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Top 10 Things To Do In Tokyo With Kids

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Tokyo isn’t usually on many family-friendly destination lists.  But when we visited, we found a city filled with helpful and gracious citizens and many kid-friendly attractions.  These were our 10 favorite cultural, fun and educational things to do in Tokyo with kids for an enriching travel experience.

1. DisneySea

We explored Tokyo Disney Resort and chose DisneySea over Disneyland.  DisneySea transported us into a water-centric park that became a family favorite.  We loved the park’s seven ports of call’s use of the sea myths and legends for its amazing shows, unique rides and attractions.  A great place to stay if the Disney parks are on your must-see list is Hilton Tokyo Bay, one of the official Tokyo Disneyland Resort hotels.

2. Basement food halls

At the bottom of many large department stores, we found a foodie paradise of enticing aroma, energy and variety that appealed to all family members with diverse taste buds. We frequented them for their generous portions, fresh food and cheap prices with many items reduced close to dinner time. My kids loved the yakitori sticks, noodles and mouthwatering desserts and pastries.

3. Studio Ghibli Museum

We had so much fun at the Studio Ghibli Museum that my kids didn’t want to leave.  Studio Ghibli produces movies from famed Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki.  It’s filled with interactive animation displays, exhibits, gadgets and rooftop gardens with a giant robot.  Don’t miss the huge plush cat bus play area with an adult version.

Kids will be fascinated by the giant robot outside Studio Ghibli.

Kids will be fascinated by the giant robot outside Studio Ghibli. 

4. Tokyo’s Subways and Trains

Living in car-centric California, we look forward to navigating foreign public transportation systems.  Tokyo’s subways and trains were efficient and easy.  They gave us an insight on how locals travel.  My kids loved the public transport experience and adventure.  We’re disappointed we missed those white-hand-glove people pushing passengers in during rush hour, though.

5. Temples and Shrines

Tokyo’s beautiful temples and shrines, like Sensoji and Meiji, were impressive.  It was fascinating to watch the Japanese, dressed in traditional attire, pay their respects. My kids’ favorite part was the cleansing station rituals before entering the sacred places and seeing all the personal prayers and wishes on ema votive tablets.

Discover Japanese rituals at sacred places like the Sensoji Temple.

Discover Japanese rituals at sacred places like the Sensoji Temple.

6. Odaiba

Tokyo Bay’s man-made entertainment island of Odaiba was a delightful place to visit with a giant Ferris wheel, Marine Park, public beaches and the Statue of Liberty replica (a highlight for my kids). Visit Toyota Mega Web showroom to see cars not available outside Japan and kids can drive a Hybrid electric motor on a course.

7. Tokyo City Hall

Go up Tokyo City Hall’s 45th floor observation deck for a stunning, panoramic view of skyscrapers and Mt. Fuji during winter.  We loved our bird’s-eye view and looking at the action below.

8. Shopping Districts

The Shinjuku, Shibuya and Ginza shopping districts are filled with neon lights and flashy signs that rival Times Square.  Check out the multi-level Sony store for playing and testing out electronics not available anywhere else. Hilton Tokyo is conveniently located in the Shinjuku district.

9. Harajuku

Visit the Harajuku area on weekends to see teenagers in various costumes. My kids were captivated with them.  Walk down Takeshita Dori for shopping and grab freshly-made, delicious crepes which smelled heavenly.

10. Imperial Palace Gardens

While we missed the 75-minute Imperial Palace tour, we loved its East Gardens.  The perfectly trimmed hedges and trees, koi pond and expansive grass areas were perfect for playing, picnics and leisurely strolls.  These old castle grounds still contained guard houses and museums for some history lessons.

Kids love exploring the bridges and ponds of the Imperial Palace Gardens.

Kids love exploring the bridges and ponds of the Imperial Palace Gardens.

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Mary lives in San Diego, California with her husband, 13 year-old daughter and 10 year-old son. She was born in the Philippines, grew up in the U.S. territory…

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