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We recently returned from a wonderful 3 week Japan family holiday, it was our first time and we all just loved it!  We spent hours and hours working on the perfect 3 week japan itinerary as we wanted to see and do as much as possibly could. 

Putting together a Japan itinerary with kids is no easy task.  For one, there is a huge list of awesome things to do in Japan with kids, so trying to work out what to do and where to go in Japan with kids is a bit tricky.  Also just trying to figure out which cities to visit, which order to visit them in, how to get between cities, how long to stay in each, which hotel to stay at and not to mention putting together a budget is extremely time-consuming! 

If you’re in traveling to Japan with kids soon and in the process of planning your own Japan travel itinerary, you’re going to find this guide super helpful.  I have a lot of Japan content to come, but in the meantime, I wanted to start by sharing with you our detailed Japan 3 week itinerary so you might use it when preparing your own Japan trip itinerary.  We also traveled with friends who spend two weeks in Japan, so I’m also going to share with you their 2-week Japan itinerary in case that’s helpful too.

So in this post, I’m going to tell you exactly where we stayed, what we did, how we got around attractions and between cities.  I will also tell you exactly where we purchased things to make it super simple for you.  Hopefully, you can use this information to assist in your own Japan travel with kids planning and benefit from the crazy number of hours it took me to put together our Japan 3-week itinerary. 

So let’s get into it, the finer details of our 21 day Japan itinerary.

 

This post may contain compensated links.  Please refer to my disclaimer here for more information.

 

 

3 Week Japan Itinerary with Kids 

I’ve done this as a Japan day by day itinerary, so if you like, you can do exactly what we did.  Or you can just make changes here and there to fit your individual preferences.

This post is brief in detail about the attractions we visited; I have only provided the necessary information.  Full details of all the attractions we visited and additional attractions to consider will be provided in future posts – stay tuned.  The purpose of this post is to simply provide you with a Japan sample itinerary to work from, or you can just follow this day by day.

Pre-Trip Tips

Here are my tips on what to do before you jet set off to Japan:

1. Plan your Japan Travel Itinerary

Before leaving for our trip, we had our Japan trip itinerary fully planned out.  There is a lot to see in Japan, and so by planning out our itinerary beforehand, we were able to ensure we made the most of our time while in Japan. Honestly pretty much every day in Japan was jammed packed with activities.

2. Pre Purchase Attractions Via Klook

Where possible, we purchased tickets to attractions beforehand.  Most tickets were purchased through Klook, which is absolutely fantastic as 9 times out of 10, we saved a stack of money.  Below where I mention each attraction we visited – I will link to where we purchased our tickets so you can too if you like or click here to see what Japan attractions Klook covers.

3. Arrange Pocket Wifi

We also had pre-arranged pocket Wi-Fi, which is an absolute must in Japan when you’re traveling with kids as everyone in your group can link up to it.  We pretty much lived on Google Maps to get around the city as well as navigate the trains. Pocket Wi-Fi is also great of course for things like using social media, and if you travel Japan with kids, it’s great to let the little ones play games and stream Netflix when you’re on the long train rides between cities. 

With the pocket Wi-Fi you just pick it up from the airport when you arrive and then pop it in the post when you arrive at the airport for your return flight home – easy!  You can purchase pocket Wi-Fi from Klook here.

4. Download APPs

So as I mentioned we used Google Maps all the time.  Google Maps is awesome for working your way around the trains as it will tell you which entry/exit to use as well as which platform.  Honestly, this was pretty much the only app I used for getting around Japan – definitely ensure you have it downloaded before your trip.

The other App you want to download is SmartEX App – we used this to book all our Shinkansen trains.  The APP is great because you can see exactly how much each train is and what seats are available.  For the most part, we just booked trains the day before or sometimes the same day – but just keen an eye on how busy the trains are to avoid not getting tickets on the train of your choice.  You will still need to pick up your tickets at the train station – either from the ticket machines or by going inside a ticket office.  You can of course just book tickets when you arrive at the station, but we have heard of trains getting full and so we didn’t want to risk this. 

There is also the option of purchasing the JR pass – whether or not the JR pass is worth it for you will depend upon your individual travel plans – for us it wasn’t.  Click here to check out the JR Pass.

Day 1: Fly to Tokyo

Click here for our full guide on Tokyo with kids.

We live in Brisbane; yet flew from Gold Coast as we landed ourselves one of those cheap Jetstar fares where you get the return flight for free.  All up for the 3 of us, we paid $945 AUD, which is pretty amazing.  JetStar has these deals a few times a year, so be sure to sign up to their newsletter and Facebook page to be notified of when they have a deal on.  Otherwise if you’re from somewhere else in the world, just check Skyscanner here for flights.

