JAPAN ITINERARY! With a toddler in tow!


Swan boats - photo by Claudia Tory

Swan boats - photo by Claudia Tory

Firstly may I say that I am very aware that this is incredibly ambitious! I don't have expectations that we will get all or any of it done, but in a perfect world with a keen and well behaved toddler that sleeps in his pram and is up for all the adventures, this would be the ideal itinerary for our first trip to Japan. We also want down time days where we can just chill and hang out with no pressure to see anything. This will be an integral part of our time away, but something that I find hard to imagine at this point given the sheer magnitude of amazing things to see and do in Japan!! I have also tried to create a good balance of seeing cultural stuff/touristy stuff and going to play centres/parks. Gotta please everyone! So as you will see, we don't fit all the go-to attractions, but I am planning on this not being our only trip to Japan! I am sure once we are there and get a feel for the place, a lot of things will change. In the meantime though I wanted to share with you our keen bean fam bam itinerary that I have come up with, after a few months of research. 

Fly into Tokyo. Arrive at night. Transfer to hotel. Konbini (Convenience Store) dinner!

Day 1


Explore around the Hotel (Shinjuku). Check out the parks that are close by including the weird Elephant slide park, go to Mojo Coffee Kagurazaka for all of the caffeine which is close to accomodation,  find a supermarket to pick up veggies for a soup and head back to the hotel for a rest! In the afternoon head to Tokyo Dome where there is an awesome play centre ASOBONO and all of the attractions of the amusement park (totally going on the rollercoaster! WAHOO!) There is a light/sound/water show at 6.30pm. Get some din dins. 

Day 2


Tsukiji fish market in the AM for all of the food. Head to Asakusa and check out Sensoji Shrine. There is an outside park a few minutes walk north from the shrine called Fuji Park. Head to Asakusa Hanayashiki (Japans oldest amusement park, also in Asakusa) to check it out and go on some rides.

Day 3


A day of wondering Shimokitazawa. This will be a Saturday so I wanted to steer clear of the main touristy attractions. Try to find Frankie Melbourne Espresso for excellent coffee, Kaiso Bakery, lots of second hand stores like - Shimokita Garage Department Store, Stick Out, Don Don Down and Mode Off. Also look for B-side Label - sticker shop!

Date night! Get a babysitter from 4pm-10pm and go to out exploring! Definitely going to Meikyoku Kissa Lion (classical listening cafe!!) and maybe some little bars along Golden Gai. Other than that, no plans. Oh, KARAOKE of course!

Day 4


A big ol' out-all-day kinda day. Starting at Yoyogi station around 8am to see Meiji Shrine. Stop for a late breakfast picnic at Yoyogi Park. Walk down to Shibuya and check out Shibuya pedestrian crossing. There is also a Starbucks in a building at that intersection that is a few floors up that would be good for a relax and to watch the crossing with a birds eye view, then walk down main shopping street. Make sure we go to Shibuya 109 7th floor PRINT CLUB!! Then walk back up towards Yoyogi Park for a run around if Otis needs it (or a sleep in the pram) and then across to Harajuku - Takeshita-dori street (look for crepes/calbee fries). If there isn't a massive line, go to Kawaii Monster Cafe - Otie's top pick for the trip! From here walk to the massive playground at Niko Niko Park

Day 5


TRAVEL DAY. Check out by 10am and go drop off bags at Shinjuku station for as long as we want and explore the massive train station and things arounds There is a Fire museum close by that has a helicopter on the roof that the kid can explore amongst other vehicles! There is also Tokyo Toy Museum (which has a lot of interactive thing to play with) close by. Travel to Odawara and settle in! We chose Odawara as it was cheaper but still with very easy access to Hakone. 

Day 6 


Pick up Hakone Free Pass and head out on the Hakone round course. This will be an all day things as it will be very crowded as it is Golden Week!! 

Day 7


Head into Hakone to the Open Air Museum. Also spend some time in the afternoon at Wanpaku Land if we had the energy, it will be heaven for Otie.

Day 8


TRAVEL DAY. Check our by 10am, put luggage in lockers at the station and check out Odawara Castle and get some food. Catch the Shinkansen to Kyoto. Check in from 4pm and settle in. Explore surrounds, there are a few parks a short distance away. 

Day 9


Explore Nishiki Market, which is pretty close to our hotel. At the end its a short walk to -  Kodomomirai-kan (Genkiland) and the Imperial Palace grounds are close to here also, if we are feeling it. 

Day 10


Rise and shine super early to head out to Fushimi Inari Shrine to beat the crowds. In the afternoon, checkout Umekoji Park about 30 mins walk from the Hotel. Looks ACE!

Day 11


Kyoto Railway Museum and park hangs! There is also a cute little Kaleidoscope Museum I found that looks fun for an hour or so. 

Day 12 


Head out to Arashiyama early to visit Bamboo Grove + Okochi Sanso. There is also monkey park, if we want to hike to the top to see them! Great coffee shop on the river called % Arabica Kyoto Arashiyama

Day 13


This is a bit of a cheeky one, but I am having a day by myself in the Goin area! I am going to try and fit in a bunch of stuff (surprisingly quite achievable as they are all in a similar area). I am following the trail set out in this video! - Hanami-Koji, Kenninji Temple w Zen garden, Yakasa Shrine, Yasaka Pagoda, Ninenzasa steps, Sannenzaka Steps and Kiyomizu Temple! Feeeew! I also heard of a cutie little Tea Shop called Kasagiya that I would like to visit.

Day 14


Free day. Maybe go to look at the Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavillion) or re-visit parks for Otie!

DATE NIGHT from 4-10pm. Show Al Gion area and what I found the day before. 

Day 15


Day trip to Nara for the Deer Park and the food.

Day 16


Free day  - potentially check out the Aquarium? It's near the Umekoji Park and railway museum so could revisit those places too! 

Day 17


Check out by 11am, put all baggage in lockers at Kyoto station and explore in and around the station for a few hours (one of the kids most favourite things to do!!) Head to Hiroshima in the afternoon and settle in. 

Day 18


Visit with our friend who lives in Hiroshima. Visit Miyajima Island and The Hiroshima Peace Memorial/ Peace Park and anything else our friend takes us to! 

Day 19 


Leave early to get to Tokyo (approx. 5 hours). When back in Tokyo, stay in Ueno area. Quiet chill day! 

Day 20


Go to Sunshine City and potentially visit Sunshine Aquarium and have a look at all the shops/attractions. Heaps to keep us occupied! And lots of character shops including a Studio Ghibli shop where we can buy all things Totoro!

Day 21

 TOKYO DAY and then night flight TOKYO-MELBOURNE

Check out at 10am. Put bags into storage at Ueon Station (or ask Hotel to hold them for the day) and visit Ueno Park! Potentially go to the Zoo and definitely paddle on the Swan Boats (see photo at top of blog for reference!) and check out the area. The flight isn’t until 8.30pm so we have a full day to meander through this area.

So thats it! See, I told you it's ambitious!! I filled our the Kyoto time with suggested things to see and do, but in reality we will probably have a few days of serious chill/movie/hotel room action!

 What are your thoughts on what we've got? Did I miss anything that is a must-see? I'd love to hear what you think, please comment below with any suggestions!