Japan with the kids—no other destination in the world is as safe, polite, punctual and as fascinating as Japan, making it an easy and reliable destination for families with children of all ages (and the perfect first destination to visit in Asia). From our over 20 year's experience, we know a unique mix of places and activities that will keep children, teens and young adults excited and engaged. Explore some of these recommended places, things to do, and example itineraries below to spark your imagination. All of our trips are custom, private ones, combining our experienced recommendations for your children's ages along with your specific preferences.
HIGHLIGHTS OF JAPAN
Classic Japan Family Trip
Few places enthralls or excites the imagination like Japan. Enjoy a worry free family trip with unique adventures, fascinating encounters, and places that keep children and teens engaged and curious. All under the watchful eye of an experienced and dedicated local tour manager with guides that have over a decade of experience with children.
JAPAN WITH TEENS
Exploring Otaku Culture
Japan's teen culture is legendary, popular for decades with not only teens, but also adults around the world. Explore the entertaining facets of otaku, but also other interests your family has, from Ghibli to geisha, samurai and ninja, sumo and baseball, robots and video parlors, manga and anime, along with delightful activities for children of all ages.
Baseball, Sumo, & Kabuki
Few baseball parks and games are as thrilling as a Giants game in the Tokyo Dome to the beating of drums, flag waving, singing and rumbling of fans! Take in a sumo match, or visit a sumo gym, enjoy a Geisha dance performance, watch a live ninja performance, explore Tokyo Disney, or the National Science Museum to see talking robots.
Highlights of Feudal Japan
Almost everyone's most vivid impressions of Japan derive from the Edo period of Japan, an era of Samurais, Sumos, massive castles, imperial palaces and a "renaissance period" during which almost all popular art forms still popular today were created. Explore historical sites from the country's most exciting period, canvasing Kanazawa, Takayama, Himeji Castle, Nara, Nikko, Gion and more.
Walk, Bike, Trek and Hike with the kids
Cycle quiet and untouristed Tango Peninsula, pedaling through small towns while staying at traditional ryokan. Trek parts of pilgrimage trails through sacred mountain forests. Hike the scenic Japanese Alps exploring the country's highest peaks and cycle it's ancient villages. Explore Tokyo and Kyoto by bicycle—safe and enjoyable for all ages—and enjoying destinations by foot on our walking itineraries.
OFF THE BEATEN PATH
Escape into Japan's Natural Splendors
Enjoy the best of Tokyo and Kyoto away from the crowds, but also longer time in the beauty and tranquility of Japan's less-visited mountain villages, ancient forests, lush river valleys, remote coastlines, and untouched islands, staying in rustic traditional inns and relaxing in natural outdoor hot springs.
FAMILY LUXURY IN JAPAN
Japan With Kids
Newer resorts from Aman, the Four Seasons, and in others in recent years have raised the bar for luxury travel in Japan, with spacious, tranquil grounds and organized activities for children, including origami, cooking, crafts, and plenty of games and puzzles to keep children occupied between sightseeing jaunts.
JAPAN FAMILY CYCLING
Japan on two wheels
We've been organizing family cycling trips in Japan for over 20 years for kids of all ages. Enjoy cycling in places along the way, even in Tokyo and Kyoto, or longer biking trips in some of Japan's most beautiful areas, including the Tango Peninsula, Kyushu Coastline, and the wildlife island, Yakushima.
ARTS & CULTURE OF JAPAN
Traditions, Rituals, and Practice
Immerse into the finer traditions of Japanese culture. Learn "the way of tea," during a private tea ceremony in a traditional tea house. Explore sublime rituals such as those of Japanese Zen Buddhism as the guest of monks at their monastery, learning about their lives and the practice of meditation. Witness the remarkable lives of geisha in Kyoto, learning about their traditions and training. Visit an 8th generation pottery studio to learn about their fine craftsmanship. These are only a few of many experiences we can arrange for your family.
