Activities and interests: Activities for younger kids

Picks

National Museum of Nature and Science - Museum: Ueno
[Open 9am-5pm. Closed Mondays.]
This is an outstanding natural history museum, with beautiful, curiosity-inspiring exhibits exploring the animal and plant kingdoms and the prehistoric world. It's also a real bargain - general admission to the vast permanent exhibition areas is...
Tokyo Toy Museum - Museum: Yotsuya 3-chome
[Open 10am-4pm (enter by 3:30pm). Closed Thursdays.]
Especially popular with younger children but suitable for all ages, the museum exhibits thousands of toys from around the world, with plenty of hands-on activity for enthusiastic visitors. The musuem occupies two floors of a former elementary...
Kidzania - Amusement park: Toyosu
[2 sessions per day: 10am-3pm and 4-9pm; open every day.]
In this rather unusual amusement park, children ages 3-15 can "work" at more than eighty grown-up jobs - pilot, firefighter, chef - and earn Kidzania currency while they do so. Some of the activities are geared toward older or younger kids, and...
Ghibli Museum - Museum: Mitaka
[Open 10am-6pm. Closed Tuesdays.]
When Hayao Miyazaki's spellbinding Spirited Away won the Oscar for best animated feature in 2003, it only confirmed to the world what Japan has known for decades: that the work of Miyazaki and his fellow artists at Studio Ghibli ranks alongside that...
History Garage - Museum: Aomi
[Open 11am-9pm daily.]
If you're even the least bit interested in vintage autos and racecars, this automotive museum is well worth checking out. Walk-through exhibit areas are fashioned to resemble the streets of an Italian village in the 1960s, a small town in 1950s...
Legoland - Attraction: Daiba
[Open 10am-9pm (enter by 7pm) daily.]
The Legoland Discovery Center is a mini-theme park inside the Tokyo Decks shopping complex, offering fun activities and charming attractions for visitors of all ages. There are a couple of entertaining rides, a 3D adventure movie, and hands-on...
Panasonic Center - Showroom: Ariake
[Open 10am-6pm (last entry 5pm). Closed Mondays.]
The RiSuPia portion of the Panasonic Center is one of the best science museums we've seen in Tokyo, with free admission for visitors under 18. (It's Y500 for adults.) Almost all the exhibits are set up as hands-on activities and interactive games,...

More activities

Amlux - Showroom: Ikebukuro
[Open 11am-7pm. Closed Mondays.]
This five-story Toyota showroom has some seventy vehicles on display, including Formula-1 racecars. Other attractions include a racecar-driving game, road-safety driving simulators, and cartoon-themed entertainment for young children.
Baji Koen - Park/garden: Setagaya-ku
[Open March-Oct 9am-5pm; Nov-Feb 9am-4pm. Open every day.]
Run by the JRA (Japan Racing Association), this horse-centric park has extensive riding grounds and over 100 resident horses. Equine-related shows and more informal events are held frequently on weekends, while weekdays tend to be quieter - you'll...
Children's Castle - Attraction: Omotesando
[Open 10am to 5:30pm weekends; 12:30pm to 5:30pm weekdays. Closed Mondays.]
Hachiko and its surrounding environs may be the hot spot for the teen-to-college crowd, but not far away is a place designed specifically for the younger set. Located between Shibuya and Omotesando stations, the National Children's Castle offers fun...
Fire Museum - Museum: Yotsuya 3-chome
[Open 10am-5pm. Closed Mondays.]
Earthquakes. Landslides. Typhoons. Faulty wiring. Japan has its share of danger. But fear not: the fire department is here to help. To learn exactly how they help, visit Tokyo's Fire Museum, where the history of Fire and Rescue in Japan - from...
Himonya Koen Kodomo Dobutsu Hiroba - Park/garden: Meguro-ku
[Open 10-11:30am, 1:30-3pm. Closed Mondays.]
The petting zoo here lets you play with rabbits, guinea pigs and dogs, and ponies are available for riding (at Y150 per ride). Note the limited hours of operation. Other attractions in the park include rowboat rental and a ping-pong area.
Jingu Gaien Nikoniko Park - Park/garden: Shinanomachi
[Open 10am-5pm daily.]
This popular children's park inside the Meiji Jingu Gaien grounds features rather elaborate slides, simulated waterfalls and log cabins.
Metro Museum - Museum: Edogawa-ku
[Open 10am-5pm. Closed Mondays.]
Recently refurbished, the Metro Museum focuses on the Tokyo subway system, with several hands-on driving simulators, a big model train layout (with shows four times a day), and exhibits of subway cars through the ages, tunneling equipment and...
Popondetta Akihabara - Retail: Akihabara
[Open noon-8:30pm. Closed 3rd Wed.]
The highlight of this model-railroad shop is a giant Tokyo-inspired track layout that takes up most of the second floor. Customers can rent one of several tracks by the hour, and either rent a model train here or bring their own.
Railway Museum - Museum: Omiya
[Open 10am-6pm (enter by 5:30pm). Closed Tuesdays.]
Train enthusiasts shouldn't miss this impressive, expensively produced railway-history museum located about thirty minutes north of Shinjuku in Saitama Prefecture. The showpiece here is a collection of thirty-five real train cars and full-size...
Science Museum - Museum: Takebashi
[Open 9:30am-4:50pm (enter by 4pm). Closed Wednesdays.]
Aimed primarily at younger visitors, the focus here is on basic science and technology, with lots of hands-on exhibits and 15-minute "science class" programs. Driving simulators in the Waku Eco Motor Land section are quite popular, and the Denki...
Sony ExploraScience - Museum: Daiba
[Open 11am-7pm (enter by 6:30pm) daily.]
Sony's contribution to the cause of popular-science education offers a number of hands-on exhibits focusing on light, sound and sensory perception. There's also a small planetarium (with a show in Japanese), and of course a showroom displaying the...


Anpanman Children's Museum and Mall - Museum: Yokohama Minato-mirai
[Open museum 10am-6pm (enter by 5pm); mall -7pm; restaurant -8pm (LO 7pm) daily.]
Aimed squarely at the six-and-under crowd, this popular mini-museum and shopping mall are devoted to the cartoon-pastry hero and his many plush and collectible friends. The main reason to fork over Y1000 for the museum entrance fee is probably the...
Anpanman Shop - Retail: Yotsuya 3-chome
[Open noon-6pm daily.]
A shop devoted to the bean-jam-pastry hero and immensely popular children's cartoon character Anpanman, with thousands of different character items on sale.
Cupnoodles Museum - Museum: Yokohama Minato-mirai
[Open 10am-6pm (enter by 5pm). Closed Tuesdays.]
If you love instant ramen and want to learn much, much more about the ubiquitous snack and its inventor, Momofuku Ando, you've come to the right place. Walk around inside a replica of the original shed where Ando first created instant ramen back in...
Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum - Attraction: Yokohama
[Open 11am-10pm (last admission) daily.]
A miniature historical theme park, Ramen Town, located on the bottom two levels of the Ramen Museum, is a recreation of a bustling urban neighorhood in the year 1958 (which happens to be the year instant ramen was invented). Scattered among the...
Sunshine City Alpa - Shopping complex: Ikebukuro
One of central Tokyo's oldest shopping malls, Alpa anchors the Sunshine City complex, which also contains the Sunshine 60 office tower and the World Import Mart where Sunshine Aquarium and Planetarium Manten are located. In addition to dozens of...
Taimeiken Kite Museum - Museum: Nihonbashi
[Open 11am-5pm. Closed Sundays.]
A visit to Nihonbashi's Taimeiken Kite Museum feels a bit like stepping into the attic of an eccentric old man. The room is a tangled heap of color and string, requiring you to duck under and step around the hundreds of kites that couldn't fit...

Amusement parks

Yokohama Cosmoworld - Amusement park: Yokohama Minato-mirai
[Open 11am-9pm. Closed Thursdays.]
The giant ferris wheel, 112 meters in height with a capacity of 480 riders, is the main attraction here and a prominent part of the Yokohama skyline. There's also a roller coaster and a water-rafting ride.
Tokyo Disney Resort - Amusement park: Maihama
[Open 9am-10pm daily.]
Tokyo Disney Resort is the home to two theme parks - Disneyland (similar to other Disneylands around the world) and the only-in-Tokyo ocean-themed DisneySea. There's also a restaurant and shopping complex called Ikspiari, a Cirque du Soleil...
Tokyo Dome City Attractions - Amusement park: Suidobashi
[Open 11am-7pm daily.]
The amusement park rides and attractions of Tokyo Dome City are spread out over five areas - LaQua, Tower Land, Splash Garden, Parchute Land and Geopolis - all covered by a one-day pass or separate pay-as-you-go admission. Attractions include the...