[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Bronwen Gora had just 48 hours to explore Tokyo with kids. Here’s her plan for tackling Japan’s capital on a time limit.
Morning: Graze an extensive breakfast buffet at centrally-located Shinagawa Prince Hotel before heading out to Shinagawa Station just across the road.
Get each family member Tokyo’s smart card Pasmo for train and bus travel as well as shopping. Then head to Tsukiji Fish Market. Wander the inner and outer laneways of the world’s largest fish market viewing an array of of seafood as well as fruit and vegetables so wildly different to the Western world it will leave both children and adults wide-eyed.
If you think your family’s up to it, book a tour to see the famous 5am tuna auction.
Lunch: From Tsukiji Fish Market walk a few blocks to Tsukiji Tama-Sushi, Harumi-dori branch for a sushi making lesson with an expert chef. Kids will love donning a chef’s hat and coat before grappling with creating the elegant little balls of rice and seafood. It’s harder than it looks! Marvel at $1000 knives that slice fish like butter, and follow your teacher’s advice to the letter when wrapping a sushi roll in seaweed. Finish up by dining on the very sushi and sashimi platter you created, and leave smiling with a commemorative photo and handmade tea mug.
Afternoon: Take the subway north to Oshiage to ascend Tokyo Skytree, the highest freestanding broadcast tower in the world. Pre-book tickets so you can walk straight in and take the 50-second lift up the 634m high tower where you can marvel at spectacular 360-degree views over Tokyo stretching 70km into the distance. Pinpoint Tokyo landmarks with the help of signs around the expansive deck – even Mt Fuji will be visible on a clear day. Ascend to the second viewing deck for an even higher viewpoint and challenge yourselves to walk across the glass floor while looking down. Back on ground level, there are plenty of children-friendly shops in the surrounding mall selling toys, clothes and souvenirs, plus a planetarium and large aquarium.
Evening: Stroll Tokyo Bay’s pretty waterfront on Odaiba, a large artificial island filled with glittering shopping malls, restaurants and attractions. Let the kids choose between indoor theme parks including a Madame Tussauds wax museum and the Legoland Discovery Centre. Explore the DecksTokyo Beach mall and DiverCity Tokyo Plaza then quell hunger pangs with the many different styles of Japanese ramen – a tasty noodle soup dish – served up at the ramen food theme park on Aquacity shopping mall’s 5th floor.
Morning: Harajuku is the centre of youth culture and where Tokyo’s fashion-forward gravitate. Kids will adore walking along Harajuku’s renown Takeshita Street where colourfully dressed young Japanese browse shops bursting with over-the-top clothes. Be sure not to miss the stalls selling gigantic balls of rainbow cotton candy bigger than your head, as well as numerous outlets selling the area’s famous crepes and a fabulous lollie shop where you can buy sweets by weight
Unwind afterwards at one of Tokyo’s famous cat cafes, the Cat Café Mocha, patting and playing with over a dozen beautiful purebred cats over a cup of coffee or hot chocolate.
Lunch: Experience the latest in Harajuku youth culture first hand at the Kawaii Monster Café. Designed to resemble a monster eating Tokyo, the café is a colourful cacophony of crazy designs in the spirit of the trend for everything ‘kawaii’ or cute. Kids will delight in the cake-shaped merry-go-round and “Monster Girl” waitresses dressed head-to-toe in flamboyant costumes.
Afternoon: Change the pace completely by visiting the tranquil grounds of the nearby Meiji Shrine. Walk beneath 12m gates and down paths lined by towering cedar trees to the shrine complex, Japan’s most visited religious site. Have cameras at the ready to capture images of Japanese children elaborately dressed in traditional kimonos (after asking parent’s permission of course) who have been brought to the shrine for a special blessing.
Evening: Ignite your children’s imagination with an experiential dinner at Tokyo’s famous Ninja Restaurant created in honour of Japan’s ancient fighters legendary for their amazing stealth. Your evening starts when a ‘ninja’ ushers you inside a dark corridor where they must magically douse a ‘fire’ with the wave of an arm and conjure up a drawbridge to mend ‘broken’ stairs. Once inside the cave-like restaurant, diners are seated in private booths, served delectable food and later enjoy a tableside performance of magic tricks performed by a ‘ninja’.
There you have it. It is possible to explore Tokyo in just 48 hours. But if you have more time – read some of these stories:
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