ASIA GRAND TOUR
Japan with Vietnam, Angkor & Thailand
Extend your Japan trip with adventures in Southeast Asia. Over three to four weeks, visit the vibrant capital of Hanoi, charming historic towns Hue and Hoi An on Vietnam's central coast, the magnificent temples of Angkor, bustling Bangkok, and at trip's end, savoring tropical paradise on the Thai Islands. With staff in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, you and your family may relax and enjoy your trip to the fullest with curated adventures, personal encounters, activities, and dining, that have been finely tuned over our two decades in the region.
"A monk took us to a big room and they gave us tea, robes and towels. We ate dinner which was a huge selection of all vegetarian food sorted into neat boxes. It was kind of funky but I liked some of it. There was a special tofu that was like pudding and really good. At the end we got some water used to cook the noodles and put it in a cup with a cherry blossom. It was very interesting and tasted like an old watery drink that was a little sweet..."
Read an 11 year-old's Japan Trip Diary
"Our Japan trip was meticulously planned and well organized. Thank you for allowing us to relax and enjoy the many special moments and places you had arranged to the fullest. Our family couldn't been more happy and we couldn't have done it without you."
—Laura and Jeff Katz
Explore the best of Japan with your family based on our experience of over 20 years organizing family trips along with your interests, preferences and style of travel. In Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and more, experience ancient Japanese traditions, staying in inns (ryokan), and modern aspects, traveling by Shinkansen—bullet train.
Enjoy engaging experiences: meeting in person with sumos, shaking hands with a robot, enjoying family karaoke night with a live band, experience life as a maiko (apprentice geisha) in Kyoto, meditate with Zen Buddhist monks in their remote mountain monastery, see a raucous Giants baseball game in famed Tokyo Dome, learn traditional pottery, calligraphy, or sushi making, hands-on with a master, or train as a ninja warrior.
Enjoy the most of your vacation time in Japan, exploring the most fascinating areas of Tokyo and other cities with an experienced guide, with efficient transport arranged in into perfectly-choreographed days. With our long experience organizing culinary trips, we will have recommendations and make reservations for incredible eating and experiences throughout your trip, such as sushi making class.
In Japan, there are world-class museums to capture every interests, from samurai to manga and more, including:
For younger kids, explore renowned theme parks & entertainment meccas
If your family enjoys active travel, head to the Japanese Alps for cycling and hiking and enjoy our casual walking and biking itineraries in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka (see our hiking and cycling). Along with these ideas, we have a hundred other recommendations from our over 20 years of organizing family travel and for Only in Japan experiences.
Active explorers ourselves, we enjoy planning outdoor family trips for all ages and there's no better to explore Japan, even in busy cities like Tokyo—embracing the Japanese way of Zen, simplicity, in your travels by foot and bike. Cycling may be daunting in many major cities, but not so in Japan where visitors of all ages may pedal safely and comfortably in the famed orderly environment.
Explore Tokyo like a local: on two wheels, exploring secret alleys and less popular sights, ancient neighborhoods, and quiet bike paths along the river away from tourist crowds. In Kyoto, explore the city's highlights by foot with unique walking itineraries or by bicycle. Escape for a few days for a family cycling tour of the remote and serene landscapes of the Tango Peninsula on Lake Biwa. For families seeking a a longer cycling trip in more remote places, including tranquil Kyushu.
Easy, local hikes are easy to blend along your family trip in Kyoto, or longer moderate hikes of a half day or more on sections of the ancient pilgrimage trails, Kumano Kodō, mountains and valleys in the Japanese Alps, or exploring the coastal splendors of the Ishikawa prefecture and Takushima—an island with ancient rainforest and wildlife. Tokyo and Kyoto are delightful by foot, sometimes in conjunction with trains or the subway, but much of your exploring may be done strolling these cities and small towns in your trip with our unique guided walking itineraries.
Explore more about our active and cycling trips and contact us about a custom outdoors trip for your family.
In Tokyo and Kyoto with your family, enjoy more authentic places with fewer crowds, while in other parts of the country explore Japan's less-visited areas, traveling to remote villages, valleys, sublime coast, islands, and legendary mountains. On tranquil islands and in hidden valleys of rural Japan, discover a rich tapestry of rural culture, nature, and tradition far removed from the hustle of Tokyo. Explore places where pace of life is governed by the tranquil rhythm of seasons, and both kids and parents will enjoy the calm that comes after the rush and crowds of the cities.
