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Tokyo Bucket List for Families

Family Tokyo Bucket List – One Week Visit or One Year Stay – See, Eat, Play

Enjoy our Family Tokyo Bucket List! Our experiences as two moms (with six kids between us),  travel and lifestyle bloggers, and Airbnb hosts we are constantly asked for our “must dos and sees” in Tokyo for new families and short-term visitors. We have widdled down our over 500 activities and locations we have written about to highlight our top 30.  The list below can also be used as an aggressive 3-5 day itinerary depending on the age of children and energy level. This list can be debated by everyone and anyone! Luckily Tokyo has so much to offer so augment as needed. We have grouped by areas to help plan “attack strategy.”   If you have your own bucket list recommendation, please add below!

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Family Tokyo Bucket List – One Week Visit or One Year Stay – See, Eat, Play

Shibuya/Omotesando/Harajuku Area

Family Tokyo Bucket List Hachiko1. Shibuya Scramble & Hachiko – Shibuya train station is the second busiest train station in the world (following Shinjuku). Just outside the station is a large crossing where at every light change up to 2,500 people cross. Get lost in the excitement of crossing or gain a high view location at the Starbucks 2nd floor on the corner. To see a very crowded crossing best time to visit M-F is 8:30 – 9:30 and 7:30-8:30.  While experience the crossing also stop and say your greetings to Hachiko (statue of the loyal dog who waited 9 years at the station for his owners return). History about Hachiko is here.

Family Tokyo Bucket List2. Meiji Jingu Shrine– Open 24/7 you should visit Meiji Jingu early in the a.m. to escape the crowds and enjoy the morning sounds under the huge trees. The walk to the actual shrine takes about 15-20 mins and is a lovely escape from the hustle of Tokyo. If you want to see one of the hundreds of weddings held each year in Meiji Jingu best time to visit is between noon and 15:00.

3. Harajuku Takeshita Dori & Back Streets of Omotesando Dori – Takeshita Dori is every teenage Family Tokyo Bucket Listgirl’s dream street with accessory, clothing and make-up shops. A must have treat is a crepe or a cotton candy. However, not stroller friendly so if you have little ones put them on your shoulders. Omotesando Dori is known for the high-end western brands, but more interesting for teens are the back streets which house sports brands and Japanese brands and resell shops. Most stores open at 11:00 so enjoy your a.m. visiting Shibuya Crossing and Meiji Jingu. The roof-top Starbucks @ Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku is a great place to relax before stores open address is 4-30-3 Jingu Mae, Shibuya-Ku, Tokyo (opens at 8:30).

******Family Tokyo Bucket List – One Week Visit or One Year Stay – See, Eat, Play

4. Kiddy Land Toy Store – There are lots of great toy stores in Tokyo – here are our top picks. But Kiddy Land is famous offering the best of Japanese and Western brands. Swarming with young and old people watching can be as fun as shopping for your favorite character. Tip – don’t try to take the elevator unless you have a stroller it takes forever. Open every day 11:00 – 21:00 – 6-1-9 Jingumae,  Shibuya, Tokyo

5. Tonkatsu Lunch at Maisen – Tonkatsu Maisen Aoyama Honten is the mecca for Tonkatsu lovers. If you are in Tonkatsu Maisen Aoyama Hontenthe Omotesando, Harajuku or Aoyama, it is the perfect place to enjoy the traditional meal of Japanese breaded fried pork. Tonkatsu (豚カツ, とんかつ, pork cutlet), is a popular Japanese dish often eaten at home made by deep-frying a breaded pork cutlet.

Nezu Museum Garden, Best Living Japan6. Nezu Museum & Garden  -The Nezu Museum and Garden is one of my favorite escape relaxation locations in Tokyo. I visited the other day with all four kids, and the iris plants were in full bloom (May). However, regardless of season or exhibit the Nezu Museum & Garden is a great 1-2 hour period of escape from the busy pace of Tokyo. Spring is beautiful with cherry blossoms and azaleas, late spring iris, and the beautiful foliage.

