Is Japan Good For Families?

In today’s Japan Travel Q&A we answer a question about family travel in Japan from Abbe in Los Angeles, California:

“Is Japan a good vacation spot for families with kids?”

Don’t feel like watching a video? Read below for today’s answer!

Great question, Abbe!

If your family is thinking about a trip to Japan, now is the perfect time.

Even though Japan is an amazing family destination, it’s still relatively off the beaten path when it comes to family travelers.

Most families overlook Japan in favor of more “touristy” places, because most people aren’t yet aware that Japan is the perfect family destination in so many ways.

However, this is starting to change.

Kyushu Japan Naoshima Island Art Yayoi Kusama Pumpkin Sculpture

If your kids like art, you’ll love Naoshima Art Island!

In recent years, we’ve seen more and more families choose Japan, as people discover that it’s an amazing — and well-rounded — family destination.

Why Families Love Japan

As all experienced family travelers know, one of the secrets to an amazing family trip is making sure that everyone — kids and parents — has a great time.

In our experience, we have found that most parents are looking for a combination of fun, relaxation, and unique experiences when planning a family vacation.

And this is what makes Japan a perfect family destination.

Kyoto Japan Arashiyama Sagano Bamboo Grove

Families love the Bamboo Grove in Arashiyama, Kyoto

Most of our readers have an idea of how many amazing things there are to do in Japan.

But what’s much less known is how much kids LOVE Japan.

Why Kids Love Japan

Why do kids love Japan so much?

Japan is the home of the bullet train, robots, ninjas, samurais, geishas, Nintendo, Hello Kitty, Mt. Fuji… The list goes on (keep reading for our full list of the top family-friendly things to do in Japan)!

And it’s not just “fun”: Japan is an intellectually curious child’s dream, full of new experiences, history and a fascinating culture.

If you’re looking to expose your children to another culture, and introduce them to a country with an amazingly rich tradition, Japan is the place to do so.

Japan Shinkansen Bullet Train

The world-famous shinkansen (bullet train) (Photo Credit: Kossy@FINEDAYS via Compfight cc)

Safety & Convenience

Japan is also great for families for two other important reasons:

  • It’s incredibly safe
  • It’s extremely traveler-friendly & easy to get around

Japan is the safest large country in the world (making the US and Europe look fairly dangerous in comparison).

It’s also surprisingly easy to get around – even if you don’t speak Japanese (as most travelers don’t).

One of the surprise highlights for so many visitors to Japan is how beautifully and efficiently everything works:

  • The trains are spotless and depart & arrive on time
  • Customer service is amazing & people are astoundingly helpful
  • And of course your kids will love riding the shinkansen (bullet train)
Central Japan Nagano Matsumoto Castle

Kids love castles (Matsumoto Castle)

On top of all this, Japanese people cater extremely well to children and love family travelers!

We have just come back from our second family trip to Japan arranged by Andres, and once again we had an excellent time. Traveling with 2 small kids (2 and 5) has its challenges but Andres took it into account and made sure that everything was as easy as possible.” — Celia Coene, Hong Kong

The Top 25 Family-Friendly Things To Do In Japan

So if you’re planning a family trip to Japan, where should you go and what should you do?

Central Japan snow monkeys Nagano Jigokudani

For animal lovers, Japan’s Snow Monkeys are a must

Japan has something for everyone, and as a rule we make personal recommendations depending on your and your kids’ interests.

If you’re the type of traveler who prefers unstructured time, simply wandering around cities like Tokyo and Kyoto is always full of new experiences (not to mention extremely safe) – and there’s nothing more relaxing than getting off Japan’s beaten path.

But to help you with some specific ideas, we’ve put together a list of our favorite family-friendly activities in Japan!

The Top 25 Family-Friendly Things To Do In Japan

sumo tournament japan

Sumo (Photo credit: davidgsteadman via Compfight cc)

Please note: Not all of the below are suitable for all travelers.

1. Riding the bullet train
2. Visiting the Snow Monkeys
3. Attending a sumo tournament
4. Cycling in the countryside (and safe urban cycling)
5. A walk through the bamboo forest in Arashiyama, Kyoto
6. Climbing Mt. Fuji (or simply viewing it)
7. Amazing castles in Matsumoto, Hikone, Himeji and Osaka (among others)
8. A taiko drumming class
9. A morning visit to Tsukiji Fish Market
10. Staying at a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) with hot springs
11. World-class skiing & snowboarding in Hokkaido and Nagano
12. Science & technology museums (including Miraikan, The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation)
13. An overnight stay at a Buddhist temple
14. Rafting in Shikoku
15. Naoshima, The Art Island
16. Dressing up like a geisha, ninja or samurai
17. Incredible festivals – such as the Sapporo Snow Festival and Aomori Nebuta Matsuri – throughout the year
18. The Ghibli Museum (for animation lovers)
19. Some of the world’s best video game arcades
20. Theme parks including: Fuji-Q Highland, Tokyo Disney & Disney Sea, and Sanrio Puroland (Hello Kitty)
21. Surfing and beaches
22. Jungle trekking in Okinawa
23. Hiking in the Japan Alps
24. Two of the world’s best aquariums, in Okinawa and Osaka
25. The International Manga Museum (for manga comics lovers)

Okinawa Japan Kerama Tokashiki Aharen Beach

Beautiful beaches in Okinawa (Tokashiki Island)

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This week we reveal what makes Japan one of the world's best family destinations - and provide a free list of the top 25 family-friendly things to do in Japan!
About Andres Zuleta

Andres is the founder of Boutique Japan.

Unlike a lot of travel companies, we don't work from a cubicle!

In 2005, I first moved from New York City to Tokyo to study Japanese, and living in Tokyo changed my life, leading me to want to dedicate my life to helping others really experience Japan, the way I have been able to do so!