BumblebeeMum
Tokyo vacation with kids (2++ year old and 11 month old)

Tokyo is a great city to visit with kids as it has lots of child-friendly attractions, but at the same time a horror to move around with kids because of the crowd and complicated train system. Transfers between different train lines within a station sometimes require a walk of more than 600m and climbs up and down stairs, which is pretty tiring with kids and strollers involved. Hubby and I have been to Tokyo so many times I lost count before we had kids, so we felt confident to bring the kids to Tokyo free & easy.

As usual, I prepared a list of places to visit before the trip and decided to play by ear when we reached. Free & easy travel to Tokyo requires a lot of preparation beforehand, you need to figure out the train route between places, particularly between your accommodation and the place you want to visit, and Hyperdia is your best friend.

For this trip, we stayed at the brand new hotel, Centurion Hotel Grand Akasaka. It turned out to be a fantastic choice!

Here is our itinerary:

Day 1: Narita Airport -> Asakusa -> Tokyo SkyTree -> Hotel (near Tokyo station)

From Narita airport, we used the cheapest way to get to central Tokyo via the Keisei main line (1000 yen). It took about 80 min to get to Ueno.

After dropping our luggage off at our hotel, we took the metro (Ginza Line) to Asakusa. Note that at Asakusa station, there is no escalator/elevator from the platform and you need to climb stairs, carrying any luggage and stroller etc.

The first place we visited was the famous Asakusa Kannon Temple.

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Then we went for some yummy sushi at our favourite sushi joint, Maguro Bito (まぐろ人), located along Shin-Nakamise shopping street (the covered walkway of shops perpendicular to the row of souvenir shops leading to Asakusa Kannon Temple).

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The sushi chefs were so friendly and kept playing with MF, putting our orders on the conveyor belt and asking him to grab them when they came along, and MF thoroughly enjoyed his sushi meal!

After dinner, we proceeded to the Tokyo SkyTree. It was a short train ride from Asakusa via the Toei Asakusa Line, but because we were so full from dinner, we decided to walk there. The walk was long and boring, I think taking the train would have been a much better idea. We did not go up to the observation deck because it was freaking expensive (2000 yen per adult). We just walked around to see the winter illumination and did some shopping.

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To get back to our hotel near Nihombashi station, we took the Hanzomon Line from Oshiage to Mitsukoshimae and transferred to the Ginza Line. The transfer between the lines at Mitsukoshimae was a looooong walk (about 600m).

We stayed at Pearl Hotel Yaesu, as it was the cheapest hotel we could find within a short walk to Tokyo station. However, the rooms were tiny and not meant for families. Anyway it was just for one night, so we beared with it. We were going to take a train out of Tokyo station the next morning and wanted to be near the station because we knew having to take a train to Tokyo station in the morning, with kids and luggage in tow, would be a nightmare.

Day 2: Tokyo -> Odawara

We were going to Odawara to get our rental car for the self-drive part of our vacation to visit Hakone and Mount Fuji region. From Tokyo station, we contemplated whether to take the shinkansen (bullet train) which took 35min and costs 3440yen, or local train which took about 80 min and costs 1450yen. We were not in a hurry so we opted for the latter.

> CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT OUR SELF-DRIVE AROUND HAKONE AND MOUNT FUJI REGION <

 

Day 5: Odawara -> Machida -> Sanrio Puroland

From Odawara, we took the Odakyu line to Machida. We chose to stay here for one night because it was somewhere mid-point between Odawara and central Tokyo and a short train ride to Sanrio Puroland.

Our original plan was to reach Sanrio Puroland at 3pm as they had a special discount coupon for entry after 3pm on weekends. But moving around with the kids and luggage took much longer than expected and we only arrived at 4pm. The park closed at 6pm, and with long queues for attractions (it was a public holiday when we were there), we did not do much. We only went for the Sanrio Character boat ride, My Melody car ride, Lady Kitty’s House, Kiki & Lala’s Starlight Journey and watched a little bit of the parade.

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Lady Kitty’s House:

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Kiki and Lala’s Starlit Journey:

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After the park closed, we went for dinner at one of the many restaurants above Mitsukoshi department store nearby.

