From neon lights and tall buildings to theme parks and quirky dining experiences, visiting Tokyo with kids will be one that your children remember for years to come. In fact, the entire country of Japan is an incredible place to visit as a family. One of the most popular destinations for family travel in Asia, Tokyo is easy to navigate and filled with unique activities and attractions. Not to mention, there are a lot of fun things to do in Tokyo for kids.
Whether you are looking for cultural experiences and educational elements for older children or fun theme parks and kid-friendly places in Tokyo, this larger-than-life city is a must-visit for families, and one of the best places to visit in Japan with kids.
Our experience in Tokyo with kids
We visited Japan with kids in 2018. However, so many things have changed since then. Some businesses have permanently closed, others have moved, many places have changed how they operate, and new businesses have opened. So, we have researched and completely updated this Tokyo with kids itinerary with the latest information to help you plan your next trip.
We had 4 days in Tokyo, but giving yourself five days in Tokyo or even more would be better, as there are so many fun things to do in Tokyo for families.
How to get around Tokyo and the rest of Japan
We arrived in Tokyo by train after spending 3 days in Kyoto. Luckily, Japan has an awesome public transportation system, so there is no need to rent a car. Navigating the rail and metro system in Japan can be overwhelming at first, but is fairly easy once you get the hang of it.
We arrived at Tokyo Station, which is in the center of the city. This is the primary train station that connects Tokyo to other cities across Japan. Tokyo Station is a sight to see! The central train station has lots of food vendors, shops, and the most unique vending machines you’ll ever see.
Kids will particularly like choosing a toy from one of the dozens of capsule toy vending machines clustered together inside the train station. Vending machines are quite impressive in Japan. You can get everything from toys, to beer, to full meals in a vending machine. In and around Tokyo Station, you’ll find plenty of great places to buy unique and meaningful souvenirs from Japan.
Where to stay in Tokyo with kids
There are several convenient neighborhoods in Tokyo if you are visiting as a tourist. Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Ginza are perhaps the most popular areas to stay in Tokyo. Ginza is the area nearest to Tokyo Station. Many chose to stay here for the sheer convenience of being close to the main train station, a lot of restaurants, and great shopping. This is exactly what we did. Not having to take another train or the subway with all of our luggage was a huge bonus to staying near Tokyo Station.
The hotel prices can be quite high in the area, but we found Hotel SUI Ginza Kyobashi reasonably priced and just a couple of blocks away from Tokyo Station. The rooms at Hotel SUI Ginza are nice but extremely small by western standards. The bathroom was slightly larger than an airplane lavatory. The small room size is not uncommon in Tokyo or the rest of Japan. Many of the places to stay in Kyoto and Osaka are also small by western standards.
If you have a larger family or simply prefer more space, Oakwood Premier Tokyo and the Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo are located just 2 minutes from Tokyo Station. Although a bit pricier, the location is ideal, which makes it easy to get around Tokyo with kids.
If you choose to stay in a different area of the city, there are lots of family-friendly hotels in Tokyo that cater to those traveling with kids in other districts, as well.
CLICK HERE TO COMPARE PRICES AND FIND HOTELS NEAR TOKYO STATION.
Itinerary for 4 days in Tokyo with kids
There are so many Tokyo activities for kids, museums, restaurants, and even complete districts in Tokyo that are seemingly designed with children in mind. For this reason you could spend weeks in Tokyo with kids and have plenty to keep your family entertained. It is one of only six cities in the world that has a Disney Resort. In fact, Tokyo has both Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea.
Our daughter was still a toddler when we went to Tokyo, so we decided to hold off on visiting a theme park until she is a little older. But if you are visiting Tokyo with school aged children – Disney should definitely be part of your Tokyo with kids itinerary.
Here is a look at our suggested 4 day itinerary for Tokyo with kids:
Tokyo Itinerary with kids: Day 1
- Arrive in Tokyo
- Check into hotel or drop off luggage
- Head directly to the Shibuya District
- Take the Scramble Crossing
- Shop and find a sweet snack in Harajuku
- Head to Shinjuku District to explore
- Walk through “Piss Alley”
- Dinner in a Shinjuku
Tokyo Itinerary with kids: Day 2
- Visit the Imperial Palace and Gardens
- Check out an arcade or two in Akihabara
- Tour the Sensoji Temple and Asakusa District
- Go up the Skytree Lookout
- Lunch in Asakusa
- Head to Tsukiji Fish Market
- Check out Kabukiza Theatre (pass on way from Tsukiji to Ginza)
- Enjoy some high-end window shopping and dinner in Ginza
Tokyo Itinerary with kids: Day 3
Tokyo Itinerary with kids: Day 4
- Spend the morning in Odaiba District
- See the Rainbow Bridge, Statue of Liberty, and the Gundam Robot
- Play at Legoland Discovery Center
- Lunch at Tokyo Ramen Kokugikan Mai in Aqua City mall
- Museum of Emerging Science
As you may have noticed, this itinerary has some options. For example, we took a day trip to the town of Hakone, near Mount Fuji, during one of our four days in Tokyo. While it was incredible, if you plan to visit one of the Tokyo Disney theme parks and you have only a limited number of days in Tokyo with kids, I would recommend skipping Hakone and doing Disney instead.
12 awesome things to do in Tokyo with kids
Now that we’ve laid out a solid – and jam-packed – 4-day Tokyo itinerary, here are a few of the things to do in Tokyo with kids that we mentioned on the itinerary above.
We have included what we consider the 12 best things to do in Tokyo with kids, going through our itinerary day-by-day. But if 12 isn’t enough, you can read about some of the other quirky, and unique things to do in Tokyo that you might want to add to your itinerary.
Shibuya District and the Shibuya Crossing (AKA the Scramble)
Shibuya is the first place you should head after arriving in Tokyo and dropping off your luggage at your hotel. The area of Tokyo known as Shibuya is home to the busiest crosswalk in the world. Often called ‘The Scramble’, at its peak time of day, 3,000 people cross the street at the same time. While crossing the street may not seem like a tourist activity, the sheer number of people crossing the street at the same time is overwhelming! The Shibuya Scramble is the most “Tokyo” experience you can have, and a great place to start your Tokyo family vacation.
There are so many people, bright lights, and big city sounds in Shibuya that the district can be somewhat of an assault on the senses. But it is a sight worth seeing.
To escape the chaos of the crowds, head into one of the specialty chocolate shops in this area of Tokyo and indulge in a sweet treat or grab lunch at Katsumidori Seibu Shibuya, a unique sushi restaurant where the sushi comes out on a conveyor belt. Known as kaiten sushi, or conveyor belt sushi in English, you’ll find several of these types of restaurants around Tokyo where your dishes go around on a conveyor belt so you can see and select what you want to order.
Harajuku and Takeshita-dori Street
If you are visiting Tokyo with older kids, particularly preteens and teenagers, Harajuku and the street known as Takeshita-dori is a must-visit. Known in Japan as “Teen Holy Land”, Takeshita-dori is practically the headquarters of teen fashion and pop culture in Japan. You’ll find lots of inexpensive stores carrying the latest in teen fashion as well as lots of food stalls and cafes specializing in fun and Instagrammable food.
Japan is known for its “Kawaii culture” where everything is cute and little, and there is no better place to experience this cutesy culture than Takeshita-dori. Wander through the crowded streets of Harajuku and give your kids a little money to spend on whatever they want. Then head to one of the popular creperies on Takeshita Street for a crepe almost too pretty to eat or check out Totti Candy Factory for the giant, colorful cotton candy your whole family can share. If you’re visiting Tokyo with children, ordering a massive cotton candy will be a fun Tokyo activity!
Takeshita-dori is roughly a 20-minute walk from Shibuya Station, but if you prefer a guided tour or want to make sure you see all the hidden gems of Shibuya and Harajuku you book a private guide here.
With your bellies full of sweet treats, head to the Shinjuku District. You can either take the metro which takes about 7 minutes or walk, which takes about 30 minutes.
If you decide to walk, you can also make a detour through Meiji Jingu Shrine. This beautiful shrine is surrounded by a beautiful park and forest in the middle of the city and is free to visit. It is a serene break from the busyness of Shibuya and Harajuku and the lights and city sounds.
If you have an hour to spare, you can even take a guided walking tour where you and your kids can learn about the history of the shrine and the culture of the Shinto religion. This is a great way to familiarize yourself with shrine etiquette and Japanese habits and ways of life.
When you arrive in Shinjuku, be sure to check out Shinjuku Station, the busiest train station in the world. Shinjuku is another district in Tokyo that is large, and at times, overwhelming. In this particular area of Tokyo, you’ll find several ‘only in Tokyo’ experiences, including the famous Robot Restaurant (temporarily closed due to COVID), various cat cafes and other animal cafes, and Piss Alley.
Piss Alley is a narrow side street lined with small bars and cheap food stalls. Piss Alley got its name in the 1940s when it was an illegal drinking spot. Because of the lack of public restroom facilities, patrons who had a few too many would wander off and relieve themselves on the nearby train tracks, thus earning this small, lovely street its rather-unlovely nickname. It can get quite crowded, so I’d recommend visiting on a weekday if possible.
If you’re a meat eater, definitely grab some yakitori while you’re there. Yakitori is a small skewer of flavorful grilled chicken, and basically the only thing our toddler wanted to eat the entire time we were in Japan.
If you plan to visit one of the animal cafes in Shinjuku or anywhere else in Japan, check the age restrictions ahead of time. Most of the cat cafes do not allow kids under the age of 11 to enter.
Shinjuku is a great place to end your first day in Tokyo with kids. Grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants or cafes in the district before heading back to your hotel for the night.
Imperial Palace and Outer Gardens
Your second day in Tokyo with kids will start at the Imperial Palace. The palace and outer gardens are perhaps the most iconic setting in Tokyo and one of the top tourist attractions in Tokyo, Japan. It is just a short 10-minute walk from Tokyo Station, so if you stay in a hotel in this central area, it is the perfect place to start day 2 of your Tokyo family itinerary.
Although you can’t actually enter the Imperial Palace or inner gardens because it is the actual home of the emperor of Japan and the imperial family, the outer gardens are lovely and offer a fair amount of space for kids in Japan to run around. This is just one of many incredible parks and gardens in Tokyo to experience during your visit.
You can book a walking tour through the outer gardens and public facilities with a local guide to see the highlights and learn more about the palace and history of Japan.
Akihabara is known as the electronics district in Tokyo. If your children love video games, this is the district to visit. There are even video games attached to some of the urinals in the 4-story Sega arcade.
Akihabara is also the center of anime in Tokyo, which is an extremely popular form of Japanese animation. Not familiar with anime? Some of the best movies about Japan are anime. And if your child loves Pokemon, Akihabara is like a real-life setting from the children’s movies. We’d recommend checking one out before your trip so you’ll better appreciate Japanese animation.
While we are not personally big on video games or anime, we found that the district personified the uniqueness of Tokyo in an interesting and colorful way.
One of the best things to do in this district of Tokyo with kids is to meet the owls at the Owl Cafe in Akihabara. This is one of the few animal cafes in Tokyo that younger children can enter. Or if you prefer, this is another great district to experience Kawaii culture at the Maid Cafe. It is another one of those places where you’ll find yourself saying “Only in Tokyo.”
Another fun option in Akihabara, if you visit the district at night, the Samurai Entertainment Night is a theater restaurant where you can enjoy a live performance while you eat dinner.
Sensoji Temple and Asakusa District
After spending a few hours in Akihabara, head to the Asakusa district. If you didn’t eat lunch at the Owl Cafe or Maid Cafe in Akihabara, Asakusa has a wonderful array of restaurants.
It is also home to the oldest temple in Tokyo, Sensoji Temple. This popular Buddhist temple and tourist attraction is unlike most temples in Japan that have a very serene and calming appeal. In fact, upon entering the outer gates of Sensoji Temple, you’ll find a bustling market where vendors sell a variety of trinkets, souvenirs, and food.
Inside the main temple area, you’ll find the main hall, a five-story pagoda, several small shrines, and different areas where you can take part in Buddhist rituals. It is a beautiful place to learn about Japanese culture in Tokyo with kids.
Asakusa is home to the oldest theme park in Japan, Hanayashiki. If you have the time, you can book a private family tour of Sensoji Temple, Asakusa and enjoy Hanayashiki, or if you need a break from walking you can book a rickshaw tour through the district that will take you by all of the attractions in a private chariot pulled by your tour guide.
Also in Asakusa, you’ll find the tallest structure in all of Tokyo – the Tokyo Skytree. The lattice tower is more than 2,000 feet tall. From the top of the Skytree you’ll get 360° views of the city. In fact, on a clear day, you’ll be able to see the shy giant, Mount Fuji, off in the distance.
Going up to the viewing platform at Tokyo Skytree is a great way to see Mount Fuji if you decide to spend day three in Tokyo with kids at Disneyland rather than taking a day trip to Hakone from Tokyo. Although there is a small price for admission to Tokyo Skytree, the views make it well worth it!
Tsukiji Fish Market
After exploring Asakusa and seeing the epic views from atop Tokyo Skytree, head to the Tsukiji Fish Market. It is one of the most unique experiences in Tokyo. You used to be able to watch a live wholesale fish auction if you arrived early, early in the morning. But the wholesale auction moved to the outskirts of the city. However, you’ll still find vendors selling the freshest sushi and seafood you will ever taste in Tsukiji.
Tsukiji Fish Market is a foodie’s paradise! We ate until we couldn’t possibly eat anymore. It truly is one of the best specialty food streets in Tokyo.
For children who are less adventurous eaters, there are stalls that sell things other than fish. In fact, you can find all sorts of unique and delicious foods from Japan. You can purchase things like gyoza, yakitori, fruit, and mochi, all of which children will love!
To truly experience and appreciate Tsukiji Fish Market, join a food and drink walking tour where you can explore the outer market with your taste buds and sample a range of foods with a local guide who will explain what you’re eating and details the famous market’s unique history.
Not far from Tokyo Station, Ginza is a great place to window shop and people watch. Every high-end fashion brand is represented in this posh district. Even if you have no plans of buying anything, it’s still a cool place to visit. While we were there, we were able to watch a 3D printer building a Nissan concept car.
There are also a ton of great restaurants from which to choose. Whether you want to try out another conveyor belt sushi restaurant or dine in a private room where you can close a door and keep the kids contained, there are a lot of great family-friendly options in Ginza. On your way back from the Tsukiji Fish Market, walk past the famous Kabukiza Theatre on your way to Ginza.
Odaiba is a popular shopping district in Tokyo built on a man-made island in Tokyo Bay. There are several large shopping malls in this area which are great for rainy days. To get to Odaiba, you will cross one of the prettiest bridges in Tokyo, the Rainbow Bridge, which looks especially scenic at night. The area is not only known for shopping but is also a popular entertainment district.
You could spend an entire day in Odaiba, Tokyo with kids. It is one of the most kid-friendly places in Tokyo, with fun museums like the National Museum of Emerging Science, theme parks and LegoLand Discovery Center, a great experience with lots of kid activities in Tokyo.
Outside Diver City Mall, you’ll find a massive Gundam statue, which is a popular robot anime series that we knew nothing about until this trip. You’ll also find one of the world’s largest Ferris wheels, and a miniature replica of the Statue of Liberty.
Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea
If there is one word that is synonymous with family fun, it is Disney. Definitely one of the most fun things for kids in Tokyo, a visit to Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea will make your visit to Tokyo with children the most memorable trip for your family. Located on the Bay of Tokyo, not far from Odaiba, Tokyo Disneyland is the second most visited theme park in the world, behind Orlando, Florida’s claim to fame, Disney World.
To visit both parks you should give yourself at least a couple of days. However, if you only have 4 days in Tokyo, choose between Disneyland and DisneySea and enjoy a full day at just one of the parks. You’ll find rides appropriate for all ages – from teenage and adult daredevils to those visiting Tokyo with toddlers.
Note: If theme parks aren’t your style, you can elect to skip Disney on day three, and do a day trip from Tokyo to Hakone. Hakone is a charming and unique area with a volcanic valley, a pirate ship cruise and beautiful hiking trails. It is one of the best day trips from Tokyo for families!