7. Kintsugi ClassTake a two-hour class at Saideigama studio in Aoyama that offers lessons. Kintsugi (金継ぎ, きんつぎ) is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer and then to@@ing with a dusting of gold, silver or Kintsugi Gold Joinery Classes, Aoyamaplatinum power.  The Wabi-sabi (侘寂, transience, and imperfection) technique enhances the ceramics beauty by enhancing the cracks and nicks!

******Family Tokyo Bucket List – One Week Visit or One Year Stay – See, Eat, Play

8. Glow in the Dark Bowling – A fun after dinner activity @ EST Shibuya Bowling and Game Center. EST Shibuya Bowling and Game Center has 37 bowling lanes for awesome family fun. EST Shibuya Bowling and Game CenterThis nine-floor complex can deliver hours of entertainment.  There are 25 regular lanes and 12 glow in the dark lanes. There is also a Sega Game Center on the 1st floor with plenty of arcade games and photo booths.

 

9. Rotating Sushi Restaurant – You don’t go to a rotating sushi bar for high-quality sushi but rather for convenience, fun, and budget. At Genki Sushi in Shibuya you can order all the sushi you want via Ipad and sit back and watch it delivered directly to your seat on the speedy conveyor belt.  Genki Sushi is open 11:00 – midnight every day – 24-8 Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo.

******Family Tokyo Bucket List – One Week Visit or One Year Stay – See, Eat, Play

10Karaoke – Plenty of Karaoke places in Shibuya but our favorite, which is also child-friendly. It has baby and toddler-friendly rooms and meal sets. Located right before Tower Records as you walk from Shibuya station – 1-22-9 Jinan, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo.

 

 

Bay Area/Asakusa

Tokyo water bus

11. Water Taxi to Asakusa  – Try traveling on the Tokyo Water Bus (水上バス, Suijō Basu) for a fun and relaxing method of Tokyo travel.  If you are traveling to Odaiba, locations on the Bay in Minato-ku, or up the Sumida River to Asakusa, I recommend you try a Tokyo Water Bus especially between April – November went the temperatures are lovely on the boats. A bonus is that you can pay a small fee to take you bicycle on the boats.

 

Tokyo Tower12. Tokyo Tower – A trip to Tokyo Tower (東京タワー) with the kids is a must do for visitors or newly arrived Tokyo expats. Not only is the view great, but the ride up is really, really cool!  The Tower opens at 8:00 so a great first stop of the day. There are two observation levels; one at 150 meters (490 ft), and the second at 249.6 meters (819 ft). You can buy a ticket to just the 1st level or a ticket to visit both.  ***NOTE – The second observation deck is closed from October 1, 2016 due to remodeling. No opening date has been announced yet. You may still visit the lower observation deck.

 

 

13. Tokyo Sumo Tournament or Practice Viewing – If you want to attend a Sumo Tournament (Basho) in Tokyo you have three chances each year. Tickets for each basho go on sale approximately one month in advance. Tickets sell out very quickly so buy the 1st day they are offered online at Pia Sumo Tickets.  Learn about sumo and how to purchase Tokyo Sumo tickets at the official sumo website.  Sumo Tournaments are January (Hatsu Basho), Tokyo sumoMay (Natsu Basho) and September (Aki Basho). Each tournament lasts for 15 days and runs from Sunday to Sunday. If you are able to secure tickets or not in town during the tournament season you can still view beya practice by standing outside of one of the many beya between 7:30 -9:30 in the Ryogoku area. When the Tournaments are taking place they are not practicing – check the sumo website for the tournament schedule. Here are two recommended Stables. Tokyo Arashi Beya, 2-47-2, Hama-cho Nihonbashi Chuo-ku Tokyo and Dewanoumi-Beya Sumo, 2-3-15 Ryogoku, Sumida-ku, Tokyo.  If you are a die-heart Sumo lover you may also enjoy the Sumo Museum in Ryogoku (next door to the Edo-Tokyo Museum).

******Family Tokyo Bucket List – One Week Visit or One Year Stay – See, Eat, Play

Edo-Tokyo Museum14. Edo-Tokyo Museum  – Great museum to understand Tokyo history from hundreds of years of ago to present day. The Edo-Tokyo Museum (江戸東京博物館 Edo Tōkyō Hakubutsukan) in Ryogoku is one of our favorite edutainment and we attend at least once a year.  Opened in 1993 the permanent exhibitions include; the life-size replica of the Nihonbashi, which was the bridge leading into Edo, the Nakamuraza theatre, and scale models of towns and buildings

from the Edo, Meiji and Shōwa periods.

