Japan is a wonderland for families, with cultural, natural, and modern attractions that will appeal to all ages. This 11-day trip visits three of the country's most significant cities—Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka—with an itinerary chock-full of kid-friendly outings and excursions. Broaden little ones' minds as they explore colorful temples and shrines, meet the local wildlife, and sample exotic new foods—then reward their patience with visits to Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan.


  • Enjoy fun-filled days at Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan
  • Ride boats, trains, and rickshaws in Kyoto's Arashiyama district
  • Get up close and personal with the free-roaming deer in Nara Park
  • Do a circuit of Osaka's enormous Tempozan Ferris Wheel

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Tokyo, Visit Tokyo Tower & Kawaii Monster Café Tokyo
Day 2 Family-Friendly Tour of Tokyo Tokyo
Day 3 Visit Odaiba, Family Cooking Class Tokyo
Day 4 Day Out at Tokyo Disneyland Tokyo
Day 5 Transfer to Kyoto, Nishiki Market Food Experience Kyoto
Day 6 Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto Railway Museum, Kimono Tea Ceremony Kyoto
Day 7 Highlights of Arashiyama  Kyoto
Day 8 Day Tour of Nara, Transfer to Osaka Osaka
Day 9 Family-Friendly Activities in Osaka Osaka
Day 10 Day Out at Universal Studios Osaka
Day 11 Depart Osaka  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Tokyo, Visit Tokyo Tower & Kawaii Monster Café

Start your tour of Japan at the Tokyo Tower

Welcome to Tokyo, the hustling, bustling capital of Japan. After landing, your English-speaking driver will meet you and take you to your hotel. Depending on your time of arrival and how much energy you and the kids have after the flight, you might want to embark on a leisurely exploration of the city. Start at the Tokyo Tower, where you can take an elevator up to the main deck 492 feet (150 m) above the ground, offering awesome panoramic views of the city.

Youngsters might also want to check out the world-famous Kawaii Monster Café, which provides them with an opportunity to experience Japan's entertaining kawaii (cute) culture. Parents and kids alike will enjoy sampling brightly-colored food while enjoying the live performances of servers dressed as cartoon characters

Day 2: Family-Friendly Tour of Tokyo

Tour Japan's family-friendly parks and gardens

After a good night's rest, spend your first full day in Tokyo exploring the many family-friendly attractions of this mega-city. While Tokyo is undeniably large and crowded, there are also many tranquil spots to enjoy with your family, and lots of places where kids can run around. Start at Meiji Jingu, one of the most important Shinto shrines in Tokyo, which is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken. You may see Shinto wedding ceremonies taking place here, which will be interesting for everyone in the family.

Next, head to the Japanese-style Imperial Palace East Gardens, which is the only part of the palace open to the public. Take a leisurely stroll in the garden and marvel at its breathtaking scenery, including the quaint Double Bridge. The gardens are especially scenic in spring, when the delicate pink cherry blossoms bloom, and in fall, when the leaves of the trees turn orange and red. 

Continue to Tokyo's old Asakusa district and admire the city's most historically significant Buddhist temple, Senso-ji, which is dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy. Adjacent to this sacred site lies Nakamise Shopping Street, a bustling stretch of commerce steeped in tradition. Kids of all ages will be delighted by the many stalls selling traditional souvenirs, snacks, and sweets.

Day 3: Visit Odaiba, Family Cooking Class

There's no shortage of family-friendly attractions in Tokyo's futuristic Odaiba area

After seeing so much traditional Japanese culture yesterday, today you'll start at one of the most futuristic parts of Tokyo, Odaiba. This artificial island is a shopping and entertainment district with some impressive buildings and landmarks, including the Rainbow Bridge. Start at Team Lab, an interactive art exhibition that gives new meaning to the term "modern art": be prepared to follow the art as it moves along the walls. The nearby Miraikan Museum (officially the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation) is a fantastic place for youngsters to learn about developments in technology in a fun and interactive way.

In the afternoon, embark on a playful, family-friendly Japanese cooking class. Learning how classic dishes are made will give you and your kids a new appreciation of the Japanese menus you'll encounter on this trip. Roll up your sleeves as you learn how to make some of the country's most famous recipes from scratch. Choose from dishes like soba noodles, ramen, gyoza, and sushi. Your skilled teacher will take you through all the steps to creating your delicious meal. This experience will provide you and your little ones with a unique opportunity to delve into the rich culinary culture of Japan.

Day 4: Day Out at Tokyo Disneyland

Treat the kids to a day at Tokyo Disneyland

Few things will excite kids quite as much as a trip to the "most magical place on earth," and the young (and young at heart) will find plenty of fun on today's full-day excursion to Tokyo Disneyland. Explore the wonderful world of Fantasyland, ride the Mine Train Roller Coaster in Westland, and get up close and personal with Mickey in Toontown. Older kids won't want to miss Splash Mountain at Critter Country, a log-jumping coaster with a 45-degree plunge, and might enjoy browsing the World Bazaar for souvenirs.

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Day 5: Transfer to Kyoto, Nishiki Market Food Experience

Eat your way around "Kyoto's Kitchen," Nishiki Ichiba Market

Make the most of Japan's efficient railway system today as you travel west to Kyoto, the former capital city and, in many ways, still the cultural capital. After checking into your hotel, waste no time getting out into the city on a self-guided tour of the 400-year-old Nishiki Ichiba Market, long famed as "Kyoto's Kitchen."

Over 100 stalls and shops are crammed into this long, narrow street, selling everything from soy milk doughnuts to skewered baby octopus, green tea to cookware and ceramics. Pick up some snacks to enjoy along the way (you'll find no shortage of kid-friendly options) and gain an insight into the local way of life in Kyoto.

Day 6: Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto Railway Museum, Kimono Tea Ceremony

Visit one of Japan's most famous shrines, Fushimi Inari

Start the day at one of Kyoto's most famous sights: even if you haven't heard the name Fushimi Inari before, you've probably seen pictures of the thousands of red torii gates that lead to the shrine. These gates have been donated by worshippers in appreciation for the good fortune they receive from the deity enshrined here, which is Inari, the Shinto god of rice. 

After, make your way to the Kyoto Railway Museum, one of Japan's top railway museums that is sure to be a hit with small train enthusiasts in your family. Boasting a collection of over 50 retired trains ranging from steam locomotives to modern electric and Shinkansen trains, the museum also lets curious kids have a go at driving a train in a simulator.

Next, it's time to get a dose of traditional culture when you participate in a Japanese tea ceremony. Parents and kids alike can play dress up as you don colorful kimonos (or yukatas, a lightweight cotton alternative for the summer) and learn about this ancient ritual, which reflects much about Japanese philosophy and art.

Day 7: Highlights of Arashiyama 

Tired little ones can tour Arashiyama in a cycle rickshaw

On the western outskirts of Kyoto is the Arashiyama district, which has a high concentration of temples and beautiful natural features. You'll start today's visit with a two-hour cruise on the Hozugawa River, a relaxing way to enjoy the natural scenery along the largely undeveloped ravine. After disembarking, stroll over one of Japan's most iconic bridges, the 13th-century Togetsukyo Bridge. On the opposite side of the bridge is Iwatayama Monkey Park, where kids especially will love seeing and even feeding the free-roaming Japanese macaques.

After plenty of monkey business, stroll or take a cycle rickshaw ride through the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. This natural bamboo forest is one of Kyoto's most iconic photography spots, and you'll be able to capture some lovely family pictures here. Continue to the exquisite temple gardens of Tenryu-ji, a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned as one of Kyoto's finest Zen Buddhist temples. End your day out in this lovely part of the city with a ride on the Sagano Scenic Railway, which will take you back to central Kyoto as you enjoy views of the Hozugawa River along the way.

Day 8: Day Tour of Nara, Transfer to Osaka

Kids can feed the friendly deer in Nara

Today you'll say goodbye to Kyoto and transfer to nearby Osaka, but not before enjoying a full-day trip to Nara en route. This was the first permanent capital of Japan, and the city is famous for its temples and resident herds of deer in Nara Park. Animal lovers will be delighted to feed the park's friendly deer, and if they ever tire of their new friends you can head over to the eighth-century temple of Todai-Ji, which houses a huge Buddha statue. The nearby shrine of Kasuga Taisha, with its grand architecture and beautiful lanterns, is also worth a visit.

Tire the little ones out afterward with a climb up Mount Wakakusa, a 1,122-foot (342 m) hill east of Nara Park which offers an impressive panoramic view over Nara. Afterward, the kids might want to nap in the car as you get back on the road and continue to your accommodations in Osaka.

Day 9: Family-Friendly Activities in Osaka

Admire the views from Osaka's Tempozan Ferris Wheel

Osaka is Japan's second-largest city, so there's plenty here to entertain and interest everyone in the family. Start your full-day tour at Osaka Castle, which looks historic but was actually reconstructed after the original was destroyed during World War II. You'll find interesting informational displays inside, while outdoors offers pretty grounds with plenty of room to run and play. Continue to the Umeda Sky Building and take the elevator up to the 39th floor of this 567-foot (173 m) tall building. It's actually two buildings connected by a glass walkway, which older kids (and the daredevils in the family) might want to walk across for a fun photo op.

In the afternoon, head to Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan to admire its diverse collection of marine life, including a graceful whale shark that swims freely in the central water tank. After, ride the Tempozan Ferris Wheel just beside the aquarium for a sweeping view of the city. It's probably the tallest Ferris wheel your kids will have been on!

Day 10: Day Out at Universal Studios

Visit Hogwarts and other attractions at Universal Studios

Movie lovers won't want to miss a day trip to Universal Studios Japan in Osaka. Explore with the kids at your own pace, picking the attractions that appeal to your youngsters the most. Take family pictures at Harry Potter's Hogwarts, meet the cute Minions at the world's largest Minion Park, and experience the thrill of the Mario Kart ride in Super Nintendo World. You'll find gentle rides and carousels for the youngest ages, while older children and teens can test their limits with adrenaline-inducing roller coasters and heart-stopping Spiderman and Jurassic Park simulators.

Day 11: Depart Osaka

Sayonara Japan!

It's time to say goodbye to Japan. Depending on the time of your departure flight, you may have time to do some last-minute shopping for omiyage (souvenirs) before you head to the airport. Mata ne—see you later!

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Map of  Family-Friendly Tour of Japan's Cities: Tokyo, Kyoto & Osaka - 11 Days
Map of Family-Friendly Tour of Japan's Cities: Tokyo, Kyoto & Osaka - 11 Days