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Japan family holidays

Advice & inspiration

Parent and child walking with Mount Fuji in the background

Futuristic cities, spectacular old temples, jaw-dropping scenery and a culture that will surprise and delight young minds, a family holiday to Japan is a fascinating experience. Travelling around Japan with kids isn’t your simplest holiday choice, of course – it’s hardly a fly and flop beach break after all – so we’ve put together some advice and inspiration to help you plan your big Japanese adventure.

Prefer to chat things through? Get in touch with our Japan team.

person standing on high viewpoint

What to expect

Wherever your Japan family holiday takes you, you can be sure of some eye-opening experiences for adults and kids alike. While Japan is a developed country with some similarities to the UK or other ‘western’ nations, it has been shaped by a history and culture that is truly unique in the world. The clash between the ultra-modern and an ancient world of shoguns, geishas and samurai is a big part of what makes Japan such an exciting destination, and we’ll always recommend an itinerary that shows you both sides of the story.

Japan is also an incredibly beautiful place with sweeping countryside and majestic mountain scenery, so if you choose to get away from the big cities then you’ll be richly rewarded.

You’ll likely find Japanese people to be friendly, polite and welcoming, although some may come across a little reserved or shy at times. This is largely down to Japanese culture, which historically holds modesty and calmness as major virtues. We’ve found that travelling with children can be a great way of breaking any barriers, and you may well pick up a few extra friends through your kids’ natural inquisitiveness.

Health & safety

Generally speaking, there aren’t many safer destinations for family travel than Japan. Things are kept impeccably clean, crime rates are low, transport and other equipment is modern and well-maintained, and the health system is amongst the best in the world.

Before travelling, make sure you take out a comprehensive family insurance policy that covers travel to Japan – things can get very expensive if you happen to need medical attention locally!

When to go (school holiday weather)

If you’re planning on taking the kids to Japan then chances are you’ll be limited to the longer school holidays, and the good news is that these times present some great travel opportunities.

One of the best times to head to Japan is around the Easter holidays. Temperatures are pleasant and mild throughout most of the country, and average rainfall is relatively low too. Cherry Blossom season also comes around this time of year, which can be a wonderful bonus but also makes things pretty busy – you’ll want to book quite far ahead if you’re planning an Easter trip.

Autumn is a similarly great time to travel to Japan if you can, and similarly popular too!

The summer months are filled with festivals so can be a fun and colourful time to visit Japan, although you should be prepared for hot and humid conditions, as well as some heavy rains at the start oof the summer. Temperatures often rise towards 30°C but it’ll be cooler in the mountains, so you may want to spend a bit more time at higher altitudes.

The Christmas break can be a fun time to be in Japan – the Japanese have adopted Christmas in their own way, even though Christianity is very much a minority religion. Oddly, the traditional Christmas meal in Japan is KFC! Be prepared for the cold though – although January and February are the coldest months, temperatures can also drop towards freezing around the turn of the year.

You can read more about Japan’s climate in our weather guide.

Our top places to go with kids

  1. Hakone & Mount Fuji – Japan’s most iconic mountain is always a favourite with kids, and Hakone lies right at the foot of it beside the beautiful Ashino-ko Lake. This place has great food and lots to do, with most activities included in the ‘Hakone Pass’ we include in our At the Foot of Fuji bite-sized trip. Ride the railways, boats and cable cars, take a hike along the trails, and then soak in the volcanic hot-spring baths dotted through the town.
  2. Tokyo – Japan’s capital is one of the world great cities and it’s a real treat for the senses. Just walking around and getting your first taste of real Japanese food is enough to keep the family entertained, but there are lots of opportunities to dip into the fun side of Japanese culture too, from sushi making to creating your own anime, Studio Ghibli tours to visiting the amazing Future Museum. With our Let’s Go Tokyo! bite-sized trip, your travel specialist can tailor the activities to your kids interests.
  3. Hiroshima – A powerful lesson in history, Hiroshima has emerged from the terrible events of 1945 to become a thriving and vibrant city once again – one of our favourite places to visit in Japan. Kids will love the miniature Shukkeien Garden and you can also head out to nearby Nara during your free time – Nara Park is famous for its bowing deer, which are so used to humans that they’re pretty much tame!
  4. Osaka – Japan’s second city is a world of neon lights and ancient temples, and it’s a great place to explore. Our favourite reason to visit is the food, however, so if you’re a foodie family then we definitely recommend a trip to Osaka. This is where the culture of Kuidaore, or “eat until you drop”, was born and you’ll find some of the world’s most incredible food scenes here.
  5. Okinawa – You might not think of sandy beaches and palm trees when you imagine Japan, but this subtropical island paradise can be a wonderful place to relax at the end of your Japan adventure. With its own distinctive culture and warm tropical water ideal for snorkeling, Okinawa is a great way to treat your family to something different.


