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Japan with teenagers - tips please!

(17 Posts)
TuttiFrutti Wed 16-Oct-19 16:24:35

We are planning on going to Japan for the first time next Easter with ds, 14, and dd, 13. Probably for 2-3 weeks but it will need to be in school holidays.

Has anyone done this? We want to see Tokyo and Kyoto - is there anywhere else you would recommend? Were there any museums or experiences that were a hit with your teenagers?

Also, is there anywhere you would definitely NOT go? I'm in two minds about Hiiroshima - did you go and do you think it was worth it?

BubblesBuddy Thu 17-Oct-19 00:53:23

I didn’t go with teens but we didn’t do Hiroshima. That was mainly a time issue for us.

I think you have to sit down with a guide book, Lonely Planet, and talk to your DC about what all of you would like to see. It has great recommendations for everywhere!

Kyoto is very different to Tokyo. You are visiting in cherry blossom season at Easter so it’s ultra high season. You may find you are restricted regarding where to stay in Kyoto already. It’s very very busy at that time.

We hiked part of the Nakasendo Highway and this could suit you. Magome to Tsumago. We stayed in a ryokan in Tsumago. This is a must.

Also look at Hakone. There are other areas which you can do via train from Tokyo. Tokyo is huge and there is plenty to see so don’t rush it. We visited the Tokyo National Museum at Ueno but there are several others that might interest you. Again check the guide books. I love Japanese arts, but they might not be everyone’s idea of a great museum.

Kyoto is like a massive museum within a city. We also went to Nara. We liked the many temples and gardens. Spotting Gaikos and Maikos is fun in Kyoto. Eating out is a great experience too.

I think try and do a varied itinerary. Don’t rush it and use trains! Decide what suits adults and DC. Don’t just go for DC appealing stuff or you will miss out. It’s a great country and we want to go back.

TuttiFrutti Thu 17-Oct-19 08:39:25

Thanks BubblesBuddy, that is very helpful. I will look at Tsumago and Hakone.

ShanghaiDiva Thu 17-Oct-19 12:58:18

Nara is lovely and is an easy day trip from Kyoto - dd loved the deer. The Fushimi Inari Shrine was also a big hit with my dd.
Osaka is easy to combine with Kyoto - we visited the castle, dd enjoyed all the lights at night in Dotonbori (running man etc) and we also visited the aquarium - think it's the world's largest - and universal studios. US is very expensive and even though it was a 'quiet' day, queues were long. Dd loved it and was happy to queue on own while dh and I tried to escape the crowds.

Lyricallie Thu 17-Oct-19 13:02:16

Might be totally not your thing but we went to Tokyo Disney (were in our mid 20s) and it was amazing. If you've done Disney before I would skip their equivalent of the magic Kingdom but Tokyo Disney Sea was amazing!

Also akihabara in Tokyo was really cool if your kids are into gaming or anime. We went to the SEGA arcade and played some silly games.
Also Shinjuku in Tokyo for all the crazy Japanese teenager fashion and amazing crepes!

(I swear we did cultural stuff too :p)

I echo Nara it was a lovely day out!

ShanghaiDiva Thu 17-Oct-19 13:13:38

I agree Disney Sea is also a great day out - dd loved it. It was fun people watching as lots of the Japanese teenagers really dress up and drag huge travel bags around with them packed full of make up and hair accessories.

BubblesBuddy Thu 17-Oct-19 17:14:17

I think the mention of Disney and US reveals the issue. When my DC were teens, we didn’t go anywhere near them. I feel Japan has so much to offer any family, visiting American theme parks seems totally unnecessary. They is why I mentioned agreeing a holiday itinerary. They won’t have peer group pressure to go to either of these.
Is this what you want to do and do you wish to pay for it? What will you give up to do these parks? If your teens really want to do them, go to the USA! There is more to Japan then American theme parks!

Matsumoto Castle is a great place to visit. As indeed is Nijo Castle in Kyoto.

TuttiFrutti Thu 17-Oct-19 21:16:17

I agree BubblesBuddy, I don't think we'll be going to Disney as that's not what we are travelling all that way for.

Thanks for all the tips everyone. Sadly our teens are into gaming, so we will probably go to the SEGA arcade. I like the sound of Nara and the deer (and the shrine!).

