usual North-South-West-East perspective many of us are accustomed to. In other words, north may not be at the top of the map.

Instead, the map is aligned with the perspective of the viewer standing in front of it. For example, if you’re facing south while looking at the map, then south would be at the top. If you want to know which way is north, look in the corners of the map.

Grab Business Cards from Your Hotel

It’s best to keep a business card of your hotel in your pocket when you go out so that you have the name and address in Japanese. Many taxi drivers and other people who live in Tokyo don’t speak English. If you need a ride home or want to ask directions, it’s best to have a card handy.

Staying at an Tokyo AirBnB or accommodation without their own cards? Look for a restaurant or hair salon nearby and use theirs.

Where to Stay in Tokyo with Kids

Tokyo with Kids - Things to Do in Tokyo Japan with Kids -Tokyo Travel Blog

The best place to stay in Tokyo with kids may depend on what you want to see and do. For example, if Tokyo Disney Sea and old-school neighborhoods Asakusa are your top priorities, then I’d recommend staying on the east side of Tokyo. If you’re more interested in Tokyo’s modern side and a visit to the Ghibli Museum, then Tokyo’s west side will do you better.

It doesn’t hurt to move around Tokyo with kids, either. Staying in different parts of Tokyo with your family gives you a different snapshot of the city. For example, staying in Odaiba is very different than staying in Asakusa, ebven though their not that far from each other.

Find the Best Family Hotels in Tokyo
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Things to Do in Tokyo with Kids

I’ve been searching for things to do in Tokyo with kids since 2002. There is plenty to keep you occupied, and this list is far from complete.

That said, below I’ll run through some of my favorite activities and neighborhoods in Tokyo, along with tips and links to my other posts for more things to do in that area of Tokyo with kids.

East Tokyo with Kids

Tokyo with Kids - Things to Do in Tokyo Japan with Kids -Tokyo Travel Blog

Our family lived in East Tokyo for most of our 13 years in the city. Here is where you’ll find neighborhoods that look frozen in time, looking not that different than they did 50 years ago. That said, galleries and cafes are popping up in the fogotten neighborhoods and making them cool again. Not that they weren’t before. If you want to get a glimpse of what Tokyo life was like before robots and neon, then you’re more likely to find it here.

The east side of Tokyo is more old-school. Here is where you find the sumo stadium, the Sensoji Temple and some of the only parts of the metropolis that were spared WWII bombing. You’ll also find the modern man-made island of Odaiba, which can occupy any family for at least one or two days.

Asakusa

Tokyo with Kids - Things to Do in Tokyo Japan with Kids -Tokyo Travel Blog

Asakusa is where you’ll find the Sensoji Temple, one of the city’s most famous landmarks. Whether you’re visiting Tokyo with kids or alone, this is one of the most photogenic places in the Tokyo. This is a pretty crowded area, and sidewalks are full. That said, it’s worth seeing one of the most famous Tokyo landmarks.

On the modern side, not far from the Asakusa station in the Tokyo Sky Tree, with its unparalleled views of the metropolis.

Asakusa is also where you can find the boat tours that float down the Sumida River. Out of the many water bus (水上バス) routes, we recommend the route from Asakusa to Odaiba the most.

Best Tours in Asakusa

Tokyo Asakusa Rickshaw Tour

Tokyo Skytree, Asakusa and Central Tokyo Sightseeing Tour

Half-Day Street Go-Kart Tour in Asakusa

Japanese Replica Food Making Experience in Asakusa

Nighttime Local Food and Drink Tour in Asakusa

READ MORE: Things to Do in Asakusa with Kids

Yanaka

This neighborhood was spared much of the WWII bombing, so some of Tokyo’s oldest temples and other structures are in this area.

My favorite part of this neighborhood? The graveyard. Odd, perhaps, but it is an extremely peaceful and beautiful walk from Nippori station, and the nearby streets seem to be frozen in time.

The Yanaka neighborhood also has Scai the Bathhouse, one of my favorite kid-friendly Tokyo art galleries.

Ueno

Some of the city’s most respected museums are in Ueno. Ueno is also the location of the city’s zoo, and one of the most well-known places for hanami parties in the spring.

One of my favorite places in Ueno is Ameya Yokocho (aka “Ameyoko”), which is one of Tokyo’s oldest and liveliest shopping streets. If you’re in Tokyo with kids, I consider this place a must.

Tokyo / Yurakucho

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If you’re taking a Shinkansen (bullet train) to or from Tokyo, chances are you’ll come through Tokyo station.

Most of the area is a business district. But walk south (or take one train station south) into Yurakucho and you’ll find a few things worth doing with kids.

If you like cameras and other electronics, then visit the Bic Camera store just outside the Yurakucho station. On the west side of the station, you’ll find a department store with plenty of restaurants. A few blocks west is Hibiya Park and the Imperial Palace.

My favorite thing to do in the evening here is to walk along the Yamanote’s raised train tracks — from Yurakucho station to Shinbashi station. The real estate under the tracks must be cheap. Why? Because there are dozens of fun, lively and reasonably priced Japanese-style eateries there. Stop for a few sticks of yakitori as the trains rumble above you.

Our favorite is Andy’s Shin Hinomoto (aka “Andy’s”). Great food and a one-of-a-kind atmosphere. The problem is it’s smoky on the most interesting floor. Downstairs has less ambiance, but less smoke and the food is great everywhere.

Ginza

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Once the symbol of Japan’s 1980’s excesses, Ginza continues to be one of Japan’s most well-known shopping districts. Expect luxury brand flagship stores and some of the country’s most elite shops.

There is also a high concentration of art galleries in Ginza, many of which are fun to visit with kids.

My favorite thing to do in Ginza is to go down to the basement floors (B1 and B2) of fancy department stores like Matsuya and Mitsukoshi. Here is where you’ll find their premier supermarkets and food vendors. The confectionary area looks like a jewelry shop, and the produce and other delectables are mouth-watering. You can try some samples or even pick up pre-made boxed meals here for a reasonable price.

READ MORE: Things to Do in Ginza with Kids!

Monzen-Nakacho & Kiyosumi Shirakawa

Tokyo with Kids - Things to Do in Tokyo Japan with Kids -Tokyo Travel Blog

This was our neighborhood from 2005 to 2013, and I still consider the place like a second home. Hugging the Sumida River, Monzen Nakacho is where sumo originated, and its designated temple, the Tomioka Hanchimangu, is worth your time. Monzen Nakacho is a great area in the spring and summer as well. Known locally as the “Venice of Tokyo,” the canals in the area have tree-lined walking paths, most of which bring you to the Sumida River.

One station north is Kiyosumi Shirakawa. Here you have more modern cafes and kid-friendly contemporary art galleries. All in the same neighborhood as temples, traditional gardens and a carefully recreated Edo-era village museum.

READ MORE: Things to Do in East Tokyo with Children

Ryogoku

Tokyo with Kids - Things to Do in Tokyo Japan with Kids -Tokyo Travel Blog

If you’re interested in the history of Tokyo, or in the sport of Sumo, there’s no better place to visit than Ryogoku. Any visit to Tokyo with kids should include it as a half-day trip. It’s here that you’ll find the country’s biggest and most important Sumo stadium and training ground.

Right next-door is the Tokyo Edo Museum, the country’s biggest and most comprehensive repository Tokyo history and artifacts. Both the museum and the stadium are essentially next door to each other, and both very close to the train station.

READ MORE: Things to Do in Ryogoku with Kids

Kiba

The main appeal of visiting Kiba is for the sprawling Kiba Park, with the Museum of Contemporary Art (one of my favorite Tokyo museums) at its northernmost corner. It’s a bit of a walk, but can be great for a weekend afternoon if you’re interested in a slice of Tokyo family life. Plenty of families will be here on Saturdays and Sundays, and there is plenty of space and playground equipment for all of them.

If you want to grab some lunch or a pre-made bento for an impromptu picnic in the park, there’s an Ito Yokado Department Store near Kiba station. Plenty of restaurants and a nice movie theater there, too. Should Kiba be at the top of your “Tokyo with Kids” agenda? No. But in combination with other east-side attractions, it can be a great place to end an afternoon.

Toyosu

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When we lived in Tokyo with kids, we frequently biked over to the Toyosu area from our neighborhood.

Many Tokyoites consider Toyosu the tail end of the Yurikamome Monorail line, which starts in Shinbashi and goes through Odaiba. But this is an appealing destination in its own right. There are wide-open fields, free museums, good movie theaters, and plenty of kid-friendly restaurants and activities.

READ MORE: Toyosu with kids and the nearby Tokyo Gas Museum

Odaiba

Tokyo with Kids - Things to Do in Tokyo Japan with Kids -Tokyo Travel Blog

Odaiba is a great place to spend a day or two in Tokyo with kids. There is plenty to keep both you and kids of all ages occupied for several days.

There are museums, events, a TV station and one of the best views of Tokyo from the bay. Also plenty of restaurants.

