Visiting Japan for the first time with my family

My family and I are planning to fly into Tokyo for the first time in late July. Curious as to where we should go to, what airport? what ward i think they call it? I personally would like to be close to Akihabara… any hints and tips would be appreciated! My kids are both 7… So activities for them is a big deal.

Hi Jay,
Either Narita Airport or Haneda Airport would be fine. If you can choose and there’s not much difference in cost, then Haneda is more convenient. I wouldn’t worry about the ward you stay in, the nearest station tends to be the way you pick a place to stay. Akihabara would be OK, but the accommodation in the area tends to be more “business” oriented - so small rooms. The Asakusa area is the big tourist hub, but it’s actually a relatively quiet neighbourhood compared to places like Shinjuku, Shibuya or Akihabara. It’s quite hot and humid at the end of July and with 7 year olds, I’d recommend somewhere you can go back to as an oasis. It’s hard to beat AirBnB or another vacation rental for the combination of space and price.
Here’s an article of things to do for free with kids:

I’d recommend checking out museums - there are lots of them spread out all over Tokyo. The Ueno/Asakusa area is probably the biggest area for them. There’s a samurai museum in Kabukicho (Shinjuku) and a Snoopy museum just opened in Roppongi. Anyway, lots of options. Good luck!

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Thank you so much for the reply… will check out the link as well…


It might be helpful to point that I would probably consider Akihabara to be one of the least kid-friendly areas from my time in Tokyo, as many of the shops along the main stretch tend to cater to statues of scantily clad anime/video game women.

If you’re expecting an area that’s full of fun video game type stuff, it never felt like that to me.

That is what I was expecting with Akihabara but it also hinged on if my entire family was going to japan or not. Thanks for the heads up. We will be sure to avoid. Any other areas you recommend for that type of thing? My kids know a few anime here and there like I do. So where should we go?

I think that Akihabara appeals to young people, but not necessarily little kids. Since both your kids are 7, I would imagine that they like age-appropriate anime like Pokemon and Studio Ghibli movies. :slight_smile: In that case, if your concern is getting merchandise for them, you might be better off taking them to this big toy store in Harajuku called Kiddy Land. Ikebukuro also has the Pokemon MegaCenter and the flagship store of Animate, a shop that sells official anime/manga merchandise. You won’t see as much figurines of scantily clad characters there.

I wouldn’t say that you should avoid Akihabara, though. Yes, many shops have figurines of busty and/or scantily clad women, and some shops have anime merchandise on the first floor and porn on the upper floors, but I’ve seen families in Akihabara that have managed just fine. I guess just go with your gut feeling and avoid entering shops that you think might not be kid-friendly. The Tokyo Anime Center should be pretty wholesome and kid-friendly.


Not going to lie… Looking for anime/toy type stuff for all of us :slight_smile: … How close are these locations anyway?

Hahaha, no worries! I like anime too! And I have friends my age who collect figurines… some of them even collect figurines of busty/scantily clad women. =)) Well, Ikebukuro, Harajuku, and Akihabara are all on the Yamanote Line. Ikebukuro and Harajuku are just 16 minutes away from each other; Ikebukuro and Akihabara are a little over 20 minutes away from each other. I think that if you stick to Animate and the Tokyo Anime Center, you don’t have to worry about exposing your kids to porn or lewd figurines.

Yeah, if your kids were 16 or something I’d be fine with Akihabara, as it’s not pornographic, just not the kind of stuff I’d be willing to have to talk about with a 7 year old if I could avoid it. If they were 14, they’d probably be more uncomfortable than I would be about the stuff you can find.

If you’re going out of your way for Anime stuff, the ghibli museum is a must. I’ve only heard great things, but unfortunately my trip to Japan (and time in Tokyo specifically) coincided with one of the weeks the museum is closed. My wife and I are planning another trip in December and the ghibli museum is at the top of the list.

And you can easily enjoy a few things in Akihabara with a family, I’d just stay out of some of the smaller stores. Yodobashi Camera alone would probably be fun with kids, and things like super potato and gatcha alley are fine enough (though even some of the gatchapon at gatchapon alley are risque, though they’re usually in the machines higher up). I can’t speak for Tokyo Anime Center as I’m not that into anime.

Sunshine City is the name of the mall with the big pokemon center. It also has a store that sells exclusively ghibli stuff, and outside in the area there’s a lot of shops. I only had about an hour there with my wife before I went to robot restaurant, which was one of the longer subway journeys I took at around 20-30 minutes (PS: Robot restaurant is in the heart of, essentially, a red light district, though honestly the signage is less revealing than magazines I would see in 7/11, which are relatively tame, though very suggestive).

Frankly unless you’re seeking out risque stuff you’re mostly OK, except in some smaller establishments. All the main tourist attractions that we went to were great. some other places a little less obvious than shrines, temples, and the history museums might be the miraikan museum, which is a really neat interactive science museum that also had tons of english signage–I speak no japanese and got a ton out of it (they’re also running an exhibit on the history of video games at the moment that I’m interested in). I think there’s some sort of gundam store in that generally area that would be great.

If I think of anything else let me know. I also get replies to this thread by email so if you think of something i’ll try my best to answer.

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