Advice and practical tips for traveling to Japan with kids

Nara Park in Japan.

Japan is a magical destination for travelers of all ages. If you’re traveling to Japan with kids, there are a few things you can do to make sure your trip is fun-filled and stress-free.

Check this complete guide for advice on choosing accommodation, transportation options, family-friendly activities, and more!

Transportation options when traveling with children

There are plenty of ways to get around Japan as a family. Public transport reaches all main destinations, to visit more remote or rural areas, a hire car might be your best option.

Family-friendly train travel in Japan

Traveling around Japan by train is a fantastic experience for the whole family. Trains are punctual and efficient, there’s also plenty of space for luggage, which is especially handy with young children.

Kids will love riding the Shinkansen (bullet train) — the special Hello Kitty bullet train on the Sanyo Shinkansen line is sure to be a hit with the little ones! By opting for train travel, parents can relax and enjoy the time with the children instead of embarking on long drives.

Children under the age of 6 ride all JR trains and buses free of charge without the option to reserve seats. There is a 50% discount for children aged 6 to 11 on the date the JR Pass Exchange Order is issued.

Discover urban and rural areas by bus

Bus travel is an efficient way to travel around urban areas and also reach more rural regions. Your Japan Rail Pass is valid on JR buses at no extra cost. Local bus lines included in the pass include JR Hokkaido, JR Kanto, JR Tokai, and more!

Be aware that buses can get crowded during peak times — plan your travel times carefully when traveling with children to avoid rush hour.

Explore at your own pace with a rental car

Want the freedom to set your own schedule? Hiring a car is a practical option when traveling as a family. Roads are well-maintained, and car rentals in Japan generally come with a GPS system to help navigate more scenic routes with ease.

If you need a car seat, request it when making your reservation. Japanese law states that children under the age of 6 must use a car seat.

Where to stay in Japan with children

Japan offers a great range of family-friendly accommodation. From tradition to modern convenience, you’re sure to find something to meet your needs. Here are some of the options available and the advantages of each:

Ryokans for an authentic experience

Many ryokans offer larger or connecting rooms suitable for families or groups. They can also provide yukatas (the casual kimono) in child sizes.

Children will also enjoy mealtimes at the ryokans — enjoy a private family dinner with traditional Japanese dishes!

Hotels for modernity and convenience

If you prefer contemporary comforts, Japan’s modern hotels are the perfect choice. Hotels are equipped with everything to make your family’s stay comfortable, including cribs, high chairs, and children’s dining menus.

Most hotels offer family rooms, and many also have laundry facilities, which can be a great help when traveling with children. You can get a discount at some hotels with your JR Pass.

Home away from home with a rental apartment

For longer stays or for families that need extra space or amenities, consider renting an apartment. With a kitchen, multiple bedrooms, and living spaces, your kids will have plenty of space to play.

Renting an apartment instead of going to a hotel also makes it easier if different members of the family have different bedtimes.

Tips for choosing the right accommodation for your family

Whichever type of accommodation you chose, take into consideration the:

Features and services

Some hotels offer play areas, children’s programs or swimming pools with kid-safe features. Check if the ryokan offers stroller rentals or has convenient access to public transportation.


Consider staying in places that are centrally located or near major attractions or public transportation lines. As well as reducing travel times, it makes it easier to head back to your room for midday breaks.

Food and dining out in Japan with children

Bento box in a typical japanese restaurant.
Bento box in a typical japanese restaurant – Photo by AuthorLinyt Photography

Japanese cuisine is wonderfully kid-friendly, even if your kids prefer to stick to familiar flavors. For teens or more adventurous children, Japan provides the opportunity to try exciting new dining experiences!

Here are just some of the dishes your little ones are sure to love.

Sushi — bitesize and fun!

Sushi is a healthy choice and engaging for children, who’ll enjoy picking their favorite pieces. Conveyor belt sushi restaurants are especially fun for children who can grab what they want from the moving belt.

Many sushi spots also offer smaller nigiri or rolls designed for kids, with less adventurous flavors to suit younger tastes.

Ramen — customizable comfort food

Ramen is another crowd pleaser. The base is a broth with noodles, children and teenagers can then select their own toppings.

Optional ingredients include corn, boiled eggs, and sliced meat. Look out for ramen shops where spice levels can be adjusted.

Bento boxes — lunch on the go

Each bento box is a balanced meal typically containing a mix of rice, fish, or meat, and vegetables.

They’re neatly packed and perfect if you’re heading out for a day’s sightseeing. You can pick up bento boxes from convenience stores, railway stations, or order them in restaurants.

Sweet treats — mochi and more

Japanese desserts will delight the little ones! Mochi is made from pounded sticky rice, moulded into shapes. They’re colorful, soft, and easy to eat.

Ice cream is eaten throughout Japan, Tokyo has loads of quality gelato stores. For older kids or those with a more adventurous palate, Japan offers flavor combinations like roasted green tea or miso and cookie!

