Living Nomads’s filial team, which lead parents travel around the world, today is allowed to big play, planning a 7-day itinerary of self-sufficient traveling to Japan with the whole family. Why do we say big play? Because Japan in everyone’s imagination is a fairly difficult place to go, young as us but go are even more afraid to consider taking parents to travel in self-sufficient way. However, Japanese culture, people and nature are really worth exploring and experiencing, surely your family will have a memorable trip. Just prepare the “rice paddy” fully, the schedule and itineraray just let Living Nomads do! This itinerary will take your family visit through 3 main cities of Japan. So, how to spend 7 days in Japan with family perfectly? Let’s check out our suggested the details of Japan family itinerary for the perfect family trip to Japan itinerary (Japan family holiday itinerary) through the most famous major cities Tokyo – Osaka – Kyoto and surroundings areas to find out the answer!
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- Best eats Kyoto — 8 best food to eat in Kyoto, food must try in Kyoto & must eat food in Kyoto
A few things to look out for before the trip
When you planning for a trip itinerary, do not be eager to cram too many attractions, because a dense itinerary can make our parents run tired, not enjoy all the interesting things in Japan. We take our parents traveling because we want they have time to rest and relax, so let us repeat that don’t cram too many things.
List a range of points of interest as well famous attractions for your parents to choose from, generally as detailed as possible, so that parents can get a rough idea of Japan as well as offer their ideas. Living Nomads’s itinerary below will also describe in detail the famous landmarks that we suggested, but you alsp can refer to other places depending on the interests of your family.
Hotels in Japan usually have 2 styles: Japanese authentic style means lying on tatami mats, mattress covers to sleep, and European style with bed sheets as usual. You should research carefully to choose a hotel according to the living habits of your parents. Because sleep is quite important, affecting the psychology of travel a lot, do not let anything ruins this family trip.
Transportation in Japan is quite “difficult”, with various types of train networks, so please research carefully before scheduling to avoid having to transfer vehicles too much will affect the health of the whole family. Especially if you want to explore many places throughout Japan, Living Nomads recommend using the JR Pass, a magic card only for tourists traveling to Japan to travel across Japan, comfortable travel with many benefits and less tired than flying a lot. With this “holy card”, the moving from city to city is just a small thing. Not to mention buying a JR Pass through Living Nomads is also 16% cheaper than the listed price and is given a $10 voucher to book other Living Nomads services too.
Link to buy JR Pass here: JR Whole Japan Rail Pass (Consecutive 7, 14, or 21 Days) or refer to the scope of use of JR Pass All Japan is very detailed here: JR Pass — Top 11 things about Japan Rail Pass you need to know.
Things to prepare before going to Japan
4G Sim or pocket wifi router, actually whe traveling with family, we recommend you buy the Sim card, in case of get lost or in case of urgent contact, using Sim will more convenient, much more active. Using Sim 4G for 7 days to surf, go online, it is called awesome, book here: 4G SIM Card (Japan Pick Up) for Japan. And if you are sure that the family is always together, you only need a super strong wifi transmitter, can afford for 5-10 connected devices concurrent, no problem, then book it here: 4G WiFi (Japan Pick Up) for Japan (Unlimited Data).
As we have emphasized, highlighted, underlined above, the traveling in Japan is quite expensive, each train trip is also cost about $2, the further away you go the more expensive, so if you want to traveling intercity like Tokyto – Kyoto – Osaka , you should buy JR-Pass All Japan ticket, with JR-Pass All Japan ticket, you can use the JR Line (Japan Railway) normal train, Japan’s Shinkansen bullet train without having to buy single tickets.
Family trip to Japan itinerary — Day 1: Explore Tokyo
After landing at the airport, you can find transportation from the airport to central Tokyo here: Tokyo airport to Tokyo city — How to get from Narita Airport to Tokyo & from Haneda Airport to Tokyo?
The easiest way to getting from the airport to the city center is to use private shuttle services, which is especially suitable for traveling with family, fast, convenient and not too expensive if sharing the cost.
You can refer to and book these services as follow:
- Private Narita International Airport Transfers (NRT) for Tokyo 23 Wards, Hakone, or Karuizawa
- Private Haneda International Airport Transfers (HND) for Tokyo 23 Wards, Hakone, or Karuizawa
- Private Narita International Airport Transfers (NRT) for Tokyo (Same Day Booking)
- Private Haneda International Airport Transfers (HND) for Tokyo (For Urgent Flight)
- Airport Limousine Bus Transfers from/to Narita and Haneda International Airport (Free Wifi Onboard)
Family trip to Japan itinerary — Day 1: Explore Tokyo
Morning + Afternoon
After arriving Tokyo center, check in your hotel and store your luggage, relax and eating around the hotel then visit the famous places in Tokyo.