Even coming and going from here is fun. There are you can arrive by boat or by the monorail, which is a great ride. When my kids were young, I sometimes rode them back and forth on this for an hour or more. They were either entranced by the ride…or it put them to sleep. Wait for the front car — highly recommended.

READ MORE: The many things to do in Odaiba with kids

Kasai Rinkai

This park area isn’t at the top of my recommendations for visiting Tokyo with kids. However, if you’re going to Disneyland, or happen to be staying on the far east side of Tokyo with kids near Disneyland, then this park might be a welcome bit of open space.

There is a nice aquarium here, as well, and plenty of seaside fields for a family picnic.

West Tokyo with Kids

When you imagine the sleek, modern side of Japan, you’re probably thinking of Tokyo’s west side. There is where the skyscrapers are. Much of the city’s style and creative industries as well, although that’s changing.

Come to the west side of Tokyo with kids and you’ll find incredible museums, great food, jaw-dropping buildings and some of Japan’s best parks.

Shinjuku with Kids

Tokyo is a crowded place, and Shinjuku is the most crowded section of the uniquely crowded city. For example, the Shinjuku train station has over two million people pass through its gates every day.

That’s more than the population of New Zealand. Every day.

Shinjuku station is one of the most complex and perplexing places I’ve ever been to. There are dozens and dozens of exits, and 1,000 ways to get each place. I usually don’t recommend passing through Shinjuku station if you can help it, or unless you want to see it for yourself. If you do, give yourself enough time. I lived in Tokyo for 13 years and I still lost my way a few times here.

That said, the area is a fascinating place to visit in Tokyo with kids. There are lots of great things to do in the cities most beautiful park is a 10-minute walk from the station.

Also in the area are the Fire Museum, the Toy Museum, and many other fun things to do in Tokyo with kids. That includes Shinjuku Gyoen, the city’s most beautiful and manicured park. But beware: it closes early!

READ MORE: I wrote about the Tokyo Firefighter Museum in the Japan Times

Yoyogi, Harajuku & Omotesando

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Whenever some Tokyo travel blog wants to show “freaky Japan,” they often show pictures of Harajuku. It’s a stereotype now, for better or worse. Harajuku is where much of today’s Asian youth culture originated. It can be fascinating to walk by all the bizarre shops, salons, and boutiques in the area.

Omotesando, the adjoining neighborhood, could be considered the Rodeo Drive of West Tokyo. Plenty of flagship shops and brand-name goods are here, along with lots of galleries and other interesting places to visit.

Both areas have loads of things to do with kids.

READ MORE: Fun things to do in Harajuku & Yoyogi Park with kids?

There are also loads of fun things to do in Omotesando with kids!

Shibuya

Tokyo with Kids - Things to Do in Tokyo Japan with Kids -Tokyo Travel Blog

Shibuya is a great place for nightlife, and when we lived in Tokyo I met friends here to eat, drink and go to concerts all the time. That said, if you’re in Tokyo with kids, the main appeal is probably Shibuya Crossing (aka “Shibuya Scramble”). This is the famous intersection often used as an example of the bustle of Japan urban life.

Visit the Hachiko statue, and get your selfie in the intersection. If you have more time to spare, the Hikarie Building on the other side of the station often has some interesting shops and exhibits.

READ MORE: Shibuya is part of our 48 hours in Tokyo with Children itinerary

Roppongi

Tokyo with Kids - Things to Do in Tokyo Japan with Kids -Tokyo Travel Blog

The Roppongi area is known best for its bar district, but by day it is a great place to visiting in Tokyo with kids. There are three fantastic museums that kids will love. There are also several stylish shopping and lifestyle centers that are ideal for wandering, people-watching and getting a bite to eat. Also, my favorite view of Tokyo is from the 35th floor of the Mori Building here.

READ MORE: Kid-friendly things to do in Roppongi with kids

Shinagawa

I mention Shinagawa with kids here simply because it’s where a lot of people book hotels. Shinagawa has great access to the city’s main train lines and to the Shinkansen. This isn’t necessarily an area worth days of exploration, but there are several places worth visiting with kids.

The Shinagawa Aquarium is fun for a few hours, but even better is the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, which is close to Shinagawa Station.

Nakano

This neighborhood just west of Shinjuku has a great restaurant district. There’s also a nice Shoten Gai (covered shopping street) as well, which can be fun to wander on a rainy day. At the end of that shopping street is Mandarake, which is a mecca for anime, manga and figurine fans. Warning: this is comic and anime culture, so expect some of it to be on the risque side.

Sanrio Puro Land

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Do you love Hello Kitty? Do you hate Hello Kitty? Either way, you should consider going here.

Personally, I’m not a fan of Hello Kitty. At all. However, I went here twice with my daughter and I would go back tomorrow if I could. I’m not a Kitty fan by any stretch of the imagination, but this place is so bizarre and over-the-top that I was fascinated.

READ MORE: I wrote about visiting Sanrio Puroland for the Japan Times

Kichijoji & Mitaka

Man-o-man I love this neighborhood. Inokashira Park is one of the most entertaining places to be on weekends, with flea markets and buskers providing lots to see and hear.

Then there are the swan-shaped paddle boats, which kids love. There’s a zoo here, too, but I won’t recommend it. Instead, walk through the park to the Ghibli Museum, which should be on anyone’s agenda if visiting Tokyo with kids. The Ghibli Museum was designed by Japan’s most famous and respected animation artist, Hayao Miyazaki. His films include My Neighbor Totoro, Ponyo, and Spirited Away.

The Ghibli Museum is where Miyazaki’s life and creative process are enshrined. But most of the exhibits deal with the art and science of old-school animation, and it will keep both kids and adults occupied for hours. Just remember that you have to buy your tickets in advance and they are for entering the museum at a specific time only. A must for anyone in Tokyo with kids.

Pre-Order request for Studio Ghibli Museum

READ MORE: I wrote about Kichijoji and the Ghibli Museum in the Japan Times

Showa Kinen Koen

This place is a considerable ride away from the city, but for those who love creatively designed open spaces, it may be worth it.

Out of all the big open spaces to go in Tokyo with kids, this is one of my favorites. Showa Kinen Koen is a massive park. So large, in fact, that there are 2-lane bike paths crisscrossing its territory.

READ MORE: I wrote more about Showa Kinen Koen for the Japan Times

Futako Tamagawa (aka “Nikotama”)

This stylish neighborhood near the Tamagawa River has great restaurants and shopping centers near the water, but the real reason to go here during the summer is to cool off at the river.

Where to Eat in Tokyo with Kids (And What to Eat in Tokyo)

One of the main reasons to come to Tokyo with children is to experience Japanese cuisine at its origin. For us, Japanese food is the best in the world, and we miss it every day we’re away. Come to Tokyo with kids and you’ll find some of the best food you’ll ever eat. From sidewalk shacks to michellin-starred bistros, Tokyo restaurants are incredible.

Not Seeking Publicity

Now here’s the truth: there are SO MANY great places to eat in Tokyo with kids that I could never list them all. There are just too many! In addition, most of my favorite Tokyo restaurants are small, individual family-run businesses. They’re off the beaten track or places I learned about through friends or neighbors. They don’t want to expand. They don’t want more business and they don’t want to be profiled in the newspaper or anywhere else.

In fact, my friend Robbie is the food critic for the Japan Times (his blog is great, too), and he’s often told by the owners themselves *not* to write about their restaurant. They have their system and their customers. They’re not looking for new customers. That shouldn’t stop you though. Check out his column and his blog for some great spots.

You’re certain for find great food in Tokyo, so instead of just listing a few individual Tokyo restaurants, I’m going to tell you about some chain restaurants that are good, reliable and relatively easy to try with children. That way you’ll always have a backup. And refer back to this piece in the coming months/years, as I’ll surely add more when I have time.

Read More: Our list of the best Japanese food for kids

Some of these Tokyo restaurant tips are family favorites. Others are just useful for families that are hungry, can’t read Japanese or have kids who aren’t as willing to try unfamiliar foods.

Sushi at Tsukiji

Tokyo with Kids - Things to Do in Tokyo Japan with Kids -Tokyo Travel Blog

This is Japan’s most famous fish market and the nerve center of the Japanese seafood industry. If you’re coming to Tokyo with kids who love sushi, then this is the place. Tokyo sushi at Tsukiji: it doesn’t get any better.

Thanks to the 2020 Olympics and other reasons, the Tsukiji market is moving. We will update you on how the new market works once we’ve had a chance to visit. That said, many Tokyo sushi restaurants will remain in the area, and the outer market isn’t going anywhere, so I’d still recommend visiting Tsukiji regardless of the fish market itself.

UPDATE: As of mid-October, 2018, the Tsukiji Fish Market will move to the Toyosu area. Much of the market surrounding the fish market will remain open for business, but at the time of writing I am not sure what will remain or what to recommend in the area. We still think the Tsukiji area is worth a visit, tuna auctions or not, and much of the businesses surrounding the area do not plan to move.