15. Eat Ramen for Lunch – If you are crazing ramen Ichiran Ramen in Asakusa Ichiran is a large family friendly shop with awesome ramen. Ichiran is located at HK Asakusa Bldg. B1F, 1-1-16 AsakusaTaito-ku, Tokyo.

 

Sensoji Temple16. Sensoji Temple – This Buddist temple is the oldest temple in Tokyo and the most popular. Enjoy the long approach (Nakamichi Dori) stopping to buy warm bean paste Sensoji Temple sweets and gifts for folks at home. As you near the temple get your fortune, ward off bad luck and spirits with smoke and then make an offering at the temple.  Throw a five yen coin into the temple offering – “go en” (five yen) is said to bring good luck. If you have time, it is also fun to take a rick-saw ride around the Asakusaka neighborhood. Before you walk the approach to the temple I highly recommend you visit the Asakusa Culture Tourism Information Center -2-18-9 Kaminarimon, Taito-ku, Tokyo – the view from the 8th floor is perfect to see the entire temple complex from above. The washrooms are also very clean so take a break before venturing on. The Asakusa Center is open every day from 9:00 – 20:00.

******Family Tokyo Bucket List – One Week Visit or One Year Stay – See, Eat, Play

17. Hanayashiki Amusement Park – If you have “templed out” the kids visiting Sensō-ji in the morning, a 2-3 hour visit to Hanayashiki Hanayashiki Amusement Park, AsakusaAmusement Park is the perfect afternoon. Located immediately behind Sensō-ji  (a top 3 place to visit on most Tokyo trip lists) is the oldest amusement park in Japan. The Hanayashiki Amusement Park offers over 20 rides and amusements which are sure to please toddlers to teens. The space is small, but it is jammed packed with retro rides, festival games, haunted houses and even a BBQ area for lunch. It is pay per ride so stay for 30 mins or a few hours.

Kappabashi Kitchen Town, Best Living Japan

18. Kappabashi & Make Plastic Food – Kappabashi Kitchen Town, Tokyo is a cook’s shopping paradise. There are over 180 cooking, kitchen and restaurant supply stores extended over six blocks. Here every the kitchen sink is for sale – every pot and pan, serving dish, utensil and kitchen appliance that a cook can imagine. Kappabashi is located between Ueno and Asakusa so you can combine it with a temple or museum visit and have an exhausting but wonderful day!

Have you ever wondered how to make plastic food samples? You can enjoy making food samples the old fashion way with wax at Ganso Sample in Kappabashi, Tokyo. Spend an hour taking a class and take home with some fun plastic food. Details here.

 

******Family Tokyo Bucket List – One Week Visit or One Year Stay – See, Eat, Play

 

Tsukiji Fish Market Fresh Tuna Auction

Ginza/Tsukiji/Odaiba

19. Tsukiji Market & Breakfast – The Tsukiji Fish Market (築地市場, Tsukiji Shijō) is no longer relocating to Toyosu – for the time being – so experience the live tuna auction and read our best tips.Tsukiji Fish Market is the largest wholesale fish market where about $20M worth of fish, seafood, and vegetables change hands daily. It has an inner market where most of the wholesale business and the famous tuna auctions take place, and an outer market with food, good, and restaurants which cater to the public.

20. Imperial Palace East Garden – Open from 9:00 each day this green space is a good way to start the day. Spend about 45 mins wondering the garden while getting a brief overview of the moat and wall around the Imperial Palace.

21. Kabuki Viewing Short Act- In all my years in Japan I have attended Kabuki once and have to admit I found the four hours+ show a tad long for my attention. However, I did love the experience. I recommend to all visitors and residents that they should see Kabuki but Kabuki, Best Living Japantry a short act first which is both economical in yen and time.  Every day the Kabukiza Theater in Ginza sells one act or short act tickets which range between 18 – 45 mins in viewing time and cost 600-2,000 yen. The Tokyo Kabukiza schedule is here in English.

