10 Fun Things to Do in Tokyo with Kids

Tokyo blends ages old Japanese traditions with modern skyscrapers and anime to make a fun and surprisingly non-intimidating vacation destination. With drinkable tap water, a low crime rate, and polite population, Tokyo makes a fabulous choice for first-timers to East Asia. Maximize the fun factor during your family’s Japanese holiday with these 10 things to do in Tokyo with kids.

Things to Do in Tokyo with Kids
A girl showing off her kimono at Meiji Shrine in Tokyo (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

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1. Wander through Tsukiji Fish Market.

Get up early one day to visit Tsukiji Fish Market. This energetic fish market is where locals go to purchase fresh seafood and so much more. Wander through stalls selling all sorts of interesting sea creatures, fresh fruits and vegetables, meats of all kinds, candies, and interesting trinkets. It’s a wonderful place to get a taste of Tokyo life. A video is worth a thousand words, so get a glimpse of Tsukiji Fish Market by watching the video below.

YouTube video

2. Take a rickshaw ride.

A rickshaw ride through Tokyo is a super fun way to get a brief overview of Tokyo with kids. And there’s no need to feel guilty about taking a man-powered ride, either. My group’s rickshaw drivers were friendly young college students earning some income while pursuing their degrees. They were full of energy and enthusiasm, pointing out landmarks and giving tidbits of information about the city along the way. Book your Tokyo Asakusa Rickshaw Tour now.

Get to know Tokyo from the back of a rickshaw ~ 10 Fun Things to Do in Tokyo with Kids
Get to know Tokyo from the back of a rickshaw (Photo credit: javarman, Depositphotos.com)

3. Visit Meiji Shrine.

The most visited religious site in Japan, Meiji Shrine is a Shinto shrine that was built to honor Emperor Meiji in 1920. He was the first emperor of the modern era, ruling from 1867 to his death in 1912. The shrine is surrounded by the beautiful and expansive Yogoyi Park, which includes National Yogoyi Stadium where the 1964 Olympics were played. Many of the trees in the park’s forest were donated by Tokyo’s citizens to honor this beloved emperor.

Scenes from Meiji Shrine in Tokyo
Scenes from Meiji Shrine in Tokyo (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

If you visit on a weekend, you may get lucky and spot a wedding processional. Meiji Shrine is a popular spot for traditional Japanese wedding ceremonies. The bride typically wears a large white silk crown called a Tsunokakushi, which traditionally was said to cover the bride’s “horns.” Today, women wear these with a wink and a nod to tradition.

All dressed up in a kimono in Japan ~ Fun Things to Do in Tokyo with Kids
All dressed up in a kimono in Japan (Photo credit: Travel Mamas)

4. Get your photo taken in a kimono.

You will likely spot Japanese visitors dressed in their finest traditional kimonos for photos at Meiji Shrine and many other Japanese monuments. Get in on the spirit by renting kimonos for the whole family to wear one day during your visit to Tokyo with kids. Yes, there are kimonos (or yukatas, depending on the season) for all ages and genders. Make it even more memorable by hiring a Flytographer travel photographer to take portraits of your family to commemorate your Tokyo vacation.

Ramen and gyoza (meat-filled dumplings) at a ramen shop in Tokyo
Ramen and gyoza (meat-filled dumplings) at a ramen shop in Tokyo (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

5. Slurp some ramen.

Not all kids (or adults) are excited by sushi but almost everyone loves a good bowl of ramen. Thankfully ramen shops are plentiful and affordable throughout Tokyo and the rest of Japan. It’s considered rude not to slurp when eating ramen in Japan, so let the kids slurp away! You can get ramen with chicken, beef, seafood or even vegetarian in most shops. If you’re gluten-free (like me), you will likely find other delicious noodle-free dishes to tempt your taste buds. See a list of ramen restaurants in Tokyo.

Tokyo Tower at night ~ Tokyo with Kids
Tokyo Skytree at night (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

6. Take in the view from Tokyo Skytree.

Take in expansive views of Tokyo and Mount Fuji from the top of Tokyo Skytree. It became the tallest structure in Japan in 2010, when it surpassed the Tokyo Tower in height. For a fee, you can visit the Tembo Deck (floor 350) or the Tembo Galleria (floor 450). Sign up for Tokyo tours that include the Skytree. Or, check out what there is to do near Tokyo Skytree, like the Sumida Aquarium.

