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Planning a trip to Japan with kids? Here is your starting point

Planning for a trip can be overwhelming, and if you are a Type A planner like me- It is exhausting! I am so used to planning for trips, that it comes as first nature to me, though planning for Japan has given me anxiety, night scares, and whatnot!

Planning a trip to Japan with kids guide
One of my most well researched trip - Japan

Hi, I am Dimple, mom of two small girls (2 yr and 5 yr at this time), and write all things related to travel with kids- guides, itineraries, tips, and hacks so you don’t have to. This post is dedicated to the best stroller I found by accident for our family trip to Japan with my two kids.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you use these links to purchase something, I may earn a commission. Thanks

I just came back from an amazing 12 days in Japan with our two kids (2 year and 5 year old). This post is dedicated to the Japan planning checklist- Let's call it a planning checklist shall we?

Once we had decided to visit Japan (pinch me someone), there were so many things that had to be booked and planned. I am a Type A traveler, so for me, i need to know what I'll be doing, where I'll be going, what I'll be experiencing down to the last details. Especially when traveling with kids, I got to be prepared for everything and anything!

When it came to researching Japan, the information on the internet is SO MUCH that it can get easy to be lost in the whirlwind.

Considering, that tourism is increasing at a faster rate here, everything becomes costly. Especially when you are traveling as a family, it's highly important to keep the costs lower (as much as possible)

If you are getting anxious before your travel to Japan (I know I always am :) ), here is the timeline I followed for booking things along with some tweaked information (after coming back from the trip). Hopefully, it minimizes your stress (a little bit).

Let's dive into how to make your Japan trip planning less stressful

What to do 12-8 months before departure

  • Plan Travel Dates

Lay the groundwork by penciling in your travel dates first.

Note: March- April- May - peak crowded season with a lot of festivities

With cherry blossom (sakura) season (during mid-March-April) plus a week-long holiday in Japan during Golden Week (end of April- first week of May) these months see a high influx of tourists both internationally and domestically.

  • Book flights

Secure the flights as early as possible especially if you're coming from North America (like me). Those fares can skyrocket in a matter of days.

We booked our flights 8 months in advance (I know!) and paid (per person) for a round trip from Dallas to Tokyo.

  • Sketch a rough itinerary

Pinpoint the cities or prefectures you wish to explore. Do you wish to do the ideal route of Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto Or wish to explore the Japanese Alps Or go to Northern regions of Japan like Hokkaido?

I would highly suggest do a mix. (one of my biggest regrets)

What to do 6-8 months before departure

  • Identify the neighborhoods

Identify the neighborhoods to stay as per the places you plan to explore. For e.g. in Tokyo consider Shinjuku for a more youthful vibe or Asakusa and Ueno for a family-friendly atmosphere. Either way, ensure you are closer to the major Train stations.

Travel Tip: Ensure your hotel is literally walking distance from the train stations. After exploring all day, the last you would want to do would be to walk back to the hotel with tired kids!! (I know I used to hate it even though our Mimaru hotel in Tokyo was 5 min walk from the Ueno train station)

  • Book accommodations

Book accommodation near the neighborhoods through for hotels or via for a typical Ryokan experience.

Travel Tip: The Ryokans charge per person per night in their cost, which gets very expensive. Definitely book it in advance if you plan to experience one. One night at a Ryokan is usually sufficient to get the experience.

What to do 3-6 months before departure

  • Apply for visa

  • Book JR pass/tickets

If you are doing the typical itinerary (Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto) book a JR pass. If not, stick to individual JR tickets per city. Check JR fare calculator to see how much money you save.

What to do 1-3 months before departure

  • Finalize itinerary

Plan the days you want to be in certain parts of the cities, and what activities you want to plan.

  • List down activities

List down all the must-do activities for the Japan trip. Add a few that will be kid-friendly. See my list of activities planned for the trip.

  • Reserve spots for must-do activities

Secure your spots for Disney Land, Tokyo Disney Sea, Universal Studio, and Sumo tournaments (which happen every 2 months). I used Klook for all the bookings for experiences. Use Get Your Guide app to skip lines for attractions like Disney Land

What to do 1 month before departure

  • Pre-book activities

Some places need reservation beforehand such as Shibuya Sky, Team Lab Borderless, Team Lab Planets.  I used Klook for all the bookings for experiences

  • Reserve & Bookmark Restaurants

I did not book any restaurant before the trip. However, some Michelin-star restaurants and some famous restaurants you want to try must be booked in advance.

Best to use the Tabalog app for reserving restaurants in Japan

Note: I would suggest to start creating a Japan Google Maps list for all restaurants, cafes, and places you find interesting. Chances are if you are in a neighborhood, you can

What to do 1 week before departure

  • Empty your phone storage

Of course, you will be clicking lots of videos and photos, so back up all my current media files. I upload all my videos on Flickr and my photos are auto-uploaded on Amazon photos.

  • Get cash

Though you can get cash at most ATMs at 7/11 in Japan, it's always best to have some cash in hand before the travel. I got Japanese Yen from the airport. I am estimating withdrawing cash as 2500 yen per person per day.

  • Get eSim

You don't want the pain of high roaming bills. With eSIMs, you can download and install a digital data pack in any country. I love Airalo e-Sim. I will be using their 15-day data plan.

Note: If your phone is locked (like it was for me), eSIMS wouldn't work. You will have to instead purchase a physical card [See Cititation here]

  • Japanese words

Learn a few Japanese words/sentences to make it easier to move around such as

Hello/Good Afternoon: konnichiwa

Good bye: sayonara

Delicious: oishi

Thank you: arigatō gozaimaz


Where’s the toilet: benