For those of you thinking you would like to travel with your kids to Japan, you absolutely should! Japan is a very clean and safe country making it a great place to travel and perfect for traveling to with kids. You may be wondering what cities are best to travel to with your kids. Japan is a small country, but it covers a large area from the cold north to the warm south. From the old capital city of Kyoto to today’s capital, metropolitan Tokyo, there are many fascinating places to see. Let us tell you the best places to visit if this is your first time to Japan especially if you are traveling with your kids. Our staff member, Miho, has either lived in or visited all of these cities with her kids!
Tokyo with kids
Tokyo, Japan’s capital city, is where the 2020 Summer Olympics will be held. It is estimated that foreign travelers will keep increasing. According to a vote by readers of American magazine Condé Nast Traveler of the World’s Best Cities, Tokyo has been voted as the #1 Best Big City three years in a row!
Foreign visitors to Tokyo often visit the city more than once, which is often rare for international travel. I would imagine that Tokyo is much larger and spread out than travelers expect it to be and one time to the city just isn’t enough. Even within Japan, Tokyo is the hub for the latest in information, art, food, fashion, and pretty much everything else! About 30% of Japan’s total population lives in Tokyo. Because of the large amount of people you may be hesitant to go there with kids, but actually Tokyo has many leisure spots which kids love to visit.
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Osaka with kids
Osaka is home to a unique culture within Japan. For Japanese people, Osaka’s unique point is its people. In Osaka you will meet people who are so friendly and humorous. Osaka is also famous for its food culture. There are many places in Osaka where you can get cheap, but delicious food. Takoyaki, okonomiyaki, kushikatsu, etc are all popular among foreign travelers. And all of these foods can be enjoyed by adults and children alike. The atmosphere of Osaka, the city itself, the people, the culture, is open and bright. You can feel the energy of the city just walking around it. If you want a trip to Japan which will be filled with laughter, Osaka is the place for you!
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Nara with kids
Osaka and Kyoto are both popular tourist spots in Japan, but from both of those cities you can easily access Nara. You will see many tourists if you visit Nara.
Nara is famous for Nara Park and Todai-ji Temple with its large Buddha statue. In the 2017 Trip Advisor ranking of top sightseeing spots among foreigners in Japan, Todai-ji Temple was #5.
At Nara Park you can see and even feed and touch wild deer. If you would like to feed them, please purchase “shika senbei” from one of the many stands set up around the park. Many travelers want to experience feeding the deer with their children. If you go in the afternoon though, the deer are already quite full and may not want to eat the food you offer them!
Nara also has many shrines and temples and you can experience the old culture of Japan.
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Hiroshima with kids
Hiroshima is another popular tourist destination for foreign visitors to Japan. Hiroshima Airport has many flights coming in from overseas making it an easy to access city.
With the Atomic Bomb Dome and Peace Museum, Hiroshima is a city full of important history. Known worldwide as one of the two cities on which an atomic bomb was dropped, kids may have learned about Hiroshima in their history classes.
Other attractions include Itsukushima Shrine with its torii gate which appears to be floating as well as spots to enjoy foods kids love like Hiroshima style okyonomiyaki, which is famous for having yakisoba noodles in it!
If you want to include some history in your trip to Japan, Hiroshima is the place for you.
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Kyoto with kids
If you want to go somewhere where you can feel, This is Japan! then Kyoto is the place for you. Kyoto has many temples and shrines with histories of several hundred years. It is a city with a rich history and people joke that when Kyoto people refer to “last war” they are referring to a battle of samurai more than 500 years ago and not World War II.
Kyoto itself is like a replica of Japanese culture. There are even ordinances that limit the height of buildings and the color of signs around the city so as not to damage the landscape. There are some cultural things which can only be seen in Kyoto and because it has such a rare history even in Japan it is the perfect city to experience and make memories that last a lifetime with your kids.
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Where should you visit on your first trip to Japan with kids?
Tokyo, which currently has Olympic fever, is good, but we would recommend Kyoto as the best city to visit with kids when you come to Japan. This is why:
1. The juxtaposition of old Japan and modern Japan
Kyoto is great for seeing historical things, but the people of Kyoto are actually known for loving the newest things. Stores and cafes that are being talked about in Tokyo often have Kyoto storefronts as well. So in Kyoto you can enjoy Japan’s latest trends.
2. Moderate size makes getting around easy
As Kyoto isn’t as large or spread out as Tokyo, it is fairly easy to get around from your hotel to sightseeing spots. Getting around with kids, especially babies, can be tough no matter where you are, but I think Kyoto is easier to get around with kids than other cities. Tokyo has a lot to offer entertainment wise, so if you are able to take a longer vacation, you may consider two nights in both Kyoto and Tokyo, or even three nights each if you can swing it!
3. Many baby and kid friendly hotels
Kyoto has a variety of hotels from five star places like the Ritz Carlton to old style Japanese houses called “machiya” and even apartment syle hotels. Even for bigger families there are places for you to stay. As you tend to have a lot of luggage when traveling with kids, Kyoto is nicely located so that day trips to Osaka and Nara and even one night trips to Hiroshima or Tokyo are easy to make.
To make the most of your stay in Kyoto with kids and babies
We are a group of moms who started Kyoto with Kids Services with the goal of helping tourists traveling to Kyoto with their kids and babies really enjoy their time here. At Kyoto with Kids Club, kids can enjoy learning about Japanese culture through playing and with Kyoto with Kids Babysitting, our staff provides babysitting services so parents can enjoy time out without kids. We also have Kyoto with Kids Family Tours for the entire family to enjoy a few hours out in Kyoto. Stay tuned for upcoming tours! We know you want to make memories with your kids when you visit Kyoto, but it is also a city which is fun to go out in without kids. By using our services, you can get the best of both worlds while traveling in Kyoto.