Our hotel was Hotel Resol Machida. It was a short walk from Machida station, which was a bustling place, with department stores, 24 hour supermarket and many eateries.

Day 6: Machida -> Odaiba

We continued on the Odakyu line to Shinjuku, dropped our luggage off at our hotel, and went to Odaiba. To get to Odaiba, we took the Ginza Line to Shimbashi and transferred to the Yurikamome Line. If we did not have to drop off our luggage, we could have taken the Rinkai Line from Shinjuku to Odaiba direct.

The first place we visited at Odaiba was Venus Fort.

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We went to the Hello Kitty’s Kawaii Paradise, where MF went for a ride on the Hello Kitty train.

[Update: Hello Kitty Kawaii Paradise at Venus Fort Odaiba is no longer in operation.  It closed on 23 March 2014.  (Information souce)]

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Besides the train, there were some smaller Hello Kitty kiddy rides and a play area. The play area had a ball pit with some costumes for dress-up but I doubted there were anything for boys, so we passed.

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There was a small rest area next to the play area with drink and crepes sold, if you want to sit back and have a snack while watching the kids play.

We continued shopping around Venus Fort and found a super fun Lego shop. They had a Duplo play area for babies and toddlers, and tables with Lego bricks for older kids. MF and MY had so much fun at the Duplo play area.

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Next, we walked over to Decks Tokyo Beach to visit the Tokyo Trick Art Museum. The museum was much smaller than the one we visited in Jeju, but we had fun posing around (and making the kids pose around) anyway.

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There were other interesting places to visit at Decks, such as Legoland Discovery Centre (this shall be KIVed until the kids are older and our Legoland Malaysia annual pass has expired) and an indoor playground similar to Singkids (it was located right outside the Trick Art Museum and costs 400 yen for 20 min or 700 yen for unlimited play).

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It was getting late, so we didn’t let the kids play and went straight for the illumination.

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We wanted to go to Diver City to see their illumination and the giant Gundam, but when we got stuck at a long flight of stairs and couldn’t find any escalator or elevator at the exit of Decks going towards Diver City, we gave up.

On the Yurikamome line back, we dropped off at Shiodome station to check out the illumination at Caretta Shiodome.

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Then we walked from there to Shimbashi station to catch the metro back to our hotel.

Day 7: Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise

We took a side trip from Tokyo to Yokohama to visit the Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise. Getting to Hakkeijima from central Tokyo was pretty challenging as Hyperdia churned out results based on the shortest travelling time, but with many transfers. Since we were not in a hurry, we took the slower route via JR Keishin-Tohoku/Negishi Line which can be boarded at Ueno / Akihabara / Tokyo / Shinagawa (just to name a few major stations) and goes to Shin-Sugita in about an hour without any transfers. At Shin-Sugita, we transferred to the Seaside Line for Hakkeijima.

Hakkeijima is an island that houses the Pleasure Land (an amusement park), the Aqua Resorts (consisting of the Aqua Museum, Dolphin Fantasy, Umi Farm and Fureal Lagoon), a hotel, shops and restaurants. It is free of charge to walk around the island, but if you want to take the rides of Pleasure Land or visit the Aqua Resorts, you need tickets. There were combination tickets available, but since we were not planning to take any rides, we only bought the Aqua Resorts Pass.

First, we visited the Aqua Museum. It is a typical aquarium, nothing to really shout about.

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The highlight of the Aqua Museum was the very entertaining live show.

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For lunch, we went to the restaurant right outside the Aqua Museum which served pretty cute kids meals. MF picked a crab-shaped pancake from the menu.

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Next, we headed for the Dolphin Fantasy. There were so many dolphins swimming around the tunnel!

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Dolphin Fantasy is also home to the biggest fish I have seen in my life.

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Then we went to Umi Farm, which is an area for kids to do fishing. We weren’t interested in fishing, so we just walked one round to see people fishing and left. Just outside the Umi Farm was a Sea Boat attraction where you could take a dolphin-shaped boat out to the water and ride it among swimming dolphins. MF kept requesting to ride on it, but there was a minimum age requirement of 3 years old to ride, so we passed. (Didn’t take a photo of it, here is a picture from the brochure.) It is not part of the Aqua Resorts and hence not included in our Aqua Resorts pass, but it is part of Pleasure Land.

