From all sides of the globe many families come to visit Japan every year. It’s one of my most favourite experiences to share with my husband and two children. They have grown to love Japan as much as I have, and we are lucky to have shared so many fond times together.
Today we offer a bucket list of top family experiences to enliven the magic and mystery of Japan through the eyes of your child. I highly recommend Japan as a fantastic experience, and love consulting with families to add to the authentic experiences of their travel itinerary.
- Touring Tokyo
Any child will be mesmerised by the bright lights of Japan’s most colourful capital. From the neon lights of Shinjuku to the Imperial Palace follow the Yamanote JR Train Line as this provides the perfect opportunity to explore fabulous sites and hidden gems throughout the city, such as: Yanaka Ginza (traditional shopping street), Kendo Dojo (martial art descending from samurai warriors) or Senso-ji Temple (Tokyo’s oldest temple dating to 645!). Old and new areas of the city such as Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo Tower, trend-setting fashionistas of Harajuku, tofu makers in Togoshi or the crowded walkways of Shibuya will fast become your families most favourites memories.
- Climb the Black Crow Castle
If your children are fascinated with the culture and traditions of the Japanese ninjas and Samurai as much as I am, a visit to Matsumoto Castle is a must. At a poignant and picturesque six storeys high it’s unusual for having a second donjon and turret attached to the main keep. It is possible to climb up inside the castle building via a series of very steep staircases which will keep an air of adventure into Japan’s magnificent history and past. There is a pretty vermillion bridge in the castle grounds, and in spring it is a popular cherry blossom spot, which makes it an enviable bucket list item.
- Monkey Magic
You have not lived until you have seen the magic mountain monkeys! Iwatayama monkey park on the outskirts of Kyoto is home to a population of 170 macaques looked after by rangers. The monkeys move freely through the park, swinging from trees above you or lounging around in the sun for photographs.
A short uphill climb takes your through the park grounds to a plateau with wide views across Kyoto City; a lovely backdrop to the monkey madness. Visitors can feed the monkeys at designated times, but this happens with a twist: it’s humans who have to stand inside a cage, while you will be mesmerised as the monkeys grab food through the bars from the outside!
- Slip into the Fast Lane in Kawasaki World
Museums are a great destination and abound in family fun in Japan, one memorable visit that is sure likely to get Dad enthused as well is “Kawaskai World”. “Kawasaki” is famous all over the worlds for its motorbikes. Not many are aware its origins are as a ship building company. Kawasaki World is a facility for experiencing all the various technologies collected within. At the “Kawasaki World Theater”, video footage of vehicles is displayed on 6 large screens, where it feels as if those trains and planes were right beside you. In each of the land, sea and air zones, actual products and simulators are featured. This adds a hands on experience for the big or small kid alike!
- Delight in Tokyo Disney Land
A trip highlight for all travellers to Japan is Tokyo Disneyland. This theme park is based on the films produced by Walt Disney. It was opened in 1983 as the first Disney theme park outside of the United States. Modelled after Disneyland in California and the Magic Kingdom in Florida, Tokyo Disneyland is made up of seven themed lands and features seasonal decorations and parades. You can lose days, in the magical theme city and it will be a sure fire entertainment whizz with the kids!
Providing a fun contrast to Tokyo’s more edifying attractions, a trip to Disneyland or Disneysea is sure to keep your kids happy and help strike a balance between cultural education and plain old fun. For those with younger children, Disneyland has gentler rides and more child-friendly attractions; Disneysea is home to bigger, scarier fare and will be more popular with older children.
Travelling just once to Japan on a family trip or holiday, is just the beginning of the first of many eastern adventures. The four seasons in Japan means this country will offer something different on every visit.
Having travelled with my husband and 2 children, I am constantly surprised and delighted on all the opportunities that exist all year round. To this day I am constantly reminded by the joyful stories we share with our family, our friends and many others who have shared one of our Plan Japan experiences.