Photo:Nicholas Wang on Flickr

6 Family Friendly Destinations in Japan

Arranging on a short getaway with younger family members can sometimes, if not most, be quite daunting. However, if you are planning on a family trip with the kids to Japan, fear not. Besides its clean and safe environment, Japan has a handful to offer, making sure boredom will always be at bay among the little ones.

Filled with the perfect combination of educative museums, high-tech pop culture, breathtaking historic scenery, to engaging amusement parks, Japan is a one-stop destination for all family members, especially when traveling with kids. Depending on your itinerary, every region of the country has something different to offer. Here are several kid-friendly destinations throughout Japan, ranging from museums, amusement parks, to castles which surely will keep your little angels occupied.

1. National Museum of Nature and Science (Tokyo)

What’s a trip without a visit to its local museum. Japan has quite a lot of museums to offer as a great tourist destination and one of them is the National Museum of Nature and Science located in Ueno Park in Tokyo. It is one of the oldest and largest integrated museums in Japan which will take more than a few hours to explore.

Packed with breathtaking natural exhibits and scientific experiments, the museum is divided into two sections, the Global Gallery and the Japan Gallery. In the Global Gallery visitors get the chance to learn more about the Earth’s behavior and evolution and also amazing displays and fossils of animals on earth, ranging from gigantic real-size dinosaur skeletons to the tiniest organism on display. Children can also experience first-hand interactive and engaging exhibits which are definitely both fun and educative at the same time. The Japan Gallery offers as much fun as it focuses on the history of Japan and its evolution and innovations.

Momotarou2012 on Wikimedia Commons
Momotarou2012 on Wikimedia Commons

For such a huge and fun-filled exhibition, the museum doesn’t charge tickets for children, while adult tickets cost around 600 yen. They are open throughout the week except on Monday, unless Monday is a public holiday.


2. Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Tokyo)

A second museum which is worth a family visit is the Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo where children can get a chance to interact face-to-face with human-like robots. Just like its name, the museum focuses on innovative science and inventions which is, undoubtedly, packed with high-tech modern exhibitions and display.

Upon entering the museum, visitors will be greeted with a huge digital globe entirely made of small high resolution screens with continuously changing display. The museum is divided into different sections based on its themes such as earth, art, and one popular theme: labs and robots where children get to see a performance made by the robot Asimo. Along these themes, visitors are to expect astonishing modern innovations combining the latest technology and science for astronomy, space and natural disasters among other things which will keep you and your little one amused for hours.

AMANO Jun-ichi on Wikimedia Commons

3. Snow Monkey Park, Jigokudani Monkey Park (Nagano)

Add a touch of nature to the family trip itinerary by taking a visit to the Snow Monkey Park. Located in the valley of Yokoyu-River, the Snow Monkey Park is about a three-hour train ride from Tokyo and is known for its wild Japanese macaques or snow monkeys which naturally cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The park takes a 10-minute or 25-minute walk through a scenic forest which is enjoyable for both kids and adults, finally leading you to the main open space of a natural hot spring where you can see wild snow monkeys bathing comfortably in it. However, if traveling with younger kids and toddlers, the natural state could be a little challenging as the path may be slippery and rocky for those little feet, so be prepared.

The park is open throughout the year but is best visited during the months of January until March when the valley is still covered in snow, a favorable condition among the snow monkeys to bathe and chill. Being surrounded by trees and forest and located in the Japanese Alps area, the hot spring offers a breathtaking view especially during winter as snow piles up and covers the monkeys heads while bathing.

NY066 on Wikimedia Commons

4. Himeji Castle (Hyogo)

While history might be a less interesting topic for the little ones, you can help introduce the Japanese historical background through a fun and interesting way by visiting a Japanese castle. One of the must-see castles in Japan would include the Himeji Castle in the city of Himeji, Hyogo which is listed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Often known as the White Heron Castle for its dazzling white plaster walls, the Himeji Castle is a feast for the eyes for all the family members.

It is the biggest castle in Japan with its five-story tower located on top of a hill with a breathtaking seaside view and a spacious park for the kids to run around and enjoy. Climbing up the castle, visitors will have the chance to go through the weapon room, storage room, rifle loop holes and numerous secret rooms which will surely ignite the imaginations of children.

ja:User:Reggaeman on Wikimedia Commons

5. Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium (Okinawa)

If your family is planning on heading to the southern part of Japan, you wouldn’t want to miss the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in the Okinawa Island. Being the second largest aquarium in the world, the aquarium is widely regarded as Japans best aquarium with its immense variety of species including the amusing manta rays and giant whale sharks.

The aquarium is located on three floors which displays a wide range of sea life experience including the remarkable Kuroshio tank, one of the biggest tanks in the world. There is also an open pool of living starfish and seashells for visitors to touch barehanded which will surely be fun for the kids. Outdoor pools for animal shows of dolphins and turtle are also available around the aquarium which are free of charge.

The Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium also serves as a study center in marine life and is part of a grand park in Okinawa which has museums, traditional villages, and a nice view of the Okinawa coastline.

Jordy Meow on Wikimedia Commons

6. Disneyland (Tokyo)

Last but not least, a family trip to Japan will not be complete without a stop at the renowned amusement park, Disneyland! Japan has not one but two Disney theme parks;Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disneysea. However, the latter has more challenging rides and would rather suit older visitors while Disneyland has more family-oriented attractions, so it is more suitable for younger kids.

Besides the unquestionably amusing rides in Disneyland, kids will have the time of their life visiting Disney’s castle, meeting Disney characters and enjoying a fun-filled Disney parade. One parade not to miss is the Electrical Parade Dreamlights which showcases dazzling LED-lit floats with Aladdin, Cinderella, and other Disney characters. To finish off, do wait until closing time where Disneyland is known for its amusing fireworks display, leaving the kids dreamy and happy at the end of the night.

fortherock on Wikimedia Commons

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