Traveling to Japan - recommendations on places to visit with kids?

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  1. We are thinking of traveling to Japan as a possibility for our big family vacation this year and it will be a first as a family. My parents have gone to Japan a couple of years ago and went with a tour group that visited more traditional places so we are not doing that tour. DH lived in Japan for 4 years so he knows the area he lived in pretty well, just not everywhere. He still understands Japanese and can speak a little so we should be able to get by pretty well. Question is if did your own thing, was it difficult to find the places you were hoping to get to? We're traveling with kids so Disney is a must and shopping as well. Any and all advice on traveling to Japan with kids is welcome. :flowers:
  2. the ghibli museum is amazing for kids. if your kids are familiar with any of the ghibli movies: my neighbor totoro, kiki's delivery service, spirited away, howl's moving castle and more; the museum is a fun place to visit.

    you need to book tickets in advance (which you can do with the hotel you're staying at) and you have to take a short shuttle bus from the nearest train station to get there (its a cute yellow bus with characters from the movies on it).

    i know i mentioned this before to you, but there's also sanrio land. i'll have to dig up the website (there's one in english). looks like fun and i think your little princess would enjoy it.

    for your boys, maybe visiting odaiba would be fun. i believe there is a place called sega joypolis, which is a huge arcade. here's the website:

    i'll look at my guide books and see if there's anything else.
  3. thanx caley, you are so quick! That's the one I was forgetting. Sanrio land. I want to go there for myself. And Joypolis looks fun. The boys (that includes dh, hehe) will love it there. That looks like a definite to add onto the list.

    They do enjoy anime as well so anything or anyplace to get those fun toys/books would be great.
  4. Most of the time when I was in Japan I was either lost and had no clue what was going on. (I don't speak a word of Japanese) LOL.
  5. Odaiba is a fun place for kids for sure! Gosh, are you just going to be in Tokyo? For how long? Do you not want to do traditional thing? Asakusa is considered Old Tokyo, so that might be a fun city to visit for family if you want to see something traditional. For shopping, you should try to go to a department store called Tokyu Hands. They are in Ikebukuro, Shibuya, Ginza and Shinjuku. You will see tons of fun and unique things! Then go to a normal department stores like Seibu, Tobu, etc., for yourself! Ginza is a very upscale and nice shopping district. Harajuku is always fun to walk around, too, including shopping! You will see people dressed like Harajuku Girls esp on the weekends! Shibuya, Shinjuku are other big popular cities for shopping and great restaurants. Sanrio Land is like everywhere in the major cities listed!
    I don't think it would be difficult to do your own thing there, especially with someone who understands Japanese a little. If you stay in a hotel, they are pretty good with recommending places, too.
    Maybe the easiest way to plan to get around is to concentrate on which cities and places. Then work around the train lines for transportation. If you go to Odaiba, I think going to other cities can be tough since it is little outside of Tokyo (You can visit CatsLiving there if you love cats)! So is Disneyland. That is a one day event in itself!
    Let me know if you have specific questions! I used to work in the travel industry there, and I am Japanese who goes back 'home' every year!
  6. traveling within japan is SO easy. all the signs are written in english and most of the people who work at the airport and train stations speak english (not well, but not that bad either).

    i think the must see cities are:

    1. tokyo (shinjuku, shibuya, harajuku, ginza, asakusa districts, and tokyo disneyland is not far from central tokyo)
    2. kyoto
    3. osaka
    4. hiroshima

    and your best tools are:

    1. japan rail pass (provides unlimited travel on shinkansen, trains, buses, ferries operated by JR)
    2. travel book

    also, check for travel tips and check the forum for FAQ or post your own questions on there. the people on the japan guide forum are soooooooo helpful and informative!
  7. ^^
    JR Pass - Great suggestion!!! Although, there are train lines NOT operated by JR, but nonetheless you should get it!
  8. i found that the rail pass would only be useful if you plan to ride the shinkansen more than once or use JR subway lines a lot.

    i think the passmo card would be more useful if you plan to be on the tokyo subway most of the time.
  9. You have to visit SANRIO PURO LAND!!!

    I visited Sanrio Puroland in the Tokyo vicinity (Tama City Line) about 3 years ago and it was bliss!!!!

    What more for little children!!!:smile:
  10. I love travelling in Japan - although I have never been there with children. I think you will be fine getting around, particularly because your husband speaks some Japanese. I would stick to the major cities on Honshu though (Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, etc.) if you want English signs, directions... Japanese people do love children and I expect that everyone will want to help you they can. I would avoid the southern islands of Kyushu and Shikoku. While they are very beautiful, there is less to do there with kids, and it is difficult to communicate. I speak enough Japanese to get by just fine in Tokyo, but I remember driving around half of Kyushu before the taxi driver and I came to some sort of understanding!

    One suggestion - make sure your suitcases aren't too big as you will likely be travelling around by train quite a lot and it is difficult with large bags.

    I echo the suggestions of some others here. I think Asakusa (in Tokyo) would be very fun with kids. I also shop for souvenirs for my little ones at Tokyu Hands. Tokyo Disneyland is fun, but it is kind of like Disneylands everywhere - I'd vote more for visiting some of the beautiful temples/shrines at places such as Nikko or Kamakura. The Meiji Shrine in Tokyo is quite lovely. For running around space in Tokyo, Ueno park can''t be beat. It also has some lovely museums.

    I will actually be in Japan for business before the end of the month and if I think of any more suggestions for you I will post them upon my return.
  11. First, love the Massai in your avatar!

    Second, when my DS was 2 years old, he loved going to the Thomasland at Fuji Q Highland amument park (near Mt. Fuji). If my memory serves, I think it was at least a several hour bus ride from Shinjuku, and there is a hotel where you can stay that is right across from the amusement park (of course, there are a limited number of Thomas themed rooms). Please note that there really isn't much around that area, other than this amusement park.

    I am not quite sure on the age of your kids, but if you are bringing a stroller, to bring one of the lightweight, foldable ones (like MacLaren's).

    Best of luck!
  12. ^^
    There's not much in terms of shops, but there is Mt. Fuji there~~~!!! Japanese people worship that mountain. It's definitely more of a nature tour around Mt. Fuji.
  13. Of course! :tup: