FX Excursions

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Japan with Kids

by Susan Finch

May 9, 2018

© Igor Stojakovic | Dreamstime.com

Age Specific / Kids

Tackling Japan with kids takes some planning and ingenuity to get it right. Given the language and cultural barriers, using an experienced travel planner or joining a family-friendly tour can be helpful, but isn’t entirely necessary. Pick out a few regions in Japan that you’re keen to explore and mix in a combination of cultural sites and nature to balance your trip. Here’s a bite-sized sample of where to start.



Start your family vacation in Japan with a stopover in Tokyo and explore the endless street-lined pop culture with games, candy, toys and karaoke. Stay at the Gracery Shinjuku with a monstrously sized Godzilla statue and head over to take in educational fun at Kidzania. Kids get introduced to real life with jobs to earn KidZos coins to be spent in stores at Kidzania or deposited in the bank. For a break, stroll through Yoho Park where the Meiji Shrine was built to honor Emperor Meiji in 1920.



Kyoto is a favorite among family travelers for its cleanliness and safety, easy public transportation and a decidedly slower pace than Tokyo. The Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum is a hit for kids with a penchant for locomotives where you can climb and explore indoor play areas. Afterwards, pay a stop to the nearby Nijo Castle where Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu reigned. Let your kids get crazy and jump on the floors and watch them delight in the chirping alarm system that alerted the Shogun to intruders.


Yasaka Pagoda and Sannen Zaka Street at sunset, Kyoto, Japan

© Raul Garcia Herrera | Dreamstime.com



Beach-loving families flock to Okinawa for its laid-back vibe and plentitude of beaches. More than 130 recognized beaches grace Okinawa’s main island, each with their own flavor and charm. For small children, Zampa Beach features a large coral reef with calm waves that make it perfect for small kids and water-lovers alike. To introduce kids to the culture and art in Okinawa, sign them up for a coral painting activity at Nasha Shuri with the use of real corals. There are plenty of kid-friendly programs to choose from that embrace the handicraft and time-honored artistic traditions in Okinawa.


Central Honshū

Japan’s heartland of Central Honshū invites outdoorsy families to ski, hike and explore the Japan Alps that rise alongside the border of Gifu and Nagano Prefecture and roll alongside coastal Japan. Old fishing villages abound with the chance to try fresh fish and local treats before heading to Matsumoto to see a “hirajiro,” or a castle built on plains instead of a hill or mountain.


Taking your kids to Japan can absolutely be done, but needs a little advance planning and the right mindset. Slow down, enjoy the finer side of this magical country, and indulge in some green spots along the way.


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