Tokyo is one of the few places on the planet where you can have as much fun at the kid-friendly spots as they do. Feast your eyes on my favorite places to go if you’ve got Young Things to entertain – I guarantee they won’t be begging you to take them to a boring old playground instead.
If you only have one day in Tokyo, this is where you should go.
There’s always a lot going on at the giant Buddhist temple (Senso-ji) and the Asakusa Shrine (Shinto) • Rice crackers and taiyaki made while you wait • Great shopping street with excellent inexpensive souvenirs
I love this museum because it explains so much about Japan in truly entertaining ways. This is the one museum I take kids to and they always enjoy it.
Life in samurai times vs. how life changed after Japan opened to the West • Incredible detailed models of cities and towns. You can look at them through binoculars to see all the little people • Full-scale rooms showing how people lived
The lucky cat temple!
KANDA MYŌJIN SHRINE
This is the Anime Shrine – where anime and manga artists come to pray for success
Don’t miss the street where they sell plastic food!
Beat the heat at a playground misted with fog, go to a Japanese baseball game, and ride a roller coaster right through a Tokyo skyscraper!
Tokyo Dome City has: Amusement park rides for all ages • A free playground that is misted with cooling fog in the summer • A dancing water fountain that’s alight show at night • Tokyo Dome stadium, home to the Yomiuri Giants baseball team
KOSHINZUKA STREET MARKET
Be grossed out by weird foods from old Japan (and take home the pictures to prove it!)
See old-fashioned squicky foods like squid guts, poisonous snake tea & snacks made from bugs • There’s a whole store devoted to selling red underwear • Excellent shopping for small Japanese gifts like coinpurses, sweets, etc.
Get a dose of nature, with monkeys!
At the top: small but excellent monkey park, snack bar, café and beer garden (May-Oct), short walk to nice shrine, great view of Tokyo • You can either hike up the mountain or be whisked up (and down) by cable car or chair lift • Takao’s branch of the Trick Art Museum is next to Takaosan Station
NAMCO NAMJA TOWN & J-WORLD MANGA THEME PARKS
Kid-pleasing indoor theme parks
J-World is packed with One Piece, DragonballZ & Naruto comic book attractions, goods & photo ops • Namco Namja Town has games and attractions plus a store with totally wild ice cream flavors & a street with stands selling the most famous dumplings from all over Japan
NINJA AKASAKA RESTAURANT
A restaurant that looks like a ninja castle, with magical food!
Ninjas lead you through secret passageways into their castle, then perform amazing illusions with the food • Incredible setting really looks like a ninja castle • Menu is both adult and kid-friendly • Private booths
This island in Tokyo Bay is home to some of the wackiest things to do in Tokyo.
OEDO ONSEN HOT SPRINGS
The indoor hot spring theme park!
Looks like an Edo Era town • Hot spring baths from all over Japan • Foot bath stream • Sand bath • Foot nibbling fish • Ninja star throwing, archery & blow darts
Every kind of paper and origami kit under the sun!
Exhibitions of amazing origami artwork • Incredible selection of papers for sale, including washi paper that is beautiful enough to frame • Sometimes origami masters are give demonstrations
THE ROBOT RESTAURANT
Taiko drummers, dancers & giant robots put on a 90-minute extravaganza that never fails to entertain
Show is a totally worth seeing tour de force of lights, music & entertainment • Cold bento box meal is included in the ticket price, but it’s not especially delicious (you might want to feed the kids elsewhere first, just in case)
Truth is stranger than fiction – see the actual burial place of the legendary 47 ronin
You can light incense at the actual graves of the 47 ronin • You can see their signed confession and the well where they washed Lord Kira’s severed head • There are little statue portaits of the real 47 ronin, some of them only 16
SHOWA KINEN PARK
Two words: BOUNCY MOUNTAIN. This giant park has it all for families: gorgeous gardens for you, lots of excellent places to play for the kids
Multiple playgrounds (one with a giant bouncy mountain) • Miles of bike paths • A lake with boat rentals • An ultimate frisbee golf course • Large dedicated BBQ area • An enormous lawn for picknicking and playing • Plentiful food stands and bathrooms • A gorgeous Japanese garden • Spectacular spring flowers and autumn leaves
TOKYO STATION UNDERGROUND SHOPS
Uniquely Japanese theme “streets” are a great place to go with kids on a rainy day • 21 shop selling Japanese character goods • Ramen street • Confectionary Land has potato chip sundaes & weird flavors of sweets • Curry Street • Gundam Café
TRICK ART MUSEUM
Take your picture in forty-five life-size illusions that make it look like you’re being swallowed by a shark, battling ninjas, and performing other death-defying feats!
I usually wouldn’t suggest wasting precious time in Japan going to a zoo, but this one has PANDAS!
The best free entertainment in Tokyo, every Sunday afternoon!
ZENIARAI BENTEN SHRINE
This is the shrine where you can wash your money so it will double within the year
Enter through a tunnel cut through the rock • Shrine is in the middle of a grotto with beautiful waterfalls • Wash your money in the stream running through the shrine’s cave, and it will double within the year
While you’re in Japan, read a novel set in Tokyo!
“A genuinely gripping crime thriller which wrong-foots and perplexes the reader throughout, drawing us in emotionally . . . Highly recommended.”