My family and I are frequent visitors to Tokyo and Japan. We love the culture and the people, and we love how there is always something new and exciting to explore and experience.
Tokyo – boasting pretty much the biggest population of any mega city in the world – has something for everyone. So, today I’ll share five of my favourite family friendly things to do there.
1Eat dango at Mount Takao
Being a mountain – albeit small – Mount Takao requires some basic level of fitness if you want to hike up to the top. But the reward – big sticky rice flour balls in sweet soy sauce is totally worth it.
And if fitness isn’t really your thing, or you have little ones that magically lose any semblance of energy and the will to live if you propose a walk outside, there’s a cable car to take you up the mountain. So you can still enjoy the dango. And the view. And the temples.
Mount Takao is about an hour outside of Tokyo, but that’s not too far in the context of this city. Once there, get your hiking shoes on and hit the walking trails. It is quite steep in parts, but never too difficult.
On the way up the mountain you’re treated to beautiful views of Tokyo and its surroundings. The mountain is heavy on brilliant shrines dedicated to forest spirits. And there are lots of old ladies selling freshly made, charcoal roasted dango with delicious sweet soy sauce.
I’ll write a whole post about Takao San another time, but now for the next one…
2Visit the Ghibili Museum
Hayao Miyazaki’s creation, Studio Ghibili is the outfit behind some of the most well made and famous animated movies ever made.
Located in Mitaka, the Ghibli Museum contains a huge collection of artwork and artifacts from the long history of Ghibli.
If you’re even remotely interested in animation and movie making, you absolutely have to visit this place.
3Spend a day in Odaiba
Odaiba is probably one of the most chilled and relaxed area in all of Tokyo.
If after a few days you’re feeling cramped and claustrophobic by constantly having about 6000 people within 500 metres of you, Odaiba is where you’ll want to go for some personal space.
Sporting views of Tokyo Bay and the port, Odaiba is home to museums and arcades, parks, playground and a copy of the Statue of Liberty. Because, why not?!
You can get there easily by train, but Japan Rail Pass holders beware, there are no JR train lines to Odaiba.
4Hang out at Tokyo Dome
Tokyo Dome is the home of baseball in Tokyo. American Football too, last time I checked.
So naturally, if you’re into American sports, this is the place to be if you want to get in on the action.
But there’s so much more to this precinct. The Tokyo Dome area doubles as a spread out, free for all amusement park.
With rollercoasters, shopping centres, comic shops, eateries and arcades, there’s something for anyone looking to kick back with a few hours of mindless fun.
And if you’re into culture, history and beautiful landscape design instead, Koishikawa Korakuen, a large and traditional Japanese garden is just behind Tokyo Dome, on the other side.
(Koishikawa Korakuen is awesome, and I’ll write more about that another time. But now…)
5Join the crowds at Disneyland
This one is actually not really a favorite of mine at all. But if, like me, you’re traveling with kids, there is just no way to get around this whatsoever.
Tokyo Disneyland is full of people and shops and eateries and food stalls and souvenir joints.
Oh, there are rides and exhibits too, but compared to the former they’re far and few between.
Trust me though, the kids will love love love high-fiving Mickey, playing chase with Pluto, going to the moon and back and watching the Disney parades.
And while they’re doing that, you can always try wiping the smug smile off Prince Charming. (At your own risk of course.)