READ MORE: How to visit the Tsukiji Fish Market with Kids

Other Tokyo Sushi Restaurants

I mentioned Andy’s in Yurakucho, but for more sushi-centric restaurants, here are a few worth checking out that are near some of the Tokyo sushi restaurants I recommend here:

Yakiniku (Korean-style BBQ)

There’s more to Japan than sushi restaurants. Yakiniku (焼肉) is another incredibly popular dining experience to have in Tokyo with kids. This Japanese food actually originated in Korea, and you’ll hear it also called “Korean BBQ.” It’s usually cook-it-yourself style, with a grill built into the table. Here are a few Yakiniku chains worth seeking out for families who enjoy nice cuts of grilled meat.

Ramen

Another quintessential Japanese food to eat in Tokyo with kids is ramen. Some of the best ramen in Tokyo is made in single, family-run stores, but there are several chains worth your time and money. Here are a few of our favorite Tokyo ramen chains to try when in Tokyo with children:

Tonkatsu

This fried pork cutlet is essentially a Japanese schnitzel, but the local style is a hit with many kids because of the condiments and additions. For example, you often grind your own sesame for the sauce, and rice, soup, and shaved cabbage salad are all-you-can-eat. Fried shrimp are also prominent on the menus.

Other Places to Eat in Tokyo with Kids

If Tokyo restaurants are a big part of your Tokyo itinerary, then here are a few more Japanese restaurant styles worth exploring.

Umenohana

Tokyo with Kids - Things to Do in Tokyo Japan with Kids -Tokyo Travel Blog

Book a tatami room in any branch of this chain of Tokyo restaurants for one of the most reasonably priced kaiseki-style course menus in town. Umenohana’s specialty is tofu, but that doesn’t mean that these course menus are vegetarian. Meat, fish, and chicken are often part of many courses.

Goemon: Italian & Japanese-style pasta

This place is a big hit with our kids and many others. If you’re in Tokyo with kids who are less adventurous with food but you want to try something new, this might be the place. Sure, the menu has spaghetti, a nice carbonara and the like, but then there other Japanese-style pasta dishes using ingredients like cod roe, seaweed, and crab.

Otoya

This is a Japanese restaurant chain serves washoku (Japan-style) comfort food and home-style dishes. Fish and other grilled or fried meats are usually the main, with rice and a few Japanese veggies. Super clean, and pictures on the menus. Seasonal items available as well. One of the most reliable Tokyo restaurant chains in its vert reasonable price range.

Ready-made meals in B1 / B2 of department stores

In most major fancy departments stores like Isetan, Matsuya, and Mitsukoshi, you’ll find food and gourmet supermarkets on the basement floors (B1 / B2). A must for anyone in Tokyo with kids is to just roam these floors looking at the food and trying any samples. Much of what you’ll find here is of the same or similar quality to what you’d find in a Tokyo restaurant. There are always plenty of pre-made meals as well, so you can grab something to go and then head to a nearby park to eat.

Family Restaurants

So you’ve been walking through Tokyo with the family all day. You’re tired, your kids are hungry and you don’t want to guess what to order from a menu in Japanese. That’s when you look for Japan’s “family restaurant” chains. They have booth seating and laminated menus with pics of all the food. Often in English.

Are they the best restaurant in Tokyo? No. They’re, however, pretty good, filling and inexpensive. Besides, they’re used to kids. The closest equivalents in the United States would be like Denny’s or Sizzler (both in Japan as well). In fact, we’ve eaten at the Sizzler in Odaiba many times. Why? Two words: salad bar. When we’ve craved an American-style all-you-can-eat fresh fruit and veggies spread, this is where we’ve gone. They have a great patio overlooking Tokyo Bay, as well.

  • Jonathan’s
  • Royal Host
  • Sizzler

Japanese Fast Food Restaurants

When you’re in Tokyo with kids who are hungry, don’t discount Japanese fast food chains. The food is cheap, delicious, and served with amazing speed. Our kids crave the stuff, and I do too. It’s one of the first meals we eat when we return, actually, just because it’s easy, cheap and ubiquitous.

Gyudon and mild curries can be found all over the city in either of these chains:

  • Yoshinoya
  • Matsuya

Scratching the surface

So I could continue to add to this list of where to eat in Tokyo with kids, but for the sake of time, I’ll stop here for the moment. There’s no way to list every kid-friendly Tokyo sushi place or Tokyo restaurant, this Tokyo travel blog post can only be so long! But I hope you’ll find somewhere to start here.

READ MORE: Kid-Friendly Japanese Foods

Day Trips From Tokyo – Places to Go Near Tokyo – Tokyo Travel Blog

Tokyo with Kids - Things to Do in Tokyo Japan with Kids -Tokyo Travel Blog

There is so much to do in Tokyo with kids, but if you’re looking for more, there are dozens of fun activities within an hour or two by train. Tokyo day trips are plentiful, and it’s easy to find things to do near Tokyo. Here are just a few great day trips to consider during your visit to Tokyo with kids.

Looking for places to go hiking?  You can read my column on hiking near Tokyo in the Japan Times

Kamakura

Tokyo with Kids - Things to Do in Tokyo Japan with Kids -Tokyo Travel Blog

Once the home of the shogunate in the 11th century, Kamakura is a great place to show your kids the historical side of Japan. Temples and shrines are set up in a nice walkable circuit, and there are great hiking trails here as well

Kamakura’s structures may not be as impressive If you’re coming from Kyoto, but if you’re staying in the Tokyo area and want a taste of shogun-era Japan, then make this day trip from Tokyo.

READ MORE: I wrote about Kamakura’s hiking trails for the Japan Times

Hakone

Tokyo with Kids - Things to Do in Tokyo Japan with Kids -Tokyo Travel Blog

With beautiful trails, a pristine lake and hundreds of traditional hot spring hotels, Hakone is Tokyo’s main weekend getaway spot. Make sure to visit the open-air museum — it’s extremely photogenic and kid-friendly.

You should also take the cable car to see spectacular views of Mount Fuji in the distance and the sulfurous pools below

READ MORE: I mention Hakone’s Open Air Museum in my column for the Japan Times

Zushi, Hayama, Shonan, & Enoshima

Tokyo with Kids - Things to Do in Tokyo Japan with Kids -Tokyo Travel Blog

These are the beaches near Tokyo that are frequented by weekenders because of their proximity to the city and its easy access by train and bus. There is a set “beach season” in Japan, and places open and close accordingly, so if you want the beach “scene,” then plan a visit if you’re in Tokyo with kids during the height of summer. Otherwise, the beaches may be empty.

Yokohama

Tokyo with Kids - Things to Do in Tokyo Japan with Kids -Tokyo Travel Blog

Considered by some to be a suburb of Tokyo, Yokohama is an amazing city and destination all its own. There are great museums, parks, and public spaces to explore, and you could spend a week here alone. Many people talk about Chinatown as a place to go, and I’d agree, but if you only have a day, then I make sure to walk the entire Minato Mirai area first.

Overnight Trips from Tokyo with Kids

Tokyo with Kids - Things to Do in Tokyo Japan with Kids -Tokyo Travel Blog

First of all, any of the above day trips could easily be an overnight trip. In fact, it would be better. That gives you an extra few hours to explore instead of return to the city on a train.

I guess it’s possible to try any of the below trips in a day, as well, but I wouldn’t advise it. There’s too much to see and do that spending all that transportation time isn’t worth it. You may only be in Tokyo with kids once, but you don’t want to spend it all on trains.

Minakami in Gunma Prefecture

This area in the Japanese Alps is a great place in every season. In the winter they have amazing skiing and snowboarding. In the summer they have great white water rafting and canyoning. Not enough Tokyo travel blogs talk about this area of the country.

READ MORE: I enjoyed Rafting and Canyoning in Gunma

READ MORE: Our Family loved Canyoning in Spain

Nikko National Park

These elaborate temples are one of my favorite places to visit in Japan with kids. The contrast of the decorative structures against the huge trees is jaw-dropping.

There are many other day trips from Tokyo and overnight trips to write about, so I’ll keep adding them here.

Have You Been to Tokyo with Kids?

Tokyo with Kids - Things to Do in Tokyo Japan with Kids -Tokyo Travel Blog

Have you been to Tokyo with children? What’s your experience with family travel in Tokyo? What did you see? Where did you stay? What did you eat? Tell us your tips and stories for Tokyo with kids in the comments, or contact me directly. We want this Tokyo travel blog post to be the best on the web for families, so fill us in!

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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 a Tokyo hotel using those links. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help you find the most fun things to do in Tokyo with kids or on your own. This Tokyo travel blog post is all about helping you get the most out of family travel in Tokyo. Whether you in Tokyo with a baby, Tokyo with a toddler or Tokyo with a teen, I think you’ll find more than enough fun things to do in Tokyo here. If we’re missing something, let us know. We want this Tokyo travel blog post to be the best on the web for families!

