Beyond the temples and the tech, tourists heading to Japan often wonder what there is to do with their children. Well, there’s a lot. Family travel in Japan offers incredible opportunities that are totally unique and so much fun. Here are DINE’s recommendations.
No art gallery will ever be the same again. This immersive experience makes artists of us all. As we travel through each cosmic dreamscape, we re-frame it with our cell phones. It’s a selfie-wonderland. We bounce and slide along the surface of the moon into a room of giant orbs. Children drawing pictures of fish scan them to find them swimming along the walls. One installation is a nest in which we perch to be visually blasted by a laser light show, another is a forest of lanterns for us to climb. Put this at the top of your list when visiting Tokyo. It will blow your mind.
This is a museum that treats science as culture with weekend workshops in chemistry, biology, the environment, robots, and information science. Permanent exhibits allow us to explore space and the solar system, robots and androids. The Dome theatre displays visually stimulating films and images. The “Curiosity Field” enables parents and children to experience interactive exhibits—free of charge—together, and through recreational activities and handicraft kits, stimulate curiosity.
The largest planetarium in the world (35m diameter inner dome) is housed in the Nagoya City Science Museum. Here, we can touch the stars and be immersed in vivid aurora images. 220 exhibits, including a model railway, have been built with the concept of “look, touch, learn,” and enable us to experience natural wonders like a nine metre tall artificial tornado! This museum is considered a learning facility as much as a tourist attraction.
Marvel at ten mini landscapes like Osaka Station (67,000 Lego blocks) and Tokyo Sky Tree (600,000 Lego blocks;) a baseball game in the Nagoya Dome made entirely of Lego; and the Itsukushima Shrine of Miyajima equipped with water pumps to simulate the tidal flow. These are truly awesome structures that, along with lego-shaped French fries and Lego-shaped hot dog buns, whet our appetite for the aquarium, the Ninja Go Puppet Show, and forty rides, including a Lego driving school in which kids race around a multi-level go-kart track to receive their “driver’s license.”
Based on the golden era of the Edo period, the architecture is all Edo style, and the staff (actors) are all dressed in Edo attire. A kimono rental shop allows visitors to dress up as well and be treated as Edo citizens from the 17th Century. Daily performances include traditionally themed shows, outdoor live shows, street performances, parades, seasonal festivals and special events. In addition to trying out ancient occupations, samurai residences and eating Edo-period cuisine, activities from archery to shuriken (ninja star) throwing to ninja workshops excite the young and the young at heart. The ninja maze is a highlight that requires us to interpret ninja proverbs to progress through a maze with secret doors and moving panels.
Adam Waxman is an award winning travel journalist focusing on food, wine and well being. As well as an actor in film, television and formerly, the Stratford Festival, he is the Associate Publisher and Executive Editor of DINE and Destinations magazine.