Kid-sploring Tokyo

If you read my first Tokyo post, you know that the culture shock hit me pretty hard. I’m not proud of that – as a seasoned traveller, the struggle really surprised me – but I blame the kids. After all, being a Mom is hard enough before you throw in any complicating factors! Being subjected to a whole new set of judgements, real or perceived, is jarring and stressful. But the kids and I got through our first month, and we really enjoyed ourselves after that! I stopped worrying about how different they were from Japanese kids and just enjoyed their (loud) wonder and delight.

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I would have loved to spend my hours exploring 8-seat restaurants and Michelin picks… I hear that Tokyo is one of the best food cities in the world! That is definitely not how kidsploring works, though. I got really good at navigating Japanese grocery stores, creating picnics on the fly, and keeping my kids snack-happy.

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Dangos are flame-kissed balls of mochi coated in a sweet teriyaki sauce… a favourite snack!

Here’s a photo-roundup of our favourite Tokyo-area kids attractions! Let me know if you want more details on any of them. Tokyo’s public transport system is pretty stroller-friendly. This is especially true if your stroller is small enough for escalators, but most stations also have elevators (even if they’re hard to find). If I were alone, I would have spent a lot more time walking around, but we would have lost too much time (and energy and patience) at toddler pace.

Sanrio Puroland

Auden is totally in love with “Hello Kitty land” and if you get your ticket in advance on Voyagin, it’s half price. We actually went twice because she loved it so much, it’s completely indoors, and there were attractions that we hadn’t seen. We didn’t spend extra money once inside (other than the cafeteria), but you can pay for additional rides or a fast-pass if you like. I found it completely manageable alone with the kids. There are plenty of baby-friendly facilities.

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Yokohama Zoo

Even though Zoorasia is hard to get to (it took us 2 hours, in 3 trains plus a bus), it is so excellent that we went twice! The grounds are organised in geographically themed areas, complete with culturally inspired art and thoughtfully laid out habitats. There are multiple (huge!) playgrounds, a pygmy goat petting area, and several cafes. We brought picnics and topped up with snacks on-site. The grounds are truly beautiful and it’s easy to spend a full day there.

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Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

This park is beautiful in any season, with its towering trees, classic Japanese garden, vast picnic spaces and peaceful corners. Even with sakura crowds, it is a welcome respite from the noise and bustle of the city. We always brought picnics and drinks.

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National Museum of Nature and Science

This museum is completely charming. We spent our time in the Japan Gallery, where every floor delighted the kids. Most importantly, the play area on the top floor is brilliant! You need to book a place (no additional cost) on the first floor.

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Nikoniko Park

This is THE playground in Tokyo if you want hours of entertainment. It has so much play equipment that there are rarely any queues, as well as open space for running around. It costs ¥300, but that includes re-entry and it is well worth it. We brought picnics and spent entire days there.

TeamLab Digital Art Museum: Borderless

This exhibit is, in a word, stunning. The kids and I all LOVED the interactive digital art, and went especially wild in the Athletics Forest. I would have loved to go again, but it’s quite expensive, and it is way too stressful with 2 toddlers. It’s really dark and really huge, so I would never have found a lost child. As long as you’re not alone with multiple small kids, it’s a must-do!

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Tsukiji Outer Market

Our faaaave food market! We had a few food favourites that we always bought, and a few knife stalls that I just admired dreamily. You can’t miss this when you visit Tokyo!

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Tokyo Toy Museum

The kids loved this and easily spent all day there, but I don’t think it works for anyone above 4 years old. It’s also quite expensive. That being said, they have both indoor and outdoor play areas; it’s a screen-free day; re-entry is allowed and there’s plenty of food nearby; and the staff is lovely.

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Maxell Aquarium

Another big hit with the kids! It’s a very manageable size and has a good dolphin show. For me, the real highlight was the jellyfish room. Penguins, seals, sharks, and a million fish (duh) round out the collection. I would have been happy to take the kids back, but the 5 bucks per minute carousel annoyed me and I knew I couldn’t get away with skipping it!

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Keio Railway Museum

To be honest, this one was a happy accident. I wanted to take the kids to Tama Zoo and I didn’t have enough cash to get in. This museum is at the same train stop and thankfully accepted Pasmo cards for the entry fee. The kids had an awesome time playing on the trains, building their own tracks and running around the soft play. This is another one that won’t work over 4 years old, but saved our day!

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Fire Museum

Fun and *free* museum with some interesting history (samurai firefighters!) and fun simulations for the kids. Minus one point because my kids were really disappointed they couldn’t climb on a real fire truck.

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We got back to London one week ago, so I hope to resume my weekly posting schedule! Until next time, Sayonara!

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