My friend Sophia recently flew from London to Japan for a fabulous 2 week trip with her two sons, Mom, Dad & Brother. Here are Sophia’s recommendations all tried and tested by her family, she has two sons ages 10yr & 6yrs old.
Travel to Tokyo
We arrived at Haneda airport in Tokyo (highly recommend this airport as it is only 30mins away from central Tokyo and is a newer airport too). Non-stop flight from London is 11hours, from NYC flight is 14hours.
Our family stayed at The Palace Hotel in Tokyo Perfect location near the Imperial Palace, 5 star hotel with beautiful views, great restaurants and and close to Ginza shopping area. Very central.
Things to do in Tokyo
Spent the day walking around, going to Yoyogi Park (great for cherry blossoms)
Meiji shrine serene oasis with beautiful Temple.
Imperial Palace and beautiful grounds, is the primary residence of the Emperor of Japan which are only open two weeks out the the year to the public. One week during the cherry blossom season, and one week in the fall.
Team Lab Borderless Exhibition explore, discover in one borderless world with lights!
We went to Tsukiji fish market (the auction has moved but the outer fish market has remained and its still amazing to go in the morning and have fresh sushi and fish).
Chidorigafuchi Park,: one of the best places to see the cherry blossoms. Chidorigafuchi's path is the most scenic spot around the moat, with a 700-meter-long tunnel of cherry trees in the spring.
Asakusa to see the oldest temple in Tokyo. Asakusa retains the vibe of an older Tokyo, with traditional craft shops and street-food stalls along Nakamise Street
Ueno Park there is a science and nature museum which is incredible, highly recommend it.
Shimbuya (great shopping district). Shimbuya crossing is one of the famous sites in Tokyo. Shopping malls, shopping streets, crowded intersection bring you an image of the bustling streets of Tokyo in general but Shibuya, is perhaps the perfect representation of that!
Amore Toyko Vintage Designer Shop
Ginza like their 5th Avenue. Ginza 6 dept store - only two years old, incredible building, can go to the roof and relax in a garden. Shopping is amazing - great payout and lots of restaurants. Check out the book store inside as well! Pokémon store in there too. Markos is obsessed we went 3 times 🤦🏻♀️
Itoya Best stationary store! in Ginza, its huge, each floor dedicated to specific section like stationary, travel, pens/pencils, calligraphy and painting supplies. You will need a good hour + to go through the whole thing.
Supreme, Tokyo has 3 stores unlike other major cities. They are Supreme obsessed
Kit Kats are huge in Japan. They have every single flavor!
Restaurants in Tokyo recommended by Suzy Lewis
Roppong Iinakaya This is our favourite restaurant in Tokyo, more adult as expensive but kids would also love and are welcome.
Shin Hinomoto Another fave and we always go, great for kids too great pricing. Run by a Scott who’s lived in japan forever .... very low key easy going place under the railway bridge. Food is off the charts great.
Anniversaire Cafe. Gorgeous cafe for people watching and tea and cake stop on the amazing Omotesando Dori ...
Nishi-Azabu Brilliant relaxed restaurant in gorgeous setting, this place was used for the film Kill Bill you’ll recognize the scene where she’s in the yellow suit going crazy and knifing peeps with this as background. Great food and kids always love it here.
Hakone - 1 night
We left by private car from Tokyo to Hakone (55mins), to see the stunning Mt. Fuji. We did a boat cruise along Lake Ashi, took the cable cars up the mountain across from Mount Fuji and then drove with our driver and guide to the Hakone open air museum which was incredible! Amazing contemporary sculpture museum.
We stayed at the Kai Hakone which is a traditional ryokan with the steam baths. Wanted to have a traditional Japanese experience but only for a night 🤣
Kyoto - 3 nights
We took the bullet train from Hakone to Kyoto (2hrs). We stayed at the Kyoto Four seasons. During cherry blossoms season, hotel is expensive but worth every penny. Amazing service, Michelin start restaurant, incredible spa, one of the newest hotel in Kyoto. Highly recommend it.
Got the kids a book from one of the temples which they used on our entire trip to have the monks sign, stamp it, date it and write a prayer. They loved this!
We toured the Bamboo Forest, (had a rickshaw ride into the bamboo forest) one of the prettiest groves in the world!
We visited a lot of of temples, all world heritage sights, including the famous Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine is an important Shinto shrine in southern Kyoto. It is famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates.
We also did a day trip to Narato visit the Deer park, Established in 1880, Nara Park is one of the oldest parks in Japan. In addition to the famous deer, the park is home to Kofokuji, the family temple of the most powerful clan at the height of Nara's influence with the largest Buddha in the world.
Osaka - 2 nights
Took train from Kyoto to Osaka (1hr) with our guide. We stayed at the St. Regis Osaka, highly recommend it. Best location, amazing hotel, service, food.
Osaka visited the Osaka castle The castle is one of Japan's most famous landmarks.
Dotonbori which is the street with all the shops, restaurants along the canals. It was incredible! You can just walk into any restaurant and have incredible Japanese!
Hiroshima - day trip
We caught the early morning bullet train from Osaka to Hiroshima (1.5hrs)
Things to do Hiroshima
Peace Memorial he ruin of the hall serves as a memorial to the people who were killed from an atomic bomb 6 August 1945. Over 70,000 people were killed instantly, and another 70,000 suffered fatal injuries from the radiation.
We also took a ferry to Miyajima island Island of Gods (beautiful Itsukushima shrine in the water). Hiroshima was depressing but the museum and the sight is incredible and worth a visit. Miyajima is not to be missed!! One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. So much history, well preserved, really beautiful! It was amazing!!
We returned to Osaka that night and left the next day back to Tokyo. We stayed at We stayed at the Andaz Hyatt Tokyo. Amazing hotel, very hip, great location and great spa and great food. Classic high end hotel. This was also high end and cool vibe. We loved it!
We spent the last 3 days just chilling in Tokyo, shopping and eating!
It was a jam packed trip but incredible