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We headed for the Fureal Lagoon, which was open air (in contrast to the Aqua Museum which was indoors). Here, you are able to get close enough to the dolphins to touch them. However when we were there, the dolphins did not swim up to the edge so we couldn’t touch them.. Bummer. But MF got to touch a penguin.

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With that, we completed our visit of all 4 attractions of Aqua Resorts and started the long travel back to Tokyo. Frankly, I didn’t think it was worth the time and money to make this side trip from Tokyo. It took about 1.5 hours to get there, which meant 3 hours in total on the train for the return trip. The transport itself cost about 1000yen per way, so for 2 adults, the return trip cost about 4000yen in total. And that didn’t even include the entrance tickets yet. I would rather have spent the day at DisneySea, or if it was an aquarium we were after, the Sunshine Aquarium at Ikebukuro would have saved us a lot of time and money on transport.

The Seaside Line is worth a little mention. There were posters on the train boasting beautiful scenery in spring, with views of cherry blossoms, and views of Mount Fuji from certain points of the ride on clear days. We were there in autumn and there were beautiful autumn colours along the way.

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If you complete your visit of the Sea Paradise early, you can also drop by Mitsui Outlet Park Yokohama Bayside for shopping. It is 5 minutes walk from Torihama station along the Seaside Line, between Shin-Sugita and Hakkeijima.

Day 8: Tokyo Disneyland

Tokyo Disneyland needs no introduction, and a quick google will produce tons of photos of what to expect, so I shall keep this short and let pictures do the talking.

The only thing I want to mention, is if you are taking the Marunouchi Line to Tokyo station to transfer to JR Keiyo Line for Maihama, during the transfer at Tokyo station, the walk is crazy long. When you exit Marunouchi line and walk towards the entrance for JR lines, there is a direction sign that asks you to turn right for Keiyo Line before entering the JR gates. If you have a stroller or luggage with you, don’t follow that sign, because there is a long flight of stairs ahead. Plus the walk is via a long corridor of nothingness. Instead, get your JR ticket and go through the JR gates first, then follow the signs inside for Keiyo Line. This way, you can avoid climbing stairs and there are tons to shop and eat along the way.

And presenting, Tokyo Disneyland.. The most awesome and happiest place in Japan!! (At least for the kids.)

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We are suckers for Mickey-themed food!

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A month before turning 3 years old, MF went on his first roller coaster ride!

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If you are there on your own and not restricted by tour group timings, make sure you stay for the night parade and fireworks! (The fireworks was cancelled because of bad weather when we were there.)

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Day 9: J-World Tokyo

This was an unplanned part of our visit. We were actually planning to visit Tsukiji market in the morning, but while we were in Tokyo, we saw a variety show on TV introducing the newly opened J-World Tokyo, an anime theme park. MF and MY knew nothing about Japanese anime, it was more for the parents. I am a huge anime fan and it was what got me interested in Japan and travelling to Japan so often in the first place. J-World was located at Sunshine City near Ikebukuro station, an area I knew well enough since I have been there umpteen times to shop at the Animate main store. So off we went!

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If you are a fan of One Piece, Dragon Ball and Naruto, this is the place for you. The attractions were not suitable for young toddlers and babies, so I only bought admission ticket while hubby bought a passport to go and try out all the attractions (which he says were kind of boring). I found a nice little play area to keep the kids entertained while waiting for hubby.

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There was a One Piece carousel and a boat ride that MF could ride. The carousel did not require MF to have a ticket of his own, but the boat ride did. So we only let MF ride on the carousel.

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MF also spent some time playing free Dragonball arcade game.

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And then it was all about taking photos. There were carnival games at each anime’s booth, where you could win prizes of anime-related character goods. I am way past the age of collecting anime character goods, so we just went around taking photos. Even though they knew nothing about these anime, the kids had fun posing along anyway.

