Tokyo is a fantastical dreamland that will bring out the kid in anyone. From robot restaurants to real-life Mario Kart in the streets, the Japanese capital is like no place that you have ever been before. Perhaps more than anywhere else in the world, a trip to Tokyo with kids is an adventure you will never forget.
But come prepared for culture shock! Japan is starkly different from the United States or Europe. That can make the process of planning a trip feel a bit overwhelming. Between the language barrier and the dizzying array of options, what’s the best way to plan a family trip to Japan?
To make the most of every moment, here are our top tips for a trip to Tokyo with kids.
Getting Around Tokyo
The Tokyo subway system is an adventure in and of itself. In fact, there is no better way to get a glimpse into everyday Japanese life than to hop onto the metro. As soon as you arrive, get a Pasmo card. It will allow you to jump onto the metro whenever you need without the hassle of getting a new ticket. While navigating it can feel a bit intimidating at first, it’s actually really simple.
Best of all, the Tokyo subway is totally kid-friendly! The city actually recently created Thomas & Friends themed trains to make kids feel more at home in the metro. There are also bathrooms just for little ones. And, above all else, it’s safe.
Safety in Toyko
In fact, Tokyo has consistently been named the world’s safest city. To put that into an American context, the safest city in the USA is Salt Lake City. The Utah capital, however, didn’t make it into the top 50 safest cities in the world. So, while Tokyo may feel manic, rest assured you’ll be safe and sound.
Where to Stay in Tokyo with Kids
Hotels in Tokyo are famously tiny. The few family-friendly hotel rooms in the city often sell out quickly. If you find a room that looks like it will suit you and the family, nab it before someone else does. While it’s usually great to check out locally owned hotels, if you are on a trip to Toyko with kids, the big international chains are generally your safest bet.
We loved the Grand Hyatt Tokyo. Located in the amazing Roppongi Hills area, you’ll have countless shops, restaurants, cinemas, and museums right outside of your doorstep. The rooms are spacious, even by Western standards, and you can upgrade to a suite to get a kitchen. If you really want to treat yourself, check out the Presidential Suite with its own private pool.
Grand Hyatt Tokyo has a first-class Japnese restaurant onsite as well as an Italian eatery that will offer more familiar dishes for the kids. Also featuring an on-site salon, spa, and pool, this place will have you well covered.
Of course, on a trip to Tokyo with kids, it’s definitely going to be about Disneyland for a least a day or two. That’s why you need to know about the official Disney Tokyo Hotel . You can get a huge family room that will accommodate up to seven family members or opt for a standard room for four. Most importantly, Disneyland and DisneySea are just one quick stop away on the monorail.
Family Friends Things to Do in Toyko
As soon as you arrive in Tokyo, the entire crew will want to make a beeline for Shibuya and Harajuku districts. Japan’s most famous areas, these hotspots definitely don’t disappoint.
When you think of Tokyo, you are probably imagining Shibuya. With flashing neon lights and huge masses of people, this is the Japan you see on television. Plan plenty of time to get take a few family selfies at Shibuya Crossing. As the busiest intersection in the world, this place is the best people-watching spot in the world. After you’ve got your Instagram-worthy shots, I’d highly recommend taking a pitstop at the nearby Starbucks. From the second floor, you’ll have a dream vantage point.
You can actually explore Shibuya all day without really needing to make plans. Legoland, Hello Kitty shrines, and fun kid-friendly eateries are just a few of the countless things that will catch their eyes. Frankly, whatever your age, this place is a heady wonderland.
Older kids and teens (especially fashionistas!) will love the vibrant streets of Harajuku. This place is all about youth style and you’ll find truly unique boutiques along Takeshita Street. It’s especially lively at the weekend so, even if you don’t find your own crazy outfit to bring home, you’ll have a blast exploring.
Tokyo with Kids: The Mandatory Karaoke Room
Whether you are the next Jackson 5 or a family of full-fledged wallflowers, you’ve got to hit at least one karaoke room. It’s simply the quintessential Japanese night out. The rooms are actually totally private so you’re not on stage (in case stage fright is already taking over!). The songs are mostly in English and they deliver food and drinks right to your private sound booth. Even the most non-musical families will have the time of their life belting out tunes.
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Check out our Ultimate Guide for Families to the Tokyo Summer Olympics, now happening in 2021.