Tokyo is a great destination for families. It has a wide selection of family-friendly spots and attractions that will keep both adults and children entertained all day long. Below are 10 fun and enjoyable activities to do for families visiting Tokyo:
1. Explore Ueno Park
Depending on your itinerary, getting a Japan Rail Pass can save you loads of money on your travel.
Located in the heart of Tokyo, Ueno Park is a large public park known for being one of the best cherry blossom viewing spots in the city. It has many gardens, walking trails, shrines, temples, and a pond. It is also home to the Ueno Zoo, which is the oldest zoo in the country, popular for its giant panda bears; and a number of museums, most notably the Tokyo National Museum, which is the largest and oldest museum in the country, and the National Museum of Nature and Science, which houses a vast collection of animal artifacts and various interactive exhibits. Throughout the day, you can catch various street performers at different areas of the park for entertainment.
Access: Few minutes’ walk from JR Ueno Station
2. Try quirky food and snacks in Harajuku
In addition to shops and boutiques that cater to Japan’s young fashionistas, Harajuku has several food stores and restaurants that offer different kinds of out-of-the-ordinary food items. Along its most famous street, Takeshita-dori, you and your kids can stop by some of these places and try rainbow cheese toast, panda ice cream, giant fairy floss, and many other sweet and sugary selections.
Access: A short walk from Harajuku Station
3. Visit Meiji Shrine
A century-old shrine in central Tokyo, Meiji Shrine is a large shrine complex composed of many buildings, wooded areas, and gardens. At the shrine’s main entrance, you are greeted by a huge torii gate, which is one of the largest in the country. All year round, it hosts traditional Shinto weddings, and you and your family might catch one if you are lucky. Moreover, every New Year, it welcomes large crowds of people doing their hatsumode or first prayers of the New Year.
Access: A short walk from Harajuku Station or Meiji-jingu-mae Station
4. Meet Hachiko in Shibuya.
If you love dogs, make sure to pay Hachiko’s statue in Shibuya a visit. An Akita dog beloved for his loyalty, Hachiko lived from 1923 to 1935. Even after his owner, Professor Hidesaburo Ueno, died in 1925, Hachiko continued to wait for the professor outside Shibuya Station at the end of each day for the next nine years and nine months. Due to an illness, Hachiko died at the age of 11 in 1935. To honor his legacy, a bronze statue was made in 1948 and placed right outside of Shibuya Station’s Hachiko Exit. Today, this spot is a popular meeting place among locals and tourists, and often crowded with dog lovers wanting to take photos with Japan’s most famous and adored furry friend.
Access: A few steps away from Shibuya Station’s Hachiko Exit
5. Spend an entire day at each of the two Tokyo Disney Resort parks.
Did you know that Japan has two Disney parks? It has the Tokyo Disneyland, which offers a similar landscape and feel to California’s Disneyland and Florida’s Magic Kingdom, and the Tokyo DisneySea, which is the only one of its kind in the world and features marine and sea scenery. Because both parks boast numerous themed lands with several rides and attractions, souvenir stalls and shops, and diners, restaurants, and food carts, a day should be allotted for each to get the most fun and enjoyment.
Access: Take train to Maihama Station and then transfer to the Disney Resort Monorail
6. Make your own instant noodles at the Cup Noodles Museum.
Located in Yokohama, about a 45-minute train ride from central Tokyo, the Cup Noodles Museum is an interactive museum that has different and exciting activities for visitors of all ages. There is an area where you can watch a short film to learn about the origins of instant noodles in Japan, and another where you can go through photo exhibits and displays of various noodle products around the world. The Cupnoodles Park, which is like a noodles paradise for kids, is a playground where your children can roleplay like they are in a noodle factory making and shipping out noodle products. There is also the Cupnoodles Factory where you can concoct your own cup noodle using the toppings and soup flavors provided. And, if you are hungry, there is the Noodles Bazaar, a food court where you can get a taste of eight different flavors of noodle dishes from around the world.
Access: 10-minute walk from Sakuragicho Station or Minato Mirai Station
7. Enjoy great views of the city at Tokyo Skytree
Towering over Tokyo at a height of 634 meters, Tokyo Skytree is the tallest structure in Japan. It has two observation decks, one at a height of 350 meters and another one at 450 meters, where you can take pleasure in panoramic views of the metropolis. Afterwards, you can take your kids to the Sumida Aquarium at the shopping and entertainment complex at the base of the tower to see penguins, seals, and over 10,000 marine animals up close. You can also check out more than 300 stores, boutiques, cafes, and restaurants there.
Access: A short walk from Tokyo Skytree Station or Oshiage Station
8. See the life-size Gundam robot in Odaiba
Standing right in front of DiverCity Tokyo Plaza in Odaiba is a 19.7-meter tall Gundam that you can watch transform four times a day. Make sure to be there before 11 am, 1 pm, 3 pm, or 5 pm to find a good spot to watch the robot switch from its Unicorn mode to its Destroyer mode. The spectacle is most incredible at 5pm when it starts to get dark and the robot lights up as it transforms. As one of Tokyo’s most popular entertainment and shopping districts, Odaiba is home to many large department stores, restaurants, hotels, museums, and indoor theme parks, so you can explore these places during the day, before the much-awaited Gundam night show.
Access: 5-minute walk from Daiba Station
9. Relive your favorite Studio Ghibli films at the Ghibli Museum.
For fans of Studio Ghibli’s animated films, the Ghibli Museum is a must. Situated in Mitaka, it is housed in a building that showcases the distinct and unique style of the acclaimed studio. Its first floor features various exhibits about the beginnings and development of Ghibli’s animation techniques and a small movie theater where visitors are treated to exclusive Studio Ghibli short films. On the second floor, there are areas for temporary exhibits and special displays. It also has a rooftop garden where you can find a replica of the robot from Castle in the Sky, a gift shop, a café, and a kid’s play area.
Access: 20-minute walk from Kichijoji Station or take direct shuttle bus from Mitaka Station
10. Experience cuteness overload at Sanrio Puroland.
Sanrio Puroland is like the paradise Hello Kitty fans dream of. Found in Tama City, it is an indoor theme park that offers Hello Kitty themed rides, attractions, and performances, including a lavish parade of Hello Kitty and her fellow adorable and huggable friends on brightly colored and extravagantly, adorned floats. It also has a shop that is stocked up with all sorts of Hello Kitty goods and merchandise, from toys and clothes to stationery and limited edition items.
Access: 5-minute walk from Tama-center Station