Post written in paid partnership with InsideJapan
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know Japan is my absolute dream holiday destination and I’m often dreaming of our ultimate trip of a lifetime, which we will do one day! Although with Pearl’s arrival, family travel seems even more daunting than ever – will we ever get to go on holiday again?! It doesn’t feel like it at the moment! Before children, travel was our ‘thing’ that brought us together, it was our passion and we went on some AMAZING trips. I used to say things like ‘I’ll never let children get in the way of our travel plans, we will still go on the same trips, we will just take them in a baby carrier!’. Ok I’m laughing at that now, but I’m sure there is a way to travel safely with a family, it’ll just take some extra planning and consideration.
So, with our Japan trip firmly still ON the table (although maybe one for when the babes are slightly older), I recently spoke with the travel experts at InsideJapan Tours who were able to answer some of my questions and put my mind at rest about how easy it would be to travel to Japan with a family. InsideJapan Tours are Japanese travel specialists who offer unique group tours and tailored travel intertwined with special cultural experiences – this is ideal for booking a family holiday as you know you will be looked after from start to finish and that everyone in the family will be catered for perfectly.
Here is what they had to say……..
Q1: What is travelling in Japan like with children?
Japan is extremely safe and well organised, so travelling with family is a breeze. Public transport is efficient, clean and spacious and there are endless attractions, unique cultural experiences and sights to keep kids entertained. As Japan’s popularity continues to rise, the level of spoken English is rapidly increasing, and tourism infrastructure is improving to cater for the growing demand. The Japanese also love kids, so you are sure to get a lot of attention as a Westerner!
Q2: What are the top sights to see for families with children?
A tried and tested Japan family route includes the huge metropolis of Tokyo, Hakone National Park in the foothills of Mount Fuji, cultural capital Kyoto and the vibrant city of Osaka. For a longer trip, visit the sobering Peace Park and Museum in Hiroshima, before heading to serene Miyajima Island, just across the water. Smaller kids love the deer park here and older ones can go kayaking under the iconic floating torii gate. As well as familiar theme parks (Disney, Universal, Legoland, Kidzania) there’s Fuji-Q in the foothills of Mount Fuji; Studio Ghibli Museum in Tokyo (one for anime enthusiasts); and Toei Eigamura (film studios with Ninja twist) and GEAR non-verbal theatre (one of my favourites), both in Kyoto. There are also plenty of Japanese character museums and theme parks including Hello Kitty Land, and museums dedicated to Doraemon and Anpanman. Going up Tokyo Skytree is always fun – at over 500m you can’t fail to be impressed by the view above the clouds, and there are plenty of stores keep the kids entertained at the base. Finally, the Cup Ramen Museum in Yokohama makes a tasty day trip.
Q3: Do you have any tips for eating out with children? Especially If they are fussy eaters?
With so many eating out options in big cities, familiar food is never far away. Whilst Japanese diets do include a lot of fish, it’s a cliché that raw fish is the only thing on the menu. Plenty of local dishes appeal to kids: karaage (crispy fried chicken), okonomiyaki (savoury pancakes), all kinds of sushi, kushiyaki (cook your own food on skewers), Japanese curry (usually mild), okosama (kids) lunch sets, rice balls and countless sweet treats including weird and wonderful flavoured KitKats and ice cream. Failing that, McDonalds and Mos Burger (a Japanese fast food chain) are ubiquitous!
Q4: Is Japan a safe place to visit as a family?
Japan has one of the lowest crime rates in the world; if you lose your belongings (or children!), it doesn’t normally take long to be reunited. You needn’t worry about being ripped off in tourist scams and tipping isn’t expected.
Q5: What is the easiest way to get around with children?
With world-class public transport, you can save hundreds of pounds by not using private cars, but a few wisely chosen taxis do make travel much more enjoyable. Kids love the buzz of travelling on the shinkansen (bullet train), particularly the themed ones (including Hello Kitty and Evangelion). Use Japan’s amazing luggage forwarding service to avoid carrying heavy bags in rural areas – it’s extremely reliable and very cost effective.
Q6: What is the best type of accommodation for families?
There’s a huge choice of aparthotels (such as the Citadines chain) in bigger cities, as well as many familiar Western-style hotel chains. For larger families, connecting and quad rooms are uncommon, so it’s best to book well in advance. Also, note that many 5* hotels with pools restrict use for children which can be frustrating so check before booking. Staying in Japanese accommodation is a must but choose wisely; catering can be inflexible and evening meals with endless courses are common. To avoid being stuck with limited options day after day, spend one night at a ryokan (traditional inn), or consider staying at a machiya (self-catered converted townhouse) to experience traditional lodgings without being tied to meals. Cots are generally stocked at most hotels but best booked in advance during busier times.
Q7: What is the medical care like, should the worst happen?
Japan has world-class medical facilities and access to English-speaking doctors is a lot easier these days. Our team in Japan can assist with finding the nearest available English-speaking doctor; as always, we recommend getting insurance that covers every eventuality.
Q8: Why is Japan a great place to take your family for a holiday?
For all the reasons above – Japan is clean, safe and good value for money thanks to years of close to 0% inflation. It is a truly unique cultural experience where old and new coexist, and there is something to suit everyone – from very small children to grown up teenagers, right up to the young at heart. It’s also a great country to boost your child’s education; whether a history lesson from the Edo Period, discovering the latest tech developments, learning new skills (such as origami, taiko drumming or kendo martial arts) or exploring diverse landscapes including volcanoes and hot springs.
So, it’s fair to say speaking with the travel experts has put my mind at rest that our dream holiday to Japan will be possible with a young family – in fact I was quite surprised at how easy it sounds to get around and how safe it is too! Better get back to the drawing board and start planning………….. !
Have you thought about travelling to Japan with your family? Do take a look at InsideJapan’s family travel page for more advice and inspiration.
Pin for later: