Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun, is an amazing place for a family vacation with a baby or toddler. There are so many wonderful places to visit in Japan with kids, but the two most popular destinations would be to visit Tokyo and Kyoto with a toddler or baby. With so many incredible things to do in Tokyo with a baby and toddler, we made the most of our 4 days in the largest city in the world.
Prior to our trip to Japan with our baby and toddler, we made a long list of the best things to do in Tokyo with kids. We knew that visiting Tokyo with a 14 month old baby and a 3 year old would make it a bit challenging to see all of our desired Tokyo attractions, but that’s ok. The key to traveling with a baby and/or a toddler is to create a balanced itinerary, so we spent lots of time seeing the best of Tokyo, but also on fun things for babies like playing at one of Tokyo’s playgrounds.
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The 10 Best Things To Do in Tokyo with a Baby or Toddler
We made good use of our toddler airplane beds on the 11-hour flight to Tokyo. On our arrival day, we figured out how to feed our baby in Japan, then settled into our Tokyo rental apartment to get a good night’s sleep. We were very excited to see the best things to do in Tokyo with our kids during our 4-day visit.
1. Tsukiji Fish Market
For our first day in Tokyo with a baby and toddler, we thought we’d start with a super kid-friendly Tokyo attraction – the Tsukiji Fish Market. This is a real wholesale fish market is a top tourist attraction in Tokyo and is especially fun for kids.
The Tsukiji Market has a famous tuna auction that starts in the wee hours of the morning. As fun as the Tokyo tuna auction sounds, we decided not to haul our kids there at 4am, especially as we were dealing with toddler jet lag. Our kids were awake for quite a while in the middle of the night, but we eventually got back to sleep and ventured out to see Tokyo around 9:30 that morning.
It was raining heavily as we left our apartment, but that wasn’t going to stop us on our first day in Tokyo with kids. Our apartment was well equipped with umbrellas for us plus we had packed rain gear.
We arrived at the Tokyo fish market around 10 am, and most of the morning action was over. This was ok with us as the Tsukiji Fish Market is a very busy place and we preferred it to be a little less busy. This allowed our baby and toddler to experience the wonders of this incredible fish market without being too intimidated by the crowds.
The small side streets (outer market) surrounding the inner fish market, where you’ll find many restaurants and shops, were still very busy. The inner market where the wholesale fish business is conducted was fun and interesting to watch.
The lanes between the market stalls are quite narrow and, as it is a real working fish market, there are many trucks and carts moving around. Traveling with two small kids meant we needed to be aware of what was going on and make sure we weren’t getting in the way. With busy, narrow corridors we recommend bringing a baby carrier or wrap to the Tsukiji Fish Market, as a stroller would not be fun.
Our toddler was intrigued with all the fish and was full of questions. Even though they are generally reserved, the Japanese people love kids. Several of the fish vendors took the time to show her interesting shellfish, etc. She loved it! In fact, she talked about the fish market for days afterwards and wanted us to tell her about all the different fish we saw.
If your kids are curious about nature, the Tsukiji Fish Market is one of the best things to do in Tokyo.
Tokyo Travel Tip: Check the opening time for the inner fish market, as tourists are only allowed in after a certain time of day.
2. Ueno Park
After a midday nap for the kids, we took a walk to Ueno Park, which was close to our Tokyo apartment. With over 10 million people visiting Ueno Park every year, it is one of Japan’s most popular parks. It is home to several museums, temples, shrines, and even the Ueno Zoo.
If you are lucky enough to visit Tokyo with kids in spring, Ueno Park is one of the best spots in Tokyo for viewing cherry blossoms. Our visit to Tokyo was in late Fall, so we missed out on the cherry blossoms, but it was still a wonderful place to go for a walk in Tokyo with our kids. With over 8,800 trees, Ueno Park is also a great spot to get a little time in nature and let your kids burn off some energy.
Since we visited Ueno Park in the late afternoon, we spent most of our time walking along the tree lined paths. The zoo and amusement park were closed but we found a nearby playground. We should have walked just a little further before stopping at the playground, as there is a Starbucks nearby. After letting the kids play, we continued our walk.
3. Kiyomizu Kannon Temple
As we were leaving Ueno Park we stopped at the Kiyomizu Kannon Temple. This Tokyo temple is home to an image of Kosodate Kannon, the goddess of conception, and often visited by women hoping to conceive. Two kids are enough – had we known this in advance we may have skipped our visit to the Kiyomizu Kannon Temple! ha-ha!
4. Sensō-ji Temple
Due to a healthy dose of family jet lag, we got a very early start to our second day in Tokyo with a baby and toddler. Our 3 year old was up at 3 am and the baby was up at 5 am. Rather than fight it, we took advantage of the jet lag and got out the door by 7 am for our 20 minute walk to Sensō-ji Temple in the Asakusa district. There’s one benefit of traveling with young kids – they are up early and you can get to see the sights before anyone else!
Sensō-ji is an ancient Buddhist temple and besides being Tokyo’s oldest temple, it is also one of the most popular. Unfortunately, the Pagoda was under construction during our September 2017 visit to Tokyo, but we still enjoyed exploring the grounds.
Our daughter could have stayed to watch the carp in one of the ponds for ages. We also had fun checking our fortunes in the main building of the Sensō-ji temple.
After an enjoyable, quiet visit to the ancient Sensō-ji Temple, we walked down the nearby Nakamise-dori, which is Asakusa’s most famous shopping street. Due to our very early start for our Tokyo sightseeing, we didn’t get to do much souvenir shopping as most of the shops along Nakamise-dori were not yet open for the day.