Address: 1 Chome-1-2 Oshiage, Sumida City, Tokyo 131-0045, Japan
Tokyo Skytree is the tallest TV tower in the world with a height of 634m, this is one of the proud symbols of the Japanese people. Especially, through the floors from 350 to 450 are the observatory, go up here, the whole Tokyo will be shrunk in your eye. The floors of 350 and 450 are covered by surrounding glass and the effect of light will make you feel like is floating in the air.
You can go there to buy tickets, but do not be too shocked if you have to queue in a thousand people long lines to buy. But fortunately, you can buy tickets at Klook: TOKYO SKYTREE® Admission Ticket, no need to wait in line, come and give your e-voucher and go straight.
You can spend 2 hours of exploring Tokyo SkyTree then if you like, you can have a light meal at the cafes right on the 350th floor.
Tokyo Imperial Palace
Address: 1-1 Chiyoda, Chiyoda City, Tokyo 100-8111, Japan
Hours: 9–11:15AM, 1:30–2:45PM / Monday; Sunday: Closed
From the Tokyo Skytree, walking to the Oshiage station then take the Hanzomon line to Otemachi Station then walk another 3-5 minutes to reach the Imperial Palace gate.
Formerly known as Edo Castle, it is still home to the royal family, so our family can only see and take photos outside, but the outside is a park with hundreds years old of pine trees, it is well worth the family linger taking pictures and walking and visiting.
Access: From the Tokyo Imperial Palace, walk for about 5 minutes to Otemachi Station and then take Hanzomon line (purple line) to Shibuya Station.
Dinner at the restaurant Bucchigiri Sakaba
Address: 6F Kaleid Shibuya Miyamasuzaka, 1-12-1 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku
The restaurant specializes in selling super cheap food, with an average price (¥105 – ¥189). The family should try the grilled skewer beef (¥294) which is one of the restaurant’s specialties.
If you feel the whole day of walking will make the whole family, especially your parents tired, you can buy an 8-hour Hop-on hop-off bus tickets around Tokyo, stopping by the famous spots without having to work hard to find your way, walking too much. The link is here, please book immediately: Sky Hop-on and Hop-off Bus Pass.
Japan family holiday itinerary — Day 2: Discover unique places around Tokyo
When we took our parents traveling in Japan, we confessed that we didn’t like being in Tokyo city much, because this city lived in a hustle way and a little suffocating, not to mention the price was expensive, so if you’re “conspiracy” traveling to Japan with your parents, do not forget to take parents explore around Tokyo, there are many wonderful places with charming scenery, fresh air.
Mount Fuji – Lake Kawaguchi
Those who want to go to Mount Fuji and the surrounding places such as Lake Kawaguchi, Oshino Hakkai Ancient Village, etc. can see the Review 1 day trip to Mount Fuji: Which season should go? Where to go?
Discover Nikko ancient city
Nikko is an ancient city located 140km from Tokyo, it consists of many temples and shrines built with sophisticated architecture, national treasures, not to mention the mountains, waterfalls, hot springs everywhere. The scenery here is so beautiful, peaceful, tranquil and beautiful all year round, but if you want to see the best scenery in Nikko, remember to visit autumn, red maple leaves cover a whole region. How to go and places to visit in Nikko, refer here: Nikko travel blog — The fullest Nikko travel guide blog for a wonderful trip to Nikko and Nikko day trip from Tokyo — How to spend one day in Nikko perfectly?
Then moving to Kyoto, from Tokyo to Kyoto, takes about 2 and a half hours, using the JR Pass All Japan by taking Hikari train (if you buying single tickets: 13.400 yen/person/way).
Japan family holiday itinerary — Day 3: Visiting all the most famous attractions and wearing Kimono in Kyoto
To getting around Kyoto you can only choose: Buses, bicycles and foot. But because traveling with parents, walking and cycling are not a wise choice. So we suggest you take the bus to visit the spots in Kyoto for convenience, not to mention the bus system in Kyoto is very wide and easy to use, every corner can reach by bus. The bus price is 210 yen/trip, but you should buy the Kyoto One Day City Bus for only 500 yen/day without no limit travel times.
There are 3 bus routes (Raku Bus) that only go around tourist destinations, most of which are famous temples, museums and palaces in Kyoto:
- Raku 100: Kyoto Station – National Museum & Sanjusangendo Temple – Kiyomizudera Temple – Gion – Heian–jingu Shrine – Ginkakuji Temple
- Raku 101: Kyoto Station – Nijo–jo Castle – Kitano Tenmangu Shrine – Kinkakuji Temple – Daitokuji Temple – Kitaoji Bus Terminal
- Raku 102: Ginkakuji Temple – Kyoto Imperial Palace – Kitano Tenmangu Shrine – Kinkakuji Temple – Daitokuji Temple – Kitaoji Bus Terminal
This option is more fun, you can rent kimono first, then strolling around the attractions around ancient Kyoto, ensuring you will have shimmering pictures for your life !!! Book kimono via Klook: One Day Kimono Rental immediate discount on hairdressing and make-up. The rented location is even close to the Kodaiji temple, after wearing you can visit it right away.
Japan family itinerary — Day 4: Inari Shine – Sagano bamboo forest
Morning: Inari Shrine
From Kyoto Station use the JR Pass to take the JR Nara Line 8, 9, 10 to Inari Station.
Address: 3-13 Honmaru, Chuo Ward, Kumamoto, 860-0002, Japan
Noon + Evening: Sagano bamboo forest & Arashiyama area
Return to Kyoto Station to transfer to the JR Sagano Line to getting to Saga Arashiyama Station.
Not far from that station, walk about 5-6 minutes, you can visit the cool bamboo forest.
Playing around this Arashiyama area until dark and catch the train back to the hotel. A small secret, the Arashiyama area is very “chill”, “relaxing”, wandering around here all day is still ok. Especially for those who love the beauty, you can eat and drink here to wait until the evening to wandering along the Kimono Walk, with two rows of lampposts covered with super-beautiful kimono fabric.
If you do not want to go to Arashiyama in self-sufficient way, you can also book day tour from Klook with guide and pick up service, refer to:
- Kyoto Perfect Day Tour from Osaka or Kyoto: Kiyomizu-dera, Fushimi Inari-taisha, Arashiyama & More
- Kyoto Temples & Shrines Day Tour from Osaka: Fushimi Inari-taisha, Arashiyama, Kiyomizu-dera & More
- Arashiyama Bamboo Forest Half Day Tour
- Arashiyama, Kinkakuji Temple, and Fushimi Inari Shrine Whole Day Tour in Kyoto
Family trip to Japan itinerary — Day 5: Explore Nara
From Kyoto to Osaka: From Kyoto Station, choose shinkansen or JR Kyoto Line to go to Osaka (takes about 12 minutes to reach).
Arriving Osaka, check in your hotel and store luggage and then visit Nara by JR Pass, the travel ime is about 50 minutes. Nara is not a big city, you can book day tour to Nara and return Osaka during the day.
Refer to day tours to Nara:
- Arashiyama & Nara Park Day Tour from Osaka
- Nara Afternoon Tour from Osaka
- Kyoto and Nara Day Tour from Osaka/Kyoto
Japan family itinerary — Day 6: Visiting must-see attractions in Osaka
Morning + Noon
Osaka Castle & Osaka Castle Park (opening hoursfrom 9am – 5pm), admission fee is 600 Yen/adult.
Address: 1-1 Osakajo, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 540-0002, Japan
Access: Go to Osakajokoen Station, take the JR Loop Line, it takes about 10 minutes to reach the castle.
Whether you go on a tour or self–sufficient travel, once you come to Osaka, you definitely have to visit Osaka Castle, this is one of the famous castles and played an important role in unifying the country in the 16th century. In addition to the historical importance, the architecture and the grounds of the castle are also very admiring.
The grounds of Osaka Castle Park is also extremely beautiful, but unfortunately my family went in the winter (Lunar New Year), so we have not seen the cherry blossoms cover all the way but most of them only see …. dry firewood (just fun), but it also is beautiful.
Afternoon + Evening
Walking around and shop at Shinsaibashi, the busiest and most vibrant neighborhood in Osaka, selling all sorts of items from fashion, food, cosmetics to electronics.
Shopping, eating and drinking at Shinsaibaishi, then the whole family can walk along Namba Station to the famous Dotonbori Bridge with the Glico running man sign (but until now it is impossible to explain why everyone is crazy with this sign) will lights up at 6pm each day.
Or for families who love the nature and ocean can go to Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, home to more than 30,000 marine creatures.
Another option for families who do not want to go places that are too popular on regular tours can take the day tour to participate the winter light festival of Nabana no Sato Winter Illumination. After shopping at Mitsui Outlet Park Jazz Dream Nagashima, one of the mega shopping malls, it will be an awe-inspiring display of nearly 1 million LED lights spread throughout the garden.
Japan family itinerary — Day 7: Osaka – Airport
If there is time, your family can take advantage of time to shopping and buy things to need to buy. Or eat and drink, then package to prepare going to the airport for leisurely.