Go

Tokyo With Kids: Pokémon, Skyscrapers and Shrines


Believe it or not, we decided to go to Japan because we read a book. The action-packed Thea Stilton and the Cherry Blossom Adventure moved between Kyoto and Japan, offering cultural tidbits and city highlights and setting the stage for our visit there.

Here the activities we found that worked (one way or another) with a first-grader, a third grader and a tween.

Hit the Museums

• The Fukagawa Edo Museum recreates a centuries-old Japanese village. Kids can learn about everyday life in old Japan by pretending to cook on a Japanese wood stove, balancing on a see-saw-like rice mill, trying on traditional wooden sandals and exploring narrow village streets. My husband and I liked the space, too. An explanatory English map helped us get more out of the hands-on exhibit.

If your children love science, head to the Miraikan National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation. The exibits are aimed at kids ages 10 and up, but the hands-on activities engaged my first grader enough that we were able to spend about 2 hours here.

We weren’t able to get tickets to the Ghibli Museum, which features the playful, rsa whiteboard animation of Hayao Miyazaki. If you want to get spirited away to this highly recommended museum, pre-book your tickets several weeks before departing for Japan. (See the museum website for instructions.)

Explore the Shrines—In Moderation

My husband and I wanted to visit a few of Japan’s famous shrines but the kids were bored with them fairly quickly, so we had to improvise a little. At Meiji Jingu Shrine, he took the younger ones to the café while my tween and I explored. Near Senso-ji Temple, my older kids were rewarded for their patience with a chance to try archery at a stall near the lane leading up to the temple.

Take In A Sky-High View

In a city of skyscrapers it’s tempting to want a view from the top. The bright orange Tokyo Tower  immediately grabbed our attention pretty easily. We went up to the observation platform after dark and gazed at the city lights twinkling below us. The lower level has windows in the floor where you can look straight down to the ground.

Tip: There are also observation decks are the newly opened Tokyo Sky Tree  and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, which is free.

Give in to Kid-Friendly Amusements

My boy is obsessed with Pokemon. So, our visit to Tokyo had to include the enormous Pokemon Center store, which is easily accessible from Hamamatsucho Station. Much of the merchandise is only available in Japan and on a Sunday afternoon, it was packed. But everyone was polite, and the checkout was surprisingly efficient.

Tip: We gave our kids a budget and a 45-minute time limit. Luckily, the store doesn’t have video game demos, so the kids stuck to the rules (more or less).

Tokyo Disney has two parks, Disneyland, which is almost exactly like the U.S. versions, and DisneySea, which has an abundance of unique and outstanding attractions, including a good mix of thrill rides for bigger kids and tamer things suitable for small children. Mermaid Lagoon has a cavernous indoor area where young ones can easily spend two or three hours. It’s a good retreat if the weather is hot or stormy.

Tip: Ask for a translation device at shows and Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage.

 

Celebrate Spring

If you’re in Tokyo during Cherry Blossom season (late March to early April), Ueno Park is one of the most popular spots for viewing these famous pink flowers. Pair this with a visit to the park’s zoo to see pandas, gorillas and tigers.

Michele Chan-Thomson moved with her husband and three children from Texas to Malaysia in the summer of 2011. Read about their adventures in Southeast Asia and worldwide in her blog,  Malaysian Meanders.


Previous post

4 Top Tips for a Puerto Rico Trip With Kids

Next post

Harborside Resort Timeshares (Paradise Island)

3 Comments

  1. Cheryl @ Kids On A Plane
    April 8, 2013 at 10:38 pm — Reply

    Thanks for this list of things to do in Tokyo. I’ve only been with my husband and we visited Disney (a lot of fun even for adults) and Ueno park (missed Cherry Blossom season). Tokyo is one of the places we said we’d visit with our kids one day.

  2. […] action in Thea Stilton and the Cherry Blossom Adventure moves between Tokyo and Kyoto. So we did, too, on a visit that the book […]

  3. Sonja
    March 30, 2013 at 8:08 pm — Reply

    The Small World in Tokyo looks just like a colored version of the Small World in Anaheim – how cool!! And wow, you were lucky to get out of that Pokemon store in just 45 minutes.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *