Best 1 week Itinerary in Japan with KIDs also for Adults
Japan is an extremely safe country, with excellent public transportation and new sights, sounds and tastes to behold around every corner.
For a one-week trip, we suggest an itinerary that pairs Tokyo and Kyoto. Seven days on the ground is enough to cover both places, and these locales provide a fantastic contrast.
Five nights in Tokyo and two in Kyoto will leave ample time to explore Tokyo itself or add a day trip to Hakone, Kamakura or Tokyo Disneyland. This guide will help you to plan your tour.
Picture Kids and Parent
Days 1-5 in Tokyo!
In greater Tokyo, there are more than 1,000 neighbourhoods. The majority of tourist sites are centrally located and fairly easy to navigate. Notable exceptions are Tokyo Disney, Tokyo Skytree (and its Sumida Aquarium), Tokyo Tower, the Tokyo Toy Museum and the Lego Discovery Center.
Home to many key sites as well as shopping and dining, Asakusa is the top spot for many visitors. Kids of all ages will enjoy the unique architecture of Senso-ji, the most popular and famous temple in Tokyo. Don’t miss Nakamise Dori, a shopping street leading up to the temple that is an ideal place to shop for souvenirs and gifts.
Next, consider a visit to Tokyo Sky Tree, the tallest tower in Japan, located across the Sumida River from Asakusa. The tower is used to broadcast radio and TV, but has two observation decks that offer sweeping views of Tokyo and a vast shopping complex complete with an aquarium.
Home to Ueno Station, one of the largest access points for travel around Japan, Ueno is also home to parks and several cultural sites. There are several family highlights in Ueno — most notably, Ueno Park, which features Shinobazu Pond with its lotus pond and rental boats, as well as the popular Ueno Zoo (giant pandas are the star). Ueno also inclues the National Museum of Science, which offers animal, space and dinosaur exhibits as well as a 3D theater.
Families will enjoy strolling around Ame-ya Yoko-Cho market, which originally cropped up as a place for selling sweets (ame) . Today, it is a huge bazaar that sells everything from chocolate to luggage.
Akihabara is the spot in Tokyo for all things electronic. Older kids will delight in the dizzying array of stores with every conceivable gadget and gizmo. For model train enthusiasts, Popondetta is a shop with a huge array of model trains. On the second floor, there is a Tokyo-themed model track that customers can rent by the hour.
Although not technically in Akihabara, the nearby Tokyo-Edo Museum (Ryogoku station) is a great place for families to learn about the Edo period in Japan (from 1603-1867) and what life was like during that time. Families flock here for the many well-signed models and exhibits that bring this time period to life.
Imperial Palace District
This neighborhood is the seat of government in Tokyo. Its center is, of course, the Imperial Palace, but it is only open to visitors twice a year. The Imperial Palace East Garden does welcome visitors and is a popular spot for families. This area is easily accessed from most all of the neighborhoods mentioned, so it is a perfect place to tack on if you have the time.
Famed for its funky vibe and street style for Tokyo youth, Harajuku is home to many, many popular fashion shops and cafes. Harajuku will be a hit with teenagers looking to shop and explore. Kiddyland is a local favorite for its shops teeming with dolls, action figures, superheroes and other toys. Consider checking out one of the many conveyor-belt sushi shops for lunch or dinner.
Shinjuku is the epitome of central Tokyo: skyscrapers, neon lights, lots of people and plenty of amenities. Shinjuku has several luxury hotels that are well-suited for families and this neighborhood makes for an ideal home base.
Known for its central location and vibrant nightlife, Roppongi is another convenient neighborhood for family accommodations. The Ritz-Carlton Tokyo is actually attached to the Roppongi station.
Shibuya is a bustling neighborhood known for its mix of department stores, shops, clubs and restaurants. This area makes for a great place to call home in Tokyo, and families can consider the Cerulean Tower Tokyo Hotel.
Dedicated to the spirit of Emperor Meiji, who died in 1912, and his wife, Empress Shoken, Meiji Shrine is one of the biggest tourist spots in the city.
Another beloved stop in Shibuya is the Hachiko statue. Hachiko was a dog known for being extremely loyal to his master, whom he walked to the station each day.
Yoyogi Park is a source of entertainment unto itself. Besides the green space that beckons kids of all ages and a cycling center for renting bikes, you will also be treated to plenty of interesting people-watching.
Tsukiji is best known as the home of the world-famous Tsukiji fish market. Families willing to get up super early can line up for the daily live auction (except for Sundays), starting at 4:30a at the Kachidoki entrance. For those who prefer a later start, there is still plenty of action to see throughout the morning and lots of places to grab a sushi breakfast — Sushi Dai and Sushizanmai are popular.
Originally the home of Tokyo’s banking district, Ginza (Japanese for silver mint) is known for luxury shopping, restaurants and entertainment. If you are in the market for pearls, the Mikimoto flagship store is located here.
Located near the Port of Tokyo, Odaiba is known as a family entertainment and amusement district. A popular attraction for families is the Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, which captivates with cutting-edge exhibits like Asimo the walking robot — all with excellent English explanations.
Days 6-7: Kyoto
The train trip from Tokyo to Kyoto alone will be a highlight for young and old alike. The famous shinkansen (bullet train) whisks passengers more than 318 miles in under three hours. Getting around Kyoto is much simpler than in Tokyo, as taxis are plentiful and the historic district is fairly compact.
To get an authentic feel for Kyoto in two days, we suggest visiting the following sights:
Kinkakuji. Kids will enjoy seeing this temple made of gold.
Nijo-jo Castle. Check out where a shogun lived and test the hummingbird floor that alerts occupants to intruders.
Kiyomizu, definitely the most interesting temple in Kyoto. You’ll see many visitors wearing kimono and the scenery is beautiful. Pair with a walk along the adorable sannen and ninen zaka lanes lined with souvenir shops.
Ginkakuji. Visit the Temple of the Silver Pavilion, and perhaps take a walk with older children along the mile-long Philosopher’s Path that begins there.
Sanjusangendo. This temple is famous for its 1,001 statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy.
Nishiki Market. Kyoto’s covered 400-year-old food market is a good choice for wandering on a rainy day.
Fushimi Inari Shrine, famous for its thousands of red torii gates that continue along a 4-kilometer path.