How to Plan an Incredible Family Trip to Japan in 2023/2024. Learn more.
How to Plan an Incredible Family Trip to Japan in 2023/2024

How to Plan an Incredible Family Trip to Japan in 2023/2024

By RitaUpdated Mar. 24, 2023

In Japan, diverse and exotic experiences make it a perfect family destination. Cherry blossom, anime, and sushi are Japanese icons. You and your family could stroll in centuries-old temples but also watch a futuristic robot cabaret show.

For first-time visits, you could spend at least 7–10 days in the classic Japan destinations: Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. If you’d like to explore an aspect of Japan deeper, extend it to 2 weeks … or longer.

Read on for more ideas covering sample itineraries, travel costs, tips for family hotels, and more...

The Top 6 Things to Do in Japan for Families with Kids

Celebrating festivals with locals Celebrating festivals with locals

Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka form the main chunk of most Japan tour itineraries. As the capital, Tokyo is the showcase city of Japan.

  • Tokyo touring mainly focuses on modern life, anime culture, and theme parks (Hello Kitty, Pokemon Center, Disneyland…).
  • Kyoto has well-preserved traditions and historic temples. Your kids can fully indulge in the cultural experiences: ninjas, samurai, tea ceremonies with Geisha... 
  • Osaka is a paradise for street foods. Universal Studios and Osaka Aquarium are usually the highlights for kids.

You could also have side trips to Nara for deer, Hakone for ryokans (traditional inns) and hot springs, Hiroshima for educational and sobering war history...

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 1. Fulfill Your Anime Dreams in Tokyo

night view of Akihabara-anime corner Night View of Akihabara-Anime Mecca

Japan is the homeland of anime cartoons and manga comic books. You could visit hundreds of anime stores, anime museums, and anime cafes in Tokyo alone.

Explore Akihabara — the anime mecca, meet Pikachu and all his friends at the Pokemon Center, and have a look in the Ghibli Museum, themed around the creative process of Hayao Miyazaki’s films...

2. Watch Summer Fireworks in Tokyo, Uji, and Kyoto

Girls in yukata are watching fireworks Girls in yukata are watching fireworks

Firework shows are rarely seen in the USA or Australia, but you can indulge in this type of eye-feast in Japan throughout summer.

During one of the many firework festivals, have a seat at a traditional restaurant, meet the locals in yukata (Japanese clothing), and enjoy the spectacular fireworks.

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3.  Indulge in Popular Theme Parks in Tokyo and Osaka 

Harry Porter Castle in Universal Studios Osaka Harry Porter Castle in Universal Studios Osaka

Japan is home to some of the world’s best theme parks. Even if you’ve been to a Disneyland before, you still can have fresh fun in Japan.

In Tokyo, you can visit the only Disney Sea in the world. Don’t miss Sanrio Puroland (Hello Kitty Land) in Tokyo if you have interested toddlers and younger children. Teens might be more interested in Universal Studios Japan in Osaka.

4. Wear Kimonos and Take a Family Photo in Kyoto

Wearing Kimonos like locals Wearing Kimonos like locals

Wearing kimonos could be the icing on your Japan-trip cake. Kyoto is the best place to experience it.

Wear an eye-catching kimono, visit the ancient temples and shrines, or join in a tea ceremony with a geisha...

If you visit in the cherry blossom season, taking a family photo with nice kimonos among the cherry trees will create an unforgettable memory of your Japan trip!

5. Feed Deer at Nara Deer Park

Feeding deer at Nara Deer Park Feeding deer at Nara Deer Park

When entering the Park, you’re welcomed by the lovely deer. They bow their heads down as if they are saying hello to you.

Buy some crackers to feed them, and they will nibble them right out of your hand. Your kids might love the experience of interacting with the cute deer in a temple atmosphere! 

6. Meet Tokyo’s Tech!

A boy immerses his body into the sunflowers in TeamLab Borderless. A boy immerses his body into the sunflowers in TeamLab Borderless.

