Before I begin, I’d like to note that this is only from our experience, and only touches the surface of what’s available in Tokyo. Japan recommendations are always a common question that is asked, and instead of responding to each person with a long list, I thought having this list put together for everyone to view would be helpful.
To give a little background, I am a Japanese mother and wife, living in the United States. However, since my parents live in Japan, we try our best to fly back at least once a year, if not twice. We’ve flown with our daughter back to Japan 3 times now, at 7 months, 12 months, and 18 months. I’d say the most recent trip with her being older was a bit more challenging. Mostly because she wanted to walk, touch, and pick everything up (not to mention occasional tantrums)! However, despite all this, the trip was definitely worth it! She was so stimulated with new surroundings and she throughly enjoyed all the food! Watching her be fascinated was worth everything, including the jet lag! (haha)
BABY-TODDLER IN JAPAN
If you still have a baby who’s not yet walking, and will calmly remain in a baby carrier, it’s much easier to get around and shop (in my opinion) until they’re much more self-sufficient. The toddler phase, was a little bit trickier. I’m sure it’s not just my child but every time she had a tantrum, it seemed like every other child was calm. So yes, everyone stared. And culturally, they expect you to take your child outside until they are calm, so this happened a few times during our trip. I’ve learned to keep my expectations low while traveling with a toddler, and learn to be flexible with plans for times like this.
If you have certain restaurants you want to try, I recommend making reservations ahead of time. One key thing to request is a room (if that’s an option). In Japanese, it’s called a “Koshitsu”. These are usually closed tatami rooms so your child can roam around and be free while you can eat in peace without worrying about disturbing others.
This was a list put together over the course of one year, so I really hope you enjoy it as much I did putting it together!
So here goes the list…
TOP 10 KID-FRIENDLY PLACES TO VISIT IN TOKYO:
1. MUJI – YURAKUCHO
MUJI is a Japanese clothing brand known for their simple and affordable everyday wear. The great part about this place is the convenience. You can shop, eat, and have kids play all in one store.
MUJI Cafe is inside their store where they serve food cafeteria style, except their food actually tastes good, and is healthy! They have plenty of Stokke highchairs for all of your kiddos!
If your kids are a little older and more independent, they can hangout in the play area with books and toys while you shop. Or, if they’re younger, you can always take breaks in between your shopping to let your baby crawl around. My hubby usually plays with our daughter while I shop and vice versa. They also have a changing area right behind the play area so it’s convenient to do a quick diaper change/nurse before you head out. I loved seeing Dads changing diapers in there (including my husband!)
2. GINZA SIX – GINZA
GINZA Six is one of the newest, most popular shopping malls in Tokyo right now. It’s a high-end department store. All of your top brands like Valentino, Celine, Saint Laurent, etc will be there. BUT, my favorite part about this mall is their Rooftop Lounge!
Because there’s fresh air, lots of seating, a water play area, and most importantly to my hubby, a bar. So, if you’re in need of an alcoholic beverage that’s also kid-friendly, this is a great option!
FOOD: If you’re feeling hungry, there’s lots of options to choose from on the 6th floor. Our favorite was the Ginza Grand Premium Food Hall. It’s literally a food court with a bunch of restaurants (that all taste really good) and you get two options: 1. You can eat at individual restaurants with their own menus OR 2. You can sit in the back communal area where they have 2-3 of the most popular items from each restaurant all in one menu! So instead of having to choose one restaurant, each person can order what they want from separate restaurants, except you can all sit in one area! Isn’t this the best idea?!
I went with my parents and I think we all ordered from different restaurants differing from Yuzu Oyakodon to hamburgers! The only downside was they don’t offer high-chairs…but for the convenience of being able to eat what you want without separating was worth feeding her in her stroller or on our laps. If you have picky eaters in your family, this is a great option!
LITTLE GEM OF A DESSERT: is my favorite matcha on the lower level (B2F) food market called Tsujiri. There’s no trip that doesn’t involve a stop here…and sometimes even 3 trips in one week! I order the “koi matcha” soft serve latte. They use their richest and strongest matcha powder to make their soft serve and matcha latte. It’s a must try if you love matcha! I also always get a can or two of their ceremonial matcha powders to bring back home since I can’t get it in the U.S.
*Ginza in general has a lot to shop and eat (one of my favorite cities). I highly recommend a visit to Ginza even if you don’t decide to go to Muji or Ginza Six. On Saturdays and Sundays, the main Ginza street closes for pedestrians to walk the main road so it feels more leisurely.