Pick Up Pocket wifi

As mentioned above, a few weeks before our trip we had arranged pocket Wi-Fi, which we picked up at the airport.  We did have to go to a different terminal from where we arrived – but we found this really easy as everything is well signposted in Japan – so don’t panic.  And everything is also in English too.

Bus from Narita to Hotel

Before our trip, we had also purchased tickets for the Limousine Bus, which takes you from the airport into Tokyo.  We bought our tickets through Klook. Through Klook,  tickets are slightly cheaper at 3100 Yen ($43 AUD) per adult and 1550 Yen ($22 AUD) per child as opposed to 3200 Yen ($44.35 AUD) per adult and 1600 Yen ($22.20 AUD) per child.  Click here if you want to book discounted tickets via Klook.

However please note that the bus doesn’t take you to your hotel, just a central point in the city, so from there we took an Uber to our hotel.   So if you haven’t got it downloaded already be sure to download the Uber App.  Uber is great for getting around if you don’t speak Japanese because your driver can see where you are going via the App.

The Limousine Bus isn’t cheap though, and I think next time I will just take the train to the city centre as I found it pretty easy to navigate my way around.  If you want to do this option, it’s best to arrange your train card beforehand, which you can also do through Klook – click here to buy your card via Klook.  See more about transport cards in day 2 below.

However some people are even concerned about the bus and so arrange private transfers which are even more expensive than the bus.  Private transfers through Klook are around 24,800 yen ($344 AUD) for up to 5 people but they will of course pick you up from the airport and take you directly to your hotel.   Click here to book private car transfers with Klook.

Tokyo Accommodation
 

We stayed at the Sakura Cross Hotel Shinjuku East while in Tokyo.  Tokyo is not a cheap place to stay and we found this hotel quite good value compared to what was on offer.   For current pricing click here.

Our hotel was in a great location being between two train stations – Higashi-Shinjuku Station (500 metres away) and Wakamatsu-Kawada Station (550 metres away) – the former being the one we used the most which is also just one station away from the main Shinjuku Station.  Our hotel also had various 7/11’s close by, as well as a laundry mat and bakery.

We got in pretty late at night – but we all walked across to the 7/11 for some food for dinner (yes 7/11 has amazing Japanese food!!!) and also bought some breakfast so we were ready to go the next morning.

Click here for our complete guide on where to stay in Tokyo with kids as well as suggestions for other budget hotels.

 

Day 2: Explore Tokyo 

Here is a brief overview of how we spent our first full day in Japan: 

Buying Public Transport cards

The first thing we did on our first full day in Tokyo was go to the train station and buy everyone in our travel group a Suica prepaid card – which is a card that you load cash onto so you can ride the trains and buses all around Japan. You MUST get one of these cards while in Japan.

I’m not going to lie, this is a bit daunting to arrange – but you can do it!  Just find a ticket machine inside the train station and find the button that says English and follow the prompts to purchase your cards.  I understand that since we went in June 2019, there is now a tourist Welcome Suica Card which is a bit easier then what we had to do.  For our cards, we had to pay a deposit and then return them before we left to get a refund.  Apparently these new cards come with a pre-loaded amount on them and expire within 28 days.  The only downside is you can’t get any of the money back that is left on the card – so make sure you use it all up before you leave.

If you are on a family trip to Japan, you will need to have your children’s passports handy to be able to purchase the kid’s Suica cards.  It’s quite funny actually as you push a button to say you’re buying kids’ cards and almost immediately a little man pops his head out just above the ticket machine to see the passports.

Once you have your cards and loaded some cash on them you are ready to get on the train!

The trains may seem a little daunting at first – but once you get the hang of them, they are really easy.  Google Maps is your best friend here as it will tell you with what entrance to use and platform number.  Everything is super organised in Japan – I just loved it!  Plus there are heaps of signs at the stations and they are in English.  If all else fails just ask someone – everyone is super friendly and helpful in Japan.

If you prefer to organise your card before you go, you can prepurchase on Klook – this is not the new Welcome Card I mentioned above, though – just the standard Suica IC card.  Click here to purchase from Klook.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

Once we all had our transport cards – we were ready to get into exploring Tokyo!

  • There are a few different towers in Tokyo for great views across the city, but the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is the only one that is free!!!!
  • Given this is a free attraction – do get there early and do expect a bit of a line-up. When we arrived soon after 9 am, there was already a huge line-up – but surprisingly it went pretty fast.
  • We spent about 90 minutes here including lining up for around 30 minutes.

Puroland (Hello Kitty Land)

  • After the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, we took the train to Puroland.  
  • We spent about 2-3 hours here, we probably could have stayed another hour or so, but we were short on time.
  • For what it’s worth the adults just didn’t get this place, but the kids seemed to love it.
  • Price: Adults 3300 Yen ($46 AUD) weekdays or 3900 yen ($54 AUD) weekends | Kids 2500 Yen ($35 AUD) weekdays or 2800 yen ($39 AUD) weekends.  We prebooked our tickets with Klook who currently sells discounted tickets for 1976 yen ($27.40 AUD) per person which is a huge saving!  Click here to purchase your discounted Puroland tickets.

