Start planning your family vacation in Japan
Visit Japan for your next trip as a family to see why this country is known as one of the most interesting destinations in the world for family tours. On a tour to Japan you will discover a rich history, fascinating culture, delicious food, unbelievable landscapes, varied wildlife and welcoming people. You’ll have a never ending choice of activities and interesting places to visit, meaning that families of all ages will love their time here. Spend the morning visiting an ancient temple before changing the tone completely with an afternoon visit to a theme park and then spend your evening tasting all the new dishes that are on offer here and learning about Japanese etiquette and daily life. You and your kids will never be bored here and you’ll want to come back to visit again and again.
Best things to see and do in Japan with kids
What to see as a family
Japan’s cities are all so different from one another that a visit here would not be complete without seeing at least a few of them to explore their winding streets, temples, castles, shrines and attractions. Kyoto should be any family’s starting place and as the old capital it is full of ancient buildings, museums, temples and shinto shrines such as the Fushimi Inari Shrine. Take a walk through the city and visit its old geisha district to see the most beautiful buildings around. Tokyo is famous for being one of the liveliest cities in the world and here you can experience big city life with your kids while exploring some of the most well known sites. Visit the Meiji Shinto Shrine in the morning before stopping for a snack and a drink in one of Tokyo’s many coffee shops. The Imperial Palace is another must-see for visiting families and you can enjoy the contrast between this ancient building and the towering skyscrapers that make up the bulk of the city. For a museum visit unlike any other, visit Saitama for its Railway Museum complete with interactive, kid-friendly exhibitions at every turn. After all your time in the city, visit Furano, to get back in touch with Japanese Nature. This stunning location is best known for its production of wine and cheese, as well as for its lavender fields and popular ski resort. This is a Japanese equivalent of the French Alps and is the perfect place to stop to get a sense of the beauty of this country in all its glory.
Japan’s wildlife is another reason why families love their time here so much and you’ll be able to see a huge range of animals as you visit different areas of the country. See the Brown bears of Hokkaido, among red foxes, squirrels and Sika deer. Nara Park is another incredible place to visit to see the deer that roam freely here and can be petted and fed by tourists. Lastly, to see the famous monkeys, visit Jigokudani Monkey Park and see the monkeys as they bathe in the natural hot springs. A tour of some of Japan’s festival is yet another great family-friendly experience, with some festivals, such as the celebration of the cherry blossom being world renowned. You will need to time your trip right, but it will be well worth the extra effort.
What to do as a family
With so much on offer, it can be hard to decide where to visit in Japan and what to do there with your kids. The first thing on your minds after sightseeing and a long journey will be the food. The best place to visit to get a taste of the finest food around is Nara, where you can go on a food tour as a family to taste all the famous dishes as well as a few new ones that you won’t have tried before. Nara is also famous for beautiful period temples such as the Todai-Ji Temple, which is famous for its 15 meter bronze buddha statue. For family relaxation and to enjoy some time all together, visit Hakone, where you can enjoy natural hot springs on the shores of Lake Ashiwith views over Mount Fuji that you could only dream of. Go for idyllic walks before spending some time pampering yourselves. For sporty families, there is so much hiking and trekking on offer, no matter where you decide to visit and any one of Japan’s National Parks would be a perfect spot for family hikes. Kamakura is the perfect city for adventurous families who fancy something other than trekking, since it is home not only to zen temples and amazing sites, but also a surfing beach. Kick back on the sand or try your hand at riding the waves here. Niseko is famous for its ski resorts and so, if you visit at the right time of year, a trip here is not to be missed for any active family travelers. Japan’s snow is famous for being among the best in the world and so you can go and see for yourselves why people travel from all over the world to ski here. Lastly, visit Ishigaki Island for an off-the-beaten-track destination that you and your family will never forget. This paradise island is famous for its coral reefs and turquoise waters and it is the perfect place to enjoy snorkeling and diving. Before heading home, take a visit to Tokyo Disney for an unforgettable end to your trip and all the showmanship you could ask for from a day trip.
Best time to visit Japan as a family
Japan’s many festivals mean that choosing when to visit is not simply a case of looking at the weather. Luckily, Japan is a year-round destination and so no matter when you decide to book in for the family trip of a lifetime, you won’t be disappointed. The peak seasons for tourism in Japan fall between late March and Mid April - otherwise known as Cherry Blossom Season and then during October and November. Visiting with a family and with young kids is best done outside of these times, when prices are lower and crowds are significantly smaller, meaning that you won’t have to deal with the stress of busy sites and accommodation that may not suit your needs. Visiting just around these times means that you will still be able to benefit from all the beauty and activities but without any of the stress. If you can, visit either during May or the Christmas period where you’ll be able to have an unforgettable time enjoying all the festivals and events that go on during these times. Whenever you choose, you won’t be disappointed by this unbeatable family vacation.
Family vacation tips for traveling to Japan
With a little research and knowledge you can ensure that you are as prepared as possible for your family trip to Japan, here a few tips and tricks to ensure that everything runs smoothly on your vacation:
- As with any popular tourist destination, you and your family may encounter pickpockets when visiting some of the more crowded sites, particularly in cities and during the evening. These are easy to tackle by simply making sure that any valuables are kept safe and sound back at your hotel and that you don’t carry large amounts of cash.
- Try to learn a few key phrases in the local language. This will be helpful in any situation and even if you never need it to communicate, it can be fun and educational for kids to learn about the local language and culture. If nothing else, everyone likes to be greeted and thanked in their native language.
- Try as much local food as possible. Food here varies between more upmarket food and delicious street food in the cities to tasty local food in more rural areas, try as much as you can since you never know what you may find, however, if some of it isn’t right up your street, there are so many options that will please even fussy children.
- Make the most of public transport here. The system is fast and reliable and with trains such as the shinkansen bullet train, you can get from A to B in no time at all. Prices are very reasonable and tickets are easy to organize.