In mountain towns like Takayama, slow down to the gentle pace of nature, staying in a traditional ryokan and spend time after walks soaking in a hot spring bath. Watch fishing boats drift on the tranquil Seto Inland Sea, casting lines as their ancestors did, or along the coast of remote Kyushu, where village craftsmen still bend over their work, forging beauty from wood and stone, and creating timeless porcelain treasures. Takushima Island offers peaceful rainforest and wildlife, while in the Kii Mountains stroll ancient pilgrimage trails and stay at a remote Zen Buddhist temple.
Explore Japan's renowned Art Island, Naoshima, and follow in the footsteps of 10th-century emperors, hiking Japan's bucolic Kumano Kodo footpaths through peaceful mountain and coastal landscapes on Japan's lush Shikoku island. Stay in a serene mountain Zen monastery meditating with monks. Bicycle paths through ancient traditional villages along countryside roads in the Japanese Alps. Explore stunning seaside cliffs, hot springs, and scenic river gorges in the Ishikawa Prefecture and Noto Peninsula on the Sea of Japan—all far removed from busy cities and crowds.
In busy Japan, experience the country's hidden gems and lesser-known treasures, such as these less popular places:
Combine several of these places into a longer and active trip, hiking the most beautiful of Japan's landscapes, including trails of Shikoku Island, ancient rainforest paths of Yakushima, overnight at Zen Buddhist monastery, Kanazawa and coastal beauty of Ishikawa and Noto.
We have over 20 years planning family travel, away from the crowds, on unique, personalized trips—contact us to plan yours.
In Japan's age-old cities, where history lingers like a gentle fragrance, step back into the Edo era, a time when shoguns ruled and art and culture flourished with a quiet but intense passion. Navigating the narrow streets of ancient Kyoto, one can almost hear the distant footsteps of samurai warriors, feel the delicate brush of silk kimonos, and inhale the scent of cherry blossoms that once witnessed the elegant processions of feudal lords. Massive castles, with curved roofs and formidable walls, stand as both guardians and storytellers of a time that shaped Japan's culture. From the preserved streets of Kanazawa to the samurai district of Kakunodate, the Edo period is not a closed chapter but a living narrative, offering the wanderer a chance to explore not just a place but a time, a heartbeat of Japan that still resonates in the rituals, aesthetics, sport, and ethos of a nation that has never forgotten the beauty of its past.
The Edo period from 1603 to 1868 is Japan's most popular and romanticized, set in everyone's imagination from famous films like Ran, pop culture, and literature. Explore highlights of Japan's Feudal Era, from feudal castles to ancient merchant towns and imperial palaces, visiting historical sites from the country's most exciting period, including Kanazawa, Takayama, Himeji Castle, Nara, Nikko, Gion and more.
Like the Wild West in the U.S., the Edo period is the setting of many works in popular culture about Japan, including famous novels, stage plays, films, television shows, animated works, manga, and video games. Major events of the period, such as the Siege of Osaka, Shimabara Rebellion, and the decline and fall of the Tokugawa shogunate figure prominently. Historical and fictional people and groups of the period, including the Forty-seven Ronin the fifteen Tokugawa shoguns remain dramatized in works of popular culture.
Discover legacies flourishing of cultural and arts unprecedented in Japanese history, a period remarkably similar to the European Renaissance in its individualism and socioeconomic and cultural vitality as well as setting the country up for it's vigorous technological leap. Many aspects of the Edo period remain in popular culture today, including kabuki, bunraku, and ukiyo-e, and practices like sankin kōtai, with devout pilgrims still hiking to sacred sites.
Explore these and other highlights of Edo Heritage:
Blend fascinating aspects of the Shogun period along with other places and activities into your family's unique trip to Japan.
Not only are cities in Japan very safe and easy to cycle, including Tokyo and Kyoto, but they are the most interesting way to to explore the urban landscapes, riding through back lanes and areas most travelers miss. Mix in half- or full-day rides along your trip, not only in Tokyo and Kyoto, but also secondary towns such as Takayama and Kanazawa, offering riding options into the countryside. E-Bikes also make it riding accessible for the entire family.
