Japan family holidays guide
Japan is a small, yet fascinating Asian country. Despite that, there is a lot to see and do. Discover everything you need for having the best family trip to Japan! This is our guide with all about Japan for families with kids!
It’s one of the most populous countries in the world, and yet, people have a high life expectancy and quality of life. It’s a highly developed country, and its technological side is a huge plus for travelers.
How to travel to Japan with kids
The great transport system works wonders, is highly reliable, efficient, and being so, it’s fantastic to travel all around the country. Check out our post about public transport here. We also have have one exclusively about the Shinkansen – the Japanese bullet trains!
It can, though, be a bit confusing for Westerners, as things are quite different: trash needs to be apart from recycling, and even recyclables are different: paper, cardboard, plastic types, aluminum, other materials, they should all go into different bags.
You shouldn’t eat while walking, nor talk inside trains and buses. Toilets are also a bit different.
How about Point Cards? Every little store and restaurant have them – and they’re just so useful! Not if you don’t plan on returning, though. But if you have a big family, like us, every 2 visits, you can probably get something nice for free using them!
Is it safe to travel to Japan with kids?
Safety is not a problem, and the food is great, which makes it a perfect place for a holiday.
Except, well, for hurricanes and earthquakes, quite common in the area. It just couldn’t be perfect, now, could it?
Things to do in Japan with kids
There’s no shortage of attractions in the country. You’re more likely to not manage to fit everything in your Japan family vacation than to have nothing to see or do.
Did you know they have 2 different ninja villages in Japan? We visited the one in Iga-Ueno, you can find the post here!
And, of course, the neon lights, the high-tech, the crazy busy part of the country, so alive, so interesting!
Japanese food for kids
Let me just give you a heads up: you won’t have a problem for feeding your kids in Japan UNLESS you have alergies or are vegetarians.
There’s a lot we can say about it and you’ll find 2 posts I’ve written just about the food. Who doesn’t love Japanese food? And it’s just so different from what we get in Japanese restaurants all over the world!
Did you know that sushi is an expensive food, that’s consumed mostly in celebrations, funerals, and special dates? Well, now you do. Yeah, nowadays you’ll find the great conveyor belt sushi – a budget-friendly option for your Japan trip!
BUT we do have, on most local posts, a list of the best local food, so check them out below too!
Family travel: Japan’s best for kids
The kids tend to love all the anime and manga related stuff (from shops, cafés, restaurants, to theme parks), and the amazing theme parks.
And also all things related to robots, which are everywhere in the country.
For them, we have some special guides here.
Tokyo Disney Resorts
We’ve been several times. We love every single time. It’s crowded, it’s insane, but it’s always awesome.
Find all about Tokyo Disney Sea, the unique park, so different from any other Disney park in the world.
Then discover our complete guide to Tokyo Disney Resorts, covering everything: hotels, rides, food, characters, and more! It also has many tips for those visiting the parks during winter. It’s a great time to visit it!
Universal Studios Japan (Osaka)
We also always visit USJ (as it’s called by the locals) and we absolutely LOVE IT! It’s one of the places we must go.
Find our Universal Studios Halloween guide here. Spoiler alert: it’s a little bit too much for young kids.
We also have a more comprehensive guide to USJ during winter here! It’s special for wintertime, but the rides and tips work year-round!
All things Ghibli
OK, so if you have no idea what Ghibli is, it’s time to take a break and go watch My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Spirited Away, Ponyo on the Cliff, Laputa Castle in the Sky, or even the heart breaking Grave of the Fireflies. Or any other. I think those are our favorites, but we love most of the Ghibli movies. Go and watch them.
And then come back to see everything Ghibli related here. I’m a huge fan and I need to do everything related. One tip: find one Ghibli expo going on and visit it. They are AWESOME!
You can’t miss a visit to the wonderful Ghibli Museum, which is just the most beautiful museum in the world (my opinion, of course).
Then there’s the house from My Neighbor Totoro to visit.
And, if you want to bring home some souvenirs, here’s our guide to the best places. Not only Ghibli, but Pokémon, Hello Kitty, One Piece and more!
Japan travel for kids, the guide
Vacation Planning and Tips
A few guides and tips to make your Japan family holidays perfect! Use in conjunction with the links and tips above, and the ones below it!
- One month in Japan: review and budget – how we planned and budgeted for our first holiday in Japan with kids
- Guide to planning a trip to Japan – tips and tricks for those visiting Japan with children
- Japan: curiosities and tips – oddities, cultural differences, and more to know before going!
- Mobile internet in Japan – a guide to keep you online throughout your trip!
Find more of our videos on our Youtube channel! Click here!
To and from Japan
Airline reviews to and from Japan that we’ve used
- Etihad Airways (from Tokyo to Sao Paulo, Brazil – 30 hours + of travel, with 4 kids.)
- AirNZ (Auckland to Tokyo – one of the best flights we’ve had)
Where to go in Japan with kids
Find below the best places to visit in Japan with kids!
I’ll just explain briefly below about the Japan regions, because it’s very, very useful. Even if you’ll forget about it in a minute, it’s worth having it noted.
Regions of Japan
Japan is divided by regions. Even though bullet trains and express buses make traveling within the country easy as, it’s still easier (and cheaper) if you keep yourself to a region in particular or visit everything that’s close together.
- Tokyo is in the Kanto region. So If you’re going to Tokyo, it makes sense to visit Chiba (where Tokyo Disney is), Yokohama, Hakone, etc.