3. GHIBLI MUSEUM – MITAKA
If you and your child are fans of Hayao Miyazaki’s films, this is a great interactive museum for the family. Even if you haven’t seen any of the movies, it’s a great introduction to the world of Japanese animation. He’s most famous for TOTORO or SPIRITED AWAY. They have a life-size cat bus (from Totoro) just for kids and they get an allotted time for about 10-15 minutes to play, it’s the cutest thing! Unfortunately, they don’t allow pictures so I couldn’t capture Chloe playing in it.
4. MOOMIN CAFE – SUMIDA
I have to give my fair warning – their food is mediocre. Very simple stews, curries, and steaks. You will be going there more for the ambiance and the excitement of getting to sit with Moomin Dolls.
We celebrated Chloe’s first birthday which included a special Moomin smash cake, and although it wasn’t the best cake we ate, we sure got plenty of photo opportunities with the life size Moomin dolls. The cafe was worth it for us since Chloe adores anything soft and fluffy…aka, any stuffed animal. The great thing about this cafe is that it is conveniently located in Tokyo City Dome which is covered next…
5. TOKYO DOME CITY PARK – SUMIDA
Where Tokyo Dome is located, the most popular event venue for concerts and baseball. But that’s not all, this place includes a large amusement park, restaurants, shopping, events (including concerts, boxing, etc), and even a hotel and spa! To learn more you can visit their main website. I also found this blog article by Travelience that has the best kid-friendly activities within Tokyo Dome City Park.
6. UENO ZOO – UENO
Home of the baby panda, Xiang Xiang. I wish I could say that we had the opportunity to meet this cutie, but the tickets were sold out by the time we got there in the early afternoon. According to the zoo staff, people line up at the zoo as early as 8:00am to snag tickets to view Xiang Xiang. So if you’re determined to meet Xiang Xiang, I’d get there early!
While Xiang Xiang may be the most popular, the zoo is still worth the visit. You’ll be getting in a lot of steps, so I recommend wearing comfortable shoes. Chloe had a blast and knew no difference that her stuffed animal wasn’t the real Xiang Xiang, so I’d say that’s a win!
7. TOKYO DISNEYLAND – URAYASU
This may or may not be on your go-to list depending on if you’re a Disney Fan. Tokyo Disneyland is very similar to the Anaheim Disneyland Park, but on a smaller scale, and cleaner. In my opinion, their food selection and quality is much better, the attention to detail is even more immaculate, and their Disney gear is actually more affordable.
Something to keep in mind is that there is no park hopper ticket unless you purchase a 3-Day or 4-Day Park Passport which allows you to park hop on your 3rd-4th day. You can learn more about it here. The cool thing about Disneyland or Disney Sea is that they have Night Passports. Essentially these are discounted tickets if you enter the park after 3pm or even more discounted if you enter the park after 6pm. Details on pricing are listed here.
8. TOKYO DISNEY SEA – URAYASU
While I think Tokyo Disneyland is more kid-friendly, Disney Sea is a must-see if you have never been. Again, we had a blast eating all their delicious treats and meals. We spent more time eating than riding attractions (as Chloe was too young for most) but we still thoroughly had fun! Any don’t get me started on all the Disney gear that we bought. I got too excited with the cheaper prices, I may have went a little over board on the exclusive headbands only sold in Japan. We ended our night by watching the nightly Fantasmic show. I recommend getting there early to reserve a spot, have a family member wait while you grab dinner to go. That made for a fun way to end the night.
9. SANRIO PUROLAND – TAMA
To my Sanrio lovers, this is your version of Disneyland. The only difference is there are fewer rides, and everything is indoors (perfect for rainy or hot weather). You’ll meet every Sanrio character and find exclusive Sanrio Puroland goodies. From rides, shows, to plenty of Instagram photo opportunities, it’s easy to spend the whole day.
Our favorite was the Gudetama photo exhibit, Sanrio’s version of “It’s a Small World,” and visiting Hello Kitty’s home ending with a meet and greet! Learn everything you need to know about Sanrio Puroland here.
10. SUNSHINE AQUARIUM – HIGASHI IKEBUKURO
An aquarium located on the rooftop of a 40m shopping mall, known for their flying penguins. While I could go on about our experience, I think these photos speak louder than words. Plus, aren’t you tired of listening to me by now?
I hope you enjoyed this list, and make sure to check out my instagram stories highlighted “JAPAN” for more live actions from our adventures! If you have any questions, feel free to comment on this post or email me at email@example.com.