Children are born naturally curious. By exploring and using their senses of sight, touch, sound, smell and taste, children learn about themselves and their environment.
They are constantly discovering new things or ideas – how something feels, tastes or smells; or how something works, moves or reacts. Especially, young children are attempting to discover the unknown by touching everything.
By the way,
Japan is an appealing country for travel with kids offering urban wonders, nature, cultural activities, entertainment venues and leisure facilities for families.
Play is one of the main ways children learn from the world around them.Children in child care need a curriculum filled with ample opportunities for exploration and discovery learning.
This requires lots of multi-sensory, hands-on activities and plenty of time scheduled for play. Simple, everyday things like playing with water, banging pots and pans or taking a nature walk outside help stimulate children’s learning and form connections in their growing brains.
The following are activities that local families might include on a day trip or vacation.
- 1 Beaches ☆
- 2 Castles ☆
- 3 Winter Illuminations
- 4 Family Restaurants
- 5 Festivals ☆
- 6 Fireworks ☆
- 7 Hanami ☆
- 8 Hiking ☆
- 9 Islands ☆
- 10 Mochi-tsuki ♡
- 11 Museums ☆
- 12 Observation Tower
- 13 Onsen ♡
- 14 Parks ☆
- 15 Shinkansen ☆
- 16 Shopping ☆
- 17 Skiing & Snowboarding
- 18 Snow Festivals ☆
- 19 Sports ☆
- 20 Temples & Shrines
- 21 Theme Parks ♡
- 22 Towns & Villages
- 23 Zoo & Aquariums
Japan has hundreds of decent beaches including several that are close to Tokyo. The best beaches for sunbathing and swimming are found in Okinawa to the south, but nice beaches exist in other regions, too.
Most areas of Japan have a short beach season that starts when kids get out of school in July and runs to the end of August.
Each beach has its own culture with some that are party places in summer and others that attract mostly families. As a general rule, big surfing beaches such as Shonan (the name of the place) tend to be party spots that are less popular amongst families.
Japan has over 100 castles that are mostly modern reconstructions of historical sites with a few surviving originals. Most have a castle tower and some have large moat systems with extensive defenses.
Festive, impressive and romantic (or, full of couples, depending on your situation), illuminations are one of the best things about winter in Japan. Winter illuminations around Christmas and New Year have become a popular attraction in cities across Japan.
Japanese cities such as Tokyo, Osaka and Fukuoka have surprisingly elaborate seasonal illuminations in December that seem to improve with each passing year as shopping areas compete to be the best show in town.
In Japan, restaurants where you can easily bring the whole family are called “family restaurants.” There are many chain restaurants nationwide and their characteristic is their wide menus and reasonable prices.
Family Restaurants (known as famiresu for short) are inexpensive chain restaurants that often have interiors modeled like classic American diners.
As the name suggests, they are convenient for families with features such as self-serve soft drink bars, children’s menus and baby seats. But they are also popular with a range of other customers.
There are countless local festivals (matsuri) in Japan because almost every shrine celebrates one of its own. Most festivals are held annually and celebrate the shrine’s deity or a seasonal or historical event. Some festival are held over several days.
Mikoshi Festivals began as a way to bring good fortune to an area by parading the kami (God) from the local shrine through the streets. Mikoshi are vehicles that are carried on the shoulders that can weight several tons.
Mikoshi festivals are typically loud and somewhat wild. Teams are usually associated with a neighborhood and are commonly competitive with each other. For example, it’s common for mikoshi teams to bounce the mikoshi wildly or throw them in the air in a show of strength and endurance.
Despite this frenetic environment these festivals can be interesting for kids. Some festivals include kids mikoshi teams, participation requires contacting your local shrine well in advance of the festival. Carrying mikoshi is widely seen as a rite of passage in Japan.
Yosakoi (a kind of festivals) is a festival dance that includes both modern and traditional elements. It has exploded in popularity in recent years and practically every university and college in Japan has a team.
Most teams have around 100 dancers and its common for hundreds of teams to compete in a single festival. Yosakoi dance festivals tend to have a lively and positive environment.
Hanabi is the Japanese word for fireworks. Japan has held fireworks shows since the 1700s and it’s considered something of a cultural activity. People wear yukata and lay down a plastic mat on the ground for the show.
It’s common for yatai food vendors to set up shops offering a wide variety of popular festival foods. Japan has great enthusiasm for fireworks and people tend to watch the show intently. The country holds countless large hanabi events each year, mostly in August.
Cherry blossoms are Japan’s favorite seasonal event and everyone wants to be out under the trees.Hanami, literally “flower viewing”, is the custom of having a party under Japan’s cherry trees when they bloom in spring. The term can also apply to taking a walk under the trees.
One advice. Some hanami spots can be loud and filled with drunken party people. Parks and gardens that have limited hours such as Shinjuku Gyoen in Tokyo tend to be a little quieter as are smaller neighborhood spots.
Although probably better known for its traditional culture and technologically advanced cities, Japan is also a country of mountains. More than seventy percent of the volcanic archipelago is covered by towering volcanic peaks and snow capped summits;
and these mountains, which have traditionally held important religious and cultural significance, provide nothing short of a haven for outdoor sports enthusiasts.
So hiking is an extremely common hobby in Japan. Hiking Japan is one of the hiking world’s best-kept secrets. There are hiking trails both short and long, rugged and flat in every region of the country.
You can go hut-to-hut in the Japan Alps, traverse the ‘Big Snow Mountain’ of Hokkaido, climb volcanoes in Kyushu, or saunter the hills around Kyoto. Wherever you go, you probably won’t be alone: the Japanese are very keen hikers.
Japan is a hugely diverse country, especially when it comes to its thousands of islands. There are approximately 6800 to choose from, so you don’t have to go far to find mountains, beaches, coral reefs and quaint little villages.
Many of the islands are almost untouched by tourism so make for an exceptionally traditional experience. Japan has a number of attractive islands, most notably the Okinawan Islands have an interesting local culture and plenty of nice beaches.
Mochi are chewy rice cakes that were traditionally made by pounding a sticky type of Japanese rice known as Mochigome with wooden mallets. This traditional method is still practiced on special occasions such as New Years.
Yes! Mochi-tsuki is an important traditional event in preparation for the New Year. It’s usually performed at the end of the year.It’s also a common cultural activity for children at festivals, resort hotels and attractions in Japan.
While Japan has every imaginable category of museum, it tends to be the country’s science museums that are most popular amongst kids. Science museums such as the Miraikan, literally: future building, offer hands on activities that kids enjoy.
Especially, Tokyo is full of opportunities to learn and have fun. The museum is usually conveniently located right next to a park, a playground.
If you bring your own food, you could picnic by the river or use the museum’s own designated dining area. Combined with its surroundings, the area could keep you occupied all day.It could also become part of a day-trip.
A fair number of towers and skyscrapers have been built across Japan, mostly in the large cities. Practically every city in Japan has at least one observation deck that provides an unobstructed view of the city. The tallest by far is Skytree in Tokyo.
Erected as symbols of modernity, many of the towers function as television and radio broadcast towers. Furthermore, many feature observation decks with panoramic views from high up above the city, making them prime sightseeing spots.
Onsen (hot springs) are Japan’s most popular leisure activity. Urban dwellers escape to the countryside on weekends for hot baths in nature. The Japanese view onsen as a cultural and community activity that’s important for the socialization of children.
In most cases, onsen baths require you to enter the bath nude and are gender segregated. Young children can accompany a parent into the opposite bath. Some large onsen resorts offer onsen pools where you can wear bathing suits.
Looking for a great playground park in Tokyo to let your kids burn off energy? Japanese cities, and Tokyo in particular, have some excellent city parks that offer everything from forests to open air museums.
Most kids love the outdoors. Most importantly, the wider community in Japan also helps foster children’s independence. Neighbors who see children walking or playing alone don’t call the police, nor do the police arrest the parents. Instead, they help.
Japan’s main islands of Honshu, Kyushu and Hokkaido are served by a network of high speed train lines that connect Tokyo with most of the country’s major cities. Japan’s high speed trains (bullet trains) are called shinkansen (新幹線).
Travel by Shinkansen is convenient and may be of interest to kids. Running at speeds of up to 320 km/h, the shinkansen is known for punctuality (most trains depart on time to the second), comfort (relatively silent cars with spacious, always forward facing seats), safety (no fatal accidents in its history) and efficiency.
Shinkansen can also be a very cost effective means of travel.
Japan has many family-focused shopping areas and offers a unique variety of children’s clothing and toys. Many department stores have a children’s floor and offer convenient services such as large family restrooms and rooftop playgrounds.
Many shopping neighborhoods are crowded with narrow sidewalks. Exceptions include Odaiba in Tokyo and Minato Mirai in Yokohama. Ginza, a large luxury shopping area in Tokyo, offers a pedestrian-only zone on its main street each weekend.
Japan has hundreds of ski resorts with a large percentage that are ideal for beginners and young children. Larger resorts to satisfy more advanced skiers can also be found.
The Hokkaido region generally has the best conditions with deep powder in peak season. There’s also much skiing within easy reach of Tokyo in Nagano and Niigata prefectures. Most resorts offer rentals and lessons.
Even if they’re experiencing the same season, the north and south areas of Japan have very different temperatures. Some places experience snowfall and others see no snow at all. If you particularly want to see snow, or you are not a fan of snow, you should do some research in advance.
Japan is famous for its snow festivals, some enormous and monumental, others cozy and intimate. Japan has a variety of snow festivals in the Tohoku and Hokkaido regions each winter that offer snow sculptures, igloos, ice skating, performances and rides for kids.
People who like snow should definitely visit a snow festival. These festivals are held annually in snowy areas.The Sapporo Snow Festival stands out as the largest.
The most popular spectator sports in Japan are baseball and soccer. Nippon Professional Baseball games are lively in towns such as Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo and Fukuoka that have a large fanbase.
The country’s professional soccer league is known as J. League and has 18 teams. It’s also possible to see the national team play international matches although these games typically sell out well in advance.
Sumo is another option but kids tend to find it slow. The days of Sumo grand tournaments run from morning to early evening and each day takes a snail’s pace. Sumo offers demonstrations and open practices that are shorter and often free that may be of just as much interest to kids.
Japan has around 90,000 temples and a similar number of shrines. Many are local spots that serve as an oasis of green in a neighborhood. Others are amongst Japan’s most spectacular sights.
Aside from the national celebrations such as New Year’s, Tanabata and Obon, Japan hosts thousands of smaller, local Matsuri (festivals or holidays) each year. These local festivals can usually be traced back to historic Shinto rituals or harvest celebrations.
A common type of festival is organized by shrines. They have many things in common with secular festivals like the sakura and koyo celebrations, but there’s a special atmosphere to a shrine festival.
By the way, yukata are traditional cotton robes that are worn to summer festivals and hanabi. Children’s yukata are inexpensive and easy to find in season at department stores or discount shops. Wearing yukata provides a sense of cultural immersion that kids enjoy.
Japan is fond of theme parks and amusement parks with hundreds of parks big and small dotting the country. There is an endless number of activities to do here in Japan, and it’ll never leave you bored.
Japan is home to some of the best theme parks in the world. The biggest parks include familiar names such as Disneyland and Universal Studios and Japanese originals such as Fuji-Q Highland and Huis Ten Bosch.
There are also a few parks unique to Japan, for example, Nikko Edamura, which is themed in a fun way after a town of the samurai era.
The face of Japan is often that of Tokyo and its megalopolis. But it is also one of its small ancient villages, a more rural and quiet Japan, which is dear to the heart of the Japanese.
There are many beautiful villages in Japan. Why don’t you experience these beautiful villages when you come to Japan?
Japan has dozens of attractive small towns that offer nature, beaches, parks, onsen, castles, temples, historical sites and relatively quiet streets.
Practically every large city in Japan has a zoo and aquarium. The Greater Tokyo area has dozens of them. Generally speaking, Japanese zoos are fairly small but aquariums are often large.
As an island country, Japan has a history and culture that are inseparably tied to the sea. Not surprisingly, aquariums are both numerous and popular attractions found across the country.
Many of these are modern facilities, with new aquariums still being built and older ones renovated, which typically feature a large main tank as well as some focus on local marine and aquatic habitats.