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Japan family holidays

A compelling blend of ancient and modern provides a distinctive backdrop to family holidays in Japan. Jump from sugar-rush theme parks to enchanting walks in the forest. Explore boundary-pushing digital worlds and exquisite traditional works of art. Dine in fine kaiseki style, or snack on Pokemon bento. Wander past shinto shrines and gaze out over high-rise skylines. Even the transfers feel pretty epic when they’re via Shinkansen!

Japan is a strong contender for being crowned the ultimate family holiday destination, from older teens celebrating the end of exam season and looking to go on the adventure of a lifetime to toddlers enthralled by this constantly kid-friendly country. Step into a world that feels both familiar and fresh, and create some high-impact memories.

Japan weather & when to go

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Japan is everything you expect and a total culture shock all at once! It’s a phenomenal destination for a family adventure.

Kate - Indonesia specialist
Robot Restaurant in Tokyo
Disneyland Tokyo
Taiko drumming workshop

Japan with kids: what to expect? 

Japan offers the full spectrum, from sensory overload to zen relaxation, so you can shape your family holiday to cater to everyone’s energy levels. 

Bright-lights, city life 

Tokyo looms large in the lives of kids worldwide, thanks to the broad reach of modern Japanese youth culture, and it doesn’t disappoint. Cities across Japan serve up 24/7 neon life with side-orders of kawaii kitsch or sharp-edged anime to taste, giving families a full-screen, sensory-overload experience. Get hands-on with cutting edge innovation at the Miraikan museum or channel your inner warrior at a samurai sword fighting class. Eat your way through a rainbow of themed bento boxes, immerse yourselves in cute culture at character cafes, or enjoy a day of candy-coloured commotion at Tokyo Disney. For dedicated theme park fans, Super Nintendo World and Universal Studios in Osaka, and Ghibli Park in Nagoya, are fantastic options.


Reset & reconnect 

Getting kids excited about traditional tea ceremonies or ryokan relaxation might sound like a tall order, but there’s something about Kyoto’s soothing vibes that provides a welcome counterpoint to the capital’s rush, whatever your age. It’s the ideal place to discover Japan’s calmer side. Create cartoon bento at a kyaraben masterclass, let imaginations run wild within the walls of Nijo castle, and take a spellbinding wander through Nara deer park. Feel the rhythm (and tick off ‘arm day’ on your workout schedule!), at a taiko drumming class, or get lost in a book at the International Manga Museum. Contrast the city’s modern chic with its pockets of traditional culture and take time to unwind.


Alternative coastal 

Osaka has its own high-energy vibrancy, a good helping of retro kitsch, and a thriving youth culture that’s right on the money for laid-back family fun. You might choose to make a petrolhead pleasing pit-stop at the Suzuka motorsport circuit en route, and perhaps squeeze in a Hollywood moment at Universal Studios, but it's the city’s food scene that really draws you in. Families can spend delicious days sampling everything from taste-sensation takoyaki to ice cream stuffed sweet buns. Treat yourselves to high-end sushi and wagyu, and cheap-and-cheerful okonomiyaki, in Dotonbori’s iconic eateries, and explore the calmer streets of Shinsekai or Tenma for kushikatsu skewers and tempura without the crowds. 


Off the beaten track…

Families who really want to go off piste have the full range of Japan’s diverse terrain to discover, from Sapporo’s snowy winter scenes to Kyushu’s remote forests, or even the far-southern beaches of Okinawa. However, for families who want to stay relatively central, there are many ways to put a twist on the much-loved ‘Golden Route’. Ride on Hakone’s vertiginous ropeway, soaking up the full Fuji view, or take a scenic train journey to Takayama to experience the best of the country’s traditional omotenashi hospitality. Pause in Hiroshima to learn about the city’s sombre history from its own perspective, cycle a few stages of the stunning Shimanami Kaido island trail, or immerse yourself in Naoshima’s modern-art wonderland.

Naoshima island

Our Japan Specialists’ top tips for families

Japan is a wonderful place to visit all year round, and has the familiar benefit of four distinct seasons with different highlights in each. Visit in spring to see the famous sakura cherry blossom, or in autumn for the koyo leaf-falling festivals. Winter trips are crisp and cool with the possibility of snow, while hot summer visits fill up Kyushu’s southern beaches.

Don’t underestimate the heat! Japan is often left out of the ‘hot country’ bracket, but in the height of summer, temperatures in some parts can regularly push 40°C plus. Make sure you’re prepared, and drink plenty of water while wandering.

Japan is a wonderful place to visit all year round, and has the familiar benefit of four distinct seasons with different highlights in each. Visit in spring to see the famous sakura cherry blossom, or in autumn for the koyo leaf-falling festivals. Winter trips are crisp and cool with the possibility of snow, while hot summer visits fill up Kyushu’s southern beaches.

Having our experienced, knowledgeable and welcoming local guides on hand during your trip can be invaluable. They’ll meet you upon arrival, and can help make everything go as smoothly as possible. In Japan, much of your trip will be self-guided, thanks to the country’s fantastically smooth transport and infrastructure, with guides on-hand as much or as little as you like in each destination. We pride ourselves on using only the best guides in a given region. All our guides are trained to the highest level, and fully certified and licensed.

Japan is one of Asia’s most up-and-coming destinations for family holidays, and has a comforting familiarity to many aspects of daily life. It combines a warm welcome with an efficient infrastructure and seamlessly-smooth travel, making family holidays a breeze. It’s a safe, supportive and reassuring destination with plenty of kid-focused culture. Within that seeming familiarity, however, some things will still feel strikingly different from what you’re used to, as in every new destination. If you’re unsure of anything at any time, our guides and local contacts are always on hand to offer help and advice.

When planning a trip to Asia, it’s important to consider the possible requirements for vaccinations and immunisations. Most importantly, we stress that you should contact your doctor or medical practitioner well before you depart to get their advice on any vaccinations you may need for your trip. If you’ve travelled recently and believe that you are already up-to-date, it’s still worth checking as vaccinations have a varying life span. Japan has been designated as ‘not at risk’ for malaria on the NHS Fit For Travel map, and it’s worth checking out the NHS Travel Vaccinations site for extra health travel information.

Citizens of the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States and most European countries do not require a visa to visit Japan for up to 90 days. Notable exceptions are citizens from Russia, China and the Philippines who have to apply for a visa directly with the Japanese Embassy in their country of residence. All other nationalities should check with the Japanese Embassy in their country of residence for the most up-to-date information.

Just the essentials! On the whole, Japan is a surprisingly casual nation. Smart business suits aside, formal dress isn’t very common in everyday circumstances, and there’s not usually a need to ‘dress for dinner’. Make sure you take appropriate clothing for the season, though, as temperatures can vary hugely depending on the time of year you travel; think scarves and thermals for winter, loose cottons and sun hats for summer. As you might expect, you can buy more or less everything you might need in Japan, so if you forget something it’s not usually a problem. Many areas do have midges and mosquitoes during the summer, so make sure you take a good repellent. If you’re travelling with tinies, consider taking a really good baby carrier, as push-chairs might be a pain to get around with.

Japan is, perhaps surprisingly, still a cash-dependent society and some shops and restaurants do not accept debit and credit cards. Therefore you’ll need to carry some Japanese Yen in cash whilst visiting Japan. It is possible to obtain Yen in advance of your arrival but ATM machines are widely available throughout the country. It is also possible to exchange US dollars, GB pounds and Euros cash upon arrival at the airport.

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