22.  Visit a department store food basement (Depachika)Depachika means Department store basement. Japanese basement floors are epicures of the finest bread, meats, vegetable, fruits, cheese, beverages, and desserts. Pick-up a picnic or grab some dinner to take home. After 18:00 many of the items are deeply discounted. Here are some of our favourite depepachikas.

 

******Family Tokyo Bucket List – One Week Visit or One Year Stay – See, Eat, Play

23. Stationary and Craft Shopping at Itoya – The Itoya Ginza Flagship Store was redesigned in 2016 and now is not just one of the Tokyo Must Shop places to spend hours shopping for Japanese paper (washi) and stationary and home accessories but has a great restaurant and also in-house veritable garden. The Ginza Flagship Store  (located on Ginza Dori) and second building directly behind Itoya Ginza Store, Japanese stationarythe main building have 18 floors of some of the coolest items you will find in Japan. Be careful with time because once you start shopping you may not exit for hours!

24. Make Washi (Japanese Paper) at Ozu – Ozu Washi in Nihonbashi, Tokyo carriesOzu Washi, Nihonbashi Tokyo the widest selection of washi paper, shodo paper, and sumi art paper. A 300+-year-old store that has always specialized in paper and art materials (brushes, string, and inks).  Kids will also find prepackaged craft kids to make origami and balloon washi animals. Adults and children can also participate in a one-hour washi class, or sign-up for other culture classes.

******Family Tokyo Bucket List – One Week Visit or One Year Stay – See, Eat, Play

25. Bike or Walk over the Rainbow Bridge to Odaiba – I recommend you consider a Tokyo Rainbow Bridge Bike crossing if you have a goal of visiting the Odaiba area. Some many great places to visit in Odaiba including the Shiokaze Park,  MiraikanOedo OnsenSony ExploraScience and Lego Land. Here is our full list of family fun in Odaiba or Toyosu area.

26. Oedo Onsen Monogatari – Oedo Onsen Monogatari is one of our favorites on our list of TOP Theme Parks in Japan. One of the ultimate tourist attractions in Tokyo is the Oedo Onsen Monogatari in Odaiba. However, even long-term foreigners and Japanese can have fun! It is the Disneyland of Onsens. The Oedo Onsen Monogatari translates to Oedo Onsen Story. It is an onsen, dining and entertainment centre. The facility is multilingual in English, Chinese, Korean and Japanese.

 

Super Popular Events & Activities for Families

27. Ghibli MuseumHere is the official Ghibli website with directions on how to get tickets.

28. Disney Land or Sea – Disney Land and Sea are two very different experience and you will need a full day to experience each. Disney Sea tends to be less crowded and I think more enjoyable on hot days. Families love both so enjoy! Check out our tips for visiting both Disney Land and Disney SeaTokyo Disneyland Visiting Tips

29. Enjoy a Baseball Game – Japan baseball season runs from the end of March unil the 1st week of October. There are two main teams in Tokyo the Tokyo Yakult Swallows and the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants. If you like outside games the Swallows game would be fun to attend, if you want to see a huge indoor game attend a Giants game. The cheering, the music, and the beer girls are all a head turning experience. To review the  Japan baseball schedule and buy tickets check out JapanBall Tickets.com.

30. Japanese Festival – A great cultural experience is to visit a Japanese festival to listen, see and taste. Here is our list of Summer 2017 Festivals.

 

Bonus Links

Tokyo Monthly Antique Markets

Tokyo Events & Activities this Weekend

Best Breakfast & Brunches in Tokyo

One Day in Odaiba Itinerary with Kids

One Day in Setagaya Itinerary with Kids

Tokyo Teen Checklist – Must See and Do

Top Baby and Kids Playgrounds in Tokyo

Top Tokyo Area Indoor Play Centers

 

********************Family Tokyo Bucket List – One Week Visit or One Year Stay – See, Eat, Play

Family Tokyo Bucket List – One Week Visit or One Year Stay – See, Eat, Play

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2 comments

  1. Very good information, Lauren! Thanks so much for the time and effort you put into each month’s newsletter! We really enjoy it! Also, we love the info for teens.

    • Thank you Gloria. We love helping people enjoy their lives even more! Thank you for your support. Lauren

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