Planning a trip with kids can mean that you’ll have a few extra things to consider. Will it be fun for the little ones? Which places are kid-friendly, yet interesting enough for the adults? If you’re looking for the perfect place to take the family, Japan is the ultimate destination for possibly the best family vacation you’ll ever have. Drawing from our family’s own experience traveling from Tokyo to Kyoto and Osaka, here’s a full itinerary for 2 weeks in Japan, complete with fun-filled destinations and culturally enriching spots to check out; plus of course, delicious food!
Before You Go: Planning & Preparation
2 weeks in Japan will give you and your family plenty of time to really dive deep and explore what the country has to offer. Tokyo itself is massive and has plenty of places to visit, but traveling down south to Kyoto and Osaka will really give you a well-rounded experience of Japan.
So, what’s the best way to travel, and how should you get around? Luckily we’ve already done all the planning so you don’t have to! Here are 2 things you need to do before you go:
1. If you can, purchase plane tickets to arrive at Narita or Haneda airport (Tokyo), and depart from Kansai International Airport (Osaka)
2. Purchase a Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass), valid for 7 days, for every member of the family
The JR Pass made traveling by bullet train really easy and affordable, and by departing from Osaka, we were able to avoid having to travel back to Tokyo again to catch our flight.
Week 1: Tokyo
A week in Tokyo might seem like a long time, but trust me, there’s so much to see and do that there was never a dull moment. My daughter absolutely loved the city too!
For traveling around Tokyo, we used a Suica card, an easy top-up card for public transport, instead of our JR Passes. You can buy these at the ticket machines at every station.
Day 1 & Day 2: Tokyo Disneyland, Disney Sea
The Disneyland resort is located in between Narita airport and central Tokyo, so by heading there first we were able to avoid having to travel back and forth, saving us tons of time.
The kiddo had two fun-filled days at the Disney parks, but we found the experience really enjoyable as adults too. Disney Sea really stood out because it has a very different atmosphere compared to the other Disney parks we’ve been to- right at the centre of the park is a giant flaming volcano and a lake! The whole place feels like someplace out of a Jules Verne novel, so if you’re only going to visit just one of the parks instead of both, Disney Sea will be truly worth your time.
Day 3: Asakusa, Tokyo Skytree
Visit two of Tokyo’s biggest icons both traditional and modern: Senso-ji at Asakusa, and the towering Tokyo Skytree.
The Sensoji temple is the oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo, and is the definitive place to get a taste of old Japanese culture. Take pictures in front of Kaminarimon, a gate with a giant lantern located at the entrance of the temple, and shop for souvenirs at the many stores leading up to the temple itself. Don’t forget to try some Ningyo-yaki- pastries that resemble little dolls. For lunch, look out for the many shops selling ten-don, rice topped with an assortment of ingredients fried tempura-style.
Next, head over to Tokyo Skytree to catch the best possible view of Tokyo from up above. On a clear day, you’ll also see Mt. Fuji. At the base of the tower is a large shopping mall, so head over there to snag some unique items and merchandise of Japanese characters. Kids will absolutely love the Pokemon Centre there too! There’s plenty to eat here too, so you’re sorted for teatime and dinner. While you’re there, try some of the matcha desserts at Nana’s Green Tea.
Day 4: Tsukiji Fish Market, Ueno Park & Zoo
The tuna fish auction has moved to Toyosu, but the Tsukiji Outer Market is still alive and well. There’s no need to wake up at the crack of dawn to get in line, visit the market any time during the day to sample all kinds of fresh seafood and other tasty treats. The thing to try here is a kaisen-don, a bowl of sushi rice topped with fresh raw seafood. For the kiddies, look out for sweet rice-flour pastries known as daifuku.
Ueno Park and Ueno Zoo makes for a fun way to spend the afternoon for the family. Stroll around the large complex, which consists of several art museums, the National Museum, a museum of science and nature, as well as the zoo. Admission is cheap for adults (¥610~) and some museums are free for children. If you and your kid love animals and dinosaurs, you’ll love it here.
Day 5: Meiji Jingu Shrine, Harajuku, & Shibuya
See what city life in downtown Tokyo is like when you head over to the bustling cities of Harajuku and Shibuya. Be prepared for a long day on your feet, shopping and exploring.
In Harajuku, the first place to visit right after you exit the station is Meiji Jingu Shrine. Unlike Senso-ji, this is a Shinto shrine with very different aesthetics. You’ll need to walk up a quiet, serene path to get to the shrine, and don’t forget to purify at the fountain before entering- there will be instructions to show you how!
Next, take a short walk to Yoyogi Park, located right beside the shrine. The park is the most beautiful in spring, sakura trees shedding their petals all over the ground. At other times, it’s a nice and spacious park to play around in. A place that is a must-see is Takeshita Street, the infamous street in Harajuku that have inspired countless artists with it’s colourful, outrageous fashions and kawaii aesthetics. Be sure to grab a delicious cream-filled crepe, stalls are found anywhere along the street. Your kids will love Kiddy Land, which is truly a wonderland for kids, being chock full of toys and adorable characters.
Shibuya is just one stop away from Harajuku, and is Tokyo’s city life at its finest. Snap pictures and videos at the famous Scramble Crossing, but be sure to stick close together! Standing guard nearby is the Statue of Hachiko, another icon of Tokyo. Miyashita Park is popular new hangout for youngsters, and is a great place to grab a bite. Kids who love video games will also enjoy the Nintendo Store, located inside Parco in Shibuya.
Day 6: Day trip to Gotemba (Mt Fuji, premium outlets)
Take a break from exploring the city by taking a day trip out to Gotemba, in Shizuoka prefecture. The trip here takes just 1.5 hours by train from Shinjuku Station via the Odakyu Romancecar. The train ride was a lot of fun and very comfortable, and the kiddo loved watching the world zip by!
Once you’re there, take the shuttle bus to the Gotemba Premium Outlets, a massive shopping area that has a huge surprise in store. This is the best place to snag a great deal on international and Japanese designer brands, but the most amazing part is the absolutely breathtaking view of Mt. Fuji up close. There’s a lot of space here for the kids to run around, and tons of shops to check out. Most of all, we never got sick of the view- it’s that spectacular.
Day 7: Odaiba
Odaiba is a great place to spend your last day in Tokyo, as it’s full of attractions for the kids but is an all-around fun place for everyone. As it’s right by Tokyo Bay, you’ll get views of a different side of Tokyo. There is a very science and techy vibe to the whole place, which you’ll see in the architecture and museums around the area. Popular spots include the Giant Gundam Statue, a giant Ferris Wheel, and a hot-spring theme park Oedo Onsen Monogatari. If you have teenagers, you can’t miss the insta-worthy Teamlab Borderless digital art gallery!
Week 2: Kyoto & Osaka
On your second week, it’s time to head south. First to Kyoto, and lastly, Osaka.
Day 8: Temples of Kyoto
Check out and head out of Tokyo early in the morning via bullet train. Here’s where your JR Pass comes in handy! The journey to Kyoto is just over 2 hours and you’ll get there before lunch time.
See the golden temple of Kyoto, Kinkaku-ji, floating in the middle of the lake. Perched high above on stilts is Kiyomizudera, another famous temple of Kyoto that is a UNESCO World Heritage site and offers amazing views. Another destination is Fushimi-Inari-Taisha, where red torii gates line a long path through the temple.
Day 9: Old streets, arashiyama, Gion
Stroll through the old streets of Kyoto, taking in the surrounding old architecture and tradition. Travel to the Gion district, the original home to geishas, to catch a glimpse of the old Edo period. A scenic walk through Tetsugaku no michi ( The philosopher's path), framed by sakura trees and a canal is a calming, reflective experience too.
A visit to Kyoto isn’t complete without seeing Arashiyama, the serene forest with towering bamboo. There’s also a Monkey Park nearby, which houses the red-faced native monkey of Japan.
Day 10: Day trip to Nara
Make full use of your JR Pass here, by going to neighbouring area Nara. This place is famous for the friendly wild deer that roam around Nara Park. Feeding the deer is a one-of-a-kind experience that our entire family loved! Nearby is Todaiji Temple, an impressive old Buddhist temple that’s a symbol of Nara. Because it’s so close to Nara Park, you might find deer popping by to say hello too.
Day 11: Eating and Shopping in Osaka
It’s time to travel to neighbouring city Osaka, so hop on a quick shinkansen ride into the heart of Japan’s Kansai area. Osaka is known as the centre of Japan’s soul food— everything you eat here is going to be good, and based on our experience, that’s absolutely true.
Check out Shinsaibashi, Osaka’s prime shopping street, and Dotonbori, a true symbol of Osaka with huge signage and bright neon lights. There’s so many good food around here that it’s hard to narrow it down, but what best represents Osaka cuisine is takoyaki, octopus contained within a cooked pastry, and okonomiyaki, a sort of savoury pancake cooked on a metal plate. Don’t hesitate to try everything though!
Day 12: Universal Studios
Every family who goes to Osaka will pay a visit to Universal Studios here. Larger than Tokyo Disneyland, there’s so many rides to go on and so much for everyone to explore. Within the park is The Wizarding World, complete with a Hogwarts castle, and the exclusive new Super Nintendo World. Other than that, little kids will love the Sesame Street characters ,Snoopy, and Minions attractions. We only spent a day here, but big fans might want to book a hotel and stay longer.
Day 13: Osaka castle, Osaka aquarium
One of Japan’s most famous landmarks is Osaka Castle, a stately structure with sprawling castle grounds. After seeing all the temples of Kyoto, we found visiting the castle refreshing- plus you really do have to see at least one of Japan’s famous castles!
The Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan is the world’s largest aquarium, and an awesome place to visit with kids! All kinds of marine life are housed here, from whales to clownfish and jellyfish- a wonderful opportunity to teach kids about the amazing world we live in. your kids will love getting up close to arctic seals and penguins at the interactive exhibits, and you will find the visit well worth the money!
Day 14: Last minute shopping and treats, departure
On your final day in Japan, head out to buy and eat whatever you want! Japan is the land of souvenirs, and we found so many great items we almost bought too many! Most of our last-minute shopping was done at Shinsaibashi, but Kansai International Airport had a great selection of shops too.
Try out some ramen, a hearty bowl of Japanese noodles with soup before your flight that will keep you satisfied- you can even find some shops at the airport.
And so your 2-week journey through some of Japan’s best cities comes to a close. If you’re anything like us, you’re probably feeling like you don’t ever want to leave! Japan is such an amazing country, whether you’re traveling alone or with kids, there’s something for everyone to love and discover. Our kids had so much fun, and after the trip we had, we’ll definitely go back again. I hope this guide helped you in deciding and planning your next family trip to Japan!
Map of some spots you should visit while in Japan
Do you have a favorite place or destination in Japan ? Please share in the comments below and spread the Traveler Butterfly love !