Activities for younger kids
Picks for Tokyo kids
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-8pm (enter by 6pm; weekends one hour later) 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,...
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.
Daikanransha - Attraction: Aomi
[Open 10am-10pm (Fri, Sat -11pm). Open every day.]
AKA the "Giant Sky Wheel," this 115-meter-high ferris wheel in located in the Palette Town shopping complex in Aomi, in the middle of Tokyo Bay. During the sixteen-minute ride it offers great views looking out over central Tokyo, Boso Peninsula and...
Sanrio Puroland - Amusement park: Tama-shi
[Open 10am-6pm (Fri -8pm). Closed some Wednesdays and Thursdays.]
This indoor theme park is devoted to Hello Kitty and a multitude of other beloved Sanrio characters, including Bad Badtz-Maru, Little Twin Stars, Cinnamoroll, Pompompurin, Pochacco and of course Dear Daniel. There are parades, musical shows, a...
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...
Science, tech, transportation
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...
Hara Model Railway Museum - Museum: Yokohama Sta.
[Open 11am-5pm (enter by 4:30pm). Closed Tuesdays.]
Two gigantic room-size layouts are the main draw at this impressive model-railway attraction. The larger diorama is European in character, with urban streets, town squares and outdoor restaurants, as well as a couple of mountain resorts connected...
Keio Rail Land - Amusement park: Hino-shi
[Open 9:30am-5:30pm (last entry 5pm). Closed Wednesdays.]
This inexpensive mini-theme park is an entertaining destination for young train fans who still have leftover energy after a visit to Tama Zoo, located just across the road. It's a very hands-on attraction, with several different train simulators...
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...
Police Museum - Museum: Kyobashi
[Open 9:30am-5pm. Closed Mondays.]
Aimed primarily at school-age children, this specialized museum focuses on the history and operations of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, exploring the topics of crime-scene investigation and disaster response in particular. There are a...
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...
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...
Tamarokuto Science Center - Museum: Nishi-Tokyo
[Open 9am-5pm (last entry 4pm). Closed Mondays.]
This modern science museum has a fairly sophisticated planetarium setup, and English-language audio commentary is provided. Other sections of the museum are devoted to geoscience (rocks and fossils); human senses; insects, fish and other animals;...
Tobu Museum - Museum: Sumida-ku
[Open 10am-4:30pm (enter by 4pm). Closed Mondays.]
A three-minute "Steam Locomotive Show," with spinning wheels and loud whistling, is held four times a day and is one of the main attractions at this local train museum. Another draw is the 13-minute "Panorama Show," held five times a day on a large...
Toshiba Science Museum - Museum: Kawasaki
[Open 10am-5:30pm (Sat, Sun -6pm). Closed Mondays.]
Aimed primarily at school-aged children, this science and technology museum covers a broad range of topics, including image-recognition technology, paper recycling, geothermal generation, smart buildings, and nanotechnology. Many of the exhibits...
Train and Bus Museum - Museum: Kawasaki City
[Open 10am-4:30pm (last entry 4pm). Closed Thursdays.]
Tokyu Railway's transportation museum offers plenty of hands-on activities for children and train enthusiasts, with numerous driving simulators and three different room-size model-train layouts. There are lots of features geared towards younger...
Toys and amusements
Anpanman Children's Museum and Mall - Amusement park: 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.
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.
Museum of Tin Toys - Museum: Yokohama Motomachi
[Open 9:30am-6pm (weekends -7pm) daily.]
In the early twentieth century Japan exported huge numbers of tin-plate toys to countries around the world, and this charming little musuem traces that history, displaying some 3,000 antique toys made between the 1890s and the 1960s. Shelf after...
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...
TeamLab Borderless - Attraction: Aomi
[Open 10am-7pm (Sat, Sun -9pm). Closed 2nd, 4th Tuesdays.]
Billed as the world's first digital art museum, this ambitious art installation is made up of fifty immersive display areas created with the use of 470 projectors and a similar number of computers. There's quite a bit to see here, with dozens of...
Orbi - Attraction: Yokohama Minato-mirai
[Open 9am-9pm (last entry at 8pm; one hour later Fri-Sun) daily.]
Operated by Sega in conjunction with the BBC Earth video production company, Orbi is a mini-theme park aimed at both children and adults. The main attractions are a series of slickly produced nature and animal videos, shown in immersive...
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...
Drum Museum - Museum: Asakusa
[Open 10am-5pm. Closed Mondays, Tuesdays.]
By far the noisiest museum we've been to in Tokyo, Asakusa's Drum Museum is also one of the most interactive. Hundreds of percussion instruments of all shapes and sizes are on display here, many of them waiting to be banged on by visitors - just...
Himonya Koen Kodomo Dobutsu Hiroba - Park/garden: Meguro-ku
[Open 10-11:30am, 1:30-3pm. Closed Mondays.]
Predating the era of cat and rabbit cafes by many years, petting zoos offer a friendly, interactive animal experience for young kids (and their parents) without the cover charge or the expensive cafe au lait. The one here lets you play with...
Samurai Museum - Museum: Shinjuku Kabukicho
[Open 11am-9pm (enter by 8:30) daily.]
Although this specialized museum is rather compact in size, the very detailed English-language tour makes up for it, and is highly recommended. The tour brings Japan's samurai history to life as you're introduced to room after room filled with rare...
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 Sky Circus sixtieth-floor observation deck, the World Import Mart (where Sunshine Aquarium and Planetarium Manten are located), the tiny...