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Visiting Japan

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > Places to Go > Visiting Japan



Japan hotels for family of 4

July 2010

We are planning a trip to Japan in November and I am having a hard time finding hotels in Tokyo and Kyoto that can accommodate all of us. In addition to sleeping arrangements for all of us, we could ideally have a little kitchen. I have googled over and over again and am coming up with nothing. We will be in Kyoto for 6 nights and Tokyo for 4 nights. We'd like to be in central locations in each city. challenged


We are a family of 6 and have traveled to Japan many times(Tokyo and Kyoto) We usually stayed at Oakwood Residence(full service apartments w/kitchen and washer/dryer) Recently, many of their locations are now only taking 1 month stay reservations. It is worth a try to contact them to see if they are willing to take a reservation for a shorter stay. Google 'Oakwood Residence TOkyo,Japan'. Also, try for Kyoto as well. If Oakwood does not work out - our son recently traveled to Tokyo and Kyoto with 3 of his friends and they stayed at KEIO PLaza Hotel in Shinjuku (Tokyo). They have a quad room with 4 beds, very small sitting area, and 2 bathrooms. THey also have a pool (no extra charge to use), but the room does not have a kitchen. In Kyoto, they stayed at SANOYA RYOKAN located right near the main JR train station. Our son and his friends stayed in a traditional tatami room - which accommodated the 4 of them. Good Luck with your search yy
Hi, Have you tried the Palace Side Hotel in Kyoto? http://www.palacesidehotel.co.jp/english/fr-top-en.html The location can't be beat...it's right across the street from the Imperial Palace garden, which is a great place to stroll about/ play if you have young people with you. They also have a small community kitchen (ala a youth hostel), but with regular hotel rooms

In my experience, hotel rooms in Japan are very, very small and very expensive by American Standards.

Have you also looked into the Japanese Inn group or Welcome Inns?

In Tokyo, try the Hotel Gimmond or Sawanoya Ryokan?

Have fun! Kyoto is one of my most favorite places... Andrea


Since you are staying several nights in each place, I HIGHLY recommend you check out vrbo.com. Owners of apartments (and some houses) rent their places out to vacationers when they aren't there. Some of the places are only used as vacation rentals, others are sometimes occupied by the owner (but not while you are there). They list a number of properties in both Kyoto and Tokyo. Even if they list the minimum nights at 7, you might be able to negotiate, or you might be willing to pay seven nights even if you are staying only 6 nights, if the price is right. We have rented two places in Kyoto in the past few years and been very happy with both. One had two full bedrooms, a big living room with TV and computer/internet, and fully equipped kitchen (including a rice cooker, and even rice!) and washer-dryer, plus a nice full bath and roof patio - all in an old-style 'townhouse' from the Edo era (updated with smoke detectors, modern electricity and shower, etc., but still with the character and short doorways of the old style). The other was a bit smaller (mini-kitchen, one large bedroom and an extra room), but was also less expensive. We haven't tried any of the Tokyo properties, but many are listed.

I also recommend japan-guide.com for its wealth of information and discussion boards about visiting Japan. R.K.


I would recommend checking out some 'weekly mansions,' which are furnished apartments for short-term stays. (They call apartments/condos mansions in Japan.) Here's a website you can check out: http://www.wmt.co.jp/en/location/higashiueno/index.html Another rental is called 'tsukigime club,' which you can google or search on youtube. My parents, who are from Japan, and asked our relatives for recommendations for places to stay because we are traveling to Japan this fall with our baby and wanted a little more space than just a hotel room + amenities like a washer/kitchen. Our baby is only 9 months old though, so you might need more space if your children are older. Sandra
It will be difficult to find a room with a kitchenette in Japan. If you're looking to self-cater, your best bet would be to find a youth hostel with a private room. The kitchen and bath facilities would be shared. There are a few in Kyoto, and many in Tokyo.

Let me also add that youth hostels in Japan are not like youth hostels anywhere else in the world. They are CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN. http://www.jyh or jp/english/index.html

As for Tokyo, I would recommend a place that my family stays every visit. It is similar to a youth hostel in that they have shared bath facilities and kitchen, but all rooms are private and they are Japanese-style with tatami mats and futons. The futons are very comfortable. It is an easy 5 walk from the train station. The staff also speak English. http://www.kimi-ryokan.jp/

Good luck and have a great trip! anon


In Tokyo, you might consider citadines shinjuku http://http://www.citadines.com/en/japan/tokyo/shinjuku.html

National Children's Castle Hotel - no kitchen, but may be considered a hipper area - near Shibuya http://http://www.kodomono-shiro.or.jp/english/hotel/index2.html

We stayed at the Villa Fontaine Shiodome since it was relatively close to Tokyo Station and Ginza. A business hotel, so no kitchen, but a fridge in the room, lots of food places near by and breakfast buffet included. The best rate was by calling them directly. http://www.hvf.jp/eng/shiodome.php

Try vrbo.com for Kyoto.


