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Tokyo with children - an educational holiday

Tokyo is a fantastic city where only the imagination sets limits. Take the kids on an unforgettable journey
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Tokyo with children - an educational holiday of Kristian Bang Larsen

Tokyo - Japan - Travel

Odaiba - the fun Tokyo with children

"Faa-aar, I keeeeder me", whines the pod.

This is how it can easily go in Tokyo, which has everything the heart can desire for both adults and teenagers, but can be a difficult place to be for children. The playgrounds are few and small, the transport times long, and what does a bette knej or slur about shopping, sights and smart restaurants?

But there is actually a rich supply of kid-friendly activities in the Japanese capital. Here are museums that activate the play senses, all kinds of theme parks and amusement parks and large, open parks. So here's a little guide to kids activities I can recommend in Tokyo.

In a megacity like Tokyo, distance and transportation time are always an issue, but on the artificial island of Odaiba, children's activities line up along the monorail track that takes you around the island with its impressive sci-fi architecture.

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Entertainment overload in the mall 

The large-scale Decks is the first stop and offers, among other things, an entire floor built as a business street from the 1960s complete with an old school arcade. It is fun. There is also a Legoland Discovery Center, a small Madame Tussaud Museum, a Trick Art Labyrinth Museum showcasing classic Japanese visual tricks, as well as Sega's high-tech playground Joypolis, with indoor roller coasters, slot machines and virtual reality tours. Then the kids are entertained and you are poorer.

The fastest way to get here is to go directly to Odaiba Kaihin-koen Station (Yurikamome line). If, on the other hand, you are looking to experience the area in a different way, you can instead take the harbor tour from Takeshiba Ferry Terminal. Here you will be seated right next to Odaiba Marine Park below the Decks department store.

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Science is funt with children

Next stop: Museums are only cool for kids if they can touch and try, and luckily they can sci-fi museum Miraikanthat makes science fun. Here the whole family can try space capsules, play with robots and visit the interactive science children's land "curiosity field".

And to the Odaiba last: No trip to the realm of the sun without a visit to one onsen, a traditional Japanese spa. The great Ooedo-Onsen Monogatari was created to be in the historic Edo period. 

Men and women bathe separately (and naked) in the many different indoor and outdoor spas, but meet dressed in their summer kimonos (included in the price - towels as well) among the historic restaurants, amusement park stalls and souvenir shops. 

It's quite fun and a bit colorful - but the Japanese love to thematize and conceptualize everything, so in reality it does not become much more authentic Japanese than a fake historical spa on an artificial island. Note for the rest: No tattoos allowed here - and in many other onsen - only Yakuza gangsters have that kind. Then you know.

How to get here best: The easiest boat to get to the theme park is to go to the Telecom Center station (Yurikamome line). Alternatively, you can walk from Miraikan, which is only a few hundred meters away.

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Picnic in the park

The old 1964 Olympic Park, Komazawa Olympic Park, is ideal for a picnic and a quiet day with the family. Here are three nice playgrounds as well as a paddling pool, a bike training track for children (you can rent bikes) and a skating rink. 

The old Olympic sports facilities are strewn around the large park area and you can hardly avoid walking past a local football or baseball game. At times, various events are also held in the park. Here are also some nice running routes, if dad or mom should have jogged a few calories off after all the delicious Japanese food.

How to get here best: The address is 1-1 Komazawa-Koen, Setagaya-ku. With advantage, you can get there directly by going to Komazawa-Daigaku Station (Denentoshi line).

The Senso-ji Temple is Tokyo's oldest and most visited Buddhist temple, but honestly: it's not long before children bother to stare at gold Buddha statues. But it is not the goal, but the path to it, that is important. And it goes through Tokyo's oldest outdoor store arcade; a myriad of small stalls selling tourist-tingel-tangel, traditional handicrafts and sweet treats enough to send toddlers in sugar shock: manjū confection of red bean paste, rice-sugar arare and softice with exotic flavors of green tea, sesame seeds and azuki beans .

It's fun to get lost in the crowd. If you turn left at the temple itself, you will also come to Asakusa Hanayashiki, Tokyo's oldest Tivoli from 1883. More charm and nostalgia than modern action roller coasters, but for smaller children it is still enjoyable.

How to get here best: For both the arcade and the temple, the address is 2-3-1 Asakusa, Taito-ku and 2-28-1 Asakusa, Taito-ku, for the amusement park.
If you need to find your way to the temple, you can go to Asakusa Station (Asakusa, Ginza lines), exit 1, 3, A4.

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Experience Tokyo with children - in the cultural way

Tokyo Toy Museum is a hidden gem nestled in a former school down a side street, some distance from the city's more opulent sights. But it is a very nice little museum, full of play opportunities for especially smaller children (nursery for schooling). 

Here are lots of old school analog toys and games to try, a wooden tumble room for the little ones and a wooden toy forest for the slightly bigger ones. There are daily workshops where children can make their own toys.

How to get here best: Take the public to Yotsuya-Sanchome station (Marunouchi line), exit 2. The address is 4-20 Yotsuya, Shinjuku-ku.

Next thing to experience with kids in Tokyo is is the world's best living animation instructor is Japanese and his name is Hayao Miyazaki. You've probably already seen some of his deeply personal and at the same time insanely popular cartoons such as "My Neighbor Totoro", "Chihiro and the Witches" and "The Living Castle" - filled with poetry, energy, melancholy and humor - and if not, then the great enjoyable homework for you and your kids before leaving for Tokyo! 

Miyazaki's magical worlds you can visit physically In a suburb of Tokyo, and Ghibli Museum is worth the trip, for the imaginative house is just as poetic, playful, and empathetic as the great master's film. You can visit the artist's workshop, watch unique cartoons that are only shown at the museum, and play in the bus cat from My Neighbor Totoro.

The museum is not very big, but insanely popular, and tickets must be booked from home - there is no ticket sale at the museum. Tickets for the coming month are released on the 10th of each month and there may be a rift over the popular dates. Arrive early to avoid queuing. Or you can patiently wait until 2022 where a real Ghibli Theme Park should be finished. The first park design sketches are out and it looks feeeedt.

How to get here best: To get to this incredible museum, see it is easiest to go to either Kichijoji Station (Chuo, Keio Inokashira lines) or Mitaka Station (Chuo line). In either case, there is a walk in a neighborhood to the museum. The address is 1-1-83 Shimorenjaku, Mitaka-shi.

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There is also Tokyo Disneyland. It's like all the other Disney countries with rides, Mickey merchandise and parades of cartoon characters. It's a full day trip a little out of town and your kids will love it - that's just the way it is.

How to get here best: Hop on the train and go to Maihama Station (Keiyo, Musashino lines), after which you have to use the southern exit.

Okay, I actually have not been in KidZania, but it sounds so funny that I just have to mention it. Do you remember those theme weeks in primary school, where you played town with shops and play money and jobs for everyone? It's KidZania - just with a really small town built in small size with cars and shops and banks and everything, where children aged 2-12 can spend the day playing the adult world as a surgeon, firefighter or professional football player, or whatever the child's heart now desires.

However, there is a rift about the popular jobs, say my sources - the last man will be a factory worker at the pencil factory. The kids get local KidZania currency for their work, which they can use to shop around town. It's on my, uh, my daughter's to-do list.

How to get here best: Start by packing a day bag and then take the train to Toyosu Station (Yurakucho line, Yurikamome). The address of KidZania is Lalaport Toyosu 2-4-9 Toyosu, Koto-ku.

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Beach holiday in Shimoda

Finally: A few days at the water's edge. If the children have been worn out by the rush of the mega-big city, there are actually no more than two or three hours by train for a small beach holiday in the seaside resort of Shimoda, located at the bottom of the Izu Peninsula. 

It is the beautiful white sandy beaches and the clear blue Pacific Ocean around the city that entice, but the kids will also love a trip to the floating sea zoo Shimoda Floating Aqarium, where they can pet seals, feed penguins and watch an impressive dolphin show. 

For the adults, there are cozy cafes and little monuments and memorials for those interested in history; it was in Shimoda that Japan in 1854 opened to intercourse with the West after many years of isolation. It did not happen entirely voluntarily when U.S. Commander Matthew C. Perry arrived at the port with his black ships.

How to get here best: If you need a few days on the beach, you can take the light rail Shinkansen to the city of Atami, and then continue with the cozy stroll down through the Izu Peninsula, where all the conductors wear Hawaiian shirts.

Tokyo is, in many ways, the place that holds everything between heaven and earth. If you have long believed that Tokyo is both the city that combines a myriad of neon lights, strange sights, as well as miles of fun and marvelous activities and initiatives, then you have hit the spot in that regard. Tokyo with kids is easier and more fun than you think.

However, the Japanese metropolis is a wonderful place to be, and certainly a great travel destination, where there is certainly plenty to take care of, for both children and adults.

Really good trip to Tokyo with kids.

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About the travel writer

Kristian Bang Larsen

Kristian Bang Larsen is a communicator and trained journalist. He regularly visits Japan, and especially Tokyo, with his daughter and his Japanese wife.

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