Tokyo, Japan, with kids – part 1

shibuya crossing

Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo, Japan, at 2 pm on a regular weekday

We spent a week in Tokyo, in September 2016.

During this week, we didn’t do much as we were adjusting to the crazy humid hot weather after leaving Auckland winter. Auckland’s summer maximum temperature was around 28°C and it’s not very humid. We really weren’t ready for the crazy Japanese summer.

But we had fun, despite all the heat rash and sweat and all the money we spent on the vending machines (they’re so cool).

While there, we went to:

Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan

Shibuya, a bit off the tourist path


It’s where our house was. To one side, there were all the tall buildings and the neon-light Tokyo, and to the other, there was the residential area of the neighbourhood. It’s a great contrast, fun to watch. Around Shinjuku Train Station, there’s this huge commercial area that’s full of stores, Odakyu (a shopping mall), many restaurants and it’s always full of people. One thing we don’t hear much: there was a lot of homeless people there too. A lot. The train station is huge and very overwhelming to newbies. There’s also the bus station right in front of it. It’s pretty confusing on the first few times, but it does get easier.

Odakyu is huge, pretty expensive store. We went there once for an ice cream and it was the most expensive ice cream ever (it was good, though, but not worth the price).

Bic Camera is a huge electronics store (floors of it). We were in awe. So much to see!

What we loved most, though, were the food. Not the restaurants inside the malls, but the little ones on the streets. Really good food.

Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan

Shinjuku, on the residential area


This is where the busiest crossing in the world is. We were there at 2 pm and it was full of people. I can’t really imagine how it was at 5. Maybe we’ll get there again. We watched it from Starbucks inside Tsutaya, which is a huge DVD, comics, CD store.

There’s also 109, the shopping mall. Apparently, it’s the place for young people, but we found it incredibly funny and not very wearable. But it had air conditioning.

Disney Sea:

We have 2 posts about it on the blog, one from Melissa and one from me. I’m just gonna say that it IS fun! Very different from other Disney parks (as we hear because we’d only been to Tokyo Disney and Disney World).

bike parking, Tokyo, Japan

Bike parking, pretty full, this one.

Ueno Zoo:

We did NOT like it at all. It’s dirty, the cages are very small and overcrowded, the animals are all very sad. Not worth it at all.

Godzilla, Tokyo, Japan

Godzilla’s foot on a shopping mall in Tokyo


We went there because the boys wanted to visit the Pokémon Center. It was just a store, really (a big one, but still, a store) with a small hidden space behind it where kids could play cards or Pokémon games (it wasn’t free). We got pretty lost, as it’s in a shopping mall like every other building in the area and it had not one single sign saying there was a Pokémon store there. Anyway, on that day, we got Pikachu dressed up in a ‘happi’ (Japanese summer festival costume) and it was fun for Coral, at least. The store has a LOT of things, from stuffed animals, clothing, jewellery, food, accessories, games, cards and everything Pokémon. My kids spent about an hour there. The walk between the store and the train station was amazing! Filled with loads of different kind of people: cosplays, business people, families, lolitas (girls dressed up like dolls), people in kimonos, couples with matching clothes….

There was also a Bic Camera outlet there, which we skipped due to very tired kids, but maybe we could do it another day.

Pokémon Center, Tokyo, Japan

Pokémon Mega Center, in Tokyo

We will have a few more days in Tokyo before we leave Japan, so we might be able to get other things done.

There are a few things that we knew already, but they always end up surprising us, like the number of vending machines. There are vending machines EVERYWHERE, and they sell a lot of things: from the traditional drinks, ice cream,  breads to the gatcha gatcha machines (the ones you put the money, spin the wheel and get a little capsule with a ‘surprise’ thing).

Another great thing is the bike friendliness! There are bikes everywhere. There are bike parking lots everywhere too.

And the toilets are pretty cool. Try every single button on them, but just make sure you’re sitting on the toilet seat (not with your pants on, please) or you have the lid closed. Just saying.

Shinkuju Station

Shinjuku Station’s paper lanterns and another bike parking

We did send out 3 postcards from Japan to randomly selected! Every month we send out 3. To go in the draw, all you have to do is subscribe to our newsletter!

Our adventure!

18 replies
  1. TypingToTaipei
    TypingToTaipei says:

    Awesome blog, it’s a nice and concise overview of Tokyo for first timers! It brought back a lot of memories of Tokyo for me as I’ve visited 14 times (it’s my Mum’s birth place, so I have a good reason to go!), but haven’t been back in a couple of years! I also love Ikebukuro, there’s some really cool galleries there too!

  2. Úna-Minh
    Úna-Minh says:

    I hear you on the humidity! We were in Vietnam in June and the heat was astonishing. We’re from Ireland so it was a huge change. The vending machines in Japan fascinate me! You can really get everything

    • Thais Saito
      Thais Saito says:

      I’m sure he’ll love it! My kids are going crazy still and we’ve been around Japan for 3 weeks now! They should be really tired by now.

  3. srbrnrd
    srbrnrd says:

    Hi there! Every time I read about Japon I have mixed feelings. It is not a country that I am very interested in, however I know there is a lot of preserved history and that I like. So thanks for sharing all the crazy Japon parts . By the way, love your postcard idea!

    • Thais Saito
      Thais Saito says:

      I have mixed feelings too, but it’s something like Disney for me: don’t really like the concept and the ideas, but when we’re there it’s just so awesome I just start planning the time we’re coming back.


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