Image credits: #11, #13, #19, #22, #23, #24, #26, #27

Comments

  1. Loving all the practical info on this blog. Thank you and keep it up!
    Heading to Japan in June and planning to spend the first week of July in Tokyo with whole family (2 kids, 4 and 6yo). Will be meeting up with my sister and husband coming from Taiwan.
    Wanted to go to see Mt Fuji area. Been to Hakone before, heard it is super busy now. Was hoping to do Lake Kawaguchi instead. Would you recommend that or Hakone instead?
    Thanks!

    • Happy to hear you’re enjoying the site! Hakone has been busy over many years since it’s one of the closest onsen (hot springs) spots from Tokyo. If you want to go to Hakone again, I wouldn’t worry too much about the crowd. Lake Kawaguchi is certainly a great spot for viewing Mt. Fuji, and also has lots to see. Since you haven’t been to Lake Kawaguchi, it would be a great experience. You may be able to enjoy Kawaguchiko Herb Festival, as well. Either way, hope you enjoy Japan!

  2. Jason, Great post!

    My family and I lived in Iwakuni (near Hiroshima) for about 3 years around 2010. We’re heading back for about 10 days in December to explore now that the kids are grown. Good info, keep up the great posts.

  3. Hi Jason,

    Great that I’ve chanced upon your blog.

    Going to Tokyo next week with 2 girls 4&9. Planning to go to Sanrio Puroland, Disneyland since we’ve been to DisneySea 2 years ago although we didn’t really get to explore much of it back then because younger daughter was just 2. Then a chill day at Odaiba to see team lab (is this something kids would love?) saw the video pf the digital art stuff and think it’s cool. What I need HUGE help with is figuring out how to get to Snow Town Yeti from Asakusa. I know there’s this tour that is bus/ski combo but since kids don’t ski was looking at a transport package and just go there to sled/snow play (even if it’s still artificial by Dec1) would you happen to have any info?

    Thanks so much in advance.

    • Hi Angelica,

      With my search, I found that there’s a bus operator providing bus transport without ski combo. However, the tour is mainly marketed towards Japanese so that they operate that service only on weekends until Dec 22 when Japanese public school holiday begin. If you are comfortable communicating in Japanese, it’s possible to chat directly ([email protected]) with the bus operator to seek your option.

      Another option would be totally DIY. Take trains (with transfer involved) to JR Gotenba station from Tokyo and take a bus provided by Yeti. If you happened to have JR Passes, this option may work out better for you, but it would require navigating the train system in Japanese.

      Overall, I’d think it’s easier (mentally and physically) to take a tour of bus/ski combo. Your call. If you choose this, then I’d appreciate it if you use our affiliate link 🙂

      Good luck with your search and enjoy Japan!

  4. Just wanted to say a big thanks for this brilliant blog. I’m visiting Tokyo for three weeks next April with my twin daughters (aged 9) and husband, who is guest lecturing at Waseda University. We really want to make the most of our amazing opportunity but it’s been hard to know where to start. Your blog has given me so many ideas, thank you!

  5. This guide is amazing. We are heading over in November for 2 weeks and don’t know where to start with accommodation. We are travelling with a group of 8 adults and my son who will be 1.5 years old. We will be attending the drift Matsuri at Ebisu aswell as doing the touristy sight seeing. Do you think it would pay for our group to look into renting a whole house for our entire stay? Is that something that is offered in Japan/ Osaka? Lost with where to start but this guide has been super helpful

    • Hi Ashlee

      Two weeks in Tokyo! Fantastic! You can easily fill that time and never do anything twice (unless you wanted to!). Home rentals are possible, yes, but the rules just changed in Japan regarding Airbnb and so there is significantly less on the market at the moment. It could change again, but right now many places were taken off because they didn’t fit the new rules.

      I’d look at what sites like Airbnb and Booking.com have to offer. You could save a significant amount of money if you could find a house for all of you. That said, houses that sleep 8 and a toddler are even fewer, so start looking as soon as you can.

      If you could, you’re welcome to use my Airbnb and Booking affiliate links. Thanks!

  6. Hi Jason, this is a great resource to start to plan my upcoming Japan holiday. Glad to find your articles. We bought our tickets 6 months ago and will be going to Tokyo next month in mid-June, but have no single thing planned yet other than our roundtrind air to Tokyo that arrives and departs 2 weeks apart. We’re a family of 4, traveling with a 6 yo and 9 yo who are extremely picky eaters. With 2 weeks, we feel that we have plenty of time and want to go at a moderate to relaxing pace. Will there be enough for us to see and do in Tokyo for 2 weeks, or would you recommend us going to to other cities like Osaka maybe. Your input is appreciated. Thanks!