How safe is a trip to Beijing or Tokyo?

June 2007

I really want to visit Beijing and Tokyo but I feel hesitant about traveling there (especially to Beijing) because I have an 18 month old and I also hope to be in early pregnancy during the time of travel (Jan. 2008). I am concerned about us becoming sick from the water and/or food. Does anyone have advice about what the danger level is for a toddler and/or someone who is pregnant to visit these parts of the world? Do you recommend such a trip? What precautions should I take, etc.? Thanks!


Tokyo is much safer for water and hygeine. The water in China still has to be boiled even to brush your teeth. Even the 4 star hotels in China will give you a thermos of boiled water to brush your teeth. The hospitals and medical clinics are not at all what you would be used to seeing in the US. Tokyo on the other hand has no such problems. Nor does Hong Kong. These have been modernized for ages. Medical clinics and hospitals are just like thoses here. Water is safe to drink. Everything hygenic. Juliet
No experience with Beijing, but my husband visited Tokyo and thought it was the cleanest place he'd ever been. R.K.

[Editor]: also see Visiting China


Living in Nagoya for a semester with a 1.5 year old

Aug 2006

Hi. My husband is teaching at the U. of Nagoya for six months beginning in April of next year. We will have our 1.5 year old with us. Any thoughts on travel, places to go, places to live in Nagoya, etc.? Thanks, Jenny


We were in Nagoya last March w/ my (then) 1.5 & 3.5 year olds. I would definitely love to return someday. We had the benefit of my sister living there, who spoke Japanese pretty well. My recommendations are to bring only a very lightweight stroller, as they are inconvenient to use there. Most people carry their babies. We brought and used our ergo carrier a lot. Always carry a water bottle for you & your baby (tea is always available, but not water.) The subway/train system is kind of crazy, so purchase a good map. You sometimes need to transfer 2-3 times onto different lines & rail systems (paying each time) to go only a few miles! Bring a JP/ Eng dictionary (or computerized translator) that includes medical terms. We spent 3 days in the Nagoya Daini Red Cross Hospital and came across only a few people who spoke English (this was particulary scary/frustrating in the ER.) Be prepared to have the JP people take photos of you and your family (esp. the baby.) It'll prob get old after awhile, but we thought it was funny. There are TONS of snack foods everywhere, but lots of processed, refined, sugary, salty snacks mostly. If I were staying 6 months, I'd prob stock up on my kids' favorite snacks/foods. In fact we were asked to bring Cheerios to my sister's friends who have kids. My sister also told me that she stocked up on deoderant/antiperspirant and toothpaste at ''home'' since she didn't like the JP kinds. Oh there's probably more, but feel free to email me if you want to talk more. We could just do it over the phone maybe. Have a great trip. It will be so much fun!! And check out the archives for all the advice on long airplane trips. paula

Visiting Tokyo with two young children

Dec 2005

We are going to be traveling in Japan for about 10 days - 2 weeks this March to visit my sister (near Nagoya.) We've got a couple places to stay there thanks to her very hospitable Japanese friends, but we'd like to get some advice about where to stay after we leave her and go to Tokyo for a few days on our own (specific hotels, apartments rentals, etc.) It would be nice to have access to a kitchen (or at least a small fridge.) I'm also interested in any fun/interesting places to go with kids (ours will be 18 months and 3 years.) Additionally, any info that you think may be helpful from those who have traveled w/ young kids there would be appreciated. There's nothing at all in the archives. Thanks in advance. paula


We took our 23-month-old son to Tokyo two years ago and had a really great time. We stayed at the Shinagawa Prince Hotel which was great for two reasons: 1)the convenience of the Shinagawa train station, a major transporation hub; and 2)our window overlooked the train station and at any time, day or night, there were at least 5 trains coming into or leaving the station. This was pure heaven for a toddler boy (and even his parents enjoyed it!).

