Summer in Tokyo, the season of vibrant festivals, frosty kakigori (shaved ice), and sunny blue skies that stretch as far as the eye can see. There's always something exciting to do, whether it's chilling on the beach, learning something new at a museum, or getting your game on at the city's sports and amusement centres. So, buckle up, folks, because we're about to take a wild and fun-filled ride through summer in Tokyo with kids!
Here are some of the best things to do in Tokyo with kids during summer:
This one is quite obvious - when it's summer, go to the beach. Tokyo is not blessed with good beaches. There is Odaiba Seaside Park, a man-made beach with picturesque views of Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Bay, but you cannot swim there. For a swimming beach, you'll need to go one to two hours away.
One idea is Kujukuri Beach in Chiba. This 60km stretch of sand is popular for swimming, surfing, and just lounging around. The beach is spacious and never too crowded, making it ideal for kids to play around freely. Plus, you can indulge in some fresh seafood at the local eateries lining the beach.
Probably the best beaches in the Tokyo area in in Shizuoka, on the Izu Peninsula. They are a bit further than the Chiba or Kanagawa beaches such as Enoshima, but they have nicer sand and water quality.
While you're at the beach, don't miss the stunning sunsets that Tokyo's coastline offers. Watching the sun slowly dip into the horizon as the skies transition from a bright orange to a soft, mellow pink is an experience to savor. Kids will love this natural spectacle and it offers a tranquil end to an energetic day on the beach. Try Shirahama or Kisami Ohama Beach in Shimoda.
For something off the beaten track, take the ferry to Hirizo Beach off Minami-Izu - stunning water and snorkelling. There are no facilities and you can only access it by ferry.
2. Splash Pads
Splash pads are the perfect respite from Tokyo's sticky summer heat. These mini water parks combine playground elements with various water features, ensuring a fun and refreshing experience for the kids.
Kodomo no Kuni, in Yokohama, is home to one of the largest splash pads in the area. It features numerous sprinklers, slides, and water tunnels that the kids will simply adore.
The Showa Kinen Park in Tachikawa also boasts an impressive water play area, complete with a massive, colorful fountain. There are plenty of shaded areas for parents to relax while the kids cool off. Do remember to bring swimwear and towels, as kids will be drenched in no time! This park also has an AMAZING playground and rental bicycles.
For more splash pad ideas in Tokyo, check our list of recommendations:
Another plus of splash pads is that they are not only fun but also very safe for children. The non-slip surfaces and shallow depth make them an ideal place for even the smallest members of the family to enjoy.
Tokyo's array of interactive museums offers an excellent opportunity for children to have fun while learning. The National Museum of Nature and Science in Ueno Park is a big hit among children, with its dinosaur skeletons and hands-on exhibits. The museum even has a dome theatre for kids to explore the universe, although it is a bit dated looking these days.
Another standout is Tokyo Toy Museum, with hundreds of traditional and modern toys housed in an abandoned elementary school that kids can play with freely.
In addition to these museums, there are many more smaller, niche ones throughout Tokyo that are worth a visit. The Fire Museum, for instance, lets kids learn about fire safety and the life of firefighters in an interactive and engaging manner, or they can examine creepy crawlies in the parasite museum in Meguro. The Ikebukuro Life Safety Learning Center is a great afternoon out where you can try an earthquake simulator, practice putting out fires, practice walking through a smoking building and more.
Don't overlook these lesser-known gems; you might be surprised at how much fun they can offer.
4. Theme Parks
Theme parks are synonymous with summer vacations, and Tokyo does not disappoint. The enchanting realms of Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea need no introduction. Whether it's cruising through It's a Small World or flying on Aladdin's Magic Carpet, these parks guarantee a magical day filled with unforgettable experiences.
For a uniquely Japanese experience, check out Sanrio Puroland in Tama. This indoor theme park is a wonderland for fans of Hello Kitty, My Melody, and other Sanrio characters. The kids will enjoy the adorable shows, fun rides, and the chance to meet their favourite characters!
There is also Yomiuriland which holds summer firefly and illumination events and has plenty of rides for all ages.
Kidzania is an amazing place best for ages about 4-10, where kids can choose a job (like fireman, or chef) and dress up as a staff member and actually do the job in exchange for “money”. They have English sessions on Wednesdays.
Another fun feature of theme parks in Tokyo is their seasonal events. In summer, Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea usually have special shows, parades, and even exclusive merchandise that make the visit even more exciting. Sanrio Puroland also hosts special summer events, often featuring new, limited-time attractions.
5. Free Play Centres
Jidoukans, or children's halls, are free community centres in Japan designed to foster creativity and interaction among children. These safe and inviting spaces are filled with toys, books, arts and crafts materials, and even outdoor play equipment.
For instance, the Azabu Kids to Teens hall in Hiro-o offers a hall for ball games, a baby room filled with toys, a pool and table tennis room, a reading corner, a crafts room, a music room and a rooftop filled with bikes. One amazing example if Galaxity in Nishi Kasai. They have not only the usual play rooms but a bouldering wall, rock climbing wall, planetarium and a three story giant climbing net. Everything except the planetarium is free and super fun.
Many jidoukans also organize workshops and events where kids can learn new skills and make new friends. A visit to a jidoukan like Meguro-Ku Jidoukan gives children a chance to engage in fun activities like puppet-making, painting, or traditional Japanese games, all under the supervision of friendly staff members. They hold events every week, but these are usually only advertised in Japanese.
One of the best parts about jidoukans is their inclusivity. These community centers are designed to cater to children of all ages. From toddlers who can enjoy the soft play areas, to older kids who can use the bigger halls for sport. And they are air conditioned, which works for summer!
6. Adventure Parks
When it comes to adoventure parks, Tokyo (and surrounds) provide a variety of options for children to expend their energy. One notable destination is Shimizu Koen in Noda City, Chiba. This expansive park features a huge athletic field with both land and water obstacles. You can spend all day trying them out. Nearby is also a botanical garden, pony rides and giant maze.
Another excellent choice is the Field Athletics Yokohama Tsukushino course. Here, kids can challenge themselves on over 40 different obstacles, which range from rope bridges to balance beams. It's not only a great way to improve physical agility but also provides a healthy dose of adventure and fun!
For something closer, try the Peace Forest Park Athletic Field in Ota-ku, which is smaller but still fun, and nearby a man-made beach.
Remember to pack a picnic when visiting places like Shimizu Koen or the Field Athletics Yokohama Tsukushino course. These sites offer plenty of green, open spaces perfect for a family picnic. You can enjoy a leisurely lunch in between games or just relax in the shade while your kids run around. They do sell foods like yakisoba and kakigori as well if you can't pack a lunch.
7. Game Centers
Game centers in Tokyo, like SpoCha, are indoor wonderlands that offer an extensive range of sports and games. With a flat entry fee, kids have access to a multitude of activities such as basketball, tennis, roller skating, and even more unique games like ninja training and human-sized table soccer. There is one in Odaiba that is used to catering to foreigners and staff may speak some English.https://www.round1.co.jp/shop/tenpo/tokyo-divercity-eng.html
8. Log houses in Kanagawa
TKanagawa Prefecture (home of Yokohama) has a really nice concept which is log houses filled with toys and adventure playgrounds for kids. They are best for primary school or kindergarten age. They are usually set over multiple levels and have underground passages and tunnels for kids to crawl through, slides, hidden corners and so on. Some examples are the "Kamishirane 3 Pond Park Children's Log House" which is right next to Zoorasia, the best zoo near Tokyo. There is also Forest Adventure Yokohama in the same area.
Or you can try the Kashiwaba Park Children Log House which is nice and near to Sakuragicho/Yokohama. Search "こどもログハウス" to find them on Maps. We really loved the Hamagin Space Science Center which had an amazing playground inside for kids, and is also next to the Omoshiro House log house.
Aquariums are another good idea for something to do with kids in the hot Tokyo summer, as they are air conditioned and fun. Some of the best are:
- Shinagawa Aquarium - A bit dated but has some interesting exhibits like their deep sea life section.
- Kawasui Kawasaki Aquarium – A modern aquarium with some fun digital art and interesting exhibitions.
- Sunshine Aquarium & Sumida Aquarium - Not so large, but very conveniently located.
- Maxell Aquapark Shinagawa - More of a digital art museum combined with an aquarium. It's small but kids will like it.
- Tokyo Sea Life Park - A little further away but cheaper than most. Also located near an awesome adventure park for kids.
Summer in Tokyo is synonymous with lively festivals, known as 'matsuri'. The streets fill with people dressed in colourful yukatas, food stalls offering tantalizing treats, and traditional dance performances that captivate the audience. The Sumida River Fireworks Festival is one of the most prominent, with over 20,000 fireworks illuminating the Tokyo sky in a mesmerizing display, and it will be held this year(2023) for the first time since Covid!
Another must-experience event is the matsuri at Yasukuni Shrine, known for its stunning display of over 30,000 lanterns. There's also a variety of traditional performances, and let's not forget the yatai food stalls where you can sample mouth-watering Japanese street food. These festivals offer a feast for the senses and an unforgettable cultural experience for the entire family.
One of the most exciting aspects of festivals for children is the chance to participate in traditional Japanese games, often found in the festival's game stalls. Whether it's catching goldfish, shooting targets, or playing ring toss, the kids are bound to have a blast and might even win a prize to take home!
Whether they're thrill-seekers, budding scientists, nature lovers, or gaming buffs, Tokyo's got something for everyone. Here's to an unforgettable Tokyo summer vacation – may it be filled with sunny smiles, hearty laughter, and precious memories. Kanpai!
Article courtesy : OMAKASE Tour https://omakase-tour.com/