Boy walking in street in Tokyo, Japan on a traffic-free day. Colorful buildings line the street and other people are walking around.

9 Reasons to Visit Japan with Kids (+ Reasons You Should Skip a Visit)

I’ve just come back from a visit to Japan with my 9-year-old, and I’ve already got the wheels spinning for a return trip with my two younger children. Why? Because Japan’s an amazing place to travel with kids – from toddlers to teens!

Our family of five has enjoyed travel in some incredible places in the world – from the Maldives to the Olympic Peninsula, and it’s easy to put Japan on our list of favorite family destinations.

Let’s take a look at why Japan makes such a great destination for kids!

There’s Something in Japan for Every Child

Boy in large room covered with colorful digital art of flowers.
My son exploring the teamLab Borderless digital art exhibit in Tokyo

Sports, technology, history, art, culture, nature, history – you name it, Japan has it!

On my recent visit with my elementary-age child, we spent time:

  • Visiting temples and shrines
  • Exploring Tokyo’s video game arcades
  • Walking through the teamLab Borderless art installation
  • Sampling sushi and so many Japanese foods we’d never tried or heard of
  • Going on walking and cycling tours
  • Exploring Japanese gardens
  • Finding our favorite gachapon
  • Being thrilled at DisneySea and Universal Studios Japan
  • Learning about the bombing of Hiroshima

Depending on your child’s interests, you could also:

  • Go to a baseball or soccer game
  • Take an origami, calligraphy, block-printing, or cooking class
  • Soak in an onsen
  • Learn ninja skills
  • Shop til you drop
  • Hike on Mt. Fuji
  • Visit one of Japan’s technology museums
  • Go snorkeling in Okinawa

It’s Getting More and More Popular

I first visited Japan over a decade ago, and I remember never speaking English on my trip and seeing few tourists.  This trip was a complete contrast – I was able to speak English when I struggled with my Japanese language skills (often!) and there were visitors everywhere we went. 

Visiting Japan now gives you a great balance between finding good information to plan your visit now (crucial when you’re visiting with kids), but before it totally explodes as a tourist destination (some would argue it’s already at that point).

You Can Find Places to Be Outdoors Year-Round

Boy walks up cobblestone steps on the grounds of a temple in Kyoto, Japan. Trees and moss on either side of path.
My son walking on the grounds of a temple in Kyoto in the spring

On a trip to Japan with kids, you’ll want to make time for nature.  As a mom of three myself, I know it’s not easy to plan family vacations around school and sports, but take comfort in knowing that no matter what time of year you visit Japan, you can find a way to be outdoors.

For example, during different seasons of the year in Japan you could:

  • Go swimming or snorkeling in the turquoise waters of Okinawa
  • Enjoy skiing in Hokkaido
  • Soak in an onsen Hot Springs
  • Explore Japan’s cities
  • Hike up Mt. Fuji
  • Participate in a cycling tour

It’s a Cultural Experience for Everyone in the Family

Boy eating noodles with chopsticks at a conveyor belt sushi restaurant. Sushi also on table, and conveyor belt on right.
Working on our chopsticks technique in Tokyo

Parents and kids will find something interesting about the Japanese culture.  Coming from the USA and Italy, I appreciate the differences between those cultures and Japan, and my son was fascinated with some of the differences as well. 

Your family members may want to:

  • Learn some of the Japanese language (spoken, and/or written)
  • Become skilled at using chopsticks or making sushi
  • Study ninja and samurai moves
  • Learn how to enter a Japanese shrine or temple
  • Take a closer look at some of Japan’s famous characters (Hello Kitty, Pokémon, Tortoro, etc)

Japan is Extremely Well-Organized

Chaos isn’t fun when you’re traveling, and especially not when you’re traveling with kids. 

Japan is so well-organized that it makes travel a joy for parents too.

I appreciate things like:

  • Luggage forwarding service
  • On-time transportation
  • Lines (that people actually wait patiently in)
  • Signs everywhere (many are in English, but you can use Google Translate’s camera feature if not)
  • Sanitary bathrooms
  • Free, clean bathrooms everywhere (coming from Italy, this is such a treat for us)

Japan Is Set Up Well for Families

Japan really does everything possible to make things easy for families.  Just a few of the family-friendly things I noticed while we were in Japan:

  • Kid-sized toilets and sinks, including mini urinals in the women’s bathroom
  • Amenities for kids, like small pajamas in hotel rooms and fun cartoon characters everywhere
  • Kids discounts
  • Nursing and quiet rooms for mom and babies

Eating is Adorable in Japan

Cat head shaped rice crackers for sale on a shelf in Tokyo, Japan.
We loved these cat-shaped rice crackers

Where else in the world can you find rainbow grilled cheese?  Or go to a café with hedgehogs (do your research before you go)? 

My son loved the kawaii (cute) snacks in convenience stores, the mini chopsticks, the choice of handheld foods (like onigiri), and the character snacks (Pokémon, Super Mario Bros, etc).

Helpful Tip: Save space in your suitcase to bring home some adorable snacks as souvenirs.  We stocked up (tax-free) at Don Quijote in Tokyo and then at the Haneda airport with our leftover change (at the 7-11 after security).

Japan May Be the Home of Your Child’s Passion

Boy walking toward the entrance to Toy Story Mania ride at DisneySea in Tokyo, Japan. Others are walking, sitting on benches, and buying food.
My son at DisneySea in Tokyo

Japan is the birthplace of many brands, characters, and activities that children love.  There’s a high probability that your child will find one of their passions in Japan.  For example:

  • Video games
  • Race cars
  • Sanrio Hello Kitty
  • Pokemon
  • Robots
  • World War II 
  • Sushi
  • Ninjas and Samurais
  • Origami
  • Disneyland and DisneySea

And, your child may find a new interest, like gachapon or onsens!

Japanese People Are So Kind

I know, I know.  It’s such a cliché thing to say when you visit a foreign country, but I can’t count the number of times a Japanese person helped us out when they didn’t need to.  Whether it was teaching us the system at Sushijiro (conveyor belt sushi chain), walking with us to the correct train platform, or patiently explaining a face cream I was looking to purchase, we felt the warmth of the people of Japan and my son and I were touched by their kindness. 

Reasons to Skip a Visit to Japan

While I’ve just gone over 9 reasons you should book a trip to Japan with your kids, there are also some reasons you may want to skip a visit (or wait a few years).

Your kids are loud and don’t understand ‘inside voices.’ Japan is the quietest country I’ve ever been too.  People don’t shout or talk loudly in public.  You’ll find that places that are loud in other countries (like restaurants and public transport) are calm and quiet in Japan. 

You’ve got a runner.  Japan is densely crowded in many places, especially in popular cities like Tokyo and Kyoto.  It’s important your kids know how to stay close to you.

Your kids don’t enjoy new foods.  One of the best parts of Japan is eating Japanese  food!  But, don’t stress if your kid isn’t keen on sushi or trying new foods.  You can still find McDonald’s, KFC, and some other chains serving Mexican food and other cuisines. 

You really want to explore Japan’s fine dining scene.  Japan’s fine-dining restaurants (and even some regular restaurants) are not really kid-friendly.  But there are plenty of amazing dining experiences to have without entering the fine dining atmosphere.  You can find excellent sushi and other dishes like soba, ramen, and udon (and more) in Japan.

There are a lot of steps and stairs.  Japan isn’t an amazing place to travel to with a stroller, but the sidewalks are nice and smooth and there are plenty of places to stroll.  I saw plenty of local moms and dads pushing strollers, and about an equal amount carrying baby in a baby carrier.

You don’t do well with crowds or long lines.  Japan is crowded and we found ourselves waiting a lot.  Japan’s amusement parks (like DisneySea, Tokyo Disneyland, and Universal Studios Japan) have notoriously long lines.  Trains during commuter hours are packed like sardines.  There are lines to eat at restaurants.

You’re not keen on navigating Japan’s public transport with children in tow.  I feel like I’m fairly good at navigating foreign metro systems, but I admit I had to ask for help a few times and we got turned around quite a bit.  It wasn’t a problem with my 9-year-old, but I can see how it would get frustrating with a toddler.

All in all, Japan is an incredible place to travel with kids! 

Looking for more on travel to Japan? Check out
9 Reasons to Visit Japan with Kids
Packing List for 10 Days in Japan with a 9-Year-Old
Souvenirs from Japan – What We Brought Back

Scroll to Top