Best activities in Japan with kids

Ghibi musem entrace.
Studio Ghibli Museum – Photo by cowardlion

With the practical arrangements out of the way, it’s time to plan some fun-filled activities for your trip!

Here are 5 of the top picks for visiting Japan with your family:

1. Yoyogi Park, Tokyo

Explore the spacious Yoyogi Park in Tokyo, a relaxing escape with lawns, ponds, and forested areas ideal for family picnics and leisurely walks.

2. Studio Ghibli Museum, Mitaka

Dive into the world of Hayao Miyazaki at the Studio Ghibli Museum in Mitaka. Children will enjoy the interactive experience at this museum dedicated to the art and animation of the famous Studio Ghibli.

3. Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo

Experience the magic of Tokyo Disneyland, where fairy tales come to life through rides, shows, and parades for the entire family.

4. Nara Park, Nara

Spend the day at the fantastic Nara Park. Children can feed the deer who roam the park special crackers which are sold at various points. Todaiji Temple is another highlight.

5. Universal Studios Japan, Osaka

Enjoy thrilling rides and entertainment at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka. You’ll find attractions from your children’s favorite movies and beloved franchises.

Expert tip: Check the list of attractions that you can get discounted entry to with your Japan Rail Pass!

Family essentials: Public toilets and baby changing facilities

Japan is known for its clean and well-equipped public toilets. Baby changing rooms are common in larger public spaces and local train and metro stations.

Some commercial centers have rooms for parents equipped with a changing area, as well as facilities to feed and take care of babies in private. Signs for toilets and baby changing facilities are usually clear, with international symbols that are easy to interpret.

Planning a safe family vacation in Japan

Japan is one of the safest countries in the world, another reason why it’s the perfect choice for your family trip. However, to make sure your vacation goes to plan, it’s still a good idea to prepare carefully.

Medical preparations

A few weeks before you travel, check with your healthcare provider to make sure all your vaccinations are up-to-date. You can also discuss and travel health advisories for Japan.

You should pack a travel health kit containing essential medications, band-aids, antiseptic wipes and any prescription medication your family might need. Find out the location of the nearest hospital or clinic to your accommodation in Japan.

Safe transportation

Japan’s transportation system, especially its high-speed trains, is reliable and safe. If possible, avoid taking buses and subways during rush hour when they can get crowded.

You can book your seat on JR trains up to a month in advance for a more comfortable journey.

Ask your hotel to recommend a taxi firm, and request children’s car seats in advance.

J-Alert safety system

The government of Japan runs the J-Alert emergency broadcasting system. It’s in place to warn the public during emergencies such as natural disasters. You can download an app on your phone to receive real-time safety notifications.

It’s also recommended that you familiarize yourself with emergency procedures for your destination. Also, teach your children the basic safety responses calmly to avoid panic.

Emergency contacts

Have a list of emergency contacts, including local emergency numbers: 119 for fire, ambulance or emergency rescue, or 110 for police. You should also find out where your nearest embassy or consulate is, in case you need assistance during your stay.

Teach your children your phone number and name of your hotel, and make sure they know how to use public phones or emergency call functions on mobile devices.

Travel recommendations for a convenient and stress-free stay

Japan’s advanced infrastructure, high safety standards, and the widespread availability of amenities make it a convenient destination. For an even smoother trip, follow these 5 travel recommendations.

Coin lockers

1. Plan as much as you can in advance

Book accommodation and purchase transportation tickets — like your Japan Rail Pass or Regional Passes — ahead of time to ensure availability and better prices.

Research the attractions you and your family want to visit. You can often buy tickets for popular destinations online to avoid waiting in line.

2. Try to arrive early

Plan to arrive at popular sites early in the morning. It’s the best way to beat the crowds and enjoy a more peaceful, less stressful experience, extra important when traveling with kids!

3. Lockers and luggage forwarding

When traveling with children, it’s normal to have a lot of luggage to take with you. In Japan, it doesn’t have to be a burden!

Luggage forwarding services allow you to have your bags delivered directly to your destination from the airport, instead of carrying it with you on public transportation.

Airport and train stations in Japan have coin-operated luggage lockers where you can store your bags while you’re out sightseeing. You’ll also find them at museums and other attractions. Just make sure you keep all the essentials with you.

4. Avoid travel during peak seasons

Late spring or early autumn are great times to travel to Japan with children.

By choosing the ‘shoulder’ seasons, you can miss the crowds and high prices of Golden Week, cherry blossom, and other peak periods.

5. Rent strollers at hotels and stations

If you don’t take your baby stroller from home, there are options to rent one in Japan, starting from an hour up to a week or more.

You can rent strollers at attractions such as Universal Studios in Osaka and Tokyo Disneyland for use within the park.

Some hotels also offer stroller rentals. Check when you book if this is a service you’re interested in. Note that the term ‘baby car’ is more widely understood than stroller in Japan.

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