Kyoto is the ideal destination for families with kids. Of course Kyoto is a safe and clean city, but in Kyoto you can also find activities to experience unique Japanese culture, museums and parks which both kids and parents will love, famous kid-friendly sightseeing spots, stunning backdrops for family photos, and several activities suitable for the whole family.
On one hand, Kyoto is an attractive destination, but there are some spots which are difficult to visit for families with kids. This is because of Kyoto’s “wabisabi” or quiet simplicity and subdued refinement. It also has to do with the city’s love for elegance and pleasure for adults. However, there’s a kids’ program in Kyoto which kids can participate in on their own! While travelers’ kids enjoy participating in a fun and educational program, parents can enjoy the mysterious and stimulating side of a deeper Kyoto.
Below I’ll share the reasons why we, a group of mothers raising kids in Kyoto, recommend traveling here with your children.
1. Cultural Experiences – Kyoto has many activities in which travelers can experience the local culture
Kyoto is a city admired even among Japanese people as a city of culture. Many of its temples and shrines are registered as UNESCO sites. Also things like beautiful Japanese kimonos and tea ceremony which is the personification of the Japanese aesthetic sense or “wabisabi,” are still alive in today’s Kyoto. Kyoto is one of the few cities where you can still feel the traditional culture so strongly. But it’s not just seeing the culture, in Kyoto there are many events where both children and adults can enjoy feeling mysterious Japanese culture through various experiences.
2. Nature – Kyoto has many parks and places to enjoy nature
Art and culture are nice, but for kids, being able to spend time outdoors where they can relax is also important. In spring it is pink with “sakura” or cherry blossoms, in fall the surrounding mountains become a vivid red as the leaves change colors, and even in the middle of the city you can enjoy the beautiful river which runs through Kyoto and is home to creatures unique to Japan which have been around for ages. At the shrines and the former imperial grounds you can see trees that are hundreds of years old. Nature is something which has always been worshipped by Japanese and that can still be felt today.
3. Safety and Cleanliness – You don’t have to worry about things like baby’s formula or restrooms for kids.
Not just Kyoto, but Japan as a whole is a very clean and safe country. At 24-hour convenience stores, drugstores, and department stores you can easily find things like water, jarred baby food, and baby formula. At many shopping centers, stations, and public spaces you can find restrooms with small toilets for kids to use, changing tables for diaper changing, and even nursing rooms. Kyoto has many hills and uneven paths, but by doing a little research ahead of your trip, you can easily enjoy walking around with a stroller.
4. Foreign Friendly – Most places have signs written in several languages
Kyoto is popular among travelers from all over the world. You can find signs in not only English, but also other languages around the city, as well as staff who can communicate in foreign languages. It’s not easy to take kids on a trip to a foreign country. If you are able to communicate it will alleviate some of the stress. Getting around is also easy by public transportation and taxis. Buses usually have announcements in foreign languages and there are signs for “foreign friendly” taxis at places like Kyoto Station.
5. Making Memories – You can take beautiful family photos in Kyoto.
Kyoto is filled with picturesque locations which can’t be seen anywhere else. Examples include the red torii gates which seem to go on for forever at Fushimi Inari Shrine, the mysterious bamboo forest at Arashiyama, and the especially characteristic of Kyoto rows of “machiya” (traditional townhouses) around the city. If you make plans and reservations in advance, your family can rent kimonos and get some great shots to remember your trip. The one of a kind photos you take in Kyoto will become unforgettable memories for your family.
6. Unsurpassable “Washoku” (Japanese cuisine) – With plenty of options you can have a wonderful dining experience in Kyoto
Not to mention being delicious, but also delicate and beautiful to look at, authentic “washoku” restaurants are abundant in Kyoto. Traditional “washoku” is said to be alongside Mediterranean cuisine as one of the healthiest cuisines in the world. There are buffet style restaurants which are easy to visit with children. If you contact them in advance, many restaurants are able to accommodate customers with food allergies. You can also find restaurants offering special menus such as vegetarian and Halal.
7. Museums & Parks – There are many parks and museums designed for kids.
Located within the Kyoto city limits are several places your kids will absolutely love! For example, there’s the Kyoto Railway Museum as well as the very modern Kyoto Aquarium, both located not far from Kyoto Station. There’s also a good mix of nature and harmony at places like the Kyoto Zoo or the Botanical Gardens. If you’re worried about wasting time on your special trip at places like these, don’t! All of these places are very well done and there’s no doubt that even adults will find something that excites them. If you can afford the time on your trip, let your kids play to their heart’s content at any of these spots!
8. Mysterious Kyoto – Experience the more mysterious side of Kyoto as a couple
Kyoto has many spots which can be enjoyed by the whole family. Even if you stay for several days you will feel as if you need longer. However, if you have a chance to leave your children, you can experience another more mysterious side of Kyoto. For example, you can dine at an authentic restaurant which only allows adults or you can enjoy a geisha show. And let’s not forget you can experience Zen in its truest form, sitting on a polished wooden floor in a still, soundless space where you can feel mindfulness. For better family trip experience, Kyoto with Kids, started by local moms, are developing services that parents and children can both enjoy. Please check Kyoto with Kids services!