Are you looking for the ULTIMATE 2 weeks Japan Itinerary for family and kids? Then you have come to the right place. Japan is an amazing place to visit with family however it does take a bit of planning and moving to make the most out of your time in this beautiful country. In this guide we will tell you all the best things to do in Japan with kids, how long to spend in each city along with some practical information for your time in Japan.
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But before we get into the specifics of this itinerary we first thought it might be worth addressing why you should visit Japan with Kids?
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Why visit Japan with Family?
When we first started considering Japan with kids I have to admit that I was slightly hesitant. I was worried about how busy the cities would be and how accepting people would be of us traveling around Japan with toddlers when everything seems so quiet and orderly.
However once we were there I realised that my fears were completely unfounded and that actually Japan is one of the most family friendly places to visit with kids in Asia if not the world!
One of the things that worried me most about visiting Japan with littles was the food. That maybe we wouldn’t find toddler friendly food in Japan and that restaurants wouldn’t be accepting. Neither was a problem.
The only thing I would note is that you should pack a travel high chair if you need one for your little one as Japanese restaurants don’t tend to provide these.
Also you should avoid izakaya (Japanese pubs) which usually don’t allow children. Other than that we found that we were welcomed everywhere we went to eat.
2 Weeks Japan Itinerary for Family and Kids
Note about this Japan itinerary with kids
Japan is such a massive country with so many family friendly things to see and do, so it is impossible to cover everything that there is on offer. However where possible I will include some notable alternatives to give you as much choice as possible in this itinerary.
The itinerary covers many of the major cities on the Honshu island in Japan i.e. Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Hiroshima to name just a few. However if you have longer in Japan or want to get a bit more off the beaten path you may be interested in looking at our posts on the Northern Island of Hokkaido.
Also this itinerary does involve a bit of traveling between the major cities. If you are visiting Japan with a baby or toddler you may want to look at our dedicated guides for these ages as the itineraries here will reduce the number of moves you make and utilises day trips and home bases more so you don’t have to cart all of that baby travel essentials around with you are much.
And finally, this itinerary does not include travel days so if your 2 weeks includes your travel days we would urge you to eliminate the days that appeal to you least from this itinerary.
How to Get Around Japan with Kids on this itinerary
This Japan with kids itinerary utilises the amazing Japanese train network using the JR Pass. The trains are clean, punctual and fast and really offer the best way to get around Japan with kids.
The only downside to the Japanese rail system is the expense but we think that to cover all of the places in this itinerary and take some of the stress out out your Japan family trip the JR pass is the way to go.
For this reason we recommend we recommend buying a 2 week JR Pass to complete this itinerary.
Note: although we love the JR pass it is worth noting that it can not be used on the Nozomi and Muzuho Shinkansen services so be sure to plan your travel to get the Hikari, Kodama, Sakura and Tsubame services instead.
Top Tip: We recommend booking your train and tickets in advance as this is the only way that you can guarantee that your whole family will be able to sit together of the train.
Seat reservations can be made at time of booking your JR Pass if you have an itinerary in mind otherwise you will can book this at the station where you can usually find good English speakers.
If you are traveling with children under the six years of age in Japan, they do not need a seat or ticket. However if there are no spare seats they will have to sit on your lap.
Best Time of Year for this Japan with Kids itinerary
Japan for me is a 365 days a year country. There is literally never a bad time to visit Japan.
However having said that there may be better times. Generally speaking the shoulder seasons in Spring and Fall/Autumn are the best times to visit Japan largely due to the weather.
Winter in Japan can get very cold and snowy while summers can get seriously hot with a risk of typhoons and tropical storms (as we found out). Therefore the shoulder seasons offer the most pleasant temperatures for travel especially with smaller children.
However these are also the peak times in Japan and will likely increase your budget.
In the spring, you can see the famous Japanese cherry blossoms which tend to bloom at the end of March and beginning of April. However this is one of the most popular things to do in Japan so you will see the crowds and prices soar.
Also it is worth watching out for Golden Week which is very expensive and crowded in Japan. If you have any choice I personally would avoid traveling to Japan during Golden Week.
Therefore if you don’t have school aged children we can personally recommend the Autumn as the crowds and temperatures drop and you can see the beautiful fall colors.
However whenever you visit Japan you won’t have a bad time.
Where to Stay in Japan with kids
This itinerary doesn’t stipulate where to stay in Japan with kids – we have a whole other post dedicated to that but there are a few things worth considering when you are looking at where to stay such as
- Price – Accommodation in Japan can be pricey
- Book Early – things do book up quickly especially during peak season so we recommend booking your accommodation as far out as possible
- Size – Japan has famously small accommodations. Consider how you will pack for Japan to be sure you have space – this is especially important for those traveling with babies and toddlers who may also need a car seat and stroller in Japan.
- Ryokans – are a traditional and cultural experience in Japan however may not be the easiest type of accommodation to use with small children.
So now you know the Major considerations for this trip we will now get onto the specifics for your Japan family trip itinerary.
2 Weeks Japan Itinerary with Kids
Tokyo (Days 1 – 5)
You may be wondering why we have allocated so much time to Tokyo when you only have two weeks in Japan. However being the capital Tokyo has a lot on offer especially for families and if you are coming from the US or the UK chances are you will be suffering with bad jet lag.
We find staying in one place for the first few days of your trip really helps you overcome the jet lag and make the most of your trip.
Top Tip: if you can fly into Haneda instead of Tokyo Narita’s Airport. Haneda is a lot closer to the city and much more convenient in terms of transfers.
Day One: Central Tokyo
On the first day of this Tokyo Itinerary we are prioritising the city sights of Tokyo and staying quite central as this will be easiest after your long flight.
We recommend starting the day in the Harajuku area. In particular Harajuku’s Takeshita Street.
Takeshita Street is a shopping and foodie Mecca in Tokyo and offers a great introductions to Japanese city life. We recommend spending the day wandering this area stopping off at some of the incredible street food stalls. And if you are visiting with kids chances are you won’t escape the area without visiting KiddyLand a massive kids toy store in Tokyo.
And if you are looking for somewhere for lunch we recommend trying one of Japan’s amazing theme cafes. We always prefer to do this theme restaurants and cafes during the day as some can turn a little risqué in the evenings.
One such restaurant is Alice in Wonderland cafe in Shinjuku. My little one is Disney mad so this is a bucket list place for her.
After lunch it is time to visit your first shrine in Japan at the the Meiji Jingu Shrine. What we love about this shrine is how much of a tranquil and peaceful place it is despite being in the heart of Tokyo.
The Meiji Jingu Shrine is located just behind Harajuku train station and is a real calm oasis in a sea of business men and frantic shoppers.
It is also one of the most important shrines in Japan so well worth adding to your Japan bucket list.
After this hop on the train one stop to visit a Japan icon – the Shibuya crossing. This is one of the busiest traffic crossings in the world and is a wonder to behold.
You will want to cross this at least a couple of times to say you have done it. But after that we recommend heading to the nearby Starbucks. A to grab a coffee and get caffeinated which you will probably need by this point but B to watch the crossing from above. It is truly a wonder to behold.
There is also the Mags Park Rooftop but by this point in our day we were ready for a rest.
There are lots of restaurants in this area to grab dinner or head back towards your accommodation and have dinner there like we did and get some rest ready for the rest of your itinerary.
Tokyo Day 2 – Museums: TeamLab: Borderless and Shinjuku
Today is all about Museums in Tokyo but don’t think they are starchy and boring places. Japan does Museums like no where else in the world.
One of our favorite things to do with kids in Japan is the TeamLab: Borderless Digital Art Exhibition. And if you decide to do one museum on your trip to Japan this should be it.
The TeamLab: Borderless is held at the Mori Digital Art Museum. The Museum is full of interactive exhibitions and Digital art displays that even toddlers will love. It is so immersive that you will need at least 3 Hours here to do the museum justice.
Top Tip: This place does get fully booked so it is imperative that you buy your tickets online in advance.
Also as this place is so popular we recommend getting there early to avoid the queues to get in even with a ticket.
Once you have finished we recommend grabbing a quick lunch and heading back to Shinjuku to the Samurai Museum.
This is a really fascinating introduction to Samurai Culture in Japan and is great for those visiting with older children or teenagers.
However if you are visiting with toddlers then you may want to replace this with a visit to the Ninja Trick House instead.
Once finished here we recommend the Robot Restaurant. The restaurant part of this is a bit misleading as you don’t have to eat here, you can go and have a drink and watch a show. And we would recommend this as the food here is not known to be great. However kids will love the performance. Just don’t go at night or in the evening as again it won’t be appropriate for children at this time.
Again, this place is very popular so save yourself money and disappointment and be sure to book your tickets to the robot restaurant in advance.
Tokyo Day 3
Day 3 in Tokyo is all about markets and gardens. We recommend heading to the Tokyo Fish market to start the day.
This has to be done early as any market afficionado will tell you, this is the best time to see the action. It is also a great place to try some sushi as you know it is fresh as this is where most restaurants in the city come to buy their fish.
Once you finish at the market we recommend heading to the nearby Hamarikyu Gardens. No visit to Japan is complete without a visit to beautiful Japanese gardens and this is our favorite in Tokyo central.
Once we had finished at the stunning gardens we took a gentle stroll to the Imperial Palace and Park that surrounds it which is another great place for children to blow off some steam before heading towards the department stores near the central station for dinner.
Tokyo Day 4-5 Disneyland and Disneysea
You may be wondering why if you have travelled all the way to Japan, I am dedicating two days of your itinerary to Disneyland And Disneysea when you have Disney in the US and France. Well we have because no where does Disney quite like Japan. Also Japan has Disneysea which is a completely unique park to Japan so worthwhile visiting even if you have visited other parks around the world.
Now you can do these two days from central Tokyo but if you are able to move to stay close or on-property we recommend it. This cuts down on your travel time to and from the park and if you stay on site you get added perks such as early entry.
When we did this part of the itinerary we stayed at the Sheraton Grand Tokyo Bay and loved it.
If you aren’t a huge Disney fan then you could cut your time down to one day in the park. In which case I would recommend Disneysea as it is the most unique but we always pick to do both.
Tokyo Disneyland is your traditional Disney park which can be easily compared with Disneyland, Magic Kingdom and the Disneyland Paris Disney park. While Disneysea on the other hand is a completely unique park that can not be found anywhere else around the world and has a nautical theme.
Top Tip: If you plan on doing these we would recommend planning your itinerary so you aren’t here at a weekend or during a public holiday. Both of these parks get crazy queues and going midweek can reduce the time you spend queuing dramatically.
Note: if you don’t fancy doing Disney you could substitute these two days with two days in Hiroshima or add a couple of day trips on to your time in Kyoto instead.
Alternatively you could spend a day visiting the Senso-ji shrine and hitting the zoo at Ueno instead but we loved our time at Japan Disney and wouldn’t miss this from our Japan trip itineraries.
Also teenagers may enjoy visiting Studio Ghibli in Tokyo just be sure to book your tickets at least three months in advance to avoid disappointment.
However now your time in Tokyo is over and it is time to move to Hakone
Hakone Day 6-7
Note: Hakone is possible to do as a day trip from Tokyo but we recommend spending two days in the area to get everything done and avoid full on tiring days.
To get to Hakone, take the JR shinkansen from Shinjuku to Odawara and then transfer onto local transport.
Once you have reached Hakone from Tokyo we recommend visiting Hakone Open Air Museum or for those traveling with older children heading for your first Onsen experience as Hakone is a renowned spa town.
For your next day in Hakone we recommend doing the Hakone loop which is the most popular tourist activity in the area.
Some popular activities on the loop include scenic railways, a pirate ship across Lake Ashi or the cable car over volcanic vents that kids are sure to love.
And if you are lucky with the weather during your trip to Hakone then you will manage to see Mount Fuji from Hakone.
Those traveling with older children may also like to explore the Fuji region instead of this.
Week 2 of your Family Trip to Japan Itinerary (Kyoto, Osaka and Nara)
Now during the second the halve of this itinerary you will be heading South towards the cities of Kyoto, Osaka and Nara.
Now for this section of the itinerary you have a choice to either move between the cities or if you are traveling with younger children you may want to base yourself out of Kyoto and do day trips. By having a home base you reduce the amount of time you move luggage between accommodation.
This is how we managed our itinerary and we base ourselves out of Kyoto as the easiest place.
Day 8 – Kyoto
On day 8 you have a travel day between Hakone or Tokyo based on how you did your first week to Kyoto.
Therefore today will are assuming you are traveling in the morning and only have the afternoon and evening for sightseeing.