RosyfingeredDawn Thu 17-Oct-19 21:35:12

Definitely go to Nara, we stayed a night there. Kyoto, Mount Fushimi Inari was great. We stayed in Hiroshima for 2 nights and went to Miyajima Island from there. It would be a good place to stay for a night. We also walked some of the Nakadsendo trail mentioned earlier and stayed in a rather eccentric ryokan.
We went with 16 yo daughter. We wanted to go to the Ghibli museum but didn't get tickets. I'm sure they'll enjoy it . Just do a bit of research so you have some definite places to go and then do whatever the rest of the time. It'll be amazing.

Celeriacacaca Thu 17-Oct-19 22:18:26

We went in July with teen DCs. Hiroshima was really interesting and moving. Both DCs were glad we went, so was I. We stayed in a capsule hotel there which was fun.

One of our highlights was staying a night in a Buddhist temple in Koyasan - a bit further on from Nara. It was a great experience and lovely to stay in a traditional Japanese setting. So comfortable too! The one we stayed in was Ekoin. Both DCs enjoyed the ceremonies we went to.

We all loved Kyoto - DS loved the manga museum particularly. We didn't do as much as we hoped to there as it was so so hot so I'd like to go back.

Tokyo was fab with so much to do. We did a lot and walked miles. DS and I went to the Ghibli museum which was a big treat. It was tricky to book but we did so via family in NZ! Some things have to be booked months ahead and in quite an old fashioned way ie by post!

We also stopped at Himeji and Kurashiki, both smaller places but lovely. Again, all enjoyed the sights etc there. Our final stop was Hayama in the coast for a bit of beach life. It was fun and interesting to see Tokyo's equivalent of Brighton!

We LOVED the bullet trains and all the different types of transport we used. We also loved the food and had some amazing meals for around £5 per head.

Celeriacacaca Thu 17-Oct-19 22:21:33

Forgot to say the Digital Art museum in Tokyo is a must. DDs favourite activity. Also we went to see the young sumos training in Tokyo and that was great too, especially as we had photos with them, which DD cringed about at the time but was thrilled to have.

QueenBlueberries Thu 17-Oct-19 22:25:25

If you are there for 3 weeks you can go to the coast, we went to a village called Shimoda it’s so beautiful. Surf is good. Not sure what the weather is like at Easter but in any case it’s wonderful. Hot springs area and easy to reach by train.

QueenBlueberries Thu 17-Oct-19 22:37:10

We were there for 4 weeks, we did Tokyo (2 day visits to Disney!!) then Shimoda, Kyoto, then a town close to the Japanese alps, and a couple of stops in between. It was all amazing. We stayed in various airb&b places, some traditional some modern.

commanderprimate Thu 17-Oct-19 22:50:27

We went earlier this year, to Tokyo, yudanaka (monkey hot spring), kanazawa, kyoto and hakone. Kyoto was probably best, but all were good. Definitely stay at a ryokan at least once, and try to get one with an onsen (hot spring) if you can. Try hiring bikes and cycling around Kyoto, it's incredibly cycle friendly.

Large temples/shrines in Tokyo and kyoto almost always have teenagers in traditional dress wandering around and taking selfies, I loved seeing them and your teens may too.

I recommend the "Abroad in Japan" YouTube channel for recommendations of less well known but stunning places, esp. the cycle across Japan bids, as well as humorous looks at Japanese life etc. Be warned, lots of swearing.

TuttiFrutti Fri 18-Oct-19 12:39:46

Thank you all so much for all your posts - so much information to digest here! It is making me want to go more and more.

It's particularly useful to know about booking the museums like the Ghibli in Tokyo in advance, I wouldn 't have known you had to do that.

Redandblue11 Mon 25-Nov-19 13:15:26

I am placemarking this as full of useful tips!
I have been already, but planning to go again and here there are things mentioned I didn’t do last time which I will try to fit in .

MisterT373 Mon 25-Nov-19 22:24:14

Kyoto is great if you are into temples but it's easy to get "templed out". We went to Hiroshima and regret not having time to do the museum as apparently it's incredible. We also used our JR rail pass to go to Himeji and see one of the heron castles which was the ninja base in the Bond film "You Only Live Twice"

We rented a car and drove to the lakes around Mt Fuji and that was great. They drive on the left so it isnt too daunting although we made sure the sat nav was programmed in English when we picked it up.

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