Is Japan Family-Friendly? These 5 Experiences Shout Yes

japan with kids

Japan isn’t always the first place people think of for a family holiday, but that’s probably because a few myths, like it’s too expensive and hard to navigate, are getting in the way. The truth is, the country is anything but daunting for families. It’s incredibly affordable, easy to get around and has no shortage of activities the whole family will get a kick out of.

From learning about history, technology and science at one of the country’s many museums to riding trains themed to Pokemon or Hello Kitty, these xx experiences confirm that Japan is indeed family-friendly.

Visit Theme Parks

Some of the best theme parks in the world are in Japan. From rollercoaster parks to a hot spring theme park and an entire Hello Kitty world, it’s fair to say Japan is a nation obsessed with the thrill of theme parks. Including a visit to one or two in your itinerary is a surefire way to delight your kids and could be a good way to break up the sightseeing.

Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea in Chiba prefecture, not far from Tokyo, and Osaka’s Universal Studios Japan, including the gleaming new Super Nintendo World, should be top of the list. Sanrio Puroland in Tama, Tokyo, features the company’s classic characters like Pom Pom Purin and Hello Kitty. If your kids are older and looking for more of a thrill, then check out the more traditional amusement parks like Cosmo World in Yokohama or Fuji-Q Highland at the foot of Mt Fuji.

Taste Japanese Classic Dishes

Even for the fussiest of eaters, Japan’s food is so varied that all visitors will be spoilt for choice when it comes to mealtimes. Sushi, sashimi, tempura, miso soup and udon are just the start. I

If your little ones are craving home comforts, western food (yoshoku) is plentiful, too. As with all things in Japan, however, yoshoku doesn’t look the same as at home. Think hambagu (a hamburger patty with rice and salad), Napolitan (a spaghetti with green capsicum, sausage, and bacon), and there’s even a twist on a French croquette.

In Tokyo, Taimeiken has been serving yoshoku classics since 1931. Its signature ‘tampopo om-rice’ (an omelette made with fried rice and thin, fried, scrambled eggs, topped with ketchup) is well-known among Tokyoites. Even Denny’s, the American diner fare icon, serves a large selection of yoshuku staples throughout Japan.

Japan’s famous sushi trains add fun to eating by combining the novelty of a revolving sushi conveyor and small, colourful plates of food. Hamazushi has quickly risen to popularity, boasting over 400 locations across Japan and some of the most reasonable sushi prices.

Ride Themed Trains

One of the surprise highlights for so many travellers to Japan is how easy to get around, even if you don’t speak Japanese. Your kids will love riding the shinkansen (bullet train) and watching the countryside rush past. And if you’re looking to get off the beaten path, driving in Japan is very straightforward compared to many destinations. Most road signs are in Japanese and English, and driving is even on the left-hand side.

A special line-up of sightseeing trains makes the journey part of the adventure. Decked out from top to bottom with Pikachu cuteness, the POKÉMON with YOU Train is a must for Pokémon lovers of all ages. Travelling from Ichinoseki in Iwate prefecture and Kesennuma in Miyagi prefecture, station stops along the way also feature Pokémon decorations and there is even a playroom car with Pokémon toys.

Adorned with the cartoon icon inside and out, the Hello Kitty Shinkansen is a dream ride for fans of the character. The pink and white train runs between Shin-Osaka and Hakata stations.

See Deer at Nara Park

A whopping 80% of Japan is mountainous, and most of that area is covered with forest, so it goes without saying that there are a lot of outdoor activities to do in Japan. And don’t be put off visiting an onsen if you are in Japan with your family – experiencing onsen together as a family is common and considered a healthy bonding activity.

Even big cities have a range of outdoor adventures. Nara Park, perched at the foot of Mount Wakakusa in the city of Nara, has 1,500 wild sika deer roaming free amidst native sakura trees.

Not all outdoor activities in Japan are for wintertime. Hakuba, a well-known ski resort in Nagano, is popular with outdoor sports enthusiasts in the warmer seasons. Then, you can trek through the surrounding mountains, canyon, kayak or mountain bike.

Learn History, Tech and Science at Museums

Touring museums with children in tow can often be stressful. But not in Japan. The country is filled with a variety of family-friendly museums where the little ones will have as much as their parents. There are museums focusing on everything from food and culture to sport and science.

Technology centres such as the Miraikan and Tepia Advanced Technology Gallery in Tokyo have interactive exhibits for children to get some hands-on learning. The whole family will enjoy Japan’s many museums dedicated to food, such as the Sushi Museum in Shizuoka or the Cup Noodles Museum in Yokohama and Osaka. For another ‘only in Japan’ museum, check out the Studio Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Tokyo, which celebrates the incredible work of the animators behind Studio Ghibli movies.

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