If you are a parent who has travelled with children before, you would know how rewarding it can be – to see the wonder in their eyes as they encounter many firsts and experience the world in a whole new way. However, it can also be a very stressful experience because of the unpredictability of children’s needs and behaviours and we sometimes question why we put ourselves through such stress. Despite these stresses, careful planning will help minimise these challenges so we can witness the magic of discovery through our children and foster long-lasting memories as a family.

travel japan with family

Having visited various Tokyo, Kyoto, Hakone and Osaka with my children, Japan is truly an amazing country to explore. However, it is also not the most family-friendly, despite being a destination that many Singaporean families love to visit. Here are some tips that might be useful if you are planning a trip to the Land of Rising Sun:

Plan well, plan ahead

Research, research, research.

Any seasoned traveller worth their salt would tell you that it’s essential to do your research about the destination so that you can plan family-friendly activities and accommodations. Be sure to read up on the weather, how to get around, time differences if any, what the food is generally like, how easy it might be to buy diapers/formula milk etc.

Travel to Japan with family and kids

Ask friends, family or fellow parents who have visited before. Some of the most useful tips I have learnt are from other parents – from packing lists, Visa applications, how to layer winter clothing to even what is the best way to bring and declare formula milk. Asking advice from parents who have been to the destination you are considering visiting will yield very helpful information that sometimes you never knew you needed to know.

➡️ Related Read: Tokyo Travels: Kid-Friendly Places To Visit In Tokyo

Here are some of what we learnt about the different aspects in Japan:


Selecting suitable accommodation is an important component of your family travel plan. Japan accommodations tend to be smaller in size because of land constraints so do think about the area layout and space provided when considering booking either a hotel or Airbnb. Some hotels have interconnecting rooms for families that need more space while other accommodations might provide extras such as baby high chairs, cribs and sometimes even toys. Also don’t forget to read reviews across various sites to also give you an idea of how childproof and safe the accommodation is.


Travel to Japan with Kids FlightWriter navigating a red-eye flight with her youngest when she was 1-year-old

Flight durations are also a key consideration in travel planning. Most parents of younger children cannot fathom being on an 18-hour flight to Europe and the possibility of them having meltdowns mid-flight. This is why many might opt for shorter flights and keep their children entertained with books, toys, screen time and snacks… loads of snacks! Flights to Japan are relatively manageable, with most direct flights being under 7 hours. Something to take note of is that some children also deal better with red-eye flights, being able to go right to sleep while others cannot fall asleep in an unfamiliar bed and instead keep their parents up on the flight.

Getting around

Visit Japan with family and kids

A bit of Google-ing will tell you that Japan is rather stroller-unfriendly so parents might want to consider babywearing. If that’s not an option, do consider a light-weight stroller. Hailing a cab in Japan tends to be easily double or triple the cost in Singapore but might still be the best option for parents who do not want the trouble of navigating the subways juggling pieces of luggage, fussing children and/or strollers. Parents can also consider pre-arranging an airport transfer service from the hotel or one from the airport concierge/online. Families with older children can consider public transport options such as buses/trains but make sure to plan in advance so the young travelers would not have to clock more walking than necessary.

Food & restaurants

In Japan, do not be surprised if children are sometimes turned away at restaurants for various reasons while others might not have child-friendly amenities such as baby chairs. If there are particular restaurants you want to eat at, it might be worth checking if they accept children. Some food establishments also allow smoking inside so do check to make sure your family would not come out smelling like cigarettes.

A safe bet would be to eat within shopping malls as the food establishments tend to cater more towards families. I have also brought a seat harness that converts regular chairs into a high chair for when we travelled with our toddler. Children seem to take to Japanese cuisine pretty well because of the similarities to the typical Asian diet of rice and noodles so this is usually not an issue.

➡️ Related Read: Travel Japan – 10 Amazing Foods to Try in Tokyo!


Travel Japan with Family Osaka Museum of Natural History

Japan has many attractions that cater to younger children (Kids Plaza Osaka, Sanrio Puroland Tokyo) as well as older children (Tokyo DisneySea, Universal Studios Japan) so it’s all about planning your age-appropriate itinerary. The whole host of museums, gardens and even sakura and wisteria seasons offer something for everyone to enjoy. Be sure to check out the Osaka Amazing Pass and the Tokyo Pass where you pay for a pass which includes the admission fees to some attractions. Do the Math on what you would likely visit and whether it’s worth it. We personally found the Osaka Pass more worth it, check out the Instagram post on how we maximised the pass.

Travel to Japan with family Universal Studios

If you are in Osaka, visiting Universal Studios Japan is also an unforgettable experience! However, USJ is known to be very crowded and you really need to be armed with the know-how on how best to maximise your time there. Express passes are expensive but highly recommended so you save 1-2 hours queue time for each of the popular rides. They also get sold out on Klook very fast so you have to camp for them once they get released 2 months to the date you are going. Check out the Instagram post on some of the other tips collated from our recent visit to USJ.

Ready, Set, Explore

We hope these tips would give you an edge in travel planning even as you mull over whether to visit Japan with your family. Do remember that despite some of the challenges you might face in travel planning, every journey is an opportunity to create lifelong memories and deepen the connections within your family!

Text and photos by Jasmine Chua.

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