Family cycling tours have become ever more popular in Japan, and for good reason—it's safe, pleasant, and often the most efficient way to explore not only the countryside, but even in places like Tokyo and Kyoto. Pedal through neighborhoods and remote landscapes that few other travelers see. For longer cycling trips in Japan, we offer three multi-day trips to the Tango Peninsula on Lake Biwa, a close destination from Kyoto, and also remote and picturesque Kyushu, and UNSECO Yukushima Island, where the most of wildlife and Japan's oldest rainforests remain.
We have over 20 years organizing family cycling in Japan, for kids of all ages and abilities—contact us for more information about Japan on two wheels with the kids.
If there is a defining theme of contemporary Japanese culture, it would arguably be predominantly teen-oriented. Popular animation, advertising, fashion, iconography, music and film , shopping and much more are often youth oriented and makes Japan the ultimate teen destination.
From the kaleidoscopic streets of Harajuku, where fashion knows no bounds, to Akihabara's tech-savvy playground filled with anime and gaming delights, this tour is a youthful exploration like no other. Unleash inner pop stars at a Shibuya karaoke bar, and catch the latest J-pop concert for an electrifying experience. Whether kids are manga enthusiasts, street style fans, or just eager to connect with Japan's vibrant youth culture, Japan offers an unforgettable fusion of fun and modernity. Younger children may enjoy a visit to the Ghibli Museum, a place bringing to life some of Japan's most beloved animated characters, and older ones to learn to draw with the careful instruction of an anime artist in Tokyo, or interact with futuristic robots at the Tokyo's science museum and electronics stores.
Tokyo's so-called "Electronic Mile," Akihabara everything revolves around technology and electronics and of course video gaming, as well as anime and manga. The very latest games and game developments are often available in collector shops and kid's playrooms long before they reach the European market. Visit manga cafés, explore the Tokyo Anime Center with exhibitions on anime, manga, and gaming. We get that older children may understand Harajuku is no longer the center for cool youths nor famed destinations like Akihabara, but is now more centered in places like Shimokitazawa, Ikebukuro, and Nakano Broadway, or Den Den Town in Osaka, which have become synonymous with modern youth culture. In Nakano, children with serious interest can learn manga hands-on directly from a Japanese English-speaking artist.
Some Highlights of otaku in Japan
Japan features a variety of Theme Parks for any interest, including:
"In the heart of Tokyo, amidst neon signs and endless crowds, resides a subculture as colorful and diverse as the anime characters it celebrates—the world of the otaku, a realm where young Japanese immerse themselves in a virtual cosmos of manga, video games, and cosplay. Far from mere escapism, this universe is a canvas upon which they paint their aspirations, dreams, and often, their dissatisfaction with the conventional world. The hyper-real imagery of their favorite anime and the intricate detail of their costumes are more than hobbies, but expressions of identity, individuality, and rebellion. It is a dance between the real and unreal, a tapestry woven from threads of contemporary life and fantastical worlds, reflecting a generation that finds comfort and community in the embrace of imagination." —Pico Iyer
Japan offers thrilling and exciting places and moments to keep teens engaged—take advantage of our 20 years of planning remarkable and thrilling family trips.
Japan is one of the world's most sublime and elegant destinations. In this tranquil and enigmatic land, discover delicately tended gardens and meticulously crafted architecture and a reverence for beauty and form that is extended into luxury in this uniquely-tailored family travel who seeks more than just sightseeing.
Leverage our over 20 years of planning and organizing family trips in Japan, our unique and 100% custom itineraries, local managers and premier guides for a perfect family trip in Japan.
In Tokyo, arrive into Aman's Urban Sanctuary, a Zen temple in the sky, in Naoshima, stay surrounded by Monet's Water Lilies vibrating in the light and accompanied by a tall walking woman by Alberto Giacometti in a hotel-museum, designed by starchitect Tadao Ando to blend with nature, while in Kyoto, relax after a day exploring in a tranquil ryokan situated in a remote forest overlooking a river. In the Japanese Alps, immerse in the pleasures of onsen in a traditional ryokan. Roam around for a few days in one of the most beautiful trains in the world, the Mizukaze, “fresh wind” in Japanese, or the Shiki-Shima, “island of the four seasons”.