As far as things to do: ride trains, go to the Children's Castle (this is not the exact name, but it's similar)--it's like Habitot and Kindergym and Music Together classes all rolled into one. Don't worry if you don't speak the language--kids speak a universal language. We also spent a day in Hakone. There's a loop you can do, a train ride, a tram ride, then a boat ride across the lake. Very fun for all ages. Go to the children's play areas on the roofs of the department stores. You will have a great time! I'm so envious! anon


Short trip with multigenerational family

March 2005

Our family is planning a trip to Japan for a short visit (8 days) in early April. It's really hard to narrow down what will be worthwhile and good for the five of us - mom, dad, grandma (80's), a 14 yr old and 10 yr old (both girls). We're excited about this trip but know we'll only be able to manage the highlights. Are there any must-do's out there, for a family as diverse (agewise) as ours? Susan


Japan is a fantastic place to visit! Three years ago, my husband, infant daughter and I spent 6 months living in Kyoto. We are also planning an intergenerational return visit in May. Our approach is to plop ourselves down in Kyoto and then make day trips from there.

On our last trip we spent about 2 weeks in Tokyo all together, but we found it a bit modern and hectic for our taste. Kyoto is a much smaller city (think SF versus New York City). Kyoto is also very modern looking on first glance, but it is a treasure trove of exquisite gardens, temples and shrines. Because it wasn't bombed in the war, there is much more ''old Japan'' around than in Tokyo. Can you tell I'm a bit biased towards Kyoto...:))

In Tokyo, do check out the Edo-Tokyo Museum. There is also a large children's palace/ entertainment center in Shibuya, I think, although I haven't been there. We also went to an open air museum of old houses, just outside of Tokyo, called the Folkhouse museum which was fun, you can walk through the buildings. If you get to Kyoto, don't miss the Golden Pavilion and Sanjusangendo. Also the Iwatayama Monkey Park in Arashiyama or the Hozugawa River Trip are fun for kids. We found the Lonely Planet guide to both Kyoto and Japan quite useful as well as info gathered at the Japan National Tourist Office in San Francisco and the tourist information centers in Japan. If you can, I'd also recommmend a splurge and going to see either a Kabuki or a Bunraku performance. In Tokyo they have simultaneous translation during the Kabuki performances. Bunraku is Kabuki plays performed with large puppets, it's not performed as often, the main theater is in Osaka...

There is also a website called something like Tokyo Kids, i think which you might find useful, if you're going to spend most of your time in Tokyo.

You can email me directly if you have specific questions. Although my experience is more in depth in a few places rather than about lots of different places.

Japan is a great place to visit as it's both western/ like home, but completely exotic at the same time...

Have a great trip!!! andrea


Taking kids to Japan

January 2005

We are planning a trip to Japan with our 5 year old and 18 month old. We are wondering what we need to bring for our children, in terms of carseats, strollers or a backpack for the youngest. While the carseats would be ideal for the plane, once we arrive we'll be mainly taking the train and other public transportation and are not sure if it will be too difficult to carry the carseats everywhere we go? What are the regulations in Japan regarding carseats, etc?


Our family spent 2 weeks in Japan this summer. We travelled mostly by train and 2 times in a car (without a car seat). Buying a car seat in Japan is expensive and they are required for kids under 6. See http://www.japan-guide.com/forum/quereadisplay.html?0+11426 for an opinion -- I would consider it an absolute pain to carry the car seat around, but your youngest is still a baby.

Japan is a very child-friendly place and it is almost easier to travel ANYWHERE by train than by car. If you need to bring a car seat, I'd consider storing it and not dragging it around on the train. There is a luggage delivery service at the airport that most Japanese use (ie. the reason you do not see Japanese on the trains with tons of luggage). Aiko


Tokyo with a 2-year-old

August 2003

I am thinking of surprising my husband with a long wanted trip to Tokyo this summer. We'd be bringing our 21/2 year old. Any advice from you world travlers? Where to stay? Where to eat? How to deal with not speaking Japenese? Must go to trips outside of the city- take a tour bus or drive ourselves?? Tips and tricks appreciated. Thanks Juliette


My husband, I and 3-year old son have been living in Tokyo for two years after 10 years in Bay Area. The best English online resources is: http://metropolis.japantoday.com/default.asp It'll give you probably most-up-to-date info. re: what's happening in Tokyo and outside, better than travel guides. If you are traveling on budget, you may even want to check out for classified for ST rentals.

I don't recommend driving -- traffic jam and quite complicated highway systems, not to mention that we drive the ''wrong'' side. Trains run almost everywhere - the challenge for a family with a toddler is that most stations do not have elevators. When traveling, you can get around this by sending your luggages ahead by ''takkyubin'' service, which is very efficient. Good luck!


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