Robot Restaurant

  • From Hello Kitty Land – we took the train to Robot Resturant.
  • We’d heard the food wasn’t great at Robot Restaurant, so after checking in and getting our tickets we had dinner at a nearby restaurant.
  • Price: 8500 Yen ($117.80 AUD) per person which doesn’t include food – that is additional.  We pre-booked our tickets to Robot Resturant with Klook who currently sells discounted tickets for 5247 yen ($72.72 AUD) per person which is a massive saving!  And yes I know it’s still pretty expensive – but it’s so fun and definitely something you have to do at least once I think.    Click here to purchase your discounted Robot Resturant tickets.
  • Robot Restaurant is quite close to Sakura Cross Hotel Shinjuku East so we walked home from here. 

 

Day 3: Explore Tokyo 

Here is a brief overview of how we spent day 3 of our Japan 3 weeks itinerary:

Fukagawa Edo Museum

  • From our hotel, we took the train to Fukagawa Edo Museum which is a lovely museum that has a replica Edo village set up, which via a tour guide you are encouraged to explore.
  • We spent an hour or so here.
  • Tickets are purchased at the museum and are 600 yen ($8.32 AUD) per adult and kids 50 yen ($0.69 AUD).

Asakusa

  • We then took the train to Asakusa which is a nice tourist area with shops, restaurants as well as a few attractions.
  • Here we had lunch as well as visited Denbouin Street – Old Edo Street, walked by Hanayashiki Amusement Park (Japan’s oldest amusement park), looked at the shops and spent an hour or so exploring Sensoji Temple (with everyone else in Tokyo it seems – note go early in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the crowds).
  • We had also planned on visiting Uneo Zoo and Park which is close by, but after reading some poor reviews about the zoo we decided to skip it.
  • If you had more time then us, you could plan on spending the entire day just in this area.

Shibuya

  • We then took the train to Shibuya Station, which is the busiest train station in Japan! Boy they aren’t wrong. 
  • We checked out the Hachiko Memorial Statue which is right outside the station.
  • We then went up to the rooftop of the Magnet Shopping Mall building to get a bird’s eye view of the world-famous Shibuya Crossing. It’s free to do so.
  • We then walked across the Shibuya Crossing which is just mental!!!!
  • The kids spent a bit of their spending money at the 100-yen store.  This is a big shopping area, so if you want to shop this is the area to do so.
  • We then spent the afternoon at karaoke booth where the kids all had an absolute ball singing.

Piss Alley (Omoide Yokocho)

  • We then took the train back to Shinjuku Station and checked out Piss Alley which is a cool little bar eatery lane near. Such a cool little area.   
  • We had hoped to eat dinner here – but the restaurants are super tiny and as a group of 7 we had no chance – but we found a place nearby for dinner.
  • From here we took a train back to our accommodation.   

 

Day 4: Explore Odaiba 

Here is a brief overview of how we spent day 4 of our Japan trip:

Mori Digital Art Museum/ teamLab Borderless

  • From Shinjuku, we took the train to Odaiba and visited the popular Mori Digital Art Museum.
  • This is an awesome place for kids so don’t miss it on your Japan family vacation.
  • It’s super important to book this in advance (book here) as we heard from loads of people missing out. Tickets are 3200 yen ($44.35 AUD) per adult and 1000 yen ($14 AUD) per child.  
  • We spent around 3 hours here – we actually got hungry and left (you can’t go back in) – we could have spent much longer here.

Giant Sky Wheel

  • The Giant Sky Wheel is located right outside the entrance to Mori Digital Art Museum.
  • We didn’t do this as Myla is scared of heights, but our friends did.
  • Price is 1000 yen ($14 AUD) per adult and 500 yen ($7 AUD) per child (4-11 under 3 is free).

Miraikan National Museum 

  • Take the free Tokyo Bay Shuttle bus to the Miraikan National Museum.
  • We didn’t visit here as we were meeting friends and didn’t have time, but our friends we were traveling with who were doing a Japan 2 week itinerary, spent the afternoon here.
  • Price is 630 yen ($8.75 AUD) per adult and 210 yen ($2.91 AUD)  per child.

 Odaiba Statue of Liberty

  • Can you believe Tokyo even has it’s own replica Statue of Liberty! 
  • From teamLab Borderless we took the free Tokyo Bay Shuttle down to see the replica outside the Aqua City which is an indoor mall.

 

Day 5: Explore Harajuku 

Day 5 of our Japan holiday with kids we had planned to spend the entire day exploring the area of Harajuku. Unfortunately, the weather gods had other plans and the day was pouring with rain.  Nevertheless, we did get to do a few things:

Hedgehog Café

  • First up we visited the very expensive and in my view overrated Hedgehog Café.
  • Everyone must pay an entrance fee for this café and so we ended up just sending one adult (me!) with all of the kids, while the other adults went to a nearby café for a coffee. The kids however just loved the place.
  • For 30 minutes at the cafe the cost is 1400 yen ($19.40 AUD) per person or 1630 yen ($22.60 AUD) per person which includes a snack of worms – not for you silly for the hedgehogs!  Everyone must pay the entrance fee.  You can pre-purchase tickets via Klook – but they are not any cheaper and are for one hour so cost 2500 yen ($34.65 AUD) per person.  Click here if you wish to pre book via Klook. 

Takeshita-dori Street

  • We then explored the famous Takeshita-dori Street, which is literally around the corner from Hedgehog Cafe.
  • We had lunch here and also visited the Rainbow Sweets store where they make colourful fairy floss, ice cream and even colourful toasted cheese sandwiches.
  • It was really pouring at this stage and so our plans of also visiting nearby Yoyogi Park or the Meiji Shrine were unfortunately called off.  We also had planned on visiting the Kawaii Monster Café and Kiddy Land – but due to the rain, we went to a nearby shopping mall to spend the rest of the afternoon indoors.

 

Day 6:  Disneysea

What the kids had all been waiting for on this family trip to Japan!!!  A day at Disneysea. 

We booked our tickets to Disneysea in advance via Klook and picked these up at the Maihama Train station before heading into the park.  Unfortunately Klook isn’t selling these at the moment which is a shame.  Tickets to Disneysea are 7500 yen ($104 AUD) per adult, 6500 yen ($90 AUD) per child 12-17 and 4900 yen ($68 AUD) per child 4-11.  You can purchase them for a slightly cheaper price via Get Your Guide with adults being 7422 yen ($103 AUD) and kids 12-17 being 6474 yen ($89.72 AUD) and kids 4-11 being 4895 yen ($68 AUD).  Under 4s are free.  Click here to purchase discounted Disneysea tickets.

Many people choose to stay at a hotel near Disneysea and we had considered it, but rather than changing hotels etc we decided just to take the train.  The train does take an hour or so, but it’s simple, reasonably cheap and if you’re trying to save money definitely just do this.

If however you’re travelling to Japan with toddler and need to have a break throughout the day or if plan on visiting both Disneysea and Disneyland, it’s probably best to stay at one of the hotels close by.

 

Day 7: Tavel to Hakone 

Day 7 of our trip to Japan itinerary saw us say farewell to Tokyo and travel to Hakone where people go to get a glimpse of Mt Fuji.

Hakone Free Pass

We had pre-purchased a 3 days Hakone Free Pass which provided us with transportation to Hakone via the Odakyo line.  The Hakone Pass is well worth it as it includes all your transport and various attractions.  The 3 day pass is 6100 yen per adult ($85 AUD) and 1750 yen ($24.25 AUD) per child (6-11).  If you only want the 2 day pass it’s 5700 yen ($79 AUD) per adult and 1500 yen ($21 AUD) per child.  We pre-purchased our 3 days Hakone Free Pass in advance via Klook.  Klook don’t sell them at a discounted rate or anything – but you do accumulate loyalty points for your purchases – so might as well buy everything in the one place.  Click here to purchase your Hakone Pass from Klook.

All up it took us about 3 hours to go from Shinjuku to our hotel in Gora.

Hakone Accommodation

Our friends we were traveling with who were doing a 2 week Japan itinerary, decided to spend their time in Hakone in a traditional Ryokan so they stayed at the Tonosawa Ichinoyo Shinkan.  Here they had their own private onsen and wore traditional Japanese dress.   As we were doing a Japan budget itinerary we stayed in a private room in a hostel in Gora called the Emblem Flow Hakone.  Click here to check current pricing for Emblem Flow Hakone or here for Tonosawa Ichinoyo ShinkanClick here for our full guide on where to stay in Hakone with kids.

We spent the afternoon relaxing a little, but if you had some energy it’s definitely worth getting out and exploring some of the places included in your Hakone Pass. 

 

Day 8: Explore Hakone 

Day 8 we went off to explore the gorgeous Hakone – this place is beautiful and well worth spending a few days here.  But if you’re short on time or doing say a 10 day Japan itinerary – you can still do a day trip from Tokyo which I’d also recommend.

Our plan was to take the cable cars and stop at each section – however unfortunately while we were there, there was quite a bit of volcanic activity and due to safety reasons, the cable cars were not running (as at October 2019 they are still closed).  So there was a bus in its place, but unfortunately it didn’t stop at any of the cable car stops.  Such a shame as I was so excited about doing it and from what I could see – the scenery is absolutely spectacular – so don’t skip this!!!

