Fun with kids in Tokyo

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.

ASAKUSA

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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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EDO-TOKYO MUSEUM

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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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GOTOKUJI TEMPLE

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The lucky cat temple!

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

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KANDA MYŌJIN SHRINE

This is the Anime Shrine – where anime and manga artists come 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

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KAPPABASHI STREET

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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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KORAKUEN

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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

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KOSHINZUKA STREET MARKET

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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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MT. TAKAO

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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

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NAMCO NAMJA TOWN & J-WORLD MANGA THEME PARKS

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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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NINJA AKASAKA RESTAURANT

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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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ODAIBA

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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 • Legoland

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OEDO ONSEN HOT SPRINGS

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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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ORIGAMI CENTER

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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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THE ROBOT RESTAURANT

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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)

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SENGAKUJI TEMPLE

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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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SHOWA KINEN PARK

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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

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TOKYO STATION UNDERGROUND SHOPS

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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

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TRICK ART MUSEUM

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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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UENO ZOO

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

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YOYOGI PARK

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The best free entertainment in Tokyo, every Sunday afternoon!

Free entertainment of all kinds every Sunday afternoon • Skateboarding dog • Kite flying • Rockabillies • Slackline • Occasional costumed dogs

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ZENIARAI BENTEN SHRINE

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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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Read a novel set in Tokyo

A young woman dressed as a Gothic Lolita is found dead in a car with two strangers, and the more Yumi Hata learns about her friend’s death, the more she’s convinced it was murder…read more