If you want to keep the kids happy but also see some of Japan’s traditional sights, this itinerary is perfect. It includes Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara and Osaka, each of which has some great kid-friendly attractions.
Kids at a shrine © rebeccaselah
- Duration: Around 10 days.
- Perfect for: First time visitors to Japan with children.
- Places visited: Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara and Osaka.
- Arrival City/Airport: Most people fly into Tokyo’s Narita or Haneda airports to do this itinerary.
- Best Season: Any time of year.
- Japan Rail Pass: A one-week Japan Rail Pass will save you a bit of money. Be sure to activate it on the day you LEAVE Tokyo (not the day you arrive). For more details, see our Japan Rail Pass: Is It Worth It? page.
Background Information on Traveling in Japan With Children
For some general background information on traveling in Japan with children, see our Kyoto with Children page. Yes, it’s written about Kyoto, but most of the information applies to all of Japan.
The Full Itinerary
Day 1: Arrive in Tokyo
You’ll probably arrive at Narita International Airport (NRT), but some flights also go into the more convenient Haneda International Airport (HND). See our Tokyo Airport Transport page for details on getting into Tokyo from the airports.
Day 2: Tokyo
On your first full day in Tokyo, choose some sights from our Full Tokyo 1-Day Itinerary With Children Itinerary page. If you don’t want to travel too far, do the sights on the west side of town, including Shibuya and the Fire Museum. If you’ve got more energy, head down to Odaiba for the Miraikan (Science Museum) and other great sights. Another option would be Ueno, with its zoo, museums (including a great science museum) and its spacious park.
Day 3: Tokyo
On your second full day in Tokyo, choose some other sights from our Full Tokyo 1-Day Itinerary With Children Itinerary page. Depending upon your tastes, you might also consider Tokyo Disneyland or Studio Ghibli (for fans of Miyazaki’s wonderful animated films). You’ll need some advance planning to visit either of these.
Day 4: Travel to Kyoto, Explore Downtown Kyoto
Take the shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto. The journey takes around 2.5 hours and costs Y13,080 (you can use a Japan Rail Pass to cover this trip). For details, see our How to Travel from Tokyo to Kyoto page. You’ll probably have some time after arriving in Kyoto to explore. We recommend checking out the downtown area on this day. Children tend to enjoy the Teramachi and Shinkyogoku shopping arcades.
Family enjoying the garden at Shoren-in Temple in Kyoto © aigle_dore
Day 5: Kyoto:
On your first full day in Kyoto, do one of the itineraries on our Kyoto Itineraries for Families with Children page. The sights in these itineraries allow both parents and children to enjoy Japan’s traditional culture. One sight you should consider adding to the itinerary is the newly refurbished Kyoto City Zoo, which is surprisingly good.
Child and deer in Nara © 67162482@N07
Day 6: Daytrip to Nara
Nara is only 30 minutes by train from Kyoto, so it makes a great daytrip. Best of all, Nara has the kind of sights that children enjoy, including a park filled with tame deer and a temple that contains a giant Buddha image. For a suggested itinerary, see our Perfect One-Day Nara Itinerary. For transport details between Kyoto and Nara, see our How to Get to Nara page.
Day 7: Kyoto: Arashiyama
On your second full day in Kyoto, travel west to the Arashiyama district, where you can enjoy two great child-friendly attractions: Iwatayama Monkey Park and the famous Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. In the afternoon, I recommend a visit to the excellent Kyoto Railway Museum, which is great for both adults and children.
Day 8: Travel to Osaka, Explore Osaka
Osaka is only 12 minutes from Kyoto by shinkansen or 40 minutes by private rail line (Hankyu or Keihan lines). For information on traveling from Kyoto to Osaka, see our How to Travel from Kyoto to Osaka page. Osaka is literally crammed with great child-friendly attractions. If you get an early start from Kyoto, you can do Day 1 of our Osaka 2-Day Itinerary with Children. For some background information on traveling in Osaka with Children, see our Osaka with Children page.
Osaka Aquarium © agedooley
Day 9: Explore Osaka
On this day, you can do the second day of our Osaka 2-Day Itinerary with Children.
Day 10: Travel from Osaka back to Tokyo
Take the shinkansen back to Tokyo. For details, see our How to Travel from Tokyo to Osaka page. You’ll probably have some time in the afternoon to do some last-minute shopping or sightseeing. Note, if your flight out of Tokyo leaves after 3pm, you might be able to spend this night in Osaka (see the note below).
Day 11: Fly Home from Tokyo
After spending a final evening in Tokyo, you will make your way back to Narita or Haneda airports and fly home. See our Tokyo Airport Transport page for details on getting from Tokyo to these airports.
Important Note on Leaving Osaka and Flying Out of Tokyo the Same Day
If your departure from Tokyo is after 3pm, you do not have to spend your last night in Tokyo; you can leave from Osaka and still make your flight. As a rule, to travel from Osaka to Narita takes around 4 hours, with transfers. The best way is to take a Hikari or Nozomi shinkansen to Shinagawa Station in Tokyo and transfer to the Narita Express there (if you change at Tokyo Station, you have to walk VERY far to reach the Narita Express platforms).
If you’re flying out of Haneda Airport, allow about 3.5 hours travel time from Osaka to Haneda. The best way is a Hikari or Nozomi shinkansen to Shinagawa Station in Tokyo and then the Keikyu Line to Haneda.
- Japan Itineraries Overview
- 1 Week Japan Itinerary: Tokyo and Kyoto
- 10 Day Japan Itinerary: Tokyo, Kyoto and Kanazawa
- 10 Day Japan Itinerary: Tokyo, Kyoto and Takayama
- 2 Week Japan Itinerary: The Grand Tour
- 7 to 10 Day Japan Itinerary: Kyoto, Osaka, Nara and Hiroshima
- Japan With Children Itinerary
Want Someone Else To Do All The Planning?
Intrepid Travel offer several small group tours of Japan where all the logistics are taken care of for you. Tours include Classic Japan, Japan’s Winter Festivals and the Real Food Adventure. See the complete list of Intrepid Travel Japan tours.
Kyoto Vacation Checklist
- Check Kyoto accommodation availability on Booking.com - usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too.
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Compare Japan flight prices and timings on CheapOAir.com
- If you're visiting more than one city, get your Japan Rail Pass
- Get travel insurance for your Japan trip - book online with World Nomads