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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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 museum does a great job of sharing about 800 years of important Japanese history in an easy-to-digest, kid-friendly way.
Tokyo Disneyland® and DisneySea®
There are two Disney parks at Tokyo Disney Resort and it’s wise to plan for at least two days 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 Disney 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 here. It’s also stunningly beautiful for a theme park. The Venice “port of call” is particularly lovely and realistic. If your family enjoys 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).
Tokyo Shopping for Cool Kids’ Stuff
Even if your kids scoff at the idea of shopping, they and you will enjoy Tokyo shopping for kids. It’s overwhelming yet different with so many trinkets, candies, and toys to look at. We could dedicate a whole post to this topic alone.
Since 1950, Kiddy Land has stocked everything from branded Sanrio gear 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.
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).
Character Street inside of Tokyo Station may send your kids into euphoria with its over 30 shops retailing anime, famous characters, LEGO and much more.
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, a hit with fashion-conscious tweens and teens (be sure to stop at one of the crepe shops for a snack).
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 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.
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, and lots of parks, shops, and restaurants.
Even getting to Odaiba is fun. Kids will love taking the fully-automated Yurikamome train over the Rainbow Bridge.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If your family loves movies like Totoro and Ponyo, visiting this unconventional museum on the edge of Inokashira Park 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. You can see a life-size reproduction of a Ghibli 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 tickets are not sold onsite.
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.
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.
Tokyo Family Hotels
We stay at Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi, a boutique hotel next to Tokyo Station and within a short walk our favorite places in Ginza. The food and service are both outstanding, as you might expect, but they also have a complimentary train platform escort service. Tokyo Station is enormous and can be confusing.
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. It’s important to pay attention to a hotel’s age and occupancy limits before booking.
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.
If using a mobile device, you’ll need to scroll down to the black footer and click “Full Site” in order to access rates and online booking.
What are your favorite things to do in Tokyo with kids?
Don’t miss any of my posts! Sign up for my newsletter for travel tips, insider information about my favorite destinations, discounts on attractions, and hotel tips.