When the cable cars are running a one-way trip is 1370 yen ($19 AUD) per adult and 690 yen ($9.56 AUD) per child – or free for unlimited rides with the Hakone Pass.

Here is a brief overview of how we spent our first and only full day in Hakone:

Cruise on Lake Ashi

  • The cable cars finish down by the stunning Lake Ashi which is also where the bus dropped us off.
  • From here we used our Hakone Pass to take a cruise across the lake which was just beautiful.  Such a change from Tokyo – I just loved Hakone!!  The cruise takes around 30 minutes.
  • The cruise is 1000 yen ($14 AUD) per adult or 500 yen ($7 AUD) per child – or free for unlimited cruises with the Hakone Pass.

Checkpoint Museum

  • Once we got off the cruise we walked around to the Checkpoint Museum.
  • We spent around an hour here and it’s also where we got our first glimpse of the gorgeous Mt Fuji!
  • The Checkpoint Museum is 500 yen ($7 AUD) per adult and 250 yen ($3.50 AUD) per child.  With the Hakone Free Pass you get a discount of 100 yen ($1.40 AUD).

Mishima Skywalk

  • From the Checkpoint Museum, we took the bus (which is included in the Hakone Free Pass) to the Mishima Skywalk.  
  • We spent about 30 minutes walking across the Skywalk.
  • The Skywalk is 1000 yen ($14 AUD) per adult and 500 yen ($7 AUD) per child.  With the Hakone Free Pass you get a discount of 100 yen ($1.40 AUD).

Hakone Kowakien Yunessun

  • From the Skywalk we then took the bus up to the fun Hakone Kowakien Yunessun.  Hakone is all about hot onsens right – you know the romantic type where you relax with your partner –  but pop a kid in the mix and you’re best off going to Kowakien Yunessun – which is like a warm water park.  It has warm pools, water slides and pools such as the coffee pool, red wine pool etc.  There are both inside and outside pools.
  • You could easily spend the entire day hanging out at the Kowakien Yunessun, but we just spend a few hours here.
  • Entry is 2500 yen per adult ($35 AUD) and 1400 yen ($19.40 AUD) per child.   You do get a small discount with your Hakone Free Pass, but you are much better off booking via Klook with adults at 1700 yen ($23.56 AUD) and kids at 1100 yen ($15.24 AUD) which is a great saving.  Click here to purchase your discounted Klook tickets.
  • From here we headed back to our accommodation.

 

Day 9: Travel to Nagoya 

Here is a brief overview of how we spent day 9 of our trip to Japan:

Hakone Open-Air Museum

  • In the morning we checked out of our hotel (left our luggage there) and went to visit the Hakone Outdoor Museum.
  • The Hakone Open-Air Museum is surprisingly one of the wonderful places to visit in Japan with kids – Myla just loved the place.  Plenty of interactive things for the kids to do here.
  • We were short on time so only spend 2 hours here – but could have easily spent another hour or so here.
  • Entry is 1600 yen per adult ($22 AUD) and 800 yen ($11 AUD) per child. 

Travel from Hakone to Nagoya

  • We then made our way to Nagoya Legoland by train.  The entire trip took around 3 hours.
  • Apart from the Legoland Hotel, there is really no other option for a hotel so that’s where we stayed.  The hotel is super expensive and does not meet our usual budget requirements – but I guess this was our splurge of the trip and it is super fun for the kids to stay in the Legoland Resort where absolutely everything is lego themed including the food!  Click here to see the current pricing of the Legoland Hotel.
  • Right outside the Legoland Resort there is a small area with cafes, restaurants and shops – they do close early though so if you don’t want to pay the expensive Legoland Dinner prices, go out for dinner early.

 

 

Day 10: Legoland

Day 10 of our Japan 21 day itinerary was all about visiting Legoland!  Click here to read our complete guide to Legoland in Japan.

  • Legoland is like just metres from the resort, which is awesome if you’re on a Japan holiday with toddler or travelling to Japan with a baby as you can easily come back to the hotel for a rest in the middle of the day if need be. 
  • We spent the entire day at Legoland – Legoland is really great for younger kids.  All the kids in our group loved it.
  • Again we had pre-purchased our tickets through Klook.  We did check booking our hotel with tickets but once again it worked out cheaper to get the tickets through Klook.  Entry at the gate is 7400 yen ($103 AUD) per adult and 5000 yen ($70 AUD) per child (3-12).  With Klook tickets are 5100 yen ($71 AUD) per adult and 3800 yen ($52.66 AUD) per child (3-12) so a HUGE saving!!!  You can also buy combined tickets with Legoland and Sea Life which is right by the hotel if you like too.  Click here to book your discounted Legoland tickets.

 

 

Day 11: Travel from Nagoya to Kyoto

Day 11 was all about traveling from Nagoya to Kyoto.  This trip took about 1 hour.

