Family Vacation in Tokyo: Top Ten Tokyo Attractions for Kids, Children
Traveling with Children? In Tokyo?
Traveling with small children can be very challenging. They are not going to be happy just tagging along while you shop or visit some kind of a "boring" culturally or historically significant landmark or site. You will have to make the extra effort and time to take them to places where they will have fun and be entertained. Luckily, if your next family vacation will be in Tokyo and its surrounding area, there is no shortage in the places where you can take your children. The list below is my personal top ten Tokyo attractions for children. It is in no way exhaustive, but I've picked the ones that I personally would like to take my own child to, given the chance. Be sure to check the prices and opening hours for each place, as prices and schedule tend to change over time.
Top Ten Tokyo Attractions for Families with Children
1) Tokyo Disneyland -- This is probably THE most popular travel destination for Japanese families. Tokyo Disneyland is actually not located in Tokyo, but in Urayasu City, Chiba prefecture (which is also the same prefecture as "Tokyo" Narita International Airport). Tokyo Disneyland has been around since 1983, but it is still as crowded and popular as ever. It is basically a duplicate of Disneyland in CA and Disney World in FL, with the same rides and attractions.
2) Disney Sea - Companion park to Tokyo Disneyland, this is a theme park with an overall nautical theme. Inside, you will find the following themed ports: Lost River Delta, Arabian Coast (think Sinbad and Aladdin), Mermaid Lagoon (all about Ariel from Disney's The Little Mermaid), Mysterious Island (themed around Jules Verne's science fictions), Mediterranean Harbor (gondola rides down canals like in Venice), American Waterfront and Port Discovery. However, it appears that rides and attractions in Disney Sea are geared towards adults and older children.
3) Kidzania - A relatively recent edutainment center based on the concept of role-play. Kidzania is a place where children age 3 - 15 can take on various kinds of jobs, "work" and earn Kidzania money that can be traded in for real goods. There are over 80 kinds of jobs available such as pilots, newscasters, police officers, fashion models, fire fighters, schoolteachers and chefs. Children can actually wear real uniforms and work with real props in a replica of a city 2/3 its original size. Not only do kids get to role-play and try out different jobs, but they also learn the concept of work, earning, and spending the money they earn for themselves.
4) Tokyo Tower - Inspired by the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Tokyo tower is the tallest artificial structure in Japan. There are two observatory decks: the main one at 150 meters and a smaller one at 250 meters. At the base of the tower is a 4-story building called Foot Town, which houses an aquarium gallery, a wax museum with wax figures imported from England, a Guinness World Records Museum and an interactive Trick Art Gallery. On the rooftop is a small amusement park for small children with coin-operated rides.
5) Ueno Zoo - Ueno zoo is the oldest and largest zoo in Japan. It was founded in 1882 and is home to over 2800 animals from 500 different species. Ueno zoo's most famous and popular animal on display used to be the giant panda, but unfortunately, the last of them died back in 2008. Other popular and rare animals in the zoo include the Sumatran tiger, Western lowland gorilla, Okapis, Aye ayes, and the Wild common cormorants, which used to exist everywhere in Japan but are now endangered. There is also a small children's zoo with domesticated animals for children to pet. Within the compound, you will also find a five-story pagoda and a tea ceremony house, both of which belonged to the Tokugawa Shoguns in the 17th century.
6) Kodomo no kuni - Translated as "Children's Country", this is actually located in Yokohama city, which is a little less than an hour away from the heart of Tokyo. There is a petting zoo here and ponies that children can ride around the field. There is also a dairy farm where children can observe the milking process and eat ice cream made fresh from the milk. For the more active kids, there are play equipments, a boating lake, and paths for bicycles that can be rented.
7) National Children's Castle (Kodomo no shiro) - There are four zones at the Castle: fitness (gym and pool), discovery (play hall and fine arts studio), music and outdoor rooftop play.
8) Edo-Tokyo Tatemono-en (Open Air Architectural Museum) - This is an outdoor museum that will transport you back to the golden days of the Edo era. The museum features replicas of buildings from the era including such traditional buildings such as farmhouses, homes of pre-war wealthy landowners, and a street from the downtown area where you can find a bathhouse, police station and a street car among others. Children will enjoy playing old-fashioned Japanese games and eating treats sold by yukata (summer kimono) clad street vendors.
9) National Science Museum - Also located in the Ueno area (within walking distance of the zoo), the main draw for children here is the hands-on exhibits aim to explain the workings of science in a fun and entertaining way.
10) O-Daiba - O-Daiba is a huge area that has something for everyone and shouldn't be missed! There are shopping malls, a food and a hot spring theme park, a ferris wheel, a Toyota showroom displaying newest models and car accessories, a Panasonic showroom displaying the latest technologies and all sorts of gadgets, a ship-shaped Maritime museum, and a highly interactive National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation.