Q.Â Â My son, his wife and daughters (aged 5 and 3), are flying into Tokyo on March 31 and flying out on April 14. Â Could you suggest an itinerary (air/rail or a combination) for them to cover the cherry blossom season, nature and historical places where my granddaughters can enjoy themselves? Also hotels that are not too expensive.
The first thing anyone visiting Japan for two weeks should do is buy a Japan Rail Pass. The country’s rail system is extensive, efficient and affordable. I’m beginning my response with this to impress upon you the condition that the pass needs to be bought before arriving in Japan. The website japanrailpass. net has all details, including prices (14-day passes are available), routes and trains (can be confusing but travelling on just the Shinkansen, aka bullet train, should suffice for the main tourist spots) as well as a list of agents in India who sell the pass.
It’s a pity the kids are so little–there’s so much that is of interest to adults, of course, but to older children and teenagers too. I’m going to assume this family won’t want to hurtle around the country with children this young. That being the case, they should keep their travelling down to three popular destinations: Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka.
In Tokyo, kid-centric activities include: Ueno Park, which has the National Museum of Nature and Science (dinosaurs and discovery room) as well as Ueno Zoo; the Fukugawa Edo Museum, which is fascinating to little ones for its recreation of a 19th-century Japanese neighbourhood; and definitely the National Children’s Castle (music, art, rooftop playground). Attractions for adults, which don’t preclude kiddie enjoyment: an early morning walk around the fascinating Tsukiji Fish Market (hope they’re not vegetarian!); Hama Rikyu, an old Japanese garden from where they can take a cruise along the Sumida river to Asakusa to see the Sensoji Temple and go souvenir shopping at Nakamise Dori; Akihabara, for crazy electronics shopping; and stunning city views from the 45th floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office. If they have any interest in Japan’s exquisite art and craft, a must-visit is the Tokyo National Museum. And, of course, there’s Tokyo Disneyland.
In Kyoto: certainly the Toei Kyoto Studio Park/Movie Land, for a ninja show, haunted house, and other great stuff for kids; Kiyomuzu Temple; Nijo Castle; and the Kyoto International Manga Museum.
In Osaka: the Floating Garden Observatory; Osaka Castle; Osaka Aquarium; and of course Sega Amusement Theme Park as well as Universal Studios! For standard-issue but comfortable and very affordable accommodation, the Sunroute group has hotels across the country (sunroute.jp/English).