Tokyo is considered a futuristic city, which is full of world-leading technologies.

If seeing a walking robot doesn’t make your kids say “WOW”, how about having meals in a robot restaurant?

Don’t miss the digital art museums, like TeamLab Borderless or TeamLab Planets. You and your kids can immerse your bodies into the artwork and interact with it!

Taking a high-speed train allows you and your kids to appreciate lots of scenery smoothly and quickly.

Get your family to the heart of Japan's beauty.

How Long to Spend in Japan

For first-timers, 2+ weeks is ideal to gain a fuller view of Japan. Besides the top attractions, you could feed free-roaming deer in Nara, explore a traditional village in Takayama, or spend time understanding Japan's tragic war history in Hiroshima.

Considering a shorter visit, you’re suggested to spend at least 7–10 days on Japan’s top highlights in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. 

Generally speaking, visiting two of the three cities is the best choice for a 7-day stay in Japan. Some travelers might squeeze these 3 cities in a week, but for a more comfortable pace, 10 days is better and more family-friendly, especially if you travel with little kids or aging parents.

For a quick layover trip, Tokyo is the best choice with its abundant convenient experiences: from anime museums to Disney theme parks, from robot restaurants to animal cafés... 

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Well-Selected Itineraries for Japan Family Trips 

A Popular 2-Week Japan Family Itinerary

japan travel guide

Spending 2 weeks in Japan allows you to have a taste of the Golden Route (Tokyo–Kyoto–Osaka), as well as going somewhere off-beaten-the-track, like Takayama.

Days 1–3: Tokyo sightseeing

Besides the neon-lit skyscrapers and historic temples, you could wander around Akihabara to find comic books and anime products, go to Pokemon Center or Disney Sea, or take a sushi cooking class at Tsukiji Market with your kids and/or parents...

Day 4: Take a Bullet Train to Takayama (5½ hours)

Relax with a hot spring experience, hang out in the old-style village, and enjoy the calm atmosphere.

Days 5–6: Takayama to Hiroshima by Train (5½ hours), Hiroshima City Tour

History buffs, Atomic Bomb Dome might be top on your bucket list. But, if history is not your kids’ thing, head to Miyajima and take photos with the giant red floating torii (shrine gateways) and feed roaming deer.

Days 7–8: Hiroshima to Osaka by Train (1½ hours)

Known as the foodie capital, don’t miss the mouth-watering food of Osaka. Universal Studios, Kids Plaza, and the Osaka Aquarium are great family experiences there.

Days 9–13: Osaka to Kyoto by Train (30 minutes), Kyoto Sightseeing with Daytrips to Nara and Arashiyama

You could have a heritage walk among shrines, temples, and a geisha quarter to explore the ancient part of Kyoto. A tea ceremony and a kimono experience deserve a try.

Day 14: Departure

Check out the details of our popular family tour of Japan >>>

A Classic 10-Day Itinerary for a Family Tour of Japan

japan travel guide

With 10 days, you could fully explore the highlights of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. Besides, you would have time to experience unique ryokans and hot springs in Hakone (1½ hours by bullet train from Tokyo).

Days 1 to 3: Tokyo sightseeing

Days 4 to 5: Take a bullet train from Tokyo to Hakone for a ryokan and onsen (hot spring) experience. If weather permits, you could have a far-off view of Mt. Fuji.

Days 6 to 10: Leave for Kyoto by bullet train. Kyoto and Osaka sightseeing

For more inspiration, see our Japan Highlights Tour >>>

7-Day Itineraries for Japan Family Tours

As suggested above, visiting two major cities is best for a comfortable pace over a one-week tour. The popular choices are Tokyo + Kyoto and Tokyo + Osaka.

Do you have other interests? You might be inspired by one-week sample itinearies and two-week ideas>>> Just contact us and tell us your preferences. Our Japan expert will contact you within 24 hours and customize an itinerary for you!

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How Much Does It Cost for a Family Trip to Japan

How Much Does a Trip to Japan Cost

Unlike in other Asian countries, in Japan you can expect similar costs to those in Western countries. A private tour costs about US$350–400 per person per day for a family of 3–5 people. You’ll have a private car with an English-speaking guide and stay at local 4-star hotels. For higher-end hotels, the price will go up by US$100–200 per person per day.

Japan is an all-year-round destination, and with that comes price fluctuations. The highest prices in Japan occur during the spring (March to May, which is cherry blossom season), rocketing to US$600–800 per person per day. To save some costs, you could join one of our mini-group tours (4–7 people only) in the cherry blossom season.

Travelling during national holidays means similar costs at Christmas and New Year, the Golden Week (April 29 to May 5) and school summer holidays (July and August). 

For these periods, book your hotels and tours half a year in advance! With us, you enjoy 100% refund of any payments made to Asia Highlights prior to 3 weeks before departure (detail⇒). 

Cherry Blossom Tour to Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka at US$3,699 Per Person

How to Select a Family-Friendly Hotel in Japan

Ryokan-traditional inn Ryokan-traditional inn

Hotel rooms are as small as 18–22 square meters (190–240 square feet) in 3–4-star hotels in Japan. Although the room is small, Japanese hotels are famous for cleanliness, efficient design, and excellent staff service.

The extra-bed option might not be available in some hotels and family rooms are rare as well. So, if you need a family room, you might need to pay more at higher-end hotels.

What’s more, you’d need two rooms if you’re travelling with a family of 4 or 5, etc. A ryokan is a nice local-style choice to solve this problem.

They have similar prices to 4-star+ hotels, but they allow you to fully immerse yourself in unique Japanese culture. Have the amazing experience of sleeping on tatami mat floors as a family and eating fresh Kaiseki-style dinners! The only challenging part is that you might feel that a tatami mat floor is a bit harder than you are used to.

Family rooms and ryokans are always in shortage and their prices fluctuate frequently. Contact us at least 6 months in advance to have the best chance of room availability and choice.

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Best Times to Visit Japan

Visiting the traditional temple in cherry blossom season Visiting the traditional temple in cherry blossom season

Along with cool and pleasant weather, you could fly to Japan in spring (March to May: top choice) for the iconic cherry blossoms, or admire the colorful leaves in autumn (September to November: No. 2 choice).

Summer (June to August) is the festival season in Japan, and also the peak time for family trips. You could enjoy a feast of fireworks and festival parades if you come from late July to mid-August. Although you might encounter the rainy season (June to July), June is still the best month for the least crowds and the coolest temperature during the summer months. Keeping your itinerary flexible is helpful to make the best of potential disruptions. 

Winter (December to February) is the best time to enjoy hot springs and skiing. Because of the cool-to-cold weather, you would have better deals and meet fewer crowds when travelling in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka.

For more weather info, you could read Best (& Worst) Times to Visit Japan>>>

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How to Get Around in Japan

As a popular air hub in Asia, Tokyo receives most international flights to Japan, followed by Osaka. You can easily get nonstop flights from America, Canada, Europe, and Australia.

After landing in Japan, most travelers consider taking bullet trains and metros as a convenient and economic way between major cities (Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka).

But trains and metros are not always friendly to young kids and aging parents. Because you might have to walk a lot and spend time on transfers, especially in large stations. For a family trip, a private transfer is more suggested to relieve the stress of route planning and navigating. 

Domestic flights are more advisable for long-distance journeys, such as from Osaka to Sapporo.

Witness the Highlights of Mountain and Sea in West Japan

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Contact us for a 1:1 travel consultant to customize a tour for you and your interests. He/she could email or call you at your convenience. We would provide you with a well-organized but flexible itinerary with a comfortable pace. Your local guide would save you from communication troubles, keep you safe, and deal with any issues or emergencies.

You could get inspiration from the following sample tours:

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Get Inspired with Our Sample Itineraries

At Asia Highlights, we create your kind of journey — your dates, your destinations, at your pace. You can have any trip tailor made for your travel.

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