I know. It seems daunting. Japan is far away and the language is hard and what if your kid won’t eat sushi? But, please. Ignore all these reasons. Bring your kids to Japan. There is so so much to see, to do, to eat, to explore. Here are our top things to do with kids in Japan. If you bring your family and try any of these, let us know what you think. And if you have other tips for kids, let me know. Because we are definitely going back.
- Kids Plaza Osaka- This multi-storey kids play centre has a bit of everything! There are instruments to play, climbing frames, a pretend restaurant where your little chef can make you sushi. It can be loud and a bit overwhelming when it’s crowded, but our sensitive girl had a blast!
- Osaka Kitchen Cooking Classes- I know I said this list was in no particular order, but this was probably the best thing we did with our daughter on our trip to Japan. The cooking classes are run by Yoko, who opens her home to teach people how to cook specialities from Osaka. Yoko made the whole lesson so engaging and fun for our girl. It was a brilliant afternoon.
- The grounds of Osaka Castle- Save yourself the time. Just see Osaka Castle from the outside. We went inside and, as much as I would have loved spending hours reading all the plaques and history, it was pretty dull for our girl and we ended up rushing through. But, outside is wonderful! Pathways through the manicured grounds, a mini-train, ice cream vendors, street musicians, what more could a kid want? We spent ages playing on the paths and gardens.
- Kurama Village, Kyoto- Take the slow train up to this tiny village and get ready for tons of fun exploring the mountain. We brought a picnic lunch, took the gondola half way up the mountain, stopped to eat, then continued on foot to the top. The views at the top are beautiful and the shrines are lovely, but it was actually the walk back down the mountain that we liked best. There were little streams and ponds, picturesque bridges, trails just right for running and collecting sticks and rocks. Great fun!
- National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo- There is a great kids play area in the museum. We also enjoyed the IMAX-like movie at the beginning of the museum, but, for little ones, the play area is the real draw. A huge jungle gym, a craft area, a science area and a little library made it hard to leave after our 45 min session was up!
- Cat cafe- This one is kid dependent. If you have super hyper kids who love to pull the tails of kittens, skip the cat cafes. But if you, like me, have a kid who desperately wants a pet of their very own, a cat cafe could be great fun. We went to the Bengal Cat Forest in Harajuku, but I can’t find a website for the cafe. A weird tip, most people go to the cat cafes just to snuggle the cats, but the animals really want to play! Georgia brought a little blue plastic Slinky that she’d been given as part of a kids meal and the cats were obsessed. They loved her and she got way more “cat attention” than the people there just for a snuggle.
- Edo-Tokyo Museum- Tons of interesting miniatures that show what life was like in Tokyo throughout history. Our girl is a bit too young to be interested in the history part for long, but there were also cool exhibits that let her run a sushi cart, dance in a kabuki theatre, go in a traditional Japanese house and pretend to be a rickshaw driver.
- Tokyo Toy Museum in Shinjuku- More a play space than a real museum, the toy museum is in an old school building and has crafts and toys laid out on each floor. There is a soft play area for younger kids, a climbing area for more adventurous kids and lots and lots of hands on toys and games.
So… GO!!! Have a blast!