Now Kyoto gets very busy so we recommend doing as much as you can as early as you can to try and avoid the crowds and heat if you are traveling in summer. However this will obviously not be possible today.
Therefore we recommend heading to Kyoto Nijo’s Castle which is one of the quieter toast attractions.
It is a beautiful castle with large grounds to explore.
The castle was built in 1603 by the first Shogun of the Edo Era.
It is a vast complex built up of several open to the public buildings as well as extensive and spectacular grounds! Our favorite part of the day was having to take off our shoes and explore the main castle building!
We loved listening to the nightingale floors – which was apparently an early security measure! The Audio guide was definitely worth getting to cover more of the castle history!
Not to be missed are the castle grounds and gardens which were actually my favorite gardens that we visited in the whole of Japan. The Ninomaru Gardens, included in the entrance fee aree my favorite Japanese gardens on our trip. We were lucky enough to visit when there were art installations in the grounds which added to the beauty.
Once you have finished at the gardens we recommend heading into central Kyoto for dinner and trying to spot geishas as they wander through the town towards their tea ceremonies.
You can book a tea ceremony too for this evening if you are traveling with older children but this was too difficult for us travelling to Kyoto with toddlers.
Day 9 – Kyoto
Today is a full on itinerary day and you want to be out the door early as it can get busy at these sites.
Your first stop of the day is at Kinkakuji, or the Golden Pavilion. The most beautiful temple we visited in Japan. To get to Kinkakuji from Kyoto station it will take about 40 minutes on the bus.
Get there for opening to try and get the best shots of the pavilion from across the lake.
Once you have finished walking the grounds hop in a taxi to Arashiyama. Arashiyama is where the famous bamboo grove is and is a truly stunning place to walk around. However get there early in the day again to counter the crowds.
Once you have finished walking through the grove we recommend you either go boating on Arashiyama lake, or walking over Togetsukyo bridge to visit Iwatayama Monkey Park which kids will love.
You can have dinner here before you head back into Kyoto central.
Kyoto Day 10
Today needs another early start as you head out to Fushimi Inanri. the most beautiful temple complex we visited in Japan and that can easily take up half a day depending on how long you want to walk for.
Fushimi Inari is true bucket list item and you walk through thousands upon thousands of orange torii gates up a mountain. The further you walk the more tranquil and crowd free it gets so it is worth packing a day pack and heading at least a little way up the mountain.
We recommend trying to get at least half way up the mountain as you will be rewarded with amazing views over Kyoto.
After oyu finish at Fushimi we recommend heading back into town for a lighter afternoon roaming around Nishiki Market. This is a great place to shop for souvenirs in Japan and also get some great eats.
Day 10 Kyoto
Today is another Kyoto Temple day but this time you are heading east out of the city towards the Silver Pavillon and the Higashiyama district where you can wander along the cherry blossom lined street (bloom dependent on time of year obviously).
We recommend starting your day at the Silver Pavilion and walking for as long as you please towards Kiyomizu-Dera stopping at shops and shrines along the wsy.
If you are traveling with littles today is also a good day to visit Kyoto Zoo.
Day 11 – Nara
Nara is a perfect day trip from Kyoto
Nara is famous for the deer that people feed by hand. Now with kids or not we don’t recommend doing this as the deer can be quite vicious but it is still fun to see.
Otherwise re recommend hiring bikes and sightseeing around the area. This way you can see many of Nara’s famous shrines and tourist attractions such as Kithra Sage Ike, the botanical Gardens and Todaji Temple.
Have an early dinner in Nara before returning back to Kyoto or moving on to Osaka.
Day 12-13 Osaka
We recommend spending the next two days in Osaka either as a day trip from Kyoto or as your new base.
Osaka is a great place with kids of any age based on all the things there is to do for families.
Some of our favorite things for families in Osaka include:
- Dotonbori for shopping and food
- Umeda Sky Building for amazing views of the city
- Osaka Aquarium for those traveling with smaller children
- Osaka Castle – one of the best castle in Japan in my opinion and for those traveling with older children or teenagers
- Universal Studios for a day
Universal is another must for us in Japan as the Nintendo World is out of this world.
Day 14 – travel back to Tokyo
And with that our itinerary is coming to an end and it is time to return to Tokyo for your flight!
We hope you have enjoyed this family friendly Japan itinerary but please leave us any questions you have in the comments section below