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10 Fun Things to Do in Tokyo with Kids

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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)

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.

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 Tower at night (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

6. Take in the view from Tokyo Tower.

Take in expansive views of Tokyo and Mount Fuji from the top of Tokyo Tower. This iron lattice broadcasting tower looks a lot like an orange and white Eiffel Tower. It's actually 30 feet taller than its French inspiration. For a fee, you can visit the two-story Main Observatory or the Special Observatory, located over 800 feet above the city. Kids might enjoy a trip to the Tokyo Tower Aquarium at the base. At minimum, you need to head over to the Minato area of Tokyo via train or taxi to take some photos of this soaring site.

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.

National Geographic Traveler Japan

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.

Think you can't afford a trip to Japan? Think again! Flights to Asia are crazy affordable right now! Check out airfares and set up a fare alert to Tokyo now at Airfarewatchdog.

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 compensation related to this story. This post includes affiliate links. Your clicks and purchases help keep TravelMamas.com a free resource for readers like you.

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About Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama

Colleen Lanin is the founder/editor-in-chief of TravelMamas.com. As the author of her book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents not only how to survive a trip with children, but also how to love exploring the world with their offspring. Her stories have appeared online and in print for such outlets as the "Today" show, NBCNews.com, Parenting Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, Expedia, San Diego Family Magazine, and more. Colleen gives tips on television, radio, and as a public speaker. She has a master’s degree in business administration with a background in marketing. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

Comments

  1. robin Rue says:

    My kids will never be in Japan at any point during their childhood, but I hope they can make it over there as adults someday. It sounds amazing.

  2. Oh, how cool! We’ve traveled to a lot of different places, but we’ve never been to Japan. I’d love to go there and see Tokyo.

  3. WE also visited Asakusa! That was an amazing temple to check out! We had a picnic in the Imperial Palace Garden as well. My son got a kick out of eating in the grass and then wandering the grounds. Finally, don’t miss a visit to Odaiba!! We love seeing the huge Gundam statue out in front of the mall and visiting the Gundam museum. There is a lego discovery center on Odaiba as well! The last stop we made was to the Giant Buddah in Kamakura so much fun and Kamakura is beautiful! Finally, it’s easy to get around Tokyo so we used the train to go everywhere and kids under the age of 6 are free. After that you can purchase a child’s pasco card to fill up for a smaller fare than the adult fare but the train is pretty cheap in general.

  4. Tokyo looks like a really kid friendly place. There is so much culture and fun there, plus that ramen looks so good.

  5. Catherine Sargent says:

    Tokyo looks like a great place to visit. It has been at the top of my travel bucket list.

  6. My girlfriend lived there and I used to envy her pictures. I never got to visit her but I do plan on getting there!

  7. I would love to visit Japan. That ramen looks so perfect right now.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Right?! I didn’t get to taste the ramen because I’m gluten-free but I had a pork and veggie dish that was so dang good at the ramen house!

  8. It would be nice to visit Tokyo. I laughed at the horns comment. I’m not sharing that with any of the men in my family. 😉

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Ha! I think we all (men and women alike) hide our horns a bit until we’re married! 🙂

  9. My son really wants to visit Japan. He would enjoy ramen and Takeshita Street, but probably everything else on this list too!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Japan is such a fascinating country. I hope you and your son get a chance to visit soon!

  10. Tokyo looks like a great place to visit, I had no idea all that you could do there with kids! What a fun time, hoping more families can enjoy it the way you did!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      With airfares so low right now, it would be a more affordable option for North Americans than Europe even!

  11. Tokyo is absolutely on my travel bucket list and I can not wait to visit someday. I want to wear a kimono and eat traditional Japanese sushi for sure!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      I’m not a sushi fan personally but the others in my group were raving about the sushi on this trip!

  12. Japan has such a rich cultural heritage and it would be awesome to witness some of their traditions. I wish our plan to tour Asia would come to fruition. I would love to enjoy real Ramen straight from the source!

  13. I’ve never been to Tokyo, but it sounds like an amazing place to visit. This was a great article! Thanks for sharing.

  14. This is such a wonderful resource for Tokyo; you include such good detail.
    I will be sure to consult this if I take a trip there.
    And it is fun to read just for the cultural enrichment.

  15. I love that my little ones share my love of adventure. Asia is somewhere none of us have ever been. Tokyo sounds like such a great destination for the whole family.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      How wonderful that your children love adventure as much as you do ~ I bet you would all love a visit to Tokyo!

  16. Tokyo is literally on the top of my travel list since I was a little girl. I saved your guide and pinned it because even though you suggested for kids, many are things I want to do (pretty much all). I love Ramen and the hotel looks amazing you made me so excited!

  17. 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!

  18. Tokyo looks so fantastic. The ambient, atmosphere every thing is cool. Perfect place for your kid’s holidays. The pictures are really awesome thanks for sharing.

  19. 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??

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      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!

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