Taking the Children to Tokyo over Christmas, any Japanese mumsnetters here?

(34 Posts)
HRHQueenMe Sun 21-Sep-14 07:31:34

I would like to take the children to Tokyo over Christmas to visit family. We would like to do one day at Disney. Looking at Airbnb apartments. Please give me any advice and ideas! The children are 2,4 and 6. Which airport has better links? Haneda or Narita? Family live in Fuchu but are willing to travel to come and see us. Thank you!

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Yabbie Sat 27-Sep-14 11:56:05

I just joined, I live really near Tokyo Disneyland. You could do two days there, as there is Disneyland and disneysea you can get a combined ticket for both. The resort hotels often have combined offers too.
Try to come to Haneda, it's much closer to Tokyo, Narita is over 70km away it can be a pain although there are lots of trains and coaches.
There is also San Rio land, home of Hello Kitty, and you can go to Studio Ghilibi as well. what do you like doing? There a million things to do in Tokyo!

Yabbie Sat 27-Sep-14 11:59:24

also be sure to bring a blank notebook for each of the kids, about a5 size, many places have ink pads and special stamps, so you can stamp your book and collect all the stamps on your journey, which is cool.

auntpetunia Sat 27-Sep-14 12:02:08

Watching with interest as DS is off to international scout jamboree next July in Japan he'll be 16 and they have a week in Tokyo!!!

exexpat Sat 27-Sep-14 12:06:10

Haneda is closer to central Tokyo, but most of the direct flights from Europe still go to Narita so you may not have much choice. The Narita Express or Skyliner trains get you into central Tokyo very efficiently.

Tokyo is lovely round Christmas time - lots of places have amazing Christmas light displays, and there are markets in the run up to New Year, which is the big Japanese celebration. I'd aim to go at least a week before Christmas if you want to do Disney, to get in on a weekday before the Japanese schools finish (around December 23rd or 24th usually - check with your family) and it gets really, really crowded. Disneyland and DisneySea are quite different, so it might be worth doing both, but it could be a bit much for very small children.

Everything around Tokyo (museums, restaurants, smaller shops) pretty much shuts down from December 31st for a few days, so it's a good idea to plan your stay for before that anyway.

HRHQueenMe Sat 27-Sep-14 12:41:45

Fab! Thank you! I am looking at air bnb accomodation as my family's appartment is too small to accomodate us all, is there any areas we should avoid? Were happy travelling on the trains/subway, i have done this before, but it would be nice to stay in a quieter neighbourhood as we wont be needing bars etc.
Second question, for feeding the children when we are out, what would Japanese parents order for their children? Ours eat tempura and udon, but will local noodle bars do childrens meals? The children will try and eat most things as long as its not spicy. What can I ask for? The same for bento boxes and sushi etc, what would you order for children?
Thank you for all the suggestions!
We will be there from dec 22-29, any suggestions for christmassy things to see? We are super excited!smile I have travelled in Tokyo before but never with the children!

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exexpat Sat 27-Sep-14 13:07:28

Oh, shame it's not earlier - I am afraid Disney will be rammed the whole time you are there (public holiday on December 23rd, and schools off from then until after new year). But possibly still worth going for the Christmas decorations, parades etc, even if you only manage a couple of rides because of the queues.

My DCs were born in Tokyo and lived there until they were 8 and 4. Their favourite foods were o-nigiri (rice balls - easy to find in convenience stores, very handy food for on-the-go), sushi (sushi places are great for children, particularly the conveyor belt kind, because you just order/take what you want, no need to order a whole meal for a child), and tempura - again, you can order piece-by-piece, with a bowl of rice, or some places do mini tendon (rice bowl with tempura on top) in child sizes.

I'm just heading out but will have a think about some other tips later.


Yabbie Sat 27-Sep-14 14:01:57

Try family restaurants too, Denny's, Jonathan's and Royal Host are common chain restaurants they have picture menus so you can see what you're ordering, child dishes and unlimited drink bar! (Non-alcoholic). Other restaurants have plastic models in the window showing their dishes, you can check if there is a kids set. It's pretty common to share dishes so they might give you small plates or you can ask. Japanese food is not spicy, but watch out for the wasabi on sushi, which might be a surprise!
Can your kids use chopsticks? The family restaurants will have knives and forks but noodle bars might not, you could pack more plastic ones just in case.
If you buy food in supermarkets or convenience stores there usually have a microwave you can heat purchased food up in.
I went to Disneyland last 23rd Dec, it was pretty busy, but the only time it got overwhelming was just after the parade finished,and everyone was moving away from the parade route. Sit tight after the parade and wait for the crowds to ease. some of the popular rides have fast pass, but you have to get the fast pass for individual rides early in the morning.

HRHQueenMe Sun 28-Sep-14 11:50:13

Thank you, brilliant tips! This is just the kind of stuff I need to know. Any tips re Areas? Ive stayed in Ikebukuru and Shinjuku before and whilst nice they are busy and expensive. Looking at Bunkyo if we fly into NRT, sounds nice. Flying into Haneda are we better placed for Fuchu where we need to go to see family? Trying to dechipher the jR map....smile

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exexpat Sun 28-Sep-14 12:27:04

If you're just there for a short time and want to be out and about doing stuff, the most important thing is being close to train lines - if possible, close (10-15 minutes walk or less) to at least one subway and one JR line.

