4 Days in Tokyo with Kids

Tokyo is known as an ultramodern city with a frenzy only unique to a megalopolis such as Tokyo. 

As a highly urbanized city , it is not surprising why many families shy away on the idea of bringing the family and little kids to Tokyo as a trip.

Let me tell you myself: it shouldn’t be! Tokyo is extremely efficient, clean and kid-friendly. The city has a lot to offer educational and recreational experiences for kids. 

Whether you are kids or just kids-at-heart, this Tokyo Itinerary is specifically designed for the family to have a holistic Tokyo experience: fun, cultural, modern and exciting!

Here’s a 4-day Tokyo Japan Itinerary if you intend to travel with kids:

Day 1: Explore Theme Parks: Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea

Theme parks would be any family’s first priority and obvious choice. Tokyo boasts two Disney parks: Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea.

Disney Sea is a unique Disney theme park you will never see anywhere else around the world–so it is a definite must see. Tokyo Disneyland is a lot similar to the Disneyland theme parks around the world, especially the closest one which is in Hong Kong. If your family has never been to Disneyland, it is worth seeing otherwise if you are more limited with time, go for Disney Sea.

Ticket prices of Disneyland and Disney Sea cost the same: As of 2018 it is 7,400 Yen (or 3,500 PHP / 65 USD) for adult and 4,800 Yen (or 2,200 PHP / 42 USD) for child. Updated prices are in this link.

Day 2: Explore Cultural Japan: Streets of Asakusa

Senso-ji is one of Tokyo’s most famous cultural attractions. Also known as Asakusa temple, is the oldest temple in Tokyo being over 1,000 years old. It is amazing to see how busy incredibly busy it is any day of the week.

The shopping streets of Nakamise-dori sell all sorts of wares filled with Japanese products and snacks to shop for souvenirs.

Check out the charming streets in the area where one can find artisan shops and restaurants. You can also do cultural activities with kids to learn more about the Japanese culture.

There are just some of unique, cultural activities you can do in Tokyo with kids: Goldfish scooping, Daruma doll painting and Japanese candy sculpting.

– Goldfish Scooping

When Nao our guide told us that we are going goldfish scooping, my first reaction was ‘why?’ I was hesitant about the activity because it didn’t sound very fun the way it was first described: scoop a goldfish and then transfer to a bowl. 

They were already set on the itinerary so we went to this little shop called Asakusa Kingyo, located in the Senso-ji Temple grounds (complete address Asakusa Nishi-sando Shopping Street, 2 Chome-7-13 Asakusa, Taitō, Tokyo 111-0032, Japan).

As soon as we got in, we were asked to put on a funny goldfish hat. This is where the fun starts.

What is Goldfish Scooping or Kingyosuku?

Basically, goldfish scooping or kingyosukui is a traditional Japanese game that started during the Edo Period and is popularly played in the summer festivals. It is often enjoyed by family and friends. 

At Asakusa Kingyo, one game costs 300 Yen (about 150 PHP or 3 USD).

The rules to the game are simple: players need to scoop as many fish using a poi, or a paper scooper and transfer them into a bowl. The game ends when the poi is broken and unable to scoop fish anymore.

Image: Marco Paolo Diala (http://countocram.com)

We had a complete blast at the game! It feels quite therapeutic scooping the fish, almost zen-like. We became competitive, as we placed bets and saw who gets to get the most fish.

I lost, unfortunately. I was the first to lose! You have to be careful not to soak the poi with water often else it will break faster. I wanted to win so badly, which worked against my favor because I grew impatient and greedy, preferring to catch fish heavier than my poi could handle.

After the activity, the owner brought out fun Japanese costumes and we took photos! (They forced me into a Japanese schoolgirl costume complete with bunny ears LOL)

– Daruma Doll Painting

A fun and creative leisurely activity kids can enjoy is Daruma doll painting. A Daruma doll is a Japanese wishing doll that is red, round with a fierce facial expression. The doll is usually made of paper mache.

Our host told us that dolls normally have blank eyes. You paint one eye while visualizing your goal and praying for guidance. You paint the second eye for gratitude once you achieve your goal.

The whole group painted Daruma dolls with different styles that really showed our different personalities. I personally painted a Santa daruma doll because I am excited about Christmas, my favorite holiday.

Daruma Painting costs 2,000 Yen for 1 person. Reservation is required. We had our painting activity here!

– Japanese Candy Sculpting or Amezaiku

Japanese Candy Sculpting is another truly unique Tokyo experience you can do with the kids. Although I recommend this for older children as the traditional Japanese scissors are very hard to maneuver (and very sharp!)

Amezaiku is a traditional candy sculpting activity that started around the Edo period. Candy sculptors create candy live in front of an audience.

For that afternoon, the activity was to create rabbit-shaped candy. The demo guy made it looked so easy–but when we tried our hand at it, it was way more challenging than it looked!

Why was it so difficult? First off, the candy hardens fast. The more you manipulate the candy, the faster it hardens. Thus you have to make sure your movements are quick and precise.

Does it look like a rabbit?

