Even the most patient and sensible children can sometimes have enough of temples, shrines, traditions and history. But there are attractions and aspects of Japanese culture to keep younger members of the family entertained and amused – or just give the younger ones a chance to let off steam!
Here are some suggestions.
The Ghibli Museum
A great day out for those with young families, or animation enthusiasts of all ages! The Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, in the western suburbs of Tokyo, transports you into the world of animated film maker Hayao Miyazaki. Rooms on several floors evoke the strange buildings which often appear in his films, and many other themes and ideas from the Ghibli Studio’s animations such as My Neighbor Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle, Porco Rosso and Spirited Away. The museum is a fascinating labyrinth, providing an interactive experience to delight adults and children alike.
JTB is the official agent for tickets for overseas visitors. Advance booking is required, and some dates fill up very quickly. Check with us well in advance (up to 3 months beforehand) to get tickets.
Tokyo Toy Museum
Located in the former Shinjuku Kuritsu Yotsuya Elementary School, Tokyo Toy Museum exhibits not just Japanese toys, but those from all over the world and is a place for all ages to enjoy. Visitors with younger children especially appreciate the fact that many of the toys can be played with, not just seen. Rooms (former classrooms) are dedicated to various categories of toys, from traditional Japanese toys to board games, and there is also a museum shop. The museum caters for those with smaller children, providing breastfeeding and nappy-changing facilities.
Address: 4-20 Yotsuya, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Get there: Yotsuya-Sanchome station (Marunouchi line), exit 2
Open: Fri-Wed 10am-4pm (last adm 4pm) / Closed Thu (except hols), New Year
Admission: Adults ¥700, elementary school and under ¥500, under 2s free
Shinjuku Park (Gyoen)
Shinjuku Gyoen is one of Tokyo’s largest and most popular parks. Located just a short walk from Shinjuku Station, the park has a small entrance charge, but its open green spaces, meandering paths and tranquil scenery provide a relaxing escape from Tokyo city life all around. It’s not a formal garden: you can sit on the grass and children can run around. In spring, Shinjuku Gyoen is one of the best places in the city to see cherry blossoms.
Address: 11 Naitomachi, Shinjuku, Tokyo
Get there: The garden is a short walk from Shinjuku-gyoemmae Station(M10) on the Marunouchi Line or Sendagaya Station on the Chūō-Sōbu Line.
Open: 09:00 to 16:30 (entry until 16:00)
Closed: Mondays (or following day if Monday is a national holiday), December 29 to January 3.
Admission: ¥200 for adults, ¥50 for children
Dress up as a fireman and play in fire trucks and helicopters. The fun and games here are worth an hour or two of amusement for ages up to 8 or 9.
Address: 3-10 Yotsuya, Shinjuku, Tokyo
Get there: enter directly from Yotsuya-Sanchome station (M11).
Closed: Mondays. If Monday is a national holiday, the Museum is open Monday and closed the following Tuesday.
Legoland Discovery Centre
Guess what – they have a lot of blocks (over 3 million, apparently). There is a Lego play area, model builds of Tokyo, and a “Kingdom Quest” short ride where you shoot at targets. The attraction’s own website gives a good introduction in English. Open 7 days a week.
Address: Odaiba 1-6-1 Decks Tokyo Beach Island Mall 3F, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Get there: in Decks Mall, next to Odaibakaihinkoen Station (U06).
Open: Weekdays 10:00 – 20:00 (Last admission 18:00)
Weekends: 10:00- 21:00 (Last admission 19:00)
Admission: ¥ 2,200 (cheaper online if you can pre-book and print out the ticket)
Legoland Discovery Centre
A great museum for both train buffs and young kids, located in the Tokyo suburb of Saitama. It takes a bit of effort and time to get to, but is well worth the trip. The emphasis here is on the trains (locomotives, electric railcars, diesel railcars, passenger carriages, imperial carriages, freight vehicles) but kids will also like the train cab simulators and the mini train. See every aspect of trains through the ages.
Address: 3-47 Ōnari-chō, Ōmiya-ku, Saitama-shi
Get there: take the New Shuttle from JR Omiya Station and get off at Tetsudo-Hakubutsukan Station. One-minute walk from Tetsudo-Hakubutsukan Station.
Open: 10:00-18:00 (last admission 17:30)
Closed every Tuesday.
Admission: ¥ 1,000 for adults, ¥500 for schoolchildren, ¥200 for pre-school.