Japan is a popular destination for families; there is so much to do and see. We did a quick 6 night trip for my 40th birthday to Tokyo and Kyoto. I have been asked to share my itinerary so many times that I decided to post it on my blog.
Tokyo Hotel – Four Seasons Marunouchi – we loved this hotel! Small boutique feeling but spacious rooms with two queen beds. Nice location next to the Tokyo train station and short walk to Ginza.
Kyoto Hotel – The Ritz Carlton – this hotel is truly special! It has a modern luxury resort feel. Located right along the Kamogawa River. The kids loved the indoor grotto style swimming pool and spa. After being in Tokyo we needed a day to relax and swim. The hotel has a Pierre Hermé which is a big plus, and the breakfast was an experience in itself.
First Night in Tokyo – we walked around Ginza and stopped at Itoya Paper store the mecca of all paper stores. The girls also loved the Tokyo Hands store, there is a floor with tons of crafts and DIY supplies (if your kids are into that). We had dinner at Nodaiwa which specializes in Unagi. It wasn’t easy to find but glad we did!
I highly recommend hiring a guide (our hotel arranged ours). Her name was Ms. Haruko Ootsuki. It saved us a lot of time and she helped us navigate the subway which isn’t an easy task.
Below is our 2 day itinerary our guide put together based on what we wanted to see.
On the 1stday we will cover the west Tokyo including Shinjuku, since Isetan will be closed on the following 21stfor maintenance etc…. the day 2, the Central & East Tokyo including Tsukiji, Ginza and Asakusa.
Please also note that most boutique type of shops only open from 11am, therefore we will visit places like a shrine / Fish market to start the day. (plus, the Inner market of Tsukiji Fish Market only open to the public from 10am…finishes around 11am. The outer market is available from earlier till around 2 pm. )
Day 1 – Feb. the 20th…Covering west Tokyo
- Harajuku Neighborhood –
Takeshita dori street and Crepes for snack (so yummy!) - Kawaii Monster Cafe (we didn’t make it here) We did have cotton candy at Totti Cotton Candy Factory (big hit!)
- Omotesando recommended places include…
*Kiddy Land – pioneer, very popular and famous toy store which was a favorite of late Micheal Jackson as well.
*Oriental Bazar – very popular shop which carries good variety of Japanese souvenirs, pioneer to this trendy spot.
We went to Harry’s Hedge Hog Cafe – one of the kids favorite things they did in Tokyo.
If time and energy allow…before headed for Shinjuku
* Cat street – dotted with fashionable boutiques
→ Shibuya Neighborhood & Shibuya crossing
- Shinjuku Neighborhood –Lunch at food hall in Isetan → Piss Alley to take a look
Back to hotel
Day 2 : Jan. 21st …Covering Central & East Tokyo
- Tsukji Fish Market and have some Sushi for morning snack ?? … so that you will have some room for a bit late lunch at Asakusa later on for ramen / soba ?
( not at Sushi restaurants where only ‘set menu’is available since it will probably too filling . We will also avoid restaurants where always people lining up for a long time, sometimes for hours! (this includes, Daiwa, Sushi-dai, Iwasa-Zushi…)
Sushi-Zanmai might be good since there are few branch shops at the outer-market. Let me go on a bit more research, please ! We ended up eating at Iwasa-Zushi it was excellent.
⇒ Stroll to
- Ginza, on the way you can see the Kabuki-za theater, and
- Kapital Denim Store, if wished (located not too far from the theater)
- If wished, walk through Ginza area while checking the location of
Ippudo ginza, Kagari ramen, Nodaiwa unagi… so that you can go back there if time and your stomach allows for other occasion.
Other recommended places include,
*Mitsukoshi Department Store – one of the most famous / popular store in Tokyo, whose food section is as good as Isetan.
* Muji Store
*Anime Museum – get tickets ahead of time
* Shinjuku Gyoen Park – for cherry blossoms
- Asakusa – Sense-ji Budist Temple
Lunch at Namiki soba/ a few other popular soba places./ Ippudo ramen or my recommended Yoroiya ramen, which said to be the birthplace of ‘soy sauce ramen’..one of the authentic Japanese ramen… conveniently located and has small sized one. Whose roast port fillet in ramen is really good !.. you can decide which one you opt for depending on how you feel, how busy the place is etc.. We ended up having lunch at Yoroiya ( so good!).
Walk around check out the shopping & take a rickshaw ride
- Tea break at Ippodo Tea, Marunouchi → Walk back to your hotel
Dinner at Tsuru TonTan – upscale udon restaurant (a high school friend of my husbands took us here). We also had ramen at Hokkaido Ramen Santouka & Tsukiji Kitaro Sushi. (we had a friend who lived in the building above the restaurant take us here it was excellent).
Kyoto HighlightsKinkakuji Temple Golden Temple, Fushimi Inari Red Gates, & Bamboo Forest
Camelia Tea Ceremony – traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony
Cooking Sun – Japanese Cooking Class
Walked around the Gion District and did a Geisha Maiko Photo Shoot – full make-up and dress. You then pose for photos with different traditional back-drops. I don’t recommend it for young children.
Nishiki Market – we love eating and walking through this market. The best matcha ice cream ever! We had a really good meal there as well.
Omakase Sushi – we ate at Matsudaya best sushi I have ever had. We also ate at Mikaku which is a traditional Japanese Steakhouse.
This was one of our favorites trips and we can’t wait to go back!