Best things to do in Tokyo with children - part 208:57
One of our favourite days in Tokyo was our last full day before heading home.
We started out in the morning heading to Yoyogi Park and the Meiji Shrine via metro. I had planned this adventure for a Saturday having read it was the best day to see the young and old who congregate in and around the park, dressed up and at play.
Walking into the Torii gate up to Meiji Shrine was amazing. It was hard to believe inside this thick tranquil forest, we were still standing within the World's busiest most populated city. It was silent and peaceful and even the boys spoke in hushed tones realising this place was special... admittedly though, they loved the open space and did do some running on the gravel.
In a stroke of luck, I hadn't realised when planning, that day, was part of Shichi-Go-San festival , a traditional rite of passage and festival day in Japan for three- and seven-year-old girls and three- and five-year-old boys, held annually on November 15 to celebrate the growth and well-being of young children. As it is not a national holiday, it is generally observed on the nearest weekend which was the Saturday we were there so we were lucky enough to see the children being brought to Temple in their beautiful traditional dress for blessings.
The children were completely adorable, very excited and their costumes stunning. I managed to snap some photos of the outfits but avoided faces as it didn't seem appropriate given the ages and special occasion.
Our boys loved watching the Japanese children and thought the girls looked 'so pretty'. Their highlight was completing the bowing and clapping ritual before throwing money into the Emperor's Shrine and they helped me write down our family wishes.
Just when we were about to leave, as if the experience could get better, a wedding procession came through the grounds and we got to witness (behind a small low fence) the ceremony. E especially was full of curiosity and questions about the clothes and rituals.
I would definitely recommend Yoyogi Park on any day for children, if only for them to have space to burn some energy. I would also say Meiji Shrine is a must and suggest a Saturday so you can get the most of the traditional experience.
We had decided on Harajuku next so took the short walk to Takeshita Dori from the park and shrine. The pram was a bit tricky down Takeshita Dori just because of the volume of people in such a narrow space but we managed without too much fuss - although had to leave the pram outside if we went into any shops.
S had promised to take the boys to an animal cafe before we went home and we quickly came across a combination Cat Owl cafe right on Takeshita Dori. Not being a cat person, I was happy to sit this one out and let S take the boys while I went souvenir shopping. We agreed to meet back at the entrance in 45 minutes so I headed up the street to the huge Daiso to pick up some inexpensive gifts to take home for the boys' friends.
I think the Daiso was 4 or 5 floors and 45 minutes passed quickly ... definitely worth visiting for small souvenirs like rising sun ninja headbands, erasers shaped like sushi, pretty glass Chrsitmas decorations, stickers and stationery, bento box bits & bobs etc.
I met the boys back at the cafe and they were on a huge high having had a great time with the cats. S filled me in that he just had to pay an entry fee for himself and buy the boys each a juice drink. He said the place was very clean and the cats were pretty relaxed and happy to be patted but moved away to their hidey holes or up high when they had had enough.
|Random place we stopped for a beer & cheeseburgers in a laneway|
Next up was Kiddy Land toy store, a short walk from Takeshita Dori - be warned, to cross the street in the midsection to get to the store, you need to use the pedestrian overpass and there are only stairs. We all enjoyed browsing the toy store, they had great Disney and Star Wars sections and the prices were mid to high range. We bought a few things here for the boys including Toy Story cars and merchandise for C and Star Wars cutlery and Pokemon figures for E. We also bought our nieces some beautiful little Japanese mini dolls and spent a lot of time browsing.
We wanted to see the Shibuya crossing again and I wanted to check out the Disney Store there so as it was late afternoon and starting to get dark , we set off by foot. We walked, it wasn't a long journey and we wanted C would nap in the pram, but I'd recommend taking the metro otherwise for convenience.
The Disney Store was easy to find with ts themed entrance but be warned, its cramped and very busy with a narrow winding staircase and a ticket booth on the top floor where you can purchase tickets to Disneyland but the line is long and snakes around the floor.
I honestly found the Disney Store really disappointing as I was looking for Princess items for my nieces (dress-ups and dolls) and costumes and toys for the boys but there were no costumes at all, only a few dolls - Tinkerbell and Alice - and little in the way of toys. There was a whole floor of jewelry though. E and I left with only a handful of things and nothing that was actually on my list (or his).
We also managed to catch the busy rush of the Shibuya Crossing at dusk and it was crazy chaos but honestly, E wasn't at all interested so its not something I'd bother specifically seeing kids unless you're in the area for other sites..
Our last day in Tokyo before flying out in the evening, we set off from Shinjuku to Ikeburo and the Sunshine City mall, specifically to visit the Pokemon Store and the rooftop aquarium.
Ikeburo was bustling with crowds and was a maze underground of metro and trains ... super easy to get lost. We actually couldn't pinpoint the mall as it is set back from the main area and looks like an office building from the outside. We ended up running out of time after spending too long looking for it so had to give the aquarium a miss. We did stop in at the Pokemon store and E spent ages with the crowds looking at stuffed Pokemon toys. I would recommend coming back here but allow yourself more than a few hours so you can see the aquarium and other attractions.
There is so much I haven't included now that I read back so if you have any questions on places to visit with children in Tokyo, please leave a comment ... I love Japan and love to share our amazing experiences there with anyone and everyone - Everyone has to visit Japan!