Edo, ancient capital Japan, was founded in 1603 by Ieyasu, the first Tokugawa Shogun. In the late 1700's, Edo was one of largest cities in the world, populated with daimyos (feudal lords) and their families, samurai, merchants, craftsmen, and artists. After 1868, Edo was renamed Tokyo, and it's an ultra modern city today. Traveling around Tokyo, kids will be impressed by contrasts – glass skyscrapers next to centuries-old temples and shrines, crowded underground shopping streets and peaceful landscaped gardens.
Tips for Tokyo before you go and while you're there ordering in restaurants, taking the subway, restrooms, and more.
Inari shrines– Throughout different areas of Tokyo, are numerous Inari shrines, identifiable by stone fox sculptures decorated with red bibs. In the Shinto religion, the fox (kitsune) is a guardian spirit of Inari, the god of rice. The fox figures protect the shrine and also assist people who make offerings. Look for Inari shrines everywhere you go, in residential neighborhoods, and also in Buddhist temples, such as the Sensoji, and Fudo-do.
Ride the subway– The subway is Tokyo is modern, very speedy, and goes everywhere. Subway stations have kiosks where you can purchase tickets, use the "English" option so you can read the menus. The ticket with most flexibility is the One Day Ticket, with unlimited rides on the two major subway lines (Tokyo Metro and Toei). Additionally, the Tokyo Round Tour ticket includes unlimited rides on these subway lines, plus the JR train line (convenient if your hotel is located near a JR station e.g. Shinagawa or Tokyo Station).
At the big department stores (e.g Mitsukoshi, Daimaru, Matsuya, Takashimaya), go to the food halls, usually on the basement floor (B1), and check out an amazing variety of sweets, chocolates, baked goods, and desserts, just let kids try what looks appealing to them. In Asakusa, try the traditional freshly made ningyo yaki (in the shape or birds or lanterns), and okoshi (popped rice bars) and freshly made senbei crackers.
Hakuhinkan Toy Park (near Shimbashi station) is our favorite toy store, with lots of Japanese toys, including the tortoros and the cat bus from the movie My Neighbor Totoro. Also for toys, visit Tokyo Character Street at Tokyo Station, and the shops at Tokyo Skytree.
In Asakusa, kids can shop for kokeshi dolls, cotton yukata in kids' sizes, miniature samurai and ninja figures, drums and more at the Nakamise shopping street.
for Kids has plenty of fun things to do with kids in Tokyo, but you'll
need a fun place to stay.
our own Travel for Kids hand-picked list of family hotels in Tokyo,
all styles and price ranges, in neighborhoods comfortable
for families, and near to places you'll want to explore:
year old Mimiko lives in Tokyo with her five year old brother. Her
story, daily life and events each month, is honestly told from a
kid point-of-view. On wearing kimonos, "The kimono makes me
feel like a princess, but after a while it's uncomfortable." (Picture book)
adventures of the Time Warp Trio, Fred, Joe and Sam as they beat
up a suit of armor, join the Red Devils samurai on the road to Edo
(Tokyo), and entertain Lord Tokugawa with haiku poetry. (Easy reader)
In 18th century Japan, teenage Seikei helps Judge Ooka solve a mystery in the geisha "floating
world." A silk shop is burned and geishas mysteriously
disappear. Seikei goes undercover to find out what is going on in
the Teahouse of the Falling Cherry Blossoms. (Chapter book)
Neil Flambe is a talented boy chef with an incredible sense of smell and a nose for danger. He comes to Tokyo to track down his missing cousin Larry, solve the clues in the online manga comic, and try not eat life-threatening ingredients in a cooking duel. Action-packed, humorous adventures. (Chapter book)
Tanaka thinks summer study in Tokyo is the perfect escape from
her parents, with new places (Akihabara shopping,
karaoke clubs), new food (rice for breakfast), new sports (sumo wrestling), new nickname (Seaweed),
and a boy named Atsushi. (Chapter book)
Absolutely delightful adventures of Aoki and Yumi, two Kokeshis (little wooden dolls). When Aoki comes to Tokyo to visit her friend, they ride the subway (packed like sardines), go shopping, have a picnic lunch under the cherry blossoms, and relax in a tiny zen garden.
Yumi and her friends are having a costume party help her find a lost pet, pick out a special costume (so many choices), and try all the delicious sushi and treats. (Activity books)
is a statue of my old friend at the entrance to the Shibuya Station
" Heart-warming story of the dog Hachiko, told through the eyes
of a young child. Each day, Hachiko walks to the
station with Dr. Ueno and waits all day for him return. Lovely illustrations.
Delightful adventures of Dodsworth and his friend the duck when they visit Tokyo. The duck eats sushi (but doesn't take off his shoes, as he never wears them), jumps into the moat at the Imperial Palace, tries Japanese brush painting, and swings over the crowd at the Sanja festival in Asakusa. (Picture book)