While weeks spent on beaches with sun, swimming pools and inflatable toys are easy holidays to navigate and enjoy with children, a city break can sometimes be more challenging. For a successful family trip to a city like Tokyo it’s important to mix up the world of kids with the world of adults, and to meet somewhere in the middle. For a hassle free trip, keep your itinerary flexible along with an open mind and follow these top tips.
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Get to know the public transport system
Before you even step foot onto the charming streets of Tokyo, make sure you’ve downloaded an English app for some guidance on the subway and bus routes. A good app will provide you with journey times, and should take away some of the hard work by sourcing the fastest route. If you can’t get an app, pick up an English subway map at your hotel- you’ll be thankful of it later. In recent years the city has become more and more English-friendly. Above entrances to every station you’ll find the name written in both English and Japanese. All of the subway lines are colour and letter coded- just match it to the codes on your ticket. Keep your cool and plan ahead. You’ll be navigating the subway like a pro in no time.
As the 5th busiest subway system in the world, it’s a smart move to avoid rush hour if you’re looking for stress-free travel with the family. Between the hours of 7:30am- 9am & 5pm-7pm it’s possible you’ll witness men in white gloves shoe-horning commuters into already full carriages; a holiday experience probably best missed. If you’re travelling to Tokyo with kids, make sure you buy either a Pasmo or Suica rechargeable smart card. You’ll be able to swipe effortlessly onto the subway, bus and train all day long. Not only will it save you time and effort, it will also save you money. Just head to the ticket machines in any subway station to load it up. There’s so much to see in the city that you’ll probably use it 4-5 times a day; a sound investment.
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When travelling to Tokyo with kids, old or young, you’ll need to think about arranging a central location. If you plan to spend a lot of time moving around the city but you don’t plan on walking until your feet are sore, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re in reach of as many transport links as possible. Luxury hotel, Palace Hotel Tokyo boasts a prime location, set in the district of Marunouchi. The hotel is steps away from Tokyo Station, the city’s major hub for high-speed rail, metro, light rail services and the world-famous bullet trains. The Imperial Palace Gardens are one of Tokyo’s most popular attractions, and they’re located just by the hotel. The kids will love running through these pristine gardens, embellished by moats and stunning lily ponds.
Japan might seem a million miles away from the streets of Europe and America, so it’s always best to have a trick up your sleeve to help the little ones feel at home. Tokyo’s cuisine is unique. It’s fresh, it’s fast and it can pack a punch. Ideal for adults with a more developed palate, it might not be to the entire family’s tastes. Finding a homely restaurant in advance will be sure to stop any dinner-time tears. Eggs n things in Harajuku serve up American home delights the kids will love.
If you’re looking for the comforts of home combined with a quirky Japanese twist, try Monster Café in Harajuku. This colourful restaurant is bright enough to warrant sunglasses, and that extends to the food. With themed seating areas such as ‘Mushroom Disco’ and the ‘Milk Stand’, an area full of gigantic rabbit, sheep and unicorn heads, the kids will more than appreciate the silliness of it all.
For a crowd-pleaser with adults and children alike, visit one of Tokyo’s world-famous cat cafes. Mum and dad can enjoy a coffee whilst the kids get their fix of these fine-looking creatures who will happily prowl your coffee table in search of a stroke or a tickle. Calico Cat Café in Shinjuku is popular among those who seek to share a drink with a feline friend.
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Where to go with kids
It’s important to plan activities everyone will love and there are many family activities to enjoy in Tokyo throughout the year. Disneyland Tokyo is an obvious go-to but, if you’re looking to stay in the city, here’s what we recommend.
Ueno Park is Japan’s oldest and most striking of the natural havens amongst this urban jungle. In the springtime it is bursting with beauty. The cherry blossom trees flower in unison, creating a sea of pink and white. If flowers aren’t to everyone’s taste, Ueno park is also home to an expansive zoo, boasting over 460 species. Ueno Zoo makes for a fun and relaxing afternoon and will leave the kids grinning from ear to ear.
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For those with weary legs, Hato Bus Tokyo Tours are an ideal way to see the city. Tours leave regularly from Shinjuku Station, exit 8a, and will provide you and your family with a taste of all the major Tokyo sights. Although, the iconic Shibuya Crossing is a must do that was made for two feet. Adults and kids alike will be mesmerised by this mammoth crossing, as hundreds of people cross at any one time from all directions, making this the largest and busiest crossing in the city.
Japan’s Shinkansen is famous worldwide for reaching speeds of up to 200 mph. Train spotting in Japan is a popular activity that the whole family can enjoy. Hot spots for catching a fleeting glimpse of this speeding bullet are outside Tokyo Hands Department Store in Shinjuku or at Nippori Station. The kids will be pleased to hear that Japan is famous for its gargantuan toy stores. Fascinating for both adults and kids; floors upon floors of colourful toys, comics and gadgets await. Kids can get to grips with their favourite characters, from Pokémon and Hello Kitty. For parents it’s a trip down memory lane with classic characters like Snoopy and Peanuts. Kiddyland in Harajuku is easy to find and one of the most memorable.
For the harder to please, tech savvy teenagers, the Sony Building offers an incredible chance to explore and try the latest gadgets and products before they hit the stores. They can even take home a gift, as on the tax-free floor, they’re sure to find themselves a bargain. Tokyo is a city bursting with sources of fun for kids. With arcades in every district, a sea life centre, aquarium, Lego Discovery Land and the ever popular Fire Museum, they’ll never grow tired of this lively city. All this adds up to a stress-free trip for mum and dad.
Where to stay
The Five-Star luxury hotel, Palace Hotel Tokyo is not only is ideally located for sightseeing, local transport links and superb cuisine, but it has the amenities to satisfy an entire family. Mum can enjoy some well-deserved rejuvenation at the evian SPA TOKYO, whilst the kids take a splash in the pool. Each of the beautifully crafted, spacious rooms offers guests a Blu-ray/DVD player, movies on demand, cable and high speed Wi-Fi. It’s always handy to have a good eating option back at base, and Palace Hotel Tokyo is home to its very own Sweets & Deli shop that the kids are sure to love. As well as cakes, breads and pastries, they offer traditional Japanese Kintoki Mame for those with a sweet tooth and sake cake for mum and dad. The hotel boasts several exceptional restaurants which offer cuisine from all over the world. They include the Grand Kitchen, whose signature burger is a guaranteed hit with the kids.
Image Source: Palace Hotel Tokyo
Have you ever been to Tokyo? Do you want to visit?