Things to do with Kids in Tokyo
Most of my tours focus on history and culture. However, there are lots of great things for kids to do in Tokyo. From indoor activities to outdoor excursions, there’s no shortage of fun to have on your vacation to Japan’s bustling capital. This list is aimed at families with pre-teens to college kids, but many experiences work for younger kids. Some of you grown-up kids will love these too! (I’m talking to you mom and dad!)
Tokyo Disneyland AND Tokyo Disney Sea
Many people forget that two of Disney’s greatest theme parks are located right on Tokyo Bay! In operation since 1983 and 2001 respectively, Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea provide fun for the whole family. At the time of writing, they’ve begun expanding the park. Soon, there will soon be more to love about Disneyland in Japan. Also, because of Tokyo’s mild winters, both theme parks are open all year round. Just remember. In the summer, Tokyo is hot and humid, so keep that in mind if being outside all day is stressful for your kids.
Kawaii Monster Café
The Kawaii Monster Café is one of those ridiculous “only in Japan” experiences, combining a whimsical Alice in Wonderland-esque décor and over-the-top entertainment by the café’s very own kawaii monster dancers[i]. It’s perfect for lunch, but there are often long lines to get in. So, I recommend making a reservation and skipping the queue – I’m happy to arrange this for you. Actually, I often incorporate the Kawaii Monster Café into some of my Tokyo Day Tours because it’s popular with my clients who want to see Tokyo’s quirky side. The menu is simple so even picky kids can find something they like.
Japan’s national sport is baseball, and if you’re a baseball fan, you’ll find the level of play top notch and, in my opinion, the carnival-like atmosphere is way more fun that MLB games. Japan is consistently in the top three countries for international baseball. It is also a host nation of the World Baseball Classic. I’m happy to get tickets for your baseball-loving family, but it’s probably best to just add on a game to one of my Tokyo Day Tours. That way, we can enjoy the game together (or in the case of my European and Australian customers, I can explain the rules). Tokyo has two baseball teams: the Tokyo Giants and the Tokyo Swallows. I’m a Giants fan and the indoor stadium is great rain or shine. The Swallows play outdoors which can get hot and humid and games are occasionally rained out or delayed.
The Poop Museum
I’ll be honest with you. The Poop Museum is one of Japan’s most ridiculous experiences. Kids, teens, and adults alike can appreciate this weird place. It’s silly, colorful, and extremely childish, but you’ll probably get some of the best family photos of your whole trip here. Originally a temporary exhibit, the Poop Museum became so popular that it found a permanent home in Odaiba, near Tokyo Bay. There are lots of goofy exhibits and nothing gross or distasteful here, just really colorful and cute fun. Because of long lines, I recommend purchasing tickets in advance and skipping the line. I recommend doing this as part of a customized Tokyo Day Tour so I can maximize our day and not waste any time waiting around or taking weird train routes from across town.
Video Game ArcadeS
In Japan, video games are a way of life and video arcades are as popular as ever! I often take people to Akihabara, the heart of Japan’s otaku culture[ii], where we can experience the most awesome multilevel game centers. However, in Tokyo, arcades are located everywhere, but finding the good ones (and the non-smoking ones) can be tricky sometimes. Besides video games, there are also crane games, gachapon machines, and sometimes even VR and purikura photo booths. If you don’t know what that is, let’s get you and the kids in there for the ultimate weird photo both experience!
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- Tokyo Futuristic – my Tokyo pop culture day tour!
If video games aren’t your whole family’s thing, why not try Round One? In addition to video games, you have batting cages, inline skates, “sports challenges,” private karaoke booths[iii], darts, bowling, and more. This is great when the weather is bad you can’t do cultural stuff, but still want to enjoy your day as a family. None of the activities require Japanese language ability, but the staff probably doesn’t speak English, so it helps if you bring a local with you to ensure things go nice and smooth. It’s great for kids of all ages, including you adult kids lol.
Fishing in Tokyo Bay
If you’re outdoors types, fishing in Tokyo Bay gives you fantastic views of the city skyline and puts you in touch with the capital’s humble beginnings. Tokyo began as a collection of villages based on fishing and seaweed production. If you can’t speak Japanese, this kind of experience is generally inaccessible for most travelers. But don’t worry. I can set it up and interpret for you the whole time. Sea bream, perch, and flounder are plentiful. But if you really want to go for it, you can also catch albacore tuna, skipjack tuna, yellowtail tuna, sea bass, and various types of mackerel. Squid and octopus also live in Tokyo Bay. If you kids like fishing, this is a really unique chance, in my opinion.
National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation
Known as Miraikan in Japanese[iv], the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation is one of the coolest family-oriented museums I’ve ever been too. It’s English-friendly and has lots of interactive exhibits. You can see Asimo, Honda’s line of robots developed in the early 2000’s. Also, getting there is half the fun, as you can take the Yurikome Line, a driverless, robotic monorail that passes through the Tokyo Bay area! Kids love the hands-on experiences and Tokyo just exudes “future,” so this is a pretty obvious choice.
I normally recommend clients skip the Harajuku area as it has devolved into an insufferable tourist trap and locals avoid it like the plague. However, there are still a few good reasons to visit the area. If you happen to be in this part of town with kids, Kiddyland is a timeless toy store that is definitely worth checking out. Most of the products are limited to Japan, even if they’re from international IP’s. Even adults will enjoy browsing the shelves at this Tokyo institution!
The Samurai Museum
The Samurai Museum is an English-friendly museum that teaches about samurai. It has a nice collection of armor, weapons, and features a demonstration of Japanese swordplay that you can participate in! There’s a lively guided tour that isn’t too heavy on history, and plenty of time for Q&A with the staff. The gift shop is filled with samurai-related goods that any kid would be happy to bring back home. Also, at the end of the tour, they have samurai armor and Japanese princess outfits for you to try and snap some memorable photos that you’ll love to share with your friends.
There’s Plenty More Family Fun in Tokyo
I hope my Top 10 Things to do with Kids in Tokyo has given you some ideas for you trip. Obviously, there are hundreds of more ideas. If I know what your family is into, I can help customize the perfect day — or days — for you. I’ve been in Japan for 16 years and know Tokyo inside and out. Let’s start planning your day tour now!
[i] Kawaii is the Japanese word for “cute.”
[ii] Otaku means “geek” or “nerd” and refers to people who love anime, manga, and video games.
[iii] Everybody knows karaoke, but did you know it comes from the Japanese words for “empty orchestra pit?”
[iv] Miraikan means “Hall of the Future” in Japanese.