Tokyo is a popular destination for families because it’s easy to navigate and there’s so much to choose from for visitors of all ages. We’ve visited Japan as a family many times, and I’ve written up my top Japan travel tips based on those trips. For a more straightforward list of some of my favorite things to do in Tokyo with kids, I created this equally helpful write-up.
Children love Tokyo because it’s colorful and quirky. There are fun characters and robots all over as well as beautiful parks scattered around the city. It’s clean and safe, the people are friendly, and you’ll never be bored.
It would be impossible to do all the things available for travelers in Tokyo with kids in a single visit. I’ve gathered this list of suggestions over time and don’t recommend trying to fit too much into each day. Tokyo can be a little overwhelming for younger kids, so it’s a good idea to build some downtime into your itinerary.
Here are 20 of my favorite things to do in Tokyo with kids.
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1. Tokyo Shopping for Cool Kids’ Stuff
I very rarely start lists like this with shopping, but Tokyo is very much an exception because it’s one of the best things to do in Tokyo with kids whether they’re younger or older.
It’s a way for them to experience the pop culture, load up on Pokemon and Rilakkuma, browse crazy toys and robots, or even try Japanese confectionaries from a department store food court.
I could dedicate a whole post to this topic alone between specialty retailers, department stores, and shopping streets that we love.
Since 1950, Kiddy Land has stocked everything from branded Sanrio gear, including Hello Kitty, to old-fashioned puzzles in its five floors of over-the-top displays.
This is a fun place to let kids shop for their own souvenirs, though keep in mind that it can be hectic and may be too much for very little kids to handle. It’s located in Omotesando.
If your kids are into crafts, paper, stickers, stamps, pens, and other neat stationary trinkets, go to Itoya, Japan’s oldest stationery store and one of my favorite stores in the world and even my daughter has loved it since she was a very little girl.
Hakuhinkan Toy Park
Keep walking south down the same street from Itoya to enter the multi-story Hakuhinkan Toy Park where you’ll be able to pick up some souvenirs and random toys not found at home (my daughter picked up a Justin Bieber mask that’s been a huge hit).
Tokyo Character Street
Character Street inside of Tokyo Station (where the Narita Express train stops) may send your kids into euphoria with its over 30 shops retailing anime, famous characters, LEGO, and much more. It’s located in the basement under the Yaesu North exit.
Mega Don Quijote
Don Quijote discount stores are all over Tokyo but the Mega Don Quijote in Shibuya has more Kit Kat flavors, Japanese sweets, and knick-knacks that I’ve ever seen. And, it’s open 24 hours and near the Shibuya Crossing.
We stumbled upon Mooosh Squishy in Harajuku during our last trip, which is a store dedicated to squishies and even has a squishy play pit. It’s just a few minutes from the famous Takeshita Dori shopping street (often simply called Takeshita Street), a hit with fashion-conscious tweens and teens (be sure to stop at one of the crepe shops for a snack).
You will find all things kawaii here and spot a few Harajuku girls. We also ate at a restaurant an outstanding ramen restaurant called Afuri that I would recommend (even though ordering via vending machine was a little complicated).
2. Tokyo Disneyland® and DisneySea®
There are two family-friendly Disney theme parks at Tokyo Disney Resort and it’s wise to plan for at least two days in Tokyo to see them.
You’ll find nearly all the classic Disney rides at Tokyo Disneyland: Pirates of the Caribbean, Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, Peter Pan’s Flight, Snow White’s Adventures, the Haunted Mansion, It’s a Small World, and Space Mountain. There are a few rides unique to the park, including Pooh’s Hunny Hunt (the world’s first trackless ride), and the food here is some of the best at any Disney park.
You should know that most of the rides at Tokyo Disneyland are narrated in Japanese. This doesn’t take away from the experience, in my opinion, but you might want to let your children know ahead of time.
DisneySea is to Tokyo Disneyland what Disney California Adventure park is to Disneyland. It has more intense rides and a larger variety of dining options, but there are still character encounters and kid-friendly rides.
For the younger crowd, you can find Finding Nemo and the Little Mermaid rides at Tokyo DisneySea. It’s also stunningly beautiful for a theme park. The Venice “port of call” is particularly lovely and realistic. If your family travel includes immersive experiences, DisneySea definitely delivers.