I used to live in Bunkyo-ku, and also in Shinjuku-ku, and there are lots of nice quiet areas with good transport links. My favourite part of Tokyo is around Kagurazaka - near JR Iidabashi station, but with several subway lines as well, and loads of interesting little restaurants and food shops, as well as some good playgrounds for the children. The Korakuen/Suidobashi area is also good for transport, and then heading further east, areas around Ueno are worth considering - there is the zoo and park and museums on your doorstep, as well as excellent transport links including the Skyliner to Narita.

Are there any particular AirBnB apartments you are looking at? If you link them, I could comment on which seems best. I'm actually going to be in Tokyo just before you (leaving on the 23rd) and I am also going the AirBnB route for the first time - I'm renting an apartment in Ichigaya, not too far from Kagurazaka.

exexpat Sun 28-Sep-14 13:09:37

Oh yes, and to confirm what Yabbie said - it is perfectly fine and normal for parents to ask for extra plates so that two children can share an adult portion of something, or have a bit of the adult's meal.

HRHQueenMe Sun 28-Sep-14 15:22:57


Looking at this, pricy but lots of space and views, yet high up and scary balconies for the kids.

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HRHQueenMe Sun 28-Sep-14 15:24:04

Bunkyo house has been booked by someone else....grrrr

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HRHQueenMe Sun 28-Sep-14 15:25:38

[https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/2662534 Strong Contender]

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HRHQueenMe Sun 28-Sep-14 15:26:22

Strong Contender

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Yabbie Mon 29-Sep-14 03:50:37

I was going to say Iidabashi too, very central, not too overwhelming. Or Shinbashi, where your first link is near. That place looks very nice, I wouldn't worry about the balcony too much, it'll be cold in december so you can keep the doors firmly closed.
The Ichikawa one is also nice, but it's the completely opposite side of Fuchu it'll take a couple of hours to get to Fuchu. It's near where I live, and while it is fine to get into Tokyo, take the Metro from Gyotoku station in about 20 minutes, it'll be a little annoying to get to Disney (two trains or a train and a bus 20-30 minutes)
btw this website is great for journey planning around Japan in English on the trains, planes and boats www.hyperdia.com

HRHQueenMe Wed 01-Oct-14 13:41:27

Hi ! Have booked and finally settled on a flat in Obaida, looks great an the area should be child friendly! Any thoughts? Also any tips for Disney land tickets? Is there any way of doing it cheaper? Can you pay for tickets online? Thank you!

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HRHQueenMe Wed 01-Oct-14 13:42:04


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Yabbie Fri 03-Oct-14 13:51:29

Yeah, Odaiba is fine, lots of shopping centres anyway, there is a good science museum too, hands on and enough English signage to get by, called Miraikan. There is pretty much no way to get cheaper Disney tickets, they keep it pretty tightly sewn up. Under 3s are free though smile
You can book online with visa.

exexpat Fri 03-Oct-14 15:20:51

Oh, this thread fell off my list. Yes, Odaiba is a good place for children. DS used to love riding the Yurikamome (driverless monorail) - he would rush to get the seat right at the front so he could pretend to be the driver.

There's also the Toyota Mega-Web car showroom/museum, which appeals to any children keen on cars, and Odaiba Decks and Venus Fort (shopping malls with lots of places to eat, and Venus Fort has Tokyo's biggest lego shop). In the Decks area there is also a Sega Joypolis arcade and a Sony Explorascience centre, but your DCs might still be a bit young to appreciate those.

There is (or was - it's a while since I was there) a supermarket near Odaiba-kaihinkoen station, which could be useful.

Yabbie Sun 05-Oct-14 11:32:38

just found this blog which looks useful for Tokyo travel. www.tokyourbanbaby.com/2014/10/top-10-tips-for-travelling-with-2-kids-to-tokyo.html

HRHQueenMe Sun 05-Oct-14 14:45:33

Thank you Yabbie! My tea went cold reading through that blogg! Am taking notes and marking maps! So excited! Im under no illusion that it wont be hard and stressfull, but the children will have a ball! If you spot a harassed looking mum in Tokyo with 3 blonde kids having a public meltdown over Christmas , you know it will be me!

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HRHQueenMe Sun 05-Oct-14 19:09:50

Final questions, is there any days over the christmas period where everything in Tokyo is closed?
Also can you meet Father Christmas anywhere? Department stores etc? Thank you!

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exexpat Sun 05-Oct-14 20:26:28

A lot of museums close on Mondays, so you'd need to check, and the 23rd is a public holiday, so banks would be closed but all shops etc open. Christmas day is a normal business day. Otherwise the main shut-down is not until New Year, after you have left.

I don't remember seeing department store Santas in Japan - some nurseries and kindergartens get a staff member to dress up as Santa (or they ask a parent - DH did it at DS's nursery), but it's not such a widespread thing there as far as I know, though it is possible it has caught on since I left. You may have to fit a visit to Santa in before you leave the UK.

Thinking of banks, a tip for you: the best way to access cash in Japan if you have a foreign bank card is through ATMs in 7-Eleven convenience stores. Citibank ATMs are also OK (though there are very few of them) but most standard Japanese bank ATMs don't accept foreign cards. You can use a credit card in a lot more places than a few years ago, but I have found that using my credit card in Japan seems to trigger a security alert/block, even if I have told my bank in advance where I am going, so that involves phone calls to the UK etc to unblock it.

HRHQueenMe Mon 06-Oct-14 03:18:41

So with the 23rd being a public holiday, is it better to do Disney on the 24th or 23rd? I was told the crowds get worse by the day so was going to aim for the 23rd!

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