Day 3: Explore Modern Japan: Teamlab Borderless and Sky Circus

Day 3 is all about seeing Tokyo, the city of the future. Experience the ultramodern by checking out these famous kid-friendly and Instagram-worthy attractions: Teamlab Borderless and Sky Circus.

Before we went to Teamlab Borderless, we checked out the 20-meter tall Gundam outside Diver City Tokyo Plaza. The new RX-0 Unicorn Gundam replaced the former classic RX-78-2 Gundam statue.

At the time of visit the Gundam was on its usual Unicorn mode, but I hear that the structure transforms into Destroy mode a number of times a day: the transformation happens every 11AM, 1PM, 3PM and 5PM where you see the armor plates shift. Apparently at night, the visual display gets better, where the panels glow brightly at night.

Teamlab Borderless

Since Teamlab’s debut in Tokyo, it has become the top bucket list of travelers coming to Tokyo. This digital art museum is a visual experience of its own, and each room provides an experiential surprise. It provides plenty of fun for all ages!

Image by Doyzkie (Doyzkie.com)

It’s not hard to see why this is has become a must-do and must-visit to everyone coming to Tokyo: it’s unlike any museum you’ve ever seen. Teamlab Borderless is a beautiful digital art museum that recently unveiled last June 2018 in Odaiba. The 10,000 sq. m space creates a modern art experience for museum goers and let their imagination run wild.

As of Dec 2018, tickets cost 3,200 yen for adults and 1,000 yen for children. See the official website of Teamlab Boderless for more info.

Sky Circus

Our next modern adventure is the Sky Circus at the Sunshine 60 Observatory.

Sky Circus Sunshine 60 is sixty floors up the building, hence the name. It is the only place that boast a breathtaking 360-degree view of metropolitan Tokyo. On a clear day you can even see amazing Mt. Fuji.

Sky Circus offered so much more than that: it offered a sensory experience that is radically innovating people’s concept of an ‘observatory’ with a unique range of experiences you can enjoy.

Tickets to the Sky Circus cost 1,200 yen for Adults and 900 yen for students and 600 Yen for elementary / middle school children and 300 yen for toddliers.

There are a couple of aerial VR experiences one can try, such as the Swing Coaster, VR Sky Escape and Tokyo Bullet Flight.

Image by Doyzkie (Doyzkie.com)

Day 4: Shopping!

– AM: Ginza

You can spend the last day shopping in Tokyo: we decided to spend ours in Ginza.

Ginza in Japanese meant ‘silver mint’, and is the upmarket shopping district that features all the leading brands in the world of fashion. Ginza is also known to be the most expensive real estate in Japan, with a square meter of land valued at over 10 million yen.

In Ginza you can see Japan’s flagship Uniqlo that fills 12 floors and 5,000 square meters of clothes, clothes, clothes. I’m a fan of the brand and prices are 40% cheaper so I spent a good amount of time in there!

There are tons of other things you can do and places you can visit while in Ginza: check out the Shiseido at Ginza if you are into cosmetics; or have high tea at Bulgari Afternoon Tea. This area is where wealth is centered–the streets are lined with luxury shops, department stores, clothing boutiques, trendy restaurants and more. There’s always something for everyone, even for the kids: check out Ginza Hakuhinkan, Japan’s largest toy store that is filled with dolls, toys and figurines for both kids and even adult collectors.

PM: Shibuya

Ah, Shibuya.

Tokyo is known for a lot of iconic landmarks: Tokyo Tower and Sky Tree, but one of the most identifiable and interesting attractions that define the city of Tokyo is the Shibuya crossing.

So many movies, shows and songs have featured Shibuya’s world famous crossing, such as ‘The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift’ and ‘Lost in Translation’, as well as numerous TV shows, news features, music videos and more.

Shibuya is said to be the busiest intersection in the world and the Instagram-worthy world-famous scramble crossing.

The most remarkable feature of Shibuya isn’t really the architecture, nor the lights. It’s the people. People scrambling and going to all kinds of directions. The energy is exciting as everyone meets in a blurry havoc. Then after that, it stops. Shibuya for a few minutes become still for a while until the crossing turns green and the frantic cycle starts all over again.

The Hachiko statue commemorate’s Japan’s most famous dog, an Akita named Hachiko. The statue is small but the story behind it is impressive: Hachiko is known around the neighborhood to come to Shibuya station everyday to meet his owner, a professor, as he returns from work. The duo had this routine down pat until the owner died at work. Hachiko still continues to come to the station and wait for his owner everyday until his death ten years later.

Hachiko statue is the common rendezvous spot for people to meet and that area is always buzzing with activity.

There are tons of things to do with the family around Shibuya: check out the Meiji shrine, check out the nearby Yoyogi park, explore the nearby museums, do your shopping, get a drink on one of the beer halls, or if you are more adventurous, do a go-kart tour.

Just come and explore! Tokyo is so exciting, there’s bound to be interesting things to see and do just around the corner.

What are you waiting for? Enjoy Tokyo with kids and book that unforgettable 2019 trip for the family.

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