Just found this Web site and thought some experts might have some helpful advice.
My family (me, my wife and our 2- and 4-year-old daughters) will be spending four days in Tokyo later this week (Jan. 20-24) on our way to two months in China, and I'd like some last-minute advice on what the best things to see for children are in Tokyo, advice for getting around with children, and perhaps personal tips for catching a quick glimpse of "real life" in or around Tokyo during our short stay. We're also interested in a day trip to Nikko or Kyoto, but aren't sure that the pricey packaged tours are the best way to go.
I also sent a message to tokyofreeguide.com, so we're open to helpful local guides, even for a single outing, while we're there.
I sound very unprepared, I know, but we've been focusing more on the China part of our trip until this, the 11th hour.
Thanks in advance for any insights or recommendations,
Seattle, WA, USA
Youre going to have a fabulous time in Tokyo!And it will be great for the Kid's all the bright colours and quirky things to do!I recently got back from a trip travelling around Japan and Im a big Kid myself so there will be loads for you to do that will appeal to you all!!!We stayed in the Tawaramachi area which was quite quiet but easy walking distance to both a metro station and the temples at Asakusa!I definatley reccomend a trip to Asakusa, that way you can see a more traditional side to Japan with all the beautiful temples and shrines, plus the atmosphere is wonderful and you almost forget your in a big city full of neon and singing toilets !Also in that area there is a tiny little amusement park called Hanayashiki and a traditional crafts museum so there would be something there for both you and the kids!Be sure to check out the big senso-ji temple, its amazing!In that area theres a big indoor market too which sells all the cute little Hello Kitty type stuff, Kimono, traditional tea sets, fans, almost everything....definatley worth a look!
Tokyo itself if appealing to anyone I think whether Kids or not, theres all these arcade places which are all rainbow coloured and noisy, they have all these fun games and bizarre photo machines!!!Also you may want to consider visiting one of the Japanese Gardens whilst over there, they are really beautiful!Theres also a Tokyo Disneyworld and a Sanrio World but that would depend on whether you wanted to spend a day somewhere like that, I guess thats something you could do anytime, anywhere, plus theres so much to see in Tokyo itself!
As for day trips, Kyoto is amazing...it takes 3 hours by the Shinkansen trains and its not a bad journey, pretty scenery and you get to see Mount Fuji on the way!Kyoto is a lot more laid back, lots of temples to see and the Geisha district of Gion!
Hope this helps...if you have any questions or anything feel free to message me, i could take about Japan for hours, i love the place!
You`ll have a good time in Tokyo especially if you minimize stress by knowing your way around. The train system is complex but convenient. If you can get an english map do so, if not there is a computer program called hyperdia that is great assuming you know the station names that you will depart from arrive to. As for Kyoto and Nikko don`t bother with the package( I am anti package tour so take this with a grain of salt) provided you know where you are going; for example Shinjuku station to Kyoto station you really don`t need a tour. Check into the JR Rail pass to save some cash, it is only available to tourists and must be purchased BEFORE you leave for Japan.
There are lots of hotels near Kyoto station and it is good base for exploring Kyoto. I loved the Arashiyama area, a glimpse of the real Kyoto and less touristy than the beaten path areas. Kyoto is very spread out so if you plan to see alot of shrines nad temples you can take buses from Kyoto station(the signs are in english) or taxi is another much more expensive option, but with small kids maybe easier.
Regarding the real Tokyo this is very subjective. Much like New York Tokyo is a collection of neighbourhoods and districts. If you want amazing skyscrapers and neon go to Shinjuku, youth culture and fashion go to Shibuya and Harajuku, Temples and Shrines-Sensoji in Asakusa and Meijijungu in Harajuku(there is also Yoyogi park nearby). Odaiba is a nice way to spend and afternoon shopping and eating and there is Sega Joyopolis, a themepark\game center, some interesting buildings and a nice monorail ride to get there.
As for the kids, the previous poster had alot good suggestions and also maybe the Sony Building in Ginza is good for kids(big and little!)
Anymore specific question post away.
Many thanks for your wonderful insights, Twinkle and ghostdog, and to a couple other folks who've sent PMs. I think you'll all share the credit for any success we have during our brief passage through Japan.
And excellent point regarding the "real" Japan--I guess I mean more "non-touristy" by that, but even that's somewhat subjective.
A couple follow-up questions, if I may:
Is there a mid-day "lull" in commuter traffic, when we could safely take toddlers onto the subways without the crush from attendants in white gloves sardining us further into the subway cars, or are we better off avoiding the subways with youngsters in tow?
Are taxi rates in Tokyo "out of this world," or would the fare from, say, central Tokyo to somewhere on the outskirts cost the same as a flight to Hong Kong?
Thanks again--and I may have another question or two after doing a bit more research into the areas you mention.
about the whole sardines in a can thing....before I went I saw some nightmare photos of the trains during rush hours full of commuters squeezing themselves onto them however I was pleasantly suprised when we used the trains at such hours as It wasnt really bad at all!I wouldnt worry, people were very polite over there compared to the pushiness of people using the underground here in London. The people seem a lot more considerate over there and I imagine even more so when it comes to people travelling with children!