    • Hi Nani. Sure, I think you could easily stay in the Tokyo area for two weeks and not run out of things to do. Especially if you take a few day trips/overnight trips to places like Kamakura, Yokohama, Hakone, Okutama and many more. That said, 2 weeks is enough time for you to pop down to Osaka or Kyoto if you wanted to. Just don’t get too ambitious and try to go to do everything and go everywhere. It also depends on what you want. Some people want to break up their city time with hikes, temples, and onsen. Others are energized by 2 weeks exploring the metropolis. You can do all of this in Tokyo (and the surrounding area) alone.

      As for the picky eaters, I’ve written about Japanese food for kids. Hope it helps.

  7. Hello Jason! We are planning a trip to Tokyo then Osaka( for next month )and came across your blog. I am now referencing your ideas. Is it worth it to do a day trip to Mt. Fuji? We are told we will be seeing it during our bullet train ride to Osaka from Tokyo.

    • If you just want to have a view of Mt. Fuji, you maybe able to see it from bullet train depending on the weather. I’d think Hakone would be the best place (easy to get to from Tokyo) to view the mountain. There’s also Shibazakura Festival (http://www.shibazakura.jp/eng/) by Lake Kawaguchiko.

      If you want to climb Mt. Fuji, it’s probably best to take a tour, but it might be faster-paced than you want. *note below are affiliate links.
      Mount Fuji Full-Day Scenic Bus Tour from Tokyo (https://goo.gl/m9uiBw)
      From Tokyo: Mt. Fuji and Hakone Day Trip by Shinkansen (https://goo.gl/bU2ABv)

      Yes, you’ll probably see Mt Fuji from the window of the Shinkansen, but only if weather permits. It’s often obscured by clouds.

      Spring is one of my favorite seasons to be in Japan. You’ll have a great time nonetheless. Enjoy!

  8. This is a fantastic resource! We’re hitting Tokyo for 2 full weeks in October with the kids, who will be 8 and 3. Thank you for the excellent information!

  9. We enjoy going to Japan! Looking forward to trying out some of these places you recommend.

  10. Awesome post Jason thanks. For some reason Tokyo feels a bit more overwhelming than other cities (to me) so this is tremendously helpful. We’ve navigated Bangkok, KL, Dubai and more so hopefully will be OK but this sure helps.

  11. cynthia wong says

    Hi Jason,
    i truly enjoy your blog. Its very informative!
    We are a family of 4 (2 Kids aged 5 and 10) and are planning to go Hokkaido, until i chanced upon your blog and decided to stopover Tokyo for 3 days before proceeding with Hokkaido. Am planning on 1D disneyland, 1D in Odaiba and 1D in Fuji Safari Park via shinkasen. Would really like to hear what you think :
    1) disneyland or disneysea? shd i stay in Toyko bay area or odaiba?
    2) is fuji safari worth the time?
    3) would staying Odaiba for 3D work best for me?
    4) will my kids miss much if we give Shibuya/Harajuku/Asakusa area (my husband and i had visited these before we had the kids).
    Really look forward to your advice. Lots thks!

    • Hi Cynthia! In response to your questions:
      1) If only one, I’d choose Disney Sea. It’s unique to Japan (other Disneyworlds/Disneylands in the world have similar attractions I think).
      2) That’s over 2 hours to Fuji Safari from Tokyo. Each way. I wouldn’t on a schedule like yours, but everyone is different. If we were passengers in a car, maybe, but otherwise that’s 4+ hours of trains.
      3) I think so. Some Odaiba hotels have Disney shuttle service. If not, you’ll be looking for the closest Rinkai line station in Odaiba (Rinkai Line to Keiyo line)
      4) Of course they’ll miss *something*, but with each choice we make as parents, they miss one thing and experience something else, right? Personally, I’d go into the city the day you were thinking safari, but I don’t know if cities would thrill your kids more than animals would. Your kids are young and will enjoy many of the options you’ve considered. Do things that you’ll prefer too — they’ll enjoy with you!

      Have a great trip!

  12. This is a tremendous guide Jason. I need to see Japan; quick Osaka layover a few years back. My wife taught in Hiroshima for a year. She loved Japan, and always said how the culture is wonderfully weird. Unlike anywhere else on earth.

  13. Wow..this article is really mind blowing! I plan to visit tokyo during march next year with hubby n 3 boys (8yrs,6yrs n 3yrs).mind u,its not gonna be an easy task:-)

  14. What a great resource. We are going to Japan in March and this will be so useful!

    • That’s great! Hope you have a great trip and that this site can help you in some way. It’ll still be a bit chilly in March but you may be there for hanami season in early April. No better time to be in Japan!

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