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Japan with a 7 and 3 year old

(15 Posts)
vvviola Thu 30-Oct-14 23:10:27


Has anyone got tips on places to see/things to do with this age in Japan.

We're spending 10 days in Japan in January "on the way" from NZ to Ireland. We're visiting Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima. Accommodation and travel are already sorted.

I lived in Japan for a year so have some idea of what the must sees are for DH and myself (but my travel times were a bit more back-packy and booze-soaked than would be possible with two kids!), and we're keeping Tokyo Disney as a possibility for our last day in Japan.

The kids are pretty good at museums visits etc, so we probably will manage to do a good few of the temples etc., but I'm trying to figure out a few more kid-friendly things to do in between.

Also, has anyone taken children to the Peace Museum in Hiroshima? I've been, but it was a very long time ago, and DH really wants to go, but I'm unsure what to do with children. DD2 can probably be distracted from bit we don't think she needs to see, and at 3 I'm sure a lot will go over her head anyway, but I'm concerned about DD1. She's a bright, curious kid, but also very sensitive. Should I just take the kids somewhere else and let DH do the museum alone? But I kind of feel that to visit Hiroshima even as a child, and not go to the museum seems a bit wrong (and, selfishly, I'd like to go back again).


hatsybatsy Fri 31-Oct-14 11:23:27

Just back from the same kind of trip -but our kids are 10 and 8. Am guessing you did JET or similar - like me?

We didn't make it to Hiroshima so no views on that...

We did find we had to pace ourselves - kids were fine as long as there was some kind of child friendly activity in the pipeline. They managed temples/shrines/gardens well as long as there weren't too many in one day. They each had a little camera and that helped keep them busy.

Kyoto - they loved the monkey park in Arashiyama. Bit of a climb but monkeys and small playground at the top made it worthwhile. Also the bamboo gardens near Tenryuji (sp? Arashiyama - west side) were great - there was a small playground on the bamboo walk and lots of rickshaws which the kids loved riding in.

Tokyo - we did go to Ueno zoo (v cheap - has giant pandas!) and also on the boats in Ueno park - both were big hits.

We were the same as you and kept Tokyo Disney for the last day - definitely worthwhile. Park is open from 8am til 10pm at the moment. Tickets allowed you to book a fast pass ride every 2 hours which meant some shorter queues. there is also Disney Sea next door to the main park -can't vouch for that but guess it would fill another day if you needed it to?

Odaiba - in Tokyo Bay - has fab science museum which is v hands on - and Asimo the robot is there - he was quite memorable. there was also a bigger robot (Gundan) at the nearby Divers City Mall - we couldn't quite work it out but think there were nightly shows (on the hour) when he moved and shot out lasers and smoke...

But the things the kids loved the most were the really hi tech conveyor belt sushi places - they were fun and cheap - would highly recommend!

vvviola Fri 31-Oct-14 17:28:08

Thanks hatsybatsy, that's really useful - especially the info about what was a hit in Kyoto - it's the one place I'm afraid they might get a bit templed-out.

Might try to squeeze in the robot stuff in Tokyo too - make a change of pace from all the history and temples!

Yep, I'm an ex-JET. Haven't been back in the 12 years since, so I'm very excited.

Did you go back to where you lived? I was tempted, but there's not much else out that way, and I decided to leave it in the fond haze I remember it in. grin

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 02-Nov-14 07:55:40

I would consider spending 2 days at Disney (so a day at each) to cover both parks and if at all possible arrive there for opening. Make as much use of their Fastpass system as possible, would give their Toy Story ride a miss (fastpasses for that ride ran out by 10am).

Ueno zoo is worth a visit also.

I would choose shrines and museums with a degree of care as many of the exhibits are written in Japanese only. We did like the Tokyo Uedo museum though and that is child friendly. Also many can appear boring for children. We liked the shrine and big Buddha at Kamikura.

Rojak Sun 02-Nov-14 09:14:43

I did the Peace Museum with a 7 and 10 year old a few years ago.

The 10 year old got more out of it but the 7 year old understood what the museum was about (still remembers details 3 years on) and was especially taken with the story of Sadako and the cranes.

We did the same route you're planning - Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima.

We hired bicycles and rode to the temples we particularly wanted to see so the kids didn't feel it was just temple after temple.