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And my favourite photos of the day:

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There was also a character walkabout and the staff played their part in cosplaying:

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And there are the shops selling anime-themed food and souvenir store with anime-themed confectionery.

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After the visit, it was back to our hotel to collect our luggage and to the airport for our flight back to Singapore. We wanted to take the cheap Keisei train back to Narita Airport, but once again, moving around with the kids and luggage had its delays. At Ueno station, we stopped for MF to grab some panda bread. (MF is fan of all things panda.)

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By the time we got to the Keisei Ueno station, we were running late. So we paid for the expensive Skyliner to get us to the airport quickly as we did not want to risk missing our flight. It was a blessing in disguise, because MF decided he needed to pee and MY decided to poo while on the train. The Skyliner train was equipped with a toilet that had baby seat and diaper-changing table.

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The kids enjoyed the expensive but comfortable train ride, and the train conductor did not care that MF occupied a seat without a ticket.

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At Narita Airport, after checking in and clearing customs, the kids played at the Children’s Playroom while hubby did some last minute shopping until it was time to board the plane.

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That’s it for our action-packed vacation to Tokyo and its vicinity. The kids had tons of fun and you can be assured I will be back in Japan with the kids again!

Planning a trip to Tokyo with Kids?

We have compiled a list of family attractions in Tokyo and grouped them by area for easy planning! Check it out here:

Read about our second visit to Tokyo with kids!

In December 2015, we were back in Tokyo with the kids as part of a 15-Days road trip around Japan.

Visit our Japan Travel Blog!

Get more Japan travel guides & sample itineraries on our Japan travel blog!

18 Comments

  • marina says:

    great trip, I envy you 🙂
    great pics

  • Judy says:

    Hi I really enjoyed your fun packed trip esp the fact that you had so much fun and activities despite bring your young boys along!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Hi. Thanks! I really enjoy travelling with the kids.. Too many parents lament about the inconvenience of bringing young kids on vacation, but I think they add a different experience to travelling.. I’ve been to Tokyo close to 10 times before having kids, but this trip was the most fun I had there.. Hopefully by sharing my fun experience I can inspire more parents to try vacationing with their kids.. After all they are only young (and oh-so-cute) once!

      • Ling Tan says:

        Hello Bumblebeemum. I agree with you, that travelling with kids are a wonderful experience. I love seeing how they grow and comprehend things around them, even at a young age!
        I wish your blog was around years earlier when I was breastfeeding my boys! Your blog is wonderful, and you must have touched many lives through it.

  • Lina says:

    Hi,

    Would you know if the owakudani is till closed due to volcanic activities?

  • Bern says:

    Thinking to bring my baby to Tokyo this coming July. However, all of my family members asked us not to go due to the radiation although have been over 5 years. I saw u always bringing ur sons over Japan for travel and many people do that do. Sigh. Caught in dilemma. Do u have some good advice?

    • bumblebeemum says:

      If the radiation concerns you, then don’t go. We try to give our kids bottled water instead of tap water. And we do not travel to the region near Fukushima. Also, I didn’t travel to Japan while I was pregnant or trying to conceive. I only resumed travelling there after I was done having kids. Personally, I feel pregnant (or intending to be pregnant) women and babies are the most high-risk. If it concerns your family members, you can either choose to go somewhere further from Fukushima (e.g. Kyoto / Osaka) or just wait till your baby is older. Ultimately, it is your choice and everyone has different comfort levels on this issue and nobody can say for certain what are the risks of radiation from short-term travels. My best advice is, if it worries you, don’t go.

  • Haha! The children seem to have appreciated ^^

  • Vee says:

    Our first trip with 2 kids to Tokyo. 11 and 2. Very excited and worried but reading up your blog put us at ease a little however would like to ask a few questions and if it’s possible to take a look at our iti to see if there’s a better plan for us? Your valuable suggestion much appreciated.

    Planning just a short trip to Tokyo and after reading up your self drive Hakone we decided to just focus on hakone and mt fuji as during June holiday , Tokyo and Disney will be crowded and we will give it a missed.