Witness the famed energy of Japan's cities, but also tranquil elegance, in the quiet meditation of a Kyoto tea ceremony performed with practiced grace of generations. Enjoy private and fascinating moments, including sumo and geisha encounters, and for the warrior in your family, learn samurai sword arts from a master, visit artists studios. Let us plan a shopping itinerary to include exceptional artisans practicing ancient Japanese crafts – a master potterer, a brush maker shop from the Edo period; creator of exquisite cutlery; a fine traditional paper maker and more. Learn from a Ukiyo-e art expert, who will reveal the secrets of the ancient craft of woodblock prints and paintings.
Experience exceptional culinary aspects of Japan, featuring exquisite sushi crafted by master chefs, legendary generations-old kaiseki in Kyoto, Odawara langoustines and fricassee of carrot cubes at Kiyomi Mikuni's restaurant, and sampling some of the best street food in the world, and enjoy a private sushi class with an expert chef.
Tailored excursions, impeccable service, and accommodation in Japan's finest hotels and resorts await you and your family, ensuring a trip filled with wonder and luxury in equal measure. Please contact us to find out more.
Attend a booming baseball game in the famed Tokyo Dome, with drums, waving flags and loud chants, witness the grand spectacle of Sumo in a grand tournament, where enormous wrestlers face off in ceremonial battles that are rich in history and tradition, step into the world of modern Kabuki theater in Kyoto, a mesmerizing dance-drama art form characterized by elaborate makeup, ornate costumes, and stylized performances but with a contemporary interpretation. Learn the way of the samurai witnessing a kembu, a samurai warrior martial art that combines sword play with dancing, enjoy a fascinating musical performance by traditional geisha, learn to meditate with monks at a Zen Buddhist monastery.
Experience the sublime traditional rituals of the tea ceremony, art of sushi watching a chef at their bar, a master potterer creating Japan's most revered craft in their studio, and watch a master sculpt artisnal candy known as amezaiku.
Matsuri: Japan's festivals
Japan is the land of festivals! The mix of funfair and traditional performances shows Japan from the living side. Young visitors also often dress in traditional Japanese for these occasions. And it goes without saying that many of the attractions are aimed at children. At many stands, for example, you can catch small goldfish or draw lots. Colorful parades and taiko drumming performances are as fascinating for children as they are for adults. Fireworks often take place in the evenings during the Matsuri.
For all of Japan's renowned modernity, busy streets of neon-clad towers, bullet trains, and tech gadgets, what truly makes the country unique is their unshakable obsession with aesthetics and presentation. Explore this fascinating aspect of Japanese culture in both Tokyo and Kyoto, observing the highest forms of traditional and contemporary crafts, arts, and architecture but also sublime natural settings where one will discover landscape arts in garden design that has inspired generations of Japanese poets and artists. Witness performative arts, with sumo, geisha, and kabuki—distinct expressions of Japanese culture. Current forms of Japanese art need no introduction to children, with animation, manga, and anime and character-based products being world-famous for decades from Pokémon to Totoro
During this journey, exploring Japan’s exhilarating capital city, Tokyo, the prize of Japan — Kyoto, "city of a thousand temples," that is home to an astounding collection of ancient UNESCO World Heritage sites, where aesthetic traditions were born and a refined culture uninterrupted for hundreds and hundreds of years produced some of the world's greatest crafts and temples. Immerse into this ancient culture, exploring the sublime temples while learning of recent movements to adapt and lend its ancient craftsmanship to contemporary applications.
Outside Japan’s most famous urban destinations, explore it’s sublime landscapes, journeying as many pilgrims do, to Japan’s sacred Mount Koya where the founder of Japanese Buddhism, a Japanese monk named Kūkai (also known posthumously as Kōbō-Daishi,) established Mount Koya as base for the religion in Japan.
To an outsider, there seem few differences with religion in Japan and how deeply it’s practiced, but in Japan it is perfectly permissible—almost expected—that people should be both Buddhist and Shintoist, even at the same time. Many Japanese, for example, will get married in a Shintou ceremony, but will have Buddhist rites at their funerals. Although in fact many Japanese seem to avoid people who are and appear overtly religious, one will discover in Mount Koya the strong current of Buddhism that permeates Japanese culture in the most sublime of settings.
