Tokyo is one of the most exciting, vibrant, and busiest cities in the world. But the prospect of taking your family there for a visit might seem a little overwhelming – the language, the alphabet, the food, and the sheer pace of a city this size. Sure you could take the easy option and take the kids to Tokyo Disneyland, but that is really defeating the purpose of having a travel adventure together. In this article we share with you a few hints and tips on how to tackle Tokyo with the family and have an amazing travel experience.
Embrace public transport
The public transport system of Tokyo is going to become your best friend – it is by far the easiest way to get around the city. It obviously gets busy at peak times in the morning and the evening, which are best avoided, but most of the time you won’t feel crammed in like a sardine and you will be able to find your way easily. Looking at the transport map is initially overwhelming, but there is always an English version of the map available, all the ticket machines have an English language option, and most of the the ticket office staff will speaking enough English to be able to help you. The ticket pricing can be a little confusing, so buy a Suica card which is the stored value card that enables you to touch in and touch out of the ticket barriers. Once you get the hang of it you and the family will be riding those trains like a local.
Eat lots of food
If your kids like Japanese food then you are going to have a great time trying all the different seasonal and regional varieties of food that can be found in Tokyo. You don’t have to go to the Michelin starred restaurants ( although there are plenty of them) as most places are fairly child friendly. A lot of cafes and restaurants still have smoking sections that aren’t particularly isolated, so you may feel you want to check that out before deciding to eat somewhere. Visiting the enormous Tsukiji Fish Market is definitely an option – you don’t have to be up crazy early for the tuna auction (unless you want to), once the market opens to the public there is a lot of action to see. This is a working market though so you will want to keep a close eye on the kids. Stop for a sushi breakfast in the market – super fresh. It’s important to note that Yakitori bars generally don’t allow children, although you might be able to perch on one of the outdoor tables.
Dive into the culture
Japan’s history and culture is obviously ancient and fascinating, and you can ensure that this is an educational trip without being too boring. If you can time your visit to Tokyo with one of the regular Sumo tournaments this is an exciting way to see this incredible sport up close and personal, and get an appreciation of the role it plays in Japanese culture today. If there isn’t a tournament on then you can visit the area where the Sumo training stables are, but access to these is generally very limited.
Tokyo is fantastic city. Is your family ready for the adventure?