We did the Sumo Museum in Tokyo - not much to see but you can catch the wrestlers next door coming out of practice and it makes good photos.

There is an outdoor Edo museum a bit out of Tokyo centre which was good for the kids as you could go inside traditional Japanese houses through the ages.

rachyconks Sun 02-Nov-14 09:30:01

Haven't done the peace museum with kids, but would love too when mine are a bit bigger. I think yours are a good age for it. There are some parts which are quite graphic but you can easily skip past them if needed. There were plenty of children and school groups there when I visited.

Harajuku might be good - all the costumed people. Saw a couple of geisha there too.

Tokyo Dome has a good rollercoaster and mini theme park in the middle of a shopping mall.

I believe the cinema at Roppogi hills shows films in English.

Shinjuku has amazing 4/5 floor shopping malls with little shops inside selling typical Japanese kawaii stuff eg loads of Sanrio, toys etc. a bit like an indoor market.

A good hibachi restaurant would be worth a visit.

vvviola Sun 02-Nov-14 09:34:54

There's no way we're doing 2 days at Disney, I think my head would melt grin wink

Good tip about Ueno Zoo though. Thanks smile

Good to hear your 7yo was taken with the Sadako story Rojak, my initial instinct would be that would work well for DD, but then read somewhere it was more suited to 9 or 10 year olds. Was going to check it out in any case, but good to hear a positive story.

vvviola Sun 02-Nov-14 09:42:38

Ooh yes, Harajuku could be lots of fun. if I can stop the DDs squealing and pointing

By hibachi do you mean the hot plate cooking? We'd love to, but DD2 has allergies to dairy and egg so I'd be a bit reluctant to do something like that, not knowing what had been on the hot plate and how thoroughly it was cleaned. the allergies are, although not life threatening, a whole other level of stress for the trip

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 02-Nov-14 11:18:50

Although it is Disney it is very different from the other Disney parks in other parts of the world.

Re Harajuku it is nuts on the weekend, the cos-play people are more in evidence then than during the week. They tend to hang out more in the nearby parks rather than in the main shopping street itself. Daiso (which is a 100 yen shop) along the main Harajuku street is well worth a visit.

Tokyo Skytree is worth a visit as is Nakimise.

Do not forget that the department stores have restaurants on the top floors; Takashimaya has many restaurants with all sorts of cuisine.

MsPickle Sun 02-Nov-14 11:23:34 We thought it magical when visited as adults pre dc, full of kids having a great time! Tokyo.

hatsybatsy Tue 04-Nov-14 10:17:41

just one more thought.... when you're in Disney, the food is pretty rank - we got our hand stamped and came out for a breather. there is a massive shopping mall near maihama station with lots of choice of reasonably priced restaurants.

vvviola Wed 05-Nov-14 18:09:53

I think if we were in Tokyo longer Attilla we'd definitely try 2 disney days, but with only 3 days there we have a lot to fit in! Good to hear it still has that lovely different feeling - I was there 12 years ago and enjoyed it despite myself smile Thanks for the other advice too.

Good to know about the food hatsybatsy. Thanks.

I'd forgotten about the Ghibli museum - although I suspect it may all go over the DC's heads, they're still in a traditional disney movie phase curses Frozen

ShanghaiDiva Fri 07-Nov-14 13:05:37

Could also take train from Kyoto to Nara for the day. My dd (8) loved the deer there and everything is accessible on foot from train station.

irregularegular Fri 23-Jan-15 12:37:19

We took our 6 and 5 yr old to Japan for 2 weeks a few years ago.

Things I remember being child friendly: Hakone circuit (train/cable car/boat) with views of Mount Fuji; Hakone open air sculpture park (wonderful); palette town in Tokyo (toyota showroom; ferris wheel); Nara and the deer park; Kyoto monkey park; hiring boats at Arashiyama

Have fun!

HRHQueenMe Sat 24-Jan-15 20:37:36

Took 2,4, and 6 y old at Christmas. Disney was great, Kidzania looked amazing but you must book ahead as wednesdays are in english. Odaiba island is fab, arrive from Shimbashi on the driverless monorail, sit at the front and the kids can "drive".
There is a briliant Sushi train restaurant in Diver City on 6th floor (premium kai) where your orders arrive by shinkansen.
Sensoji temple in asakusa is surrounded by lovely playgrounds, and visit both the tokyo tower and the sky tree, both fun and different!

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