Planning a family holiday is never easy. With so many competing demands, it can be a challenge to find a destination that will satisfy everyone, and practical considerations like ease of travel and convenience come to the fore.
For anyone trying to find the perfect place for their next family trip, Japan is a place that offers something for everyone. From its vibrant cities to its beautiful natural habitats, its high-octane winter sports to its rich history, Japan is a country that will fill photo albums with fond memories, all backed up by world class transport infrastructure in safe and friendly surrounds.
Because getting around is so easy, families can combine a number of different holidays in one, making sure that everyone, young and old, will go home happy. Just some of the highlights include:
Japan is home to dozens of theme parks, some unique to Japan while others are household names all over the world. There are also countless museums that capture all aspects of Japanese life.
The ultimate fun day out for children and parents alike, Tokyo Disneyland houses both Disneyland and Disney Sea, conveniently located close to Tokyo. Divided into seven main themes areas, the park is famed for its landscaped open spaces as much as the traditional Disney magic. Tokyo DisneySea is the only Disney park in the world themed to the myths and legends of the sea, making it a truly special only-in-Japan experience.
Universal Studios, Osaka
For film buffs of all ages, Universal Studios Japan features a wide range of attractions divided between eight worlds: Hollywood, New York, San Francisco, Jurassic Park, Waterworld, Amity Village, Universal Wonderland and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The park is close to the action of downtown Osaka
Sanrio Puroland, Tama
A cute and crazy place to meet Japan’s beloved Hello Kitty and her many colourful friends. This theme park features a boat ride with Hello Kitty, My Melody, Cinnamoroll, Jewelpet, and many other Sanrio characters. Stay overnight at the nearby Keio Plaza Hotel Tama’s Hello Kitty themed rooms for an extra dose of cuteness.
Miraikan – National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, Koto, Tokyo
For fans of technology, the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation is unmissable. Here children are often mesmerised by Japan’s innovative technologies and can get up close to all manner of robots and androids.
The Ghibli Museum, Tokyo
A truly unique and magical place in Tokyo’s western suburbs, this is a museum dedicated to one of Japan’s best-loved art forms: animated movies. You don’t have to be a fan of the films to appreciate the artistry of the exhibits, or to get lost in the stories displayed throughout.
Cup Noodles Museum, Osaka
At this off-the-wall museum, visitors can learn everything they’ve ever wanted to know (and more) about the history of cup noodles. Visitors are invited to design their own cup noodles packaging and even make their own custom flavour!
Picture postcard scenery
Japan’s diverse landscape varies from tropical beaches, cedar forests, tea plantations, snowy mountains and more. This, coupled with the distinct seasons, means that visitors can expect to find year-round natural beauty all over the country.
The perfect picture-postcard time to visit Japan is during spring when the cherry blossom trees are in full bloom. Typically late March to early April, this is the ideal time to bring the whole family, when the weather is milder, and the country celebrates with hanami (flower-viewing parties and picnics). Look out for the delicious cherry-blossom themed desserts on offer during this period.
Jigokudani Monkey Park, Yamanouchi, Nagano
The Japanese Alps is home to native snow monkeys, who are partial to warming themselves during the winter months in the region’s natural hot springs. This gives rise to the sight of monkeys lazing in the heated pools while the snow falls, often acquiring soft hats of fresh snow in the process – a scene your family is not likely to forget!
Skiing, Hokkaido, Nagano, Niigata and Tohoku
Also during winter, the powdery snowfields in places like Hokkaido, Nagano, Niigata and Tohoku are ideal for skiing and snowboarding. Most ski resorts cater to visiting families and have a wide variety of ski runs and off-piste activities to suit every age.
Culture, old and new
In Japan, tradition is fused with modern living. The country’s heritage is unlike anywhere else and there are plenty of opportunities to explore Japan’s rich history and customs as a family. Modern Japan can be unlocked in many of the country’s vibrant cities, particularly Tokyo and Osaka.
Harajuku is Tokyo’s trendiest and quirkiest suburb, renowned for its street art and fashion culture. Its streets are filled with Japan’s most eye-catching examples of teenage fashion, something the country’s youngsters spend time, effort and money to pursue to the extreme. Unique clothing stores cater to all forms of niche styles, while upmarket boutiques are nestled between small bars and cafes.
Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo
The world-famous Shibuya Crossing in the nation’s capital is the ultimate place to take in the magnitude of this busy city and get an insight into modern Japan. Choose a nearby cafe to watch from a distance and take it all in.
Train travel, countrywide
Japan is a veritable paradise for train lovers. From state-of-the-art shinkansen (bullet train) rides, to steam locomotive rides through the picturesque Japanese countryside, children young and old will be enthralled with the different types of train journeys on offer. There are also character themed trains and railway museums throughout the country.
Edo Wonderland, Nikko
Here, families can be transported to another time in Japan’s unique history and experience life in the Edo period. Children can dress up as and learn more about the geishas, royalty, samurais and ninjas that dominated Japanese society in the 17th century.
Temple stay, Koyasan
A short stay in one of Koyasan’s shukubo temples gives guests a deeper appreciation of the peace and tranquillity that is central to Japanese spiritual life, offering a true respite from the stresses of the modern world. For families, the experience can offer a time to reflect and reenergise before the trip back home to resume the daily routine.
For more inspiration, the Japan Facebook and Instagram pages offer tips on planning the perfect family adventure to land of the rising sun.