Cities like Kyoto, with its geisha culture, traditional tea ceremonies, and ancient temples, offer a living glimpse into Japan's rich heritage. Engaging workshops allow children and parents alike to try their hand at traditional crafts such as origami, calligraphy, and pottery, guided by local artisans who pass down techniques honed over generations. In Tokyo, families can explore the modern aspects of Japanese art and culture, visiting places like the Sumida Hokusai Museum to view the renowned ukiyo-e paintings or the Ghibli Museum to step into the amazing whimsical world of Japanese animation. A trip to a busy manga or anime festival can be an eye-popping experience for children and adults alike. The fusion of contemporary creativity with time-honored tradition makes arts and culture travel in Japan a journey that awakens the senses, ignites the imagination, and fosters a deep and lasting appreciation for a culture that continues to resonate with beauty, innovation, and wisdom. Whether engaging in the graceful ritual of tea preparation or exploring the innovative trends in modern Japanese art, families will find themselves enriched and inspired, building memories and shared experiences that will last a lifetime.
In no other country is art more prominent nor expressed than in Japan, where art is everywhere. Witness bold brushstrokes of a master calligrapher, painting characters with a grace and precision that breathe life into ink and paper, or in the vibrant hues of a Kyoto kimono, where silk becomes the canvas for a narrative of nature and myth. View the sublime raked sands of a Zen garden, where rocks and pebbles are sculpted into a contemplative seascape; the architectural simplicity of a traditional tea house, where every beam and mat is placed with an almost celestial attention to detail. Here too, politeness is an art form, and the tea ceremony a microcosm of the country's profound sense of beauty and order. Even the culinary arts, with sashimi served as a miniature landscape, partake in this aesthetic embrace.
The cities of Tokyo and Kyoto serve as exceptional gateways to explore traditional arts like pottery-making, where families can engage in hands-on workshops, creating their own ceramic masterpieces. Kids will be entranced by the colorful world of anime and manga, and a visit to the Ghibli Museum will bring to life some of Japan's most beloved animated characters, or learn to create anime art under the careful instruction of an artist in Tokyo.
The cultural immersion continues with visits to centuries-old castles and temples, where families can wander through magnificent gardens and learn about Japan's rich history through engaging and interactive exhibits. For a taste of traditional entertainment, attending a Kabuki performance, with its elaborate costumes and expressive storytelling, will be a memorable experience. Even the culinary arts become a delightful adventure, from participating in sushi-making classes to savoring matcha ice cream. Japan's art and culture are not mere spectacles but participatory experiences, weaving together the old and the new, the sophisticated and the playful. It's a destination where family travelers can not only see but touch, create, taste, and truly immerse themselves in a cultural landscape that educates, inspires, and thrills across generations.
Extend your Japan trip with adventures in Southeast Asia. Over three to four weeks, visit many kid's favorite place,—Vietnam—exploring the vibrant capital of Hanoi, paddling Halong Bay, charming historic towns Hue and Hoi An on Vietnam's central coast.
Afterwards, explore the magnificent stone temples of Angkor await, legacies of Kingdom that was once the largest city in Asia. The adjacent town, Siem Reap, has quietly transformed into a delightful family destination with busy night markets, street circus, terrific dining, and adventures beyond the temples.
In tranquil Laos, discover old Asia, drifting down the Mekong and spending time with elephants in their jungle sanctuary. Luang Prabang remains a peacefully quiet backwater, a town of monks and temples surrounded by mountains along the Mekong.
At trip's end, relaxing in tropical paradise on the Thai Islands, or continue to Borneo, exploring rainforests and viewing astonishing wildlife.
Enjoy an itinerary to the your interests of every person in your family without the fuss. Dedicated staff and experienced top tier guides in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand and services, including visa processing and expedited immigration at airports, will ensure you and your family can relax and enjoy a seamless trip to the fullest with curated adventures, personal encounters, activities, and dining, that have been finely tuned over our two decades in the region.