The easiest way to buy Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea tickets is through the Tokyo Disney Resort website. You can buy online and print the ticket voucher at home. You will need the voucher (and ID) to enter the park and to scan in the park for FASTPass redemption. If for some reason you can’t print the voucher, you can still skip the line by buying tickets through Voyagin (Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea) and then picking them up at the Maihama train station (the Tokyo Disney Resort JR Station).
3. Tsukiji Fish Market
As you probably know, the famous tuna auctions have moved to the Toyosu fish market. I personally think that the Tsukiji Outer Market is a not-to-be-missed stop in Tokyo for families because it has more charm and feels much less commercial. It’s also easier to get to from Ginza hotels.
Here, you can take a close-up look and chat with vendors about the amazing seafood, sashimi, and traditional Japanese food that you might want to taste. Encourage your kids to try something new. If raw fish isn’t for them, there are cooked options and plenty of places to grab an ice cream.
This section of Tsukiji Market is home to quite a few shops. If you’d like some good knives or kitchen gadgets, it’s a great stop. But, do come hungry.
If you can visit both markets, I recommend it. However, if you can pick one and you’re not going on one of the Tokyo tours with entrance to the early morning auctions at Toyosu, visit Tsukiji.
4. Meiji Shrine & Yoyogi Park
So, my daughter hasn’t found visits to Meiji Shrine the most riveting, but it’s something that you must do at least once on a visit with kids to Tokyo.
The Shinto shrine is dedicated to the spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken. Visitors can make offerings and write their wishes on wooden emas. I like to go on Saturdays when it’s likely to catch a Japanese wedding party taking photos.
Yoyogi Park is adjacent to Meiji Shrine. Here, you can typically catch an eclectic crowd from busking singers to skateboarders. It doesn’t have play facilities but there are pretty gardens and ponds. Between entertainment and nature, it’s a nice place to stop break for a snack.
Harajuku’s Takeshita Dori pedestrian street full of shops and eateries is about a 10-minute walk away from the park and shrine. So, in theory, you can visit the park, Meiji Shrine, and Harajuku on the same day.
5. Inokashira Park
This beautiful oasis just outside the city center first opened in 1917 when the Emperor gifted it to the people of Japan. Today Inokashira Park is the perfect spot for a picnic while you let kids run off some steam.
There are child-friendly paddle boats that you can steer around the long, narrow pond, as well as relaxing 30-minutes swan boat rides.
Little kids will have fun exploring the small aquarium and petting zoo. Older kids will be interested in the legend associated with the beautiful red shrine to Japanese Buddhist goddess Benzaiten on the lake.
It’s said Benzaiten will curse any couple who wanders too close. Combine a visit here with the Ghibli Museum, also on this list, at the southwest end of the park.
6. Tokyo Skytree
Tokyo Skytree is the tallest free-standing broadcasting tower in the world, and there are observation decks 1,145 feet and 1,475 feet above ground level.
On a clear day, grab an observation deck ticket for one of the best views of the city skyline. It’s one of the only places in Tokyo from which you can see Mt. Fuji if the weather cooperates.
There are opportunities to dine on French-Japanese fusion, sip tea, or enjoy an ice cream on the three floors of the lower Tembo Deck.
The Tembo Gallery (the higher deck) has fewer amenities but the views are worth climbing the spiral skywalk for.
Tip: You can minimize wait times with a Fast Skytree Ticket, which I recommend since it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions. It’s also often confused with Tokyo Tower, which is a completely separate structure.
You’ll find a shopping and entertainment center at the base of the tower called Tokyo Solamachi. Here, you’ll find a Pokemon Center.
7. Sanrio Puroland
If you have a fan of Hello Kitty with you, make an obligatory stop to the Sanrio Puroland indoor theme park on your family trip to Tokyo.
There are a few rides (including a 10-minute boat ride through the park) to enjoy in addition to restaurants, live entertainment and, of course, a giant gift shop featuring popular Sanrio characters like My Melodie, Gudetama, Hello Kitty, and others.
8. Mount Takao
Mount Takao is probably the most popular hiking spot in the city due to its approachable height for beginners, making it one of the good outdoor things to do in Tokyo with kids.
It doesn’t take long to get to the top, with the longest of the 10 trails clocking in at no more than two hours to complete. You’ll find souvenir shops, food stalls, and a temple at the summit of Mt. Takao, so you can relax and have a snack before heading back down.
This is also the home of Takao Monkey Park (specifically on trail 1). The park is actually a glass-walled enclosure where about 60 Japanese macaques live. Guides know the macaques by name, and can often get one or two to come close to the walls.
It’s about 50 minutes by train from Shibuya Station so a nice day trip from Tokyo city center.
9. Tokyo National Museum (Samurai Museum)
For your samurai obsessed kids, a quick alternative to a visit to the Tokyo National Museum is the appropriately named Samurai Museum in Shinjuku.
This space has entertaining tours given by enthusiastic English-speaking guides, live sword demonstrations and mock battles, and opportunities to dress up in reproductions of samurai armor.
It may not look like much on the outside, but inside this Tokyo museum does a great job of sharing about 800 years of important Japanese history in an easy-to-digest, kid-friendly way.
10. Ninja Akasaka Restaurant
This theme restaurant is definitely on the gimmicky side, but what makes it worth a visit is the staff: they go all in and never break character.
When you arrive, a stealthy ninja from the Edo period will lead you to your private hideout (known otherwise as your table) and between courses, more ninjas drop from the ceiling, sneak by overhead, and perform acrobatic feats.
Younger kids will enjoy Ninja Akasaka most, but the staff’s enthusiasm is enough to make even jaded teen travelers smile.
11. Kawaii Monster Cafe
It will not surprise you to know that Kawaii Monster Cafe is located in Harajuku.
Go for the crazy colors, Monster Girls show every 40 minutes, and rainbow food. There aren’t many places in the world where kids can eat rainbow spaghetti and other over-the-top colorful desserts like they serve here.
You definitely need reservations in advance for this unusual experience.
12. Odaiba Island
Originally built as a defensive fort, this man-made island in Tokyo Bay is a shopping and sightseeing destination where you’ll find several kid-friendly attractions, including a LEGOLAND® Discovery Center, and The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation.
There are also numerous other things to see and do, like the MORI Building DIGITAL ART MUSEUM, Tokyo Joypolis (an indoor amusement park), a huge Ferris wheel, teamLab Borderless (an interactive digital art space), and lots of parks, shops, and restaurants.
The Panasonic Center is also located here. Kids can learn about the company’s technology innovations and participate in hands-on exhibits.
Even getting to Odaiba Tokyo is fun. Kids will love taking the fully-automated Yurikamome train over the Rainbow Bridge.
13. Shibuya Crossing and Hachiko Statue
Right outside of Shibuya Station is the famous Shibuya Crossing where traffic stops, allowing pedestrians to cross the intersection any direction they wish.
On ground level, when you’re waiting to cross, the spectacle isn’t quite as grand. To marvel at the chaos, go a story or two up. This can be achieved at a glass walkway between JR Shibuya Station and a shopping mall called Mark City. Or, there’s a Starbucks with a second story and huge glass windows on one corner of the crossing.
Hachiko was a Japanese Akita dog who use to meet his owner at Shibuya Station every day after work. Hachiko’s owner died in 1925, but the loyal dog continued to return to the station daily for nine years hoping to see him again. The statue at the station today commemorates his loyalty.
14. Animal Cafes
Because space is at a premium in Tokyo and the city has strict pet rules, animal cafes have popped up as a way for people to enjoy the company of critters.
Cat cafes are perhaps the most common, but there are animal cafes in Tokyo where you and your kids can get up close and personal with rabbits, snakes, birds, and goats. There are even cafes where you can dine alongside foxes and hedgehogs.
Visiting an animal cafe is a great way to take a break in between sightseeing but there are a few things to know. This activity has become one of the most popular things to do in Tokyo with kids.
You can stumble upon a Tokyo animal cafe in nearly every major neighborhood. Signage may draw you in which may lead to you and your kids discovering unhappy owls chained to posts and sights that make you sad. Do some research in advance.
Timed-tickets are also required so the upshot of doing research in advance is that you can also plan your itinerary around which animal cafes you’d like to visit. Buying tickets in advance will help avoid disappointment or killing unnecessary hours while waiting to hold a hedgehog.
15. Ueno Zoological Gardens
There’s plenty of nature in this high-tech city — some of which can be found in the famous zoos. The Ueno Zoological Gardens is the most popular zoo in Tokyo as well as the oldest zoo in all of Japan.
There are 3000 animals representing about 400 different species here, including giant pandas, polar bears, and aye-ayes. Also be sure to check out Inokashira Zoo, which is a lot smaller, but specializes in animals native to Japan.
16. Sumida Aquarium
You’ll find aquariums to explore all over the city, but Sumida Aquarium is the best. It is located in Solamachi, the shopping, and entertainment complex at the base of the Tokyo Skytree.
You’ll see 10,000 marine creatures here in beautiful displays including the centerpiece, a 92,000-gallon tank (the largest open tank in the country), as well as mesmerizing jellyfish habitats. Don’t miss the playful penguins and fur seals, too.
17. Ghibli Museum
If your family loves movies like Totoro and Ponyo, visiting this unconventional museum on the edge of Inokashira Park in Mitaka is one of the most iconic things to do with kids in Tokyo.
Housed in a mansion, this museum is a fun tribute to the work of Hayao Miyazaki, an animation director and co-founder of Studio Ghibli, a famous film and animation studio.
You can see a life-size reproduction of an artist’s studio, watch animated shorts in the Saturn Theater (which has kid-sized seats), examine sketches and animation cells from the studio’s movies, and then play around a 16-foot robot soldier from Castle in the Sky and a giant stuffed Cat Bus.
You must buy tickets in advance as they are not sold onsite.
18. National Museum of Emerging Science (Miraikan)
This is one of the best things to do with kids in Tokyo if yours are especially curious or obsessed with robots. You’ll see ASIMO, the humanoid robot created by Honda, up close, and there are imagination-boosting workshops every day.
You won’t need to know Japanese to enjoy Miraikan because the exhibits often convey information through visuals and hands-on activities. Demonstrations are frequent, and you could easily spend three or four hours here with science-minded kids.
19. Heiwa no Mori Park
Kids who are obsessed with warrior obstacle course competitions will love Heiwa no Mori Park where there are nets connecting structures, swinging rope bridges, zip lines, and more.
There are 40 different obstacle pathways where kids can test their reflexes and dexterity — including over water features. The whole course takes about two hours to complete and there is an entrance cost for this park.
I recommend bringing snacks (there are drink vending machines but nothing to eat) and a change of clothes, because kids will get dusty and it’s not uncommon for them to end up in the shallow water.
20. A Private Pop Culture Tour Just for Kids
If it’s your first time visiting Tokyo with kids, look to an expert to show them (and you) the best things around Tokyo. I am a huge can of using Context Travel for these experiences.
Book the two-hour Tokyo Tour for Kids: World of Pop Culture tour and one of their highly-trained experts will take you to the coolest places in Shibuya and Takeshita Street.
I also highly recommend that you browse their other Tokyo tours. I like to book with them early in my vacation because the guides often have tips for how to get around, places to eat, and more interesting things to make your vacation easier.
Tokyo Family Hotels
We stay at Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi, a boutique luxury hotel next to Tokyo Station and within a short walk our favorite places and department stores in Ginza.
The food and service are both outstanding, as you might expect, but they also have a complimentary train platform escort service which makes getting around Tokyo easier. Tokyo Station is enormous and can be confusing, even with a map.
Note that the maximum occupancy in most Tokyo hotels is three people regardless of age. Connecting rooms are available and some hotels will allow families of four in larger rooms and suites if the children are young. Children ages 12 and older are also often considered adults. Make sure to pay attention to a hotel’s age and occupancy limits before deciding where to stay in Tokyo on your trip to Japan.
When you’re ready to book there or elsewhere, keep in mind that I have access to exclusive VIP amenities as an Independent Consultant with Cadence® Travel. If you book through my Virtuoso page, you’ll get extras like complimentary breakfasts, room upgrades, spa credits, and more.
*You may need to be on the desktop version of Virtuoso.com to search rates and book online. To enable the desktop version of a hotel page from a mobile device, scroll down to the navy blue section at the bottom of the web page and click “Full Site.” When searching rates, do not input children ages 17 and under as they will be priced as adults. I’m notified when you book and will add them when I contact you about your reservation.
What are your favorite fun things to do in Tokyo with kids?
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