    If we would like to just concentrate on :

    Fuji Q highland
    Fuji safari
    Gotemba outlet
    Hakone museum

    What’s your best suggestion considering with kids in tow and we would like to experience staying in Japanese traditional hotel or home. I see that you move to different hotels within a few days in mt Fuji , possible we stay put at one hotel / home without moving? Too troublesome to keep changing hotel ? Pls advise.

    We would also like to spend 1-2 days in Tokyo itself. Let them experience Shibuya and Shinjuku a bit. Probably to Pokemon Centre for my elder boy. And maybe cover the shrine. Some small shopping at 100 yen , Uniqlo and the supermarket before we head back home. Best suggestion for a place to stay most convenient to access those places mentioned above. Also which station is easisest to access and luggage frenly for our train back to the airport?

    Pls suggest which airport is the best and most convenient. Haneda or Narita.

    Thank you very much once again.

    ❤️❤️ Travel date first week of June 2017

    • Vee says:

      Please also suggest hotels for mt Fuji and Tokyo. Traditional Japanese hotel will be preferred.

      Car rental as well. Driving at mt Fuji area won’t be very challenging ? Hope to get your advise 😊

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Tokyo and Disney are crowded anytime of the year.. lol…

      There’s no need to change hotel everyday, but I suggest you change at least once from Hakone to one of Fuji Five Lakes (most commonly Kawaguchiko) for an extended visit around Hakone & Mount Fuji.

      Wah.. Can you take more photos of Pokemon Centre and share it with me when you’re back? I’m sure my boys would love to visit Pokemon centre too. Pokemon is all the rage in my household now.

      I suggest staying at Shinjuku since you can take the Odakyu line to Hakone from there.

      Between Haneda and Narita, I would go to whichever has cheaper flight tickets.

      • Vee says:

        I’ve chosen Haneda as it is nearest to places I need to go based on Google map.
        From Haneda direct to Shibuya / Shinjuku / asakusa whichever place I’m fine to stay as long as it has the exact direct train to odawara where I’ll pick up my car from. So which is the station do you recommend me to stay so we don’t have to walk too much with luggages and kids on tow?

        Day 1 : HND – Tokyo – kannon temple
        Day 2 : Pokemon centre , hachiko Shibuya , Shinjuku
        Day 3 : odawara – Hakone open air museum – gotemba outlet
        Day 4 : Fuji Q highland – milk land
        Day 5 : Fuji Safari – fujisakura festival
        Day 6 : odawara – HND

        Is there any better plan than this?

        If I manage to get to Pokemon centre , will definitely take lots of picture for you ok 🤗

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Ahaha.. Tokyo is synonym with walking a lot! I don’t think you can really avoid the walking too much with luggage and kids in tow part when you’re using the rail.. I suggest you use the airport bus to get from Haneda Airport to your hotel if you want to avoid all that walking. Keio Plaza Hotel is popular with families as it is a Disney partner hotel and it is near Shinjuku station:
          http://bumblebeemum.net/recommends/keio-plaza-hotel-tokyo/

          There is direct bus from Haneda Airport to Keio Plaza Hotel:
          http://www.limousinebus.co.jp/en/platform_searches/index/4/18

          If you are staying in Shinjuku, you can take the Odakyu line direct to Odawara station. In fact, the Odakyu line takes you all the way to Hakone-Yuomoto station right at Hakone, which saves you the drive between Odawara and Hakone. You can rent a car at Hakone-Yumoto station too.

          And if you are staying in Shinjuku, then swap your itinerary for Day 1 and Day 2. And for Day 2, you should be able to do a bit more than just Kannon Temple. I recommend taking the Tokyo Bay cruise from Asakusa to Odaiba. It’s one of my favourite things to do in Tokyo.

          For Day 4, how long do you plan to stay at Fuji Q Highland? It seems a bit out of the way and rushed to drive to Milk Land after Fuji Q Highland. I guess it’s doable if you are only planning to go Thomas Town. But your 11 year old should want to do more than that?

          Anyway if you’re planning to get the passport for Fuji Q Highland, you can get discounted tickets from Klook. But if you’re just going to Thomas Town, then just buy entrance ticket at the door and purchase your ride tickets inside the park.

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