There’s no best time to visit Tokyo but you may want to avoid the rains and humidity of June to August. If you go in early April, you may just catch the famous cherry blossom.
Direct flights are available with Jetstar, ANA, Delta, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines and HK Express. Fly into Haneda Airport (rather than Narita) for added convenience.
1 Sampling the world’s best sushi
There’s no better way to start your Tokyo visit than with a sushi breakfast at the famous Tsukiji Market. This famous fish market has now closed its wholesale business to tourists. However, if you wish to see the tuna auction (not recommended for young kids), you must register before 5am and numbers are limited. A more family friendly way to take in the atmosphere is to wander the streets close to the market and take your pick from one of the small sushi restaurants. Many have English menus and room for a stroller.
2 Going cuckoo for Harajuku
Soak up the crazy side of Tokyo in Harajuku on a Sunday afternoon. Start your walk up Takeshita-dori, a pedestrianised street lined with boutiques selling kooky clothes and crazy gadgets. Then head to Meiji Shrine, admiring the Harajuku cosplayers (teenagers in over the top outfits) that hang around its borders. Neighbouring Yoyogi park always has free entertainment from the Rockabilly Club gang who dance around to 50s music to dogs decked out in their Sunday finery. A short walk from Harajuku is Kiddy Land, a Tokyo institution and THE best place to buy Japanese toys.
3 LEGO, Cars and Robotsin Odaiba
Odaiba is a man-made island and hugely popular with families. Even getting there is fun. The Yurikamome monorail is driver-less so kids can sit at the front and pretend to steer. Take your pick from one of the many attractions. Toyota Mega Web is a ‘car theme park’ where you can view future Toyota products and even test-drive a car. LEGO lovers need to head to the LEGO Land Discovery Centre. The centre houses more than 3 million LEGO bricks and has a few small rides, LEGO workshops and a 4D cinema. If you have a robot or anime fan in your household, you should also visit the life-size Gundam (giant robot) at Gundam Front Tokyo.
4 Get a bird’s eye view of Tokyo
Tokyo’s version of the Eiffel Tower, the Tokyo Tower, was built in 1958. The tower’s main observatory is reached via elevator or a 600-step staircase and serves up great views of this expansive metropolis. If the views aren’t captivating enough for your kids, there’s a small aquarium at the base of the tower. For a cheaper view of Tokyo, head to The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku. This observation deck is free!
5 Visit a theme park
If Disneyland seems old hat, take the kids to DisneySea instead. This nautical themed park is unique to Japan and the fourth most visited theme park in the world. Geared towards slightly older kids and adults, there are amazing shows and parades in addition to the rides. Journey To the Centre Of The Earth, set in an artificial volcano, is one of the best theme park rides on the planet.