Fun with kids in Tokyo

ASAKUSA

AsakusaFestivals

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

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Directions & map

EDO-TOKYO MUSEUM

6EdoTokyoMuseum

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

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Directions & map

GOTOKUJI – THE LUCKY CAT TEMPLE

4Gotokuji

The lucky cat temple!

Thousands of lucky maneki neko cat figures • Stunning natural cedar pagoda • Excellent cherry blossoms, plum blossoms and fall leaves

Directions & map

KANDA MYOUJIN – THE ANIME SHRINE

4KandaMyojin

This is where anime and manga artists go to pray for success!

Amazing art drawn on prayer plaques by visitors • Beautiful red and gold shrine buildings • You can buy a charm to protect your electronics • Weddings and ceremonies galore

Directions & map

KAPPABASHI STREET

4Kappabashi

Don’t miss the street where they sell plastic food!

Plastic food model stores • Make your own plastic food • Dinosaur heads

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Directions & map

KOSHINZUKA STREET MARKET

4.KoshinzukaKids

Be grossed out by weird foods from old Japan (and take home the pictures to prove it!)

See old-fashioned squicky foods like squid gutspoisonous 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.

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Directions & map

MT. TAKAO

4.MtTakao

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 • Great place to see fall leaves (mid-late Nov) and cherry blossoms (early Apr) • Takao’s branch of the Trick Art Museum is next to Takaosan Station

Directions & map

NAMCO NAMJA TOWN & J-WORLD MANGA THEME PARKS in SUNSHINE CITY

4.JworldNamja

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

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Directions & map

NINJA AKASAKA RESTAURANT

6NinjaFlame

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

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Directions & map

ODAIBA

4odaibaKids

This island in Tokyo Bay is home to some of the wackiest things to do in Tokyo.

Trick Art Museum • Oedo Onsen hot spring theme park • Miraikan Science Museum • Sony Explorascience Museum Smile Fight • Five-story tall Gundam robot • Legoland

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Directions & map

OEDO ONSEN

4OedoOnsen

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

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Directions & map

ORIGAMI CENTER

OrigamiCanter

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

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Directions & map

ROBOT RESTAURANT

4.RobotRestaurant

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) • Telephone number for reservations here.

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Map

SENGAKU-JI TEMPLE & THE 47 RONIN MUSEUM

4Sengakuji

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

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Directions & map

SHOWA KINEN PARK

4ShowaKinenKids

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

Directions & map

TOKYO DOME CITY FOG PLAYGROUND, BASEBALL & AMUSEMENT PARK

4.TokyoDomeCity

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

Directions & map

TOKYO STATION FIRST AVENUE UNDERGROUND SHOPS

4.TokyoStation

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

Directions & map

TRICK ART MUSEUM

JonelleNinjaFl

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!

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Open: Every day

Hours: 11:00 – 21:00 (Last entry 20:30)

Admission: Adults: ¥900, Children: (4-14): ¥600, Younger children: Free

Directions & maps

UENO ZOO

SONY DSC

I usually wouldn’t suggest wasting precious time in Japan going to a zoo, but this one has PANDAS!

Open: Six days a week, closed Mondays, on the day after national holidays, and from December 29 – January 1. Open other holidays.

Hours: 9:00 – 17:00 (Last entry 16:00)

Admission: Adults: ¥600, Seniors (65 & older): ¥300, Students (13-15): ¥20, Children (0-12): Free.

Map

YOYOGI PARK

4Yoyogi1

The best free entertainment in Tokyo, every Sunday afternoon!

Free entertainment of all kinds every Sunday afternoon • Skateboarding dog • Kite flying • Rockabillies •  Rakugo traditional Japanese storytelling • Giant bubble blowing • Slackline • Costumed dogs

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Directions & map

ZENIARAI BENTEN SHRINE in Kamakura

4Zeniarai

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

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Directions & map

For lots more fun stuff to do with kids in Tokyo (including information about kid-friendly seasonal events & festivals that are happening while you’re in town), skip over to #tokyotrip!

Jonelle Patrick writes mysteries set in Tokyo. Her fourth book – Painted Doll – is just out in paperback 

It's been nine years since she didn't make it home, but now Tokyo Detective Kenji Nakamura's life is about to unravel... Read more
When Tokyo Detective Kenji Nakamura’s phone rings with the news that his mother’s death ten years ago wasn’t an accident, his world begins to unravel. New evidence links her to…Read more

PAINTED DOLL book trailer (1:08)