6 Cool Things To Do In Tokyo With Kids

Tokyo is one of the cleanest cities we have ever visited with kids. The part of the city we visited were very safe, and overall Tokyo has a very low crime rate. We had the chance to spend a few days in Tokyo on the tail end of our adventure in China. After traveling to China and Lhasa, Tibet, the cleanliness and order of Tokyo was very much appreciated.

This huge city with about 9 million people has an unexpected traditional side. Considering the size, the city is super clean, tidy, and filled with polite, formal, and respectful people.

Visiting Tokyo with kids
We arrived at the gorgeous Park Hyatt Hotel, famous for its starring role in the movie Lost in Translation

Here are some of the things you must do while exploring Tokyo with kids!

1. Enjoy the Toilets

When we first arrived at the Park Hyatt Hotel (Yes the one from the movie ‘Lost In Translation’), we were shown to our rooms to unpack, shower and relax from our long day of travels.

park hotel in tokyo lost in translation
The boys had a room next to ours and after enjoying the warm shower and snacks in our room, Hubs and I went next door to see what the boys were up to.

Staying at an upscale hotel in Tokyo with kids

We found Seabass in his robe on the bed, and heard strange noises coming from the bathroom. I knocked and asked Julian what was going on and he said, “Mom, this toilet is the best thing EVER!”

the toilets in tokyo japan are cool

“It massages my butt, I can heat the seat, it sprays water in different directions and I’m having the best toilet experience ever. I can’t read the instructions so I’m just pressing every button. Can you bring me my book please.”

tokyo street life

 2.  Visit Harajuku Takeshita-dori With Kids

If you visit Tokyo you have to visit this delightful place. People of all ages dress up as Anime characters and walk the street having the time of their life. Harajuku’s Takeshita-dori is lined with cute, colorful and interesting shops, and there are literally a hundred Japanese crepe and ice-cream shops.

Visiting Harajuku Takeshita-dori With Kids

Harajuku’s Takeshita-dori is like stepping into a vibrant, bustling world where fashion, food, and fun collide. It’s famous for being the heart of Japan’s youth culture and fashion, offering a unique glimpse into the trendy, sometimes wacky world of Japanese street style.

It’s super fun to wander, shop, people watch and enjoy the delicious desserts. The explosion of colors and Anime is like nothing we’ve ever seen.

3.  Golden Street in Shinjuku

Golden Gai (Golden Street) is a fascinating area to explore, but it only really comes alive at night. This isn’t really a cool thing to do with kids, but if you can get a hotel babysitter, it’s worth it to check this area out for a few hours at night.

shinjuku in tokyo is fun

The Golden Gai area consists of a few blocks of teeny tiny bars…. when I say tiny, some only will seat 10 people!  Each bar has a different vibe, and many only serve regulars or locals, and luckily we were with our Japanese friend to share a fun night on the town!

There's a fun bar scene in tokyo, especially the really small ones
This bar literally would not seat more than 10 people!

The bars really come to life after 11pm. It looks as though it’s a dodgy area, but it’s hip, fun, and filled with Japanese celebrities (not that I’d recognize any of them). It’s seriously like being in a Japanese movie.

4.  Ginza and Shinjuku Districts

Visiting the Ginza and Shinjuku districts in Tokyo offers two distinct flavors of the city’s vast urban landscape, each appealing for different reasons.

Ginza is Tokyo’s premier shopping and dining district, oozing luxury and sophistication. There are streets lined with flagship stores of high-end global fashion brands, exclusive Japanese shops, and art galleries. Ginza is home also home to some of Tokyo’s most renowned sushi restaurants and historic eateries and it’s a great place to try Japan’s culinary excellence. The district transforms on weekends when the main street becomes pedestrian-only, creating a relaxed area for leisurely strolls.

Shinjuku, on the other hand, is a showcase for Tokyo’s fast-paced, neon-soaked nightlife and entertainment. It’s a place where you can explore the world’s busiest railway station, towering skyscrapers, and vibrant entertainment districts. Shinjuku is also known for its diverse shopping experiences, from the massive electronics stores in the west to the fashion-forward boutiques in the east. After dark, the area around Shinjuku Station transforms into a lively nightlife hub, with tons of bars, restaurants, and nightclubs – you wouldn’t even notice them all at during the day.

Shinjuku’s Kabukicho area is often referred to as Tokyo’s red-light district, offering a variety of “entertainment” options, robot restaurants, and karaoke bars. You might want to steer clear of this neighborhood if you’re out with your kids at night.

Both the Ginza and Shinjuku districts are popular upscale shopping areas of Tokyo, filled with electronic stores, boutiques, restaurants and coffeehouses. The Ginza District is considered one of the most expensive, elegant, and luxury areas in the world.

5.  Explore the Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo

The Tsukiji Fish Market is located in central Tokyo, Japan, and it’s one of the largest and most famous fish markets in the world. It’s full of energy and has literally tons and tons of fish and seafood on display.  Tsukiji is a symbol of Tokyo’s culinary prowess. It opened its doors in 1935 and, for decades, played a pivotal role in the city’s food industry.

The market was divided into two main sections: the Inner Market (Jōnai-shijō), where wholesale business and the famous tuna auctions took place, and the Outer Market (Jōgai-shijō). The Inner Market moved to a different location, and area around the old Tsukiji Market still remains a popular spot for shops and authentic seafood restaurants and sushi shops.

Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo is an adventure

We woke up at 4.30 am (yes you read that correctly) to make our way to the Tsukijo Fish Market to see the huge fish being auctioned off. The actual auction takes place daily around 5am and only 120 people are allowed in (free) to witness sales that are then shipped to the finest restaurants in the world.

fish at tokyo fish market
tokyo fish market tuna auction

This is the largest wholesale fish market in Japan. The market’s opening hours are 3:30am to 6:00am and even getting up at 4.30am, we were too late to see the world-famous Tuna Auction. The sights, the sounds, and the smells were a full sensory overload.

kids at the tokyo fish market / Tsukiji Fish Market

We spent a couple of hours wandering the aisles checking out merchants preparing and selling every kind of seafood imaginable, watched the vendors clamoring for attention promoting their products and negotiating with customers. We savored the smell of fresh seafood (truth: some of it didn’t smell so great to me)!

fresh sushi in tokyo - don't miss it

There are many small restaurants selling seafood fresh from the ocean, around the outskirts of the market. We found the perfect place to stop for breakfast and were rewarded with the freshest sushi we have ever tasted! It’s exciting, it’s fun, and it’s free!

fresh sushi in tokyo

6.  Seek Out The Meiji Shrine

The beautiful and peaceful Meiji Shrine is found in the heart of Tokyo in Shibuya, and is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken. It’s a peaceful place built in 1920, ait’s special because it shows how Japan changed a long time ago to become more modern, thanks to Emperor Meiji. This shrine is like a quiet forest in the middle of the busy city, with big wooden gates that welcome you in.

Meiji Shrine in tokyo

What’s cool about it? Well, it sits in a big forest with over 100,000 trees from all over Japan, making it a great spot to chill and feel close to nature. The shrine looks simple but beautiful, and it’s where lots of Japanese traditions are kept alive. People come here to celebrate New Year and other festivals. There’s even a garden with pretty flowers and a spot for traditional tea ceremonies.

The shrine is located in a park and when you arrive it’s a lovely walk down a cool path beneath thick trees, creating a calming, peaceful environment.

The shrine and surrounding gardens are stunning, and we were lucky enough to see a traditional Japanese wedding during our visit.

prayer blocks tokyo with kidsWe paid 500 yen each for wooden blocks to write prayers on and hang them with the others.
tokyo visit with family to shrine

When we entered the park we quickly forgot we were in the heart of a huge, bustling city. We were quite surprised at how quiet and peaceful the park and gardens were. We definitely felt as though we needed more time in Tokyo as we barely had a taste of all Tokyo has to offer, and we’ll certainly visit again sometime soon.

The Meiji Shrine is not just a place to see old buildings; it’s a spot where you can see how Japan respects its history and nature, right in the heart of the city. It’s definitely a must-visit to feel the real spirit of Tokyo!

Tokyo with Kids: Hidden Gems & Insider Secrets

When planning a trip to Tokyo with kids, families often have a mix of excitement and curiosity about how to make the most of their adventure in this vibrant city. Here are 12 questions they might ask, with answers designed to help them discover both the popular and the hidden gems of Tokyo.

What’s the best time to visit Tokyo with kids?

Spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) are ideal, offering pleasant weather and scenic beauty, from cherry blossoms to colorful fall leaves. We went in November, and the temperature was warm but it was a bit rainy.

How can we navigate Tokyo’s public transportation with children?

Tokyo’s public transportation is family-friendly, with priority seating for families and stroller-friendly access. You can purchase a prepaid Suica or Pasmo card for convenient hopping between trains and buses. We were able to walk everywhere, it’s a great way to explore the city, but it does take a bit longer.

Are there kid-friendly accommodations in Tokyo?

Yes, many hotels in Tokyo cater to families with spacious rooms or connecting options, child amenities, and convenient locations near major attractions and public transport. When you book a hotel, you should ask. We found email best when communicating rather than calling.

What are other cool things to see in Tokyo with kids?

You can explore the historical Yanaka district or enjoy a boat ride in the serene Chidorigafuchi Park. You might enjoy wandering through the Todoroki Valley for a nature escape within the city.

Can we enjoy Tokyo’s food scene with picky eaters?

Yes, for sure. There’s nothing more basic than white rice for picky eaters. Tokyo offers a wide range of kid-friendly and also international cuisine. Look for family restaurants, themed cafes, and conveyor belt sushi for a new dining experience with your kids.

How do we respect local customs and etiquette with kids?

It’s easy to offend in Tokyo, but there is a lot of tolerance for tourists. Be on your best behavior, and practice all of your manners. Be respectful of other and be quiet on public transport. Eat quietly and don’t make a mess. And, bow slightly when when greeting people. When entering any home or any personal space, make sure the first thing you do is take your shoes off.

Do we need to speak Japanese in Tokyo?

We didn’t use a guide or a translator and were able to navigate and communicate quite successfully. Google Maps is your friend here, and Google Translate also works really well when you find someone who doesn’t speak any English. Hand gestures are universal, and although English is widely spoken by younger people, it’s not universal. While it was daunting not to be able to read anything, we made it work. Note that train stations are mostly subtitled in English, and we found the staff there to speak excellent English.

With a little research, you’ll be well-prepared to explore Tokyo’s bustling streets, high-tech attractions, and tranquil, hidden spots and you’ll experience a very different culture, one that puts an emphasis on respect and civility.

Tokyo hosted with Winter Olympics in 2020 (really 2021)

Have you visited Tokyo with kids?

What were your favorite things to see?

Let me know in comments below and Join me on Instagram and Twitter!

About The Author

Samantha

I’m a travel and health writer, digital brand consultant, breast cancer survivor, and supermom to two boys! I keep it real and share stories of raising an active family, life after a cancer diagnosis, and family travels around the world! Each story is shared with my dry, and sometimes naughty sense of humor.

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