Click here for our full guide on Kyoto with kids.

Kyoto Accommodation

In Kyoto we stayed in Kyoumachiya Inn Rakuoan (pictured to the right), which is a gorgeous little traditional Rykon in the back streets of Kyoto.  This was a three-bedroom house and we shared it with our friends who were doing a 2 weeks Japan itinerary.  Click here to check current pricing.

We spent the afternoon getting some groceries for our home in Kyoto as well as exploring the little narrow laneways around our accommodation. 

Click here for our full guide on where to stay in Kyoto with kids.

 

Day 12: Explore Kyoto 

Day 12 our friends who were doing a Japan 2 weeks itinerary – took the train to Osaka to spend the day at Universal Studios in Osaka.  We were going to Osaka after Kyoto, but they were ending their trip in Kyoto.  If you’re doing a Japan 14 days itinerary – this may be something you might also like to consider.  See more details about Universal Studios below.

This is a brief overview of what we got up to on day 12 of our Japan trip:

Fushimi Inari Shrine

  • We took the train to the Fushimi Inari Shrine – which is one of the most popular things to do in all of Kyoto and so not surprisingly the place was absolutely packed.  If I had my time again I would come here super early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds.
  • There are lots of walking tracks here and things to do around the temple so you could easily spend at least half a day here, however given we were short on time we only spend around 2 hours here.
  • Entry is free.

Kinkaku-Ji Temple

  • We then took a train and then bus to the Kinkaku-Ji Temple, also known as the Golden Pavilion.  
  • I have to say I was a little disappointed with this temple – sure it’s beautiful, but apart from looking at it, there isn’t much to do here.  We were probably in and out within 30 minutes.  If you’re short on time – give this one a miss.
  • The Kinkaku-Ji Temple entry is 400 yen ($5.54 AUD) per adult and 300 yen ($4.15 AUD) per child (7-15).

Nishiki Markets

  • From the Kinkaku-Ji Temple we made our way back to downtown Kyoto by bus and checked out the Nishiki Markets.
  • For seafood lovers, you’re in for a real treat as there are lots of interesting things to eat.  We just stuck with some ice cream though.

We had also planned on visiting the Imperial Palace which is close to the markets – but we simply ran out of time and steam to be honest and so from here we walked back to our accommodation.

Pontocho Alley

  • In the evening we headed out to the pretty little area called Pontoco Alley.  This area is filled with bars and places to eat and is a must-do while in Kyoto.
  • We found a lovely little place that served Shabu Shabu and then afterward slowly strolled the narrow laneways before heading back to your accommodation.

 

Day 13: Explore Kyoto         

Here is a brief overview of how we spent day 13 of our Japan trip:          

Nijo Castle

  • We started the day by taking the bus to Nijo Castle.  There is plenty to see here so we spent a few hours here.
  • Entry to the castle is 620 yen ($8.32 AUD) adult and children are free.

Arashiyama

  • From Nijo Castle we took a bus to the lovely tourist area of Arashiyama.  I really loved this area, it was probably my personal favourite place in Kyoto.
  • First of all we had lunch in Arashiyama and strolled around the shops for a bit.
  • Then we walked to the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove which is just a short walk away from the main street.  Entry to the Bambo Grove is free.
  • We then walked across the lovely Togetsu-kyo bridge and over to the entrance of the Arashiyama Monkey Park – which was about a 15-minute walk.  From here its a fairly steep walk up to the Monkey Park and takes around 30-45 minutes (depending on how often you have to stop due to tired children!).  It’s a little hard going and the kids did complain – but worth it once you get to the top and see the super cute wild monkeys.  Entry to the Monkey Park is 550 yen ($7.62 AUD) per person.
  • We then took a bus back to our accommodation.
  • Arashyiama is a great place and you easily spend the entire day here if you had more time.  But we also found half a day was a good amount of time to see the highlights.

Maiko Dance

  • Later in the evening, our friends went to check out the Maiko Dance which happens every night at 6.15 pm outside the Touzan Bar at the Hyatt Regency.    We didn’t go simply because we were buggered – but definitely put this on your list too for Kyoto.  It’s free to watch.

 

Day 14: Kyoto

Day 14 was the last day of our friend’s 14 days Japan itinerary and also our last day in Kyoto.  Here is how we spent our last day in Kyoto:          

Kiyomizu-dera Temple

  • From our accommodation, we took the bus to Kiyomizu-dera Temple.  As you can see, from here you have great views across all of Kyoto.
  • You can explore the grounds of the temple for free, but to enter it is 400 yen ($5.54 AUD) per adult and 200 yen ($2.77 AUD) per child.
  • We spent around an hour or so here.  You could spend longer exploring all the walking trails – but as usual, we were short on time.  If you’re going to visit just one temple in Kyoto, I’d visit Kiyomizu-dera.

