9 Family Friendly Activities in Kyoto
Are you coming to Japan ‘s old capital with a young family? Then it is important to add activities to your itinerary that will make the kids happy. And if they can learn something at the same time that would be an added bonus. While Kyoto is especially known for its historical temples and shrines, there are many other interesting things to see and do as well. Looking for general Kyoto recommendations? Then you can click here. Here’s a list of the places you can add to your trip to make a family friendly mix!
A Rickshaw Ride in Kyoto ‘s Maruyama Park
Maruyama Park is sitting right next to the famous Yasaka shrine. So it is a great stop after taking in some history at the shrine first. The park is one of the best places to go for cherry blossom viewing in late March and early April. The rest of the year you can enjoy a leisurely walk in gardens, past tea houses, and orchards.
But if you really want to see the park in a relaxing way, you should hire one of the rikshaws. Kids and adults alike will love taking a trip with one of the many muscular rikshaw runners who wait for customers in the park. Runners don’t just take you around, they also tell interesting and funny stories about the environment.
Kyoto Samurai and Ninja Museum
Not just those with a keen interest in samurai and ninja history will love the Samurai and Ninja Museum. But really anyone who would like to be entertained will have a good time here. Learning everything there is to learn about some of the most interesting eras in Japan is not all. There are also several experiences to be had.
You can wear samurai armor, try out using ninja weapons, and see sword demonstrations. There is even a competition you can participate in for some extra interactive fun. The exhibitions have real samurai armor on display from different periods. And of course, you can see different swords up close.
Street Food Lunch in Nishiki
Sitting down for lunch can be a bit of a challenge with kids sometimes. So how about a delicious local street food lunch in Nishiki? This market is a large local food market boasting a plethora of traditional Japanese food. You can expect dishes like sushi, skewers like yakitori, pickles, and different kinds of sweets.
Because the variety is large, there is always something to eat even for (young) picky eaters. Many shops also give out free samples, so you can try before you buy.
Monkeys and Kimono Art in Arashiyama
Arashiyama is especially known for its ethereal bamboo forest, but there is more to see on the western side of Kyoto. Near the station, there is an art project called ‘Kimono Forest’, which kids will love for its colorful pillars. Visiting the Kimono Forest is free. It is also a great place for some good pictures!
If you’re up for a small hike up the hill, the Arashiyama Monkey Park is a fun spot to visit. The monkeys live there freely, and it is the humans who can feed them from behind the fence. It’s always fascinating to see monkeys go about their business, and you can get really close to them in this park.
Kyoto Railway Museum
Train fans know not to skip the Kyoto Railway Museum, and families with kids should also make time to visit this museum. Japan’s super punctual trains are a part of Japanese culture, and you will be surprised about what you can learn about them.
This modern museum doesn’t just showcase parts of trains, but they even have a whole station house and steam locomotive. Another interesting activity is to see what railway workers do in their daily jobs.
Sagano Romantic Railway
If you didn’t yet get enough of trains in the Kyoto Railway Museum, you can ride a nice one on the Sagano Romantic Railway. Located on the western side of Kyoto, this train line travels in the Hozukyo Ravine one a 25-minute route. The natural environment is truly stunning, and every season has its own charms. Kids will enjoy the ride and the views from the windows for sure.
Cherry blossom season and the time when the autumn foliage is at its peak are the most popular times to go. Especially for those periods it is best to reserve your seats on beforehand on their website.
Playground in Umekoji Park
For parents who want to take a break from sightseeing while letting the kids play, the centrally localted playground in Umekoji Park is a good stop. The park is near Kyoto Station, the Honganji temple, and the Kyoto Railway Museum. In the park you can also find the Kyoto Aquarium, an ice skating rink, and on Saturdays there is a handicraft market.
It is quite a new playground so the equipment is state of the art and includes all the classics like slides and walking bridges. Kids between 4-12 will definitely have a great time here!
Kids’ Driving Practise in Omiya Traffic Park
Maybe this is not a typical tourist destination, but for a change from temples and shrines it is a fun addition. The Omiya Traffic Park is not so far away from the Golden Pavillion. In this small traffic-themed amusement park kids and parents can get into a small car and drive around ‘town’. For those who are from countries where they drive on the right it will be a new experience too!
A trip to Omiya Traffic Park won’t take more then around one hour, and is friendly on the budget for only a few hundred yen per person per ride. Everything is in Japanese, but it is not too complicated to understand how things work around here.
Family Friendly Day Trips Near Kyoto
Two day trips not far from Kyoto that will certainly make kids happy are Nara Park and Universal Studios Japan. In Nara Park there are some very old wooden structures and temples, but it is even more famous for the many deer. The deer are very used to humans, and many kids like feeding them special deer crackers that are for sale in the area.
Universal Studios Japan probably doesn’t need much explanation, as this is easily one of the best amusement parks in the country. Young and old will love the movie-themed rides, some of which are only available in Japan. If you promise the kids to visit USJ on your last day in Japan, they will happily visit the historical must-sees as well!
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