For more inspiration, take a look at all of our Japan bite-sized trips. These can be tailored to your family’s needs and put together to create your ultimate family holiday.

Trees bridge
Hakone Shrine
Osaka restaurant
Japan Okinawa beach
red temple

Where you’ll stay

When you’re travelling around Japan with your family, you’ll be staying in a mix of accommodation from our hand-picked selection. We work with a number of different properties in each destination to ensure availability, each visited by our team and checked for cleanliness, character and location. We avoid big international chains wherever possible and generally work with smaller hotels. You may find yourself in a comfortable city hotel with a great location, and we can also arrange special stays in traditional Ryokans for something a little different.

Just let your travel specialist know your preferences and they’ll do everything they can to get things just right for your family.

How you’ll get around

Japan’s public transport network is second to none, with an excellent subway network in most cities meaning that taxis are rarely necessary – although they are widely available. Bike rental is also popular in smaller cities and towns, most of which have good cycle paths to make it easy and safe to explore on two wheels.

For travel between destinations, we always recommend using Japan’s “Shinkansen” trains – for many kids, travelling on these high-tech, high-speed trains is a favourite part of the holiday! Your travel specialist will arrange a Japan Rail Pass for the duration of your holiday, making it easy to navigate around the country.

Read more about getting around Japan here.

What you’ll eat

If you’re anything like us, food is one of the main selling points of a holiday to Japan! And don’t worry if your kids haven’t developed a taste for sushi yet, because there’s a whole world of delicious dishes on the Japanese menu.

Tempura veg and seafood, donburi rice dishes, ramen noodle bowls, gyozas and katsu curries are among the local meals that kids seem to love, and there’s plenty more on offer is they’re adventurous. In fact, it’s very difficult to find food in Japan that isn’t delicious – even a pot noodle from a vending machine taste like its been made with love!

Vegetarians and vegans should be fine too, with Japan famous for it tofu and vegetable dishes. Just be aware that veganism isn’t always fully understood and many vegetarian dishes use ingredients like egg or fish sauce. If you want to be sure, we recommend downloading the Happy Cow app which lists vegan restaurants across the world.

If any of your family have allergies, we recommend making an allergy card with the ingredients you need to avoid translated into Japanese.

Read more about food in Japan here.

More tips for travelling with kids in Japan

  1. Don’t rush it – you may be tempted to try and cram everything Japan has to offer into your itinerary, but our advice is to pace yourselves. Japan is a quite large country and journey times can be long (even with the hyper-fast trains!), so you’ll be glad to have a few days at each stop to take it all in.
  2. Pack your essentials – although all the essentials and common medicines are available in Japan, you may find it a challenge to find more specialist items or medications. You don’t want to spend your holiday shopping so make sure you bring these things with you to avoid any issues.
  3. Wear proper shoes – Even if you’re not hiking the Nakasendo Trail, a Japan holiday is bound to involve a fair amount of walking. Comfortable shoes are essential, and if you’re buying new walking shoes for your kids then try to wear them in before you travel.
  4. Learn a few words – some people in Japan speak good English, especially the younger generations and those working in tourism, but the locals will appreciate the effort (even if it’s just a simple “Arigatō”). You can always use Google translate, and it can be a fun challenge for children to try communicating a few words with the local people.

Ready to start planning?

Our travel specialists have been all over Japan, and they have the first-hand experience to make your family holiday just perfect!

Miles travel specialist Japan waterfall
Decorative torn edge