Taking on Tokyo with the kids in tow? Here’s our summer guide to Tokyo’s best family-friendly activities, from theme parks and animal cafes to cultural attractions and outdoorsy pursuits.
1. Explore a blockbuster exhibition
From now until 16 September, budding film buffs and animation enthusiasts can take a peek behind the Hollywood scenes with globe-trotting sell-out exhibition, The Science Behind Pixar. See how the techno-whizzes behind movies such as Toy Story, Up, Monsters Inc, Ratatouille, and The Incredibles design their characters, orchestrate movement, and more, with this fascinating spotlight on the animation process.
2. Hike up Tokyo’s tallest building
The tallest building in the city, Tokyo Skytree, is your ticket to a dizzying day out. Head up as early as you can for minimal crowds and clear views across to Fuji. Ask your concierge to organise your fast track entry, or get an international visitor’s ‘Fast Skytree Ticket’ from the 4/F counter on arrival.
3. On your bike!
Non-stop megalopolis Tokyo may not seem like the ideal place for straddling two wheels, but head east to lovely old neighbourhood Yanaka, and you’ll see why many love to navigate its winding lanes on a bike. First, swing by Tokyo Bike to pick up a rental, then slowly breeze through the vast Yanaka Cemetery, and past Yanaka Ginza, a shopping street lined with stalls selling produce, crafts and sweets. Finally, dismount at the tranquil Tennoji Temple to admire its big bronze Buddha.
4. Bow to the Samurai
Deep dive the Sengoku era at the Samurai Museum, a unique insight into Japanese warfare and the samurai life via armour, swords and more. Your little warriors can get snapped in a full samurai costume, as well as witness a special sword battle experience. Hai!
5. Animal magic
Tokyo is home to a menagerie of cute animal cafes. Hop over to Ra.a.g.f to snuggle and feed some 20 gorgeous fluffy bunnies with apples and carrots, while avian aficionados will love garden grazer Kotori Cafe, home to a flock of colourful parrots, lorikeets and finches.
6. Meet Mickey & Co
Whether you’re more into princesses or pirates, Tokyo Disney Resort has something for everyone with its two adjacent theme parks: Disneyland and DisneySea. The former has all the classic characters plus an impressive 43 rides, while the latter boasts 23 wet n’ wild water-based pursuits. Queues can be hideously long so aim to go on a weekday and arrive early.
The Science Behind Pixar
/ until 16 Sep / Tokyo City View / 6-10-1 Roppongi / Minato-ku / 10am-10pm daily / tokyocityview.com
/ 1-1-2 Oshiage / Sumida-ku / 8am-10pm daily / tokyo-skytree.jp
/ 1/F / Eiwa Dairoku Bldg / 2-25-6 Kabukicho / Shinjuku-ku / +81 3 6457 6411 / 10.30am-9pm daily / samuraimuseum.jp
/ 1-5-11 Yanaka / +81 3 5809 0980 / tokyobike.com
/ 3/F / 6-14-15 Jingumae / Shibuya-ku / +81 3 6805 0328 / noon-7pm Mon-Thu, noon-7.30pm Sat-Sun / raagf.com
/ 6-3-7 Minami-Aoyama / Minato-ku / +81 3 6427 5115 / 11am-7pm daily / kotoricafe.jp
Tokyo Disney Resort
/ 1-1 Maihama / Urayasu-shi / Chiba / 9am-10pm daily / tokyodisneyresort.jp