Gion District

 

  • From the Kiyomizu-dera Temple, we walked around the streets of the Gion District which are full of tourist shops, restaurants and cafes. 
  • Be sure to check out streets such as Ninen-zaka Street and Sannen Zaka Street for old traditional wooden houses.
  • We had lunch in this area, which we found fairly expensive to anywhere else in Kyoto – but I guess that’s because there are a lot of tourists around here.
  • We spent an hour or so slowly strolling through the streets and looking in the odd shop.  If you are a shopper you could spend much more time, but an hour was plenty for us.

Kodai-ji Temple

  • From the streets of the Gion District, it’s just a short walk to the Kodai-ji Temple which I visited alone – I think most of the group were over temples by this stage.
  • This is a really pretty temple, but reasonably small compared to some of the others.  I spent around 30 minutes here – but given some of the group was waiting for me outside, I did walk quickly – I could have spent another 15 or so minutes here.
  • Entry to Kodai-ji temple is 600 yen ($8.32 AUD) per adult and 250 yen ($3.46 AUD) per child.

Ryozen Kannon Statute

  • From the Kodai-Ji Temple, I wanted to visit the Ryozen Kannon Statute – but I couldn’t for the life of me work out how to get into the complex.  The statue is huge and I could see it, but just couldn’t work out how to get there.  Plus the others in my group were tired and not that interested – so I took a picture and we moved on.
  • If unlike me, you do work out how to get to the Ryozen Kannon Statute, entry is 300 yen ($4.20 AUD) per adult and 100 yen ($1.40 AUD) per child.

 

Day 15: Travel to Osaka – With a Stop in Nara

On day 15 we said good bye to our friends as their two weeks in Japan came to an end.  They flew back from Osaka to Narita for their flight back to Australia.

Here is a brief overview of how we spent day 15 in Japan:

Nara Deer Park

  • On our way to Osaka we stopped off at Nara as we wanted to visit the Nara Deer Park.
  • It was really easy to stop off on our way as the train station at Nara has large lockers that we could leave our luggage in while we visited the Deer Park.
  • The Deer Park is free to visit and you can buy some food to feed the deer if you like.  However I’d probably advise against this as the Deer are pretty pushy towards the people with food and it can be a bit scary for the little ones – even adults too!
  • We then walked around Higashimuki which is the shopping area of Nara and had some lunch.  I also wanted to see the guys pound the Mochi (sticky rice cake) in Nakatanidou, but by the time we had got there they were finishing up for the day.  Check it out here.

Osaka Accommodation

  • We then continued our journey onto Osaka and checked into our accommodation.

Click here for our full guide on where to stay in Osaka with kids.

Dontonbori

  • We only had a super brief stay in Osaka, so no sooner had we dropped out bags, we headed straight to Dotonbori.
  • In Dotonbori we took the 20-minute Tombori River Cruise.   This provided a good brief overview of the area and also gave us an opportunity to see all the famous Dotonbori Billboards – can only imagine what this area must look like at night!
  • The River cruises depart every hour and half hour and cost 900 yen ($12.50 AUD) per adult and 400 yen ($5.50 AUD) per child (6-12).
  • Dotonbori is also a shoppers heaven, with long shopping arcades absolutely everywhere.  We’re not shoppers so pretty much by past this.
  • We then took a stroll down to the older are of Dotonbori – Hozenji Yokocho.  This area is where you will find sweet narrow laneways that head in the direction of the Hozenji Temple.  I loved strolling around this area. The laneways are filled with small food shops and cafes. Too bad we didn’t have long here as I would have loved to have eaten in a few of these restaurants.⠀
  • We then headed back to our accommodation in Umeda and headed out for dinner at a super cute Okonomiyaki place.

Click here for our full guide on things to do in Osaka with kids.

Day 16: Universal Studios

 On day 16 of our Japan trip we headed to Universal Studios:

  • We took the train to Universal Studios which was absolutely fantastic and we all loved it.  There is plenty to do here for young and old – great rides and awesome shows too.  I’ll provide further detail about Universal Studios in a separate post.
  • Make sure you are at the park just before it opens as we found it much quieter at this time.  And plan to spend the entire day here.
  • Entry to Universal Studios is super expensive and there is a range of ticket options too.  One day tickets start at 7600 yen ($105 AUD) per adult (12+) and kids are 5200 yen ($72 AUD) (4-11).  We pre-purchased our tickets via Klook.  Klook don’t sell them at a discounted rate or anything – but you do accumulate loyalty points for your purchases – so might as well buy everything in the one place.  Click here to purchase your Universal Studios from Klook.

 

Day 17: Explore Osaka and Travel to Hiroshima

Here is a brief overview of how we spent day 17 in Japan:

Cup Noodles Museum

  • In the morning we checked out of our accommodation and took the train to visit the Cup Noodles Museum.  We left our luggage at the train station by Cup Noodles Museum.
  • The Cup Noodles Museum is great for kids and well recommended.  We visited on a weekend and it was packed, so I’d recommend getting there by opening hours or maybe it’s not so busy during the week.
  • We spent around 2 hours here, but at least 30 minutes of this was lining up, so on a quieter day you could probably get away with less time here.
  • Entry to Cup Noodles Museum is free, however if you want to create your own Cup of Noodles – which you should – it is 300 yen ($4.20 AUD).  

Kids Plaza

  •  We then took the train to Kid’s Plaza – which is basically heaven for kids!  Kids Plaza is like a museum – but better!  Across various levels – this place has a range of awesome things for kids to discover and play with. There is a huge playground type thing which the kids can climb, hide and slide in, as well as an area where the kids can try out a range of occupations such as shop keepers, firemen, and postman, as well as musical instruments, science equipment and heaps more.
  • We spent around 2 hours here, but you could easily spend at least half the day – there is just so much to do here.
  • Entry to Kids Plaza is 1400 yen ($19.40 AUD) for adults, 800 yen ($11.10 AUD) for school kids and 500 yen ($7 USD) for preschoolers.  Kids under 3 are free. 

Travel to Hiroshima 

  • We then said goodbye to Osaka and left for Hiroshima, the last destination of our Japan trip.

Click here to read our full guide on where to stay in Hiroshima.

 

Day 18: Day Trip to Miyajima Island

 

On day 18 we took a day trip from Hiroshima to Miyajima Island – one of my favorite places on this trip to Japan.  I will explain more about what we did in another post, but here is a brief overview for your itinerary planning:

  • We took the train from Hiroshima to the ferry and from here we took the short 10-minute ferry ride across to Miyajima Island.  The return ferry trip is 360 yen ($5 AUD) per adult and 180 yen ($2.50 AUD) per child.
  • We took the cable car up to Mt Misen – which was just stunning!!  Even the walk through the forest to get to the cable car was gorgeous.  The cable car is 1800 yen ($25 AUD) return per adult and 900 yen ($12.50 AUD) return for children.  Many people take the cable car up and walk back down so one way it is 1000 yen ($14 AUD) per adult and 500 yen ($7 AUD) per child.
  • We saw the Itsukushima Shrine (entry is 300 yen ($4.20 AUD) per adult, 200 yen ($2.77 AUD) per high school student and 100 yen ($1.40 AUD)  for children 6+) as well as the famous Floating Torii, which as you can see from above was under construction during our visit.
  • Visited the Miyajima History and Folklore Museum – entry is 300 yen ($4.20 AUD) per adult, 170 yen ($2.36 AUD) per high school student and 150 yen ($2.10 AUD) for kids.
  • We walked around Omotesando Shopping Street.
  • Saw the Hokoku Shrine – 5 Story Pagoda and Daisho-in Temple.

 

Day 19: Visit the Hiroshima Peace Museum and Memorial Park

On our last day in Japan, we spent the morning at the Hiroshima Peace Museum and Memorial Park before returning to Tokyo for our flight home.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

  • First up, we checked out of our accommodation and left our luggage in the lockers at the museum.
  • For months and weeks before visiting, Andy and I were conflicted as to whether or not to go to the Museum as it would mean, of course, bringing Myla. In the end, we decided to take her and talked about what happened there in an age-appropriate way before arriving. We shielded her from some of the more graphic pictures and stories – but we spoke to her not only about the human suffering but also about the determination in the people to survive, rebuild, forgive and ultimately advocate for world peace.
  • The Museum is fantastic, and we spent at least 90 minutes here – if I wasn’t with Myla, I could have probably spent even longer here – there is just so much to look at and to read.
  • Entry to the Museum is 200 yen ($2.77 AUD) per adult, 100 yen ($1.40 AUD) for high school students and other children are free.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

  • Right outside the museum is the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.  There is a range of different monuments to look at here including the Atomic Dome and the Children’s Peace Monument.
  • The Park is lovely, and it’s definitely worth looking at all the different monuments here.  We spent an hour or so here.

Travel to Tokyo and Fly Home

  • Around midday, we then got our luggage and took a train back to Tokyo and onto Narita Airport.  Later that night we caught a 9 pm flight direct to Gold Coast and our Japan trip came to an end. 

 

Final Verdict

We all thought our family trip to Japan was brilliant!  There are so many great Japan activities for kids that you will definitely benefit from planning out you’re itinerary first – hopefully, you can use the information contained in this post as a sample Japan itinerary for your own trip.  As you can see, a lot of work went into planning this trip – so why not save yourself some time and use this as a basis for your own trip to Japan.

 

Click here for all our other content on Japan.

 

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