- Chubu region sees Nagoya, which, for some reason, is hype at the moment.
- Osaka, Nara, and Kyoto are together in the Kansai region.
- Chugoku is where Hiroshima is, whereas Nagasaki, another atomic bomb site, is in Kyushu.
- Kyushu is where there are more volcanos, which means, more thermal pools. Want onsen paradise? It’s definitely there.
- Shikoku is the least populated region, filled with natural wonders and amazing citrus fruits.
- Tohoku, famous for the biggest tsunami, is where Sendai and Fukushima are.
- Then we have Okinawa all the way at the south, also called Japan’s Hawaii, and Hokkaido, all the way to the north, famous for the ski and the winter festival.
The list of cities we visited is still in alphabetical order, but we also say the region to make things easier (or not) for you.
One of our new favorites in Japan, Hiroshima is a must visit for everyone! What a beautiful city! Even though it has a dark history, it’s definitely one of the best places to visit in Japan with kids!
- Hiroshima with kids, including a trip to Miyajima and it’s floating temple and torii
- Okunoshima, Japan’s bunny island
This city at the South of Kyushu Island, is amazing. With lovely beaches, amazing fruits, and volcanos!
- Kagoshima with kids – with a day trip to Sakurajima, one of Japan’s most active volcano!
Home of the world famous Kobe beef and one of the world’s longest bridges, it’s so close to Osaka and Kyoto, don’t miss it.
Kochi has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world. Wild nature, incredible blue rivers, bridges, and so much more!
The city is famous for its bears – luckily, not in the city per se. It’s the biggest city in Kyushu island!
- Kumamoto with kids – what to do, what and where to eat, and all about Kumamon, Kumamoto’s mascot bear!
One of Japan’s icons, visiting the Golden Pavillion and the bamboo forests are things that can’t be excluded from a holiday in Japan with kids. It’s over crowded and super expensive, but stunning.
- Kyoto with kids – the best Kyoto attractions for kids
Fukuoka doesn’t have much to account for, except for its street food. Every night, it becomes a street food paradise! Yum!
Mie is an unknown destination. It’s in the countryside and incredible! Ninjas, one of the most important temples in the whole country, and beautiful beaches. Including the world-famous Ise lobster.
- Mie with kids – places to visit, what to eat, and more!
- Iga-Ueno Ninja Village – see what’s like to visit an actual ninja village!
- Suzuka Circuit’s theme park, Motopia, with kids – a theme park that’s all about motor sports!
Miyazaki is a place with unbelievable natural wonders and one of the oldest Shinto Shrines of the country.
- Miyazaki with kids – check what to do and what NOT to do there!
Nagasaki is full of European influences, and it’s a stunning gem in Japan. We loved it! And the food… The city is stunning, despite of its sad history.
- Nagasaki with kids – visit one of the most beautiful night views in the world!
Nagoya is a big city, but we had a reason to visit it: Satsuki and Mei (from the movie My Neighbor Totoro) and their house. Well, we had a blast! It’s also near the center of Japan, which is convenient enough for everyone.
Nara is one perfect day-trip from Osaka or Kyoto: close enough for a regular train trip. It’s beautiful and seriously worth a visit!
- A day trip from Osaka, Nara Deer Park – because you can’t talk Nara and not mention the deer. They’re wonderful. But there’s much, much more there!
This lovely prefecture is home to one of the best thermal water hot springs in the Japan. Why not have some amazing and relaxing days?
Want a real tropical paradise? This is it. Naha is the capital of Okinawa and it’s wonderful.
- Okinawa for families – Naha + a trip around the main island of Okinawa!
Osaka is one of the big cities in Japan. Osaka food is one of the best in the whole world! It’s also one of our favorite cities in Japan. It’s one of the places to visit in Japan with kids you can’t miss!!!
- Osaka with kids – everything Osaka.
- Universal Studios Halloween
- Universal Studios during Christmas – winter version
Imagine a trip back in time in Japan? It’s Takayama. Perfect, lovely little city with delicious food, awesome people, and stunning streets. Really close to Shirakawa-go!
- Takayama with kids
- Shirakawago with kids – a UNESCO World Heritage site for the gassho houses, it’s really breathtaking!
Tokushima is Shikoku’s Capital. With a special dance, stunning sea, a whirlpool, even dolomites, it’s a place not to miss!
Tokyo is the most populous and famous city in Japan, It’s fascinating and it has it all, from temples to neon lights. It’s sure to satisfy everyone!
- Tokyo – the ultimate guide for families – a complete guide with the best neighborhoods, what to do in each, where to eat, and more!
- Asakusa – where the biggest temple in Tokyo is, Senso-ji, and a great place for some Japanese tradition
- There’s also Tokyo Disney and the unmissable Ghibli Museum there! Also don’t miss the Tokyo Trick Art Museum!
Yokohama is super close to Tokyo, and even though it’s a great day trip, it’s worth to spend a few days there. What a wonderful city!
From the kids
The kids wrote quite a lot about Japan. It is, after all, one of their favorite countries in the world. Choose one and travel with them!
- The best and the worst of Japan, by Jose
- Top 10 on this trip, by Jose
- Jose’s favorite things in Japan, by Jose
- Universal Studios, by Jose
- 2 must-go restaurants in Japan, by João
- Trick Art Museum, by João
- Eleven things I like most about Japan, by João
- The flight from Tokyo to São Paulo, by Melissa
- Cute and Strange things in Japan, by Melissa
- Ghibli Studios by Melissa
- Tokyo Disney Sea, by Melissa