An Amitatsu dinner cruise on Sumida River is an experience your family will always remember ~ Tokyo with Kids
An Amitatsu dinner cruise on Sumida River is an experience your family will long remember (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

7. Cruise Tokyo Bay.

A great way to snap some pretty nighttime pictures of the Tokyo Tower is from aboard a dinner cruise boat on the Sumida River. My group sailed with Amitatsu river boat company. We dined on a multi-course traditional Japanese meal with lots of sushi and cooked seafood plus unlimited drinks, including sake and other alcoholic beverages. Best for a family of adventurous eaters, this is a meal you will long remember. It feels very festive and very Japanese indeed. For a four-hour tour of Tokyo, including a 40-minute Tokyo Bay cruise (without hosted food or drink), you can book a Tokyo Highlights Afternoon Tour and Sumida River Cruise via Viator.

A "Harajuku girl" passing out sweet tastes at a candy shop on Takeshita Street ~ Fun Things to Do in Tokyo with Kids
A “Harajuku girl” passing out sweet tastes at a candy shop on Takeshita Street (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

8. Shop Takeshita Street.

If your kids like anime, they’ll adore Takeshita Street. This funky pedestrian street is where Tokyo’s youth go to see and be seen dressed up as their favorite anime characters. Takeshita Street is located in the Harajuku district, which inspired Gwen Stefani’s song, “Harajuku Girls.” This area is known for its fashionable boutiques and restaurants. Go here to people watch and peruse shops peddling all sorts of wacky wear from goth to cartoon-inspired to punk and beyond. If your brood is tired of Japanese cuisine, Takeshita Street is flush with creperies, for some reason. You’ll also find video game arcades, candy stores aplenty, and vendors selling giant clouds of cotton candy.

Shabu-shabu at Hassan restaurant in Tokyo ~ Things to Do in Tokyo with Kids
Shabu-shabu at Hassan restaurant in Tokyo (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

9. Make your own meal in Tokyo with kids.

Picky eaters are more likely to try new foods if they help cook the meal. Thankfully, Tokyo has a penchant for meals cooked fresh by diners right at the table.

Go out for Shabu-shabu one night during your visit to Tokyo with kids. The whole family (well, not babies or toddlers) can get involved in preparing this savory dish. You’ll dip thinly sliced pieces of beef in boiling broth filled with all sorts of veggies.

Another fun option is Okonomiyaki (also called Monjayaki in Tokyo). Diners make pancakes filled with a variety of goodies from meats and seafood to noodles and vegetables on a hot griddle. Try this type of Japanese cuisine at Sakura-tei in Harajuku. This restaurant is filled with colorful art to keep kids occupied. If you’re feeling lazy, waitstaff is happy to prepare the food at your table for you.

Modern and old collide in Kawagoe, Japan ~ Fun Things to Do in Tokyo with Kids
Modern and old collide in Kawagoe, Japan (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

10. Discover Tokyo’s history in Little Edo.

Tokyo officially became the capital of Japan when Emperor Meiji moved from Kyoto to Edo, which has been renamed Tokyo. Today, Tokyo is the most populous metropolitan area in the world. Believe me, it just stretches on and on and on and…you get my point.

Much of Tokyo was destroyed during World War II and then rebuilt in more modern styles. Thankfully you can get a glimpse into what Tokyo looked like at the turn of the 20th century during a day trip to Kawagoe, also known as Little Edo. Kawagoe was destroyed in a fire in 1893 and subsequently rebuilt in the Tokyo style. Since Kawagoe was not bombed in the wars, the buildings remain. Famous for three things, be sure to visit Kawagoe’s famous temple (Kitain), castle (Kawagoejyo Honmaru Palace), and shopping street (Ichibangai).

Sweet potato and sweet bean dumplings ~ Fun Things to Do in Tokyo with Kids
Sweet potato and sweet bean dumplings in Kawagoe (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Kawagoe is also renowned for its sweet potatoes. Pop into a bakery for a taste of a sweet potato and bean dumpling, called Imokoi (which means, “sweet potato love”).