Other things to do in Tokyo with kids if you have additional time
If you have extra time, here are a few more family activities in Tokyo that would make great additions to any Tokyo family itinerary.
Sanrio Cafe and Ikebukuro District
Food is often as much about presentation as it is about taste. And when it comes to presentation, Sanrio Cafe in Tokyo would top on a kid’s list. The café, which is located in Ikebukuro offers a whimsical dining experience centered around the popular cartoon characters from Sanrio, including the widely popular Hello Kitty.
This is the perfect place to enjoy breakfast (or breakfast for lunch or dinner), especially if you have children. The décor and all the food served at the cafe is character themed, so you can get some Hello Kitty pancakes or sweet treats.
Ikebukuro is also home to the Sunshine Aquarium for kids who want to see and learn more about life under the water. The district is easy to access from Tokyo Station, Shinjuku, or Shibuya Station.
Located in the Tokyo suburb of Mitaka, west of the city, Ghibli Museum is a fun, maze-like experience dedicated to the art of animation showcasing the work of the Japanese studio Ghibli. The whimsical museum is currently a challenge to get tickets to. Due to the pandemic, a very limited number of tickets are available and book months in advance.
Japan’s oldest zoo, Ueno, is home to more than 3,000 animals from 400 different species, including giant pandas, tigers, and gorillas. The zoo, located near the Tokyo National Museum, is not far from Asakusa and the Senso-ji Temple. So, if you have more than just 4 days in Tokyo with kids, you could spend an entire day in this area of the city and add the Ueno Zoo and Park and the National Museum to your family-friendly Tokyo itinerary.
If you skipped the Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Tower is another opportunity to get an awesome view of the city’s skyline. Located in the center of Tokyo this iconic red tower offers panoramic views both day and night. But at night the tower lights up similar to the Eiffel Tower in Paris and changes colors depending on the season.
One thing in Tokyo for kids to SKIP – seriously!
Sadly, not everything we did while in Tokyo was a worthwhile experience. In fact, there was one thing we were really looking forward to that turned out somewhat horrific.
Alice in Wonderland Fantasy Dining experience
As anyone traveling to Tokyo with kids probably does, we sought out experiences that would be enjoyable for our daughter. Unfortunately, the Alice in Wonderland restaurant in Ginza was anything but enjoyable. There are five Alice in Wonderland restaurants in Tokyo, each with its own unique theme. We went to the one in Ginza, which was Alice in a Labyrinth.
The atmosphere and interior were really cool. You enter through somewhat dark winding tunnels while popular Disney songs play. The tunnels open up to the seating area of the restaurant where there is a giant teacup that you can dine in. The food, although very average in taste, is cute and well-presented. That is where the positives end.
The restaurant is highly overpriced. There is a sitting charge added on top of the exorbitantly priced pub food. The mixed drinks are also extremely watered down, which actually turned out to be a huge blessing, because the restaurant inadvertently served my two-year-old daughter an alcoholic drink! We ordered her a milkshake, which specifically read was non-alcoholic. The drink that came out looked like what was pictured on the menu, so we thought nothing of it. Our toddler drank nearly half of it before a flustered waitress came over to tell us it had alcohol in it.
Despite the immense negligence of the restaurant, we were still presented with and had to pay the entire bill. We even had to pay for the replacement milkshake that was brought out after the alcoholic drink given to our toddler. Needless to say, this was not a positive dining experience and I would not recommend it to anyone visiting Tokyo with kids.
Learn more about Japan with kids
Tokyo was one of five cities we visited in Japan. While we love Tokyo, there are other areas of the country that are equally impressive and family-friendly. For more information to help you plan your trip, check out all of our blog posts about Japan. But wherever you go in Japan, we promise the country will not disappoint.
Have a question or comment about visiting Tokyo Japan with kids? Let us know your favorite Tokyo family travel experience or ask your questions in the comments below!
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This Tokyo family vacation itinerary and guide to the best things to do in Tokyo with kids was first published in April 2018 and was updated in May 2022 for accuracy and current travel information.