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STORY 10 family-friendly places you won’t want to miss in Japan

Japan is a playground full of adventures and experiences for the young (and young of heart)


With an abundance of amusement parks, museums and attractions, Japan has a plethora of fun and thrilling activities for children and adults to enjoy.


Here’s a list of some of the most exciting and unique attractions to entertain the kids (and the whole family). 


1. Tokyo Disney Resort

Chiba Prefecture 


The incredible magic of Disney awaits in Chiba Prefecture, a hop, skip and a jump from Tokyo. Tokyo Disney Resort consists of two enchanting theme parks, Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea, offering visitors an unforgettable day of fun, laughter and thrills. You will find rides and attractions unique to Japan making the theme park a must-do with the family.


Tokyo Disneyland is truly a child’s dream come true with seven distinctively themed areas to explore and enjoy. Start at Adventureland, then make your way to Westernland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Critter Country, Mickey’s Toontown and World Bazaar. Meet famous movie characters, and witness colourful and vibrant parades that bring the magic of Disney to life. 


The resort is also a favourite amongst adrenaline seekers with renowned attractions such as Space Mountain, Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek! and Star Tours: The Adventures Continue. Experience rapid speeds, breathtaking drops, and tight turns as you venture through the park’s many thrilling rides (there are also many gentler rides for the faint at heart). 


Don’t forget to also check out the incredible world of Disney Sea which boasts seven different themed ports such as Mysterious Island, Mermaid Lagoon, Arabian Coast and Lost River Delta. It’s like Disneyland on the water!


Travel tip: Dedicate a full day to each park to get the most out of your visit. 


2. Fuji-Q Highland

Yamanashi Prefecture


People ice skating at Fuji-Q Highland in front of the Fujiyama - King of Coasters rollercoaster.

People ice skating at Fuji-Q Highland in front of the Fujiyama - King of Coasters rollercoaster. Image: Navapon Plodprong/Shutterstock.com 


Enjoy thrills and spills at one of Japan’s most popular amusement parks. Located at the foot of Mt Fuji in the Fuji Five Lakes region, Fuji-Q Highland is best known for record-breaking rollercoasters and elaborate character-themed rides and attractions. It is also famous for offering visitors unique and close-up views of Japan’s most celebrated mountain, Mt Fuji


Fuji-Q Highland is a thrill-seeker’s paradise, with rides offering some of Japan’s steepest drops and fastest speeds. Test your limits at the park’s tallest rollercoaster, the famous Fujiyama - King of Coasters. Ranked amongst the best in the world, your adrenaline will surely start pumping as you drop a whopping 79 metres with unparalleled views of Mt Fuji. If this feels like child’s play, head to Takabisha, one of the world’s steepest rollercoasters with a drop angle of 121 degrees. 


Although the majority of the park rides are scream-inducing, there are also many gentler attractions suited for young children. You can find water rides, large mazes, merry-go-rounds, spinning teacups and a Ferris wheel. Fuji-Q Highland is a park offering attractions for everyone in the family: from the bravest to the most careful and from the biggest to the smallest. 


3. Edo Wonderland 

Tochigi Prefecture


Edo Wonderland, Tochigi Prefecture.

Edo Wonderland, Tochigi Prefecture. 


In Nikko, you can step back in time at Edo Wonderland, and have a first-hand look at the beauty, culture and interesting characters of the Edo Period (1603-1867).


Expect to enjoy 17th-century Japanese cuisine, fun activities and a variety of entertaining traditional performances. As you explore the village you will encounter many friendly locals (who love to chat with visitors and have their photos taken). To further immerse yourself in the Edo experience, be sure to stop by the Jiku costume rental shop to dress up in traditional clothing of your choice, including samurai, ninjas and princesses.


The park has many unique attractions such as the Kai Kai Ninja House, where walls seem to bend and balls roll uphill instead of downhill. You also cannot miss the Karakuri Ninja Maze, a labyrinth that will test your memory and thinking skills. 


Be sure to keep an eye out for live shows held at various theatres in the park. The incredible performances include hilarious comic shows to stunning traditional water magic performances. The kids will surely love the popular Ninja Karasu Goten show, an action-packed performance with dramatic light and sound effects that showcases ninja skills and weaponry.


4. Nara Park 

Nara Prefecture 


Wild deer in Nara Park, Nara Prefecture.

Wild deer in Nara Park, Nara Prefecture. Image: Benny Marty/Shutterstock.com 


For a peaceful yet entertaining family day out, head to Nara Park. Home to hundreds of freely roaming deer, beautiful greenery and various temples, there is something for everyone in the family to enjoy. 


The deer at Nara Park are believed to be messengers of the gods and have become the symbol of the city. They are also considered to be sacred and are protected as Natural Monuments. At Nara Park, you can get up close with these beloved animals and even feed them with special deer crackers that are sold all around the park. Don’t be surprised if the deer bow to you, it’s their way of asking to be fed! While they are generally tame, please be cautious with small children when feeding them and avoid teasing them with food.


If you start feeling peckish, you can head to the traditional tea houses and kiosks conveniently located around the park. 


You can also explore many UNESCO World Heritage-listed sites nearby, such as the popular Todaiji Temple. The temple is known for its 15-metre-high Buddha, the largest in Japan. You must also visit the historical Kasuga Taisha Shrine. The vermillion and white shrine is located in a primeval forest and its halls are decorated with some 3,000 brass lanterns, making it a beautiful and serene place to visit.


5. Ghibli Museum, Mitaka

Tokyo Prefecture


Ghibli Museum, Mitaka in Tokyo.

Ghibli Museum, Mitaka in Tokyo. Image: cowardlion/Shutterstock.com 


Located in western Tokyo, you can find the one-of-a-kind Ghibli Museum, Mitaka , a whimsical museum dedicated to the work of the legendary Studio Ghibli animation studio. Co-founded by executive director Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli is behind some of Japan’s (and the world’s) most beloved films such as My Neighbour Totoro, Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. 


At the museum, the whole family will get a first-hand look into the studio’s work as well as a view into the inner workings of the animation world. The museum has no set path, allowing visitors to make their own way to its different attractions, paying homage to its motto, ‘let’s lose our way, together’. 


You will stumble across jaw-dropping animation mock-ups, large statues, toys, drawings, illustrations and colourful life-size recreations of popular film settings. The kids will also love the giant plush Cat Bus from My Neighbour Totoro, one of the most adored characters from Studio Ghibli films. Please note only primary school children (aged 12 and under) can enter the Cat Bus room. 


Please note: Admission to the Ghibli Museum, Mitaka is by advance reservation only, and reservations cannot be made at the museum. Overseas visitors can purchase tickets online from Lawson Ticket. See the official website for more information. 


6. Nijigen no Mori

Hyogo Prefecture 


Person ziplining through Godzilla’s mouth at Nijigen no Mori, Hyogo Prefecture.

Person ziplining into Godzilla’s mouth at Nijigen no Mori, Hyogo Prefecture. Image: TM & © TOHO CO., LTD.


Nijigen no Mori is a sensational anime and manga-inspired theme park on Awaji Island. Combining the fantastical worlds of Japanese manga, anime and gaming with the latest technology, this park is home to an abundance of wonders ready to be explored by the whole family. The park will make you feel like you've been pulled into the hit stories of Japanese pop culture.


Train like a ninja in the Hidden Leaf Village – guided by the key characters from the Naruto and Boruto manga and anime series. Or head to the Crayon Shin-Chan Adventure Park, where the whole family will be screaming with joy as you glide over treetops and lakes on 225-metre or 140-metre zip lines. If you feel like getting more active, there are four types of obstacle courses with varying difficulty levels.


However, the park’s most popular attraction is perhaps its life-sized Godzilla, which stands at an amazing 23-metres high, 25-metres wide and 55-metres long. Participate in the Godzilla Interception Operation by entering the monster’s mouth on a thrilling zipline and carry out your mission!


Dragon Quest Land is another visitor favourite. An outdoor field role-playing game attraction where you become the protagonist and embark on a journey of the world of Dragon Quest through a fusion of real and digital elements. 


7. Universal Studios Japan (USJ)

Osaka Prefecture 


Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan, Osaka Prefecture

Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan, Osaka Prefecture. Images courtesy of Universal Studios Japan © Nintendo.


Since opening in 2001, Universal Studios Japan has attracted millions of visitors with its thrilling rides, exciting events and theatrical shows. With ten areas, each with its own distinct theme, it is the ideal place for a fun adventure-packed family outing. 


You won’t be able to contain your excitement at the world’s first Super Nintendo World. Race your way to victory on Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge where iconic courses from the famous game have been brought to life with cutting-edge technology, an immersive experience set to leave you and your family pumping with adrenaline and happiness. 


Another famous attraction is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This magical area reproduces the incredible world of the beloved book series with meticulous attention to detail, making you feel like you’re right at Hogwarts. Step inside the iconic shops of the wizarding world including Ollivanders wand shop and Zonko’s Joke Shop.  


The adventures are endless at Universal Studios Japan with many other attractions such as  Minion Park, Hollywood Boulevard and the Jurassic Park ride. This thrilling boat tour is a must for dinosaur lovers as it takes passengers on a journey through prehistoric landscapes with large animatronic dinosaurs. Do you dare plunge down a 25.9-metre drop to escape a giant T-Rex on the loose? 


8. Ninja Museum of Igaryu

Mie Prefecture 


Man in a Ninja outfit showcasing a weapon at Ninja Museum of Igaryu, Mie Prefecture.

Man in a Ninja outfit showcasing a weapon at Ninja Museum of Igaryu, Mie Prefecture. Image: Phuong D. Nguyen/Shutterstock.com 



Want to learn about the history of the ninja and ninjutsu? Look no further than the Ninja Museum of Igaryu. Many real-life ninjas from history have trained in this remote town, carrying out missions ranging from espionage to guarding important public figures. This museum will give you an insight into the skills, knowledge and activities of the mysterious ninja. 


Visit the Ninja Experience Hall to marvel at over 400 ninja tools and weapons on display and learn about how they were used. You can even try using some of the tools for yourself. Don’t miss the Ninja House to discover all sorts of astounding secrets. With traps, fake hallways stashed weapons and escape routes– the house will make you feel like you’re on a real-life top-secret ninja mission.


You’ll be left amazed at the ninja show where specially trained performers demonstrate incredible ninja moves and tricks. You can also try your hand at shuriken (a star-shaped throwing blade) – while looking easy to hold, they are a difficult weapon to handle. Are you up for the challenge?


9. Kyoto International Manga Museum

Kyoto Prefecture 


Kyoto International Manga Museum. Kyoto International Manga Museum. Image: cowardlion/Shutterstock.com 


If you’re a fan of Japanese comics, you’ll want to head to Kyoto’s International Manga Museum, a comprehensive manga museum dedicated entirely to the beloved art form. It is a paradise for manga fans big and small.


Opened in 2006, the museum also functions as a library and research facility. It boasts an impressive collection of approximately 300,000 items, including historical materials from the Edo Period, current popular series and overseas publications. Around 50,000 titles from this collection can be read for free throughout the museum's grounds and are displayed across three floors on the ‘Wall of Manga’. 


If you’re more of a history buff, the museum also features exhibits on the history and development of manga including original artwork by famous authors. For the kids, there’s a special children’s library and periodic performance of kamishibai, a traditional Japanese form of storytelling with illustrations. 


10. Themed hotels 

Looking for a quirky hotel stay in Japan? The whole family will love these themed hotel rooms where characters from famous TV shows, books and movies are brought to life. 


Pokémon Room

Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka Prefectures


Pokemon-themed room at Apartment Hotel Mimaru.

Pokémon-themed room at Apartment Hotel Mimaru. Image: ©Pokémon. ©Nintendo Creatures Inc. GAME FREAK inc.


APARTMENT HOTEL MIMARU’s Pokémon themed rooms are an absolute dream for fans of the iconic series. The apartment-style rooms are ideal for families and can accommodate from 4 to 6 people depending on the location.


You will be greeted with a giant stuffed Snorlax on the bed and find cute Pokémon themed wallpaper, furnishings and even tableware! Everywhere you look, you’ll see influences from Pokémon. Guests who stay in the themed room will also receive a free special Pokémon gift set.


Hello Kitty Room 

Tokyo Prefecture


Spend some private time with Hello Kitty in themed hotel rooms devoted entirely to her at Asakusa Tobu Hotel . Offering two different room types inspired by traditional Japanese culture, the pink spaces are perfect for Hello Kitty lovers or travellers seeking out a one-of-a-kind experience. Both rooms can accommodate up to 4 people and you can expect to see cute and colourful decor featuring the beloved Sanrio character. 


The Sakura Tennin room is a pastel pink, sakura-themed room featuring a raised zashiki tatami flooring area and Hello Kitty dressed as a cute celestial maiden. The Wa-modern room blends both Japanese and Western styles, offering a cute yet calming atmosphere with decor in darker shades of pink and Hello Kitty dressed in a modern kimono.


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