To get your little Star Wars fans interested in Tokyo and Kawagoe’s history, tell them Edo has also been called Jedo. This may be the inspiration for the term “jedi,” since George Lucas was enamored with Japanese culture and samurai. Hence, the samurai-like Darth Vader helmet and fascination with sword fights in the series.

View from Shinagawa Prince Hotel on a rainy day in Tokyo, Japan ~ 10 Fun Things to Do in Tokyo with Kids
View from Shinagawa Prince Hotel on a rainy day (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Where to stay in Tokyo with kids

The rooms at the massive Shinagawa Prince Hotel in the Minato area are large for Tokyo’s standards. The hotel offers all sorts of Western conveniences for those who don’t mind a little hustle and bustle. Breakfast is included and you get a choice of several dining options from traditional Japanese or Chinese to Western buffet. The view from the top floor (Western breakfast level) is impressive, especially on a clear day when you can see Mount Fuji in the distance. If you want to explore Japan’s more exotic offerings but come back to a comfortable and familiar setting each night, this is the place for your family.

Learn more about Japan

Want to learn more about Japan? I loved reading National Geographic Traveler Japan before my trip. It’s full of interesting information about Japan’s history, advice on exploring the country, and gorgeous photos. For more of my tips on traveling to Japan, check out 5 Incredible Things to Do in Narita ~ Gateway to the Land of the Rising Sun or 10 Intriguing Things to Do Near Tokyo.

Get help planning a trip to Tokyo with kids from our partner, Ciao Bambino

Think you can’t afford a trip to Japan? Think again! Flights to Asia have been crazy affordable lately. Check out airfares to Tokyo via Travelocity now!

Would you like to visit Tokyo with kids? Let us know your thoughts and questions in the comments below!

A Note from The Travel Mama: My visit to Tokyo was hosted by visitors bureaus in Japan but I did not receive any monetary compensation related to this story. 

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  1. My whole family is headed to Tokyo in June 2018. I have two boys that are 4 and 7. They love udon and ramen. What restaurants would you recommend in Tokyo that is kid friendly?

    1. Hi Kim – I wish I could remember the name of the DELICIOUS ramen restaurant we visited but I couldn’t find it in my notes anywhere. Honestly, you will find so many ramen and udon restaurants everywhere you go in Tokyo. Here is a list of ramen restaurant reviews on TripAdvisor that you can check out to help you narrow your search: https://travelmamas.com/ramen_restaurants_tokyo You might also want to do a Yelp search for ramen in the neighborhood where you’ll be staying in Tokyo. Yelp is active in Tokyo. Keep in mind that Tokyo is the largest metropolitan area in the world, so you will want to find something near to you!

    1. Hi Nate – How exciting! I am sure you and your son will have a wonderful time exploring Japan together. I would suggest booking a tour of Tokyo near the beginning of your trip to help you get acclimated. Here’s a link to some Tokyo tours for families: http://bit.ly/tripadvisortokyotours

    1. Oh my, Inge! You are right. I have changed the text to Tokyo Skytree instead of Tokyo Tower. Thank you for letting me know!

  2. Hi Colleen & anyone else reading this! We are heading to Japan in a couple of weeks for a holiday with our 11 & 13 year old children. Our 13 year old girl has Coeliac Disease & must eat gluten free. Any recommendations or advice??

    1. Hi CTH – How exciting! Travel Mamas Contributor Pilar Clark is mom to two children with severe food allergies. I suggest reading her tips for traveling with kids with life-threatening food allergies: https://travelmamas.com/traveling-with-children-with-life-threatening-food-allergies/ Much of the advice she provides in the article would apply to traveling with a child with Celiac Disease. Although I am gluten-sensitive, I am do not have Celiac Disease and therefore don’t worry as much about cross contamination as your family needs to do. I hope your family has a wonderful time in Japan!

  3. Japan is probably the top destinations is Asia. The country is very advanced! There’s a ramen house there that literally you have to wait for hours because of an endless line of people. I miss japan!