Suffering from jet lag, our kids were pretty exhausted after our morning walk around the highlights of Asakusa. To help them recover from jet lag, we made sure to give our kids a long good morning nap, as we got ready for a walk to the Akihabara district. This popular Tokyo tourist attraction is famous for the electronics shops plus many places devoted to anime and manga.
The Akihabara district is a feast for the eyes, but being tired our kids were not overly interested. After a quick walk up-and-down the main street of Akihabara, we grabbed lunch and let them play at a nearby playground.
We found yet another Tokyo playground that afternoon closer to our apartment rental. Although it’s hard to forgo the time to go see Tokyo’s top sights, it’s always a good investment of time to let your kids have play time on a family holiday. It gives your kids a sense of normalcy, which is especially important in a very foreign-looking place like Tokyo. Plus, it helps them burn energy and hopefully helps your kids get a good night’s sleep on vacation.
7. Meiji Shrine
We were all sleeping better and had good energy to explore on day 3 of our trip to Tokyo with a baby and toddler.
We took advantage of our good energy levels and enjoyed a beautiful walk through a dense, beautiful forest on our way to the Meiji Shrine. We entered the park through a massive torii gate and were instantly transported into a tranquil forest. With over 100,000 trees from all over Japan, it’s hard not to feel like you are in the middle of a forest even though your are in the heart of a massive metropolis.
It was a 10 minute walk through the forest to get to the main buildings of the Meiji Shrine. We enjoyed watching people take part in many of the Shinto activities at this Tokyo shrine. One fun thing to do with kids at the Meiji Shrine is to write out a wish on an ema (a wooden plate) to leave at the shrine.
Tokyo Travel Tip: The Meiji Shrine will be in excellent condition as it was nicely restored for it’s 100th anniversary in 2020.
8. Shibuya Crossing
From the Meiji Shrine, we continued our walk through the forest to get to our next destination – Shibuya Crossing, the busiest intersection in the world. The flashy and fashionable Shibuya area has many excellent shopping and eating options. We had fun making our way across the crossing a few times, then we headed back home on the subway.
9. Tokyo Station
On last day of our 4-day itinerary in Tokyo with kids, we made a quick stop at the Tokyo Station on our way to the Imperial Palace Gardens. We find that we are often behind schedule when traveling with a baby and toddler, and given the world-renowned punctuality of the Japan rail system, we wanted to be prepared for high-speed train from Tokyo to Kyoto.
We also wanted to see if we could find Bento boxes for lunch for our trip. In some ways, stopping at the Tokyo Station was a bit of wasted time, but travelling with small kids means that you are often running late. We wanted to be well prepared to avoid any chance of missing our high-speed train to Kyoto.
Interested in a Japan Rail Pass? Read this post all about How to Use Your Japan Rail Pass.
10. Imperial Palace Gardens
The Imperial Palace is a short walk from Tokyo Station and is surrounded by a moats and walls. The Imperial Palace East Gardens are part of the inner palace gardens that are open to the public.
Once inside the gates and past the guards station, we found a spot in the shade to eat our lunch, then we took a walk around the Imperial Palace Gardens. Inside is a massive Tokyo green space with a main paved pathway plus paths throughout the many different gardens. If you are visiting Tokyo with a stroller, this park is another excellent park to escape the hustle and bustle of the hectic city.
For a similar itinerary with some great food suggestions, check out this Tokyo Itinerary!
High Speed Train from Tokyo to Kyoto
Speaking of fun things to do with kids in Tokyo, if your Japan itinerary includes a stop in Kyoto, we highly recommend you take a high-speed train. No matter how young your kids are, they will be amazed at the speed of the train as it speeds across the beautiful Japanese countryside.
Tokyo Station is huge and hectic, so we felt it was well worth the effort on our second-last day in Tokyo with kids to ensure we knew exactly where we needed to go! Things can get a little chaotic traveling with all your luggage and two little kids. Tokyo Station is incredibly busy but we did find it easy enough to navigate.
For a genuine Japanese experience, do as the locals do and get a bento boxes for the high-speed train ride. Again, this was an experience in itself. We were thankful for the plastic food displays to help us choose which bento box to order for our journey to Kyoto.
Where to Stay in Tokyo with a Baby
As the world’s largest city, there are near countless hotels to choose from. If you are visiting Tokyo with a baby or toddler, we recommend you stay in central Tokyo near a subway station. This will allow you to easily get around to see Tokyo’s top attractions via short subway trips.
If you choose to stay at a family-friendly Tokyo hotel we recommend you find a place with a crib and sound-proof walls. The “Top Picks for Families” search filter on Booking.com makes it easy to find a kid-friendly hotel in Tokyo.
For our trip to Tokyo with kids, we rented an apartment. We find that having separate bedrooms, a full kitchen and laundry facilities to be invaluable amenities for traveling with kids. Again, when searching for a Tokyo vacation home rental look for a place in central Tokyo near a subway station.
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This post was written & edited by:
Celine Brewer is the owner of Baby Can Travel. Not only does she have years of experience traveling with babies & toddlers, but she's helped millions of new parents travel with their babies and toddlers for over a decade. In addition to writing on her baby travel blog, she has shared her expertise on traveling with a baby or toddler by contributing to articles about traveling with a baby with the Washington Post, USA Today, the Lonely Planet magazine and Pregnancy & Newborn magazine.
Celine also writes about family travel on the site FamilyCanTravel.com, which she co-owns with her husband. Being from the Canadian Rockies, she shares her passion about her home and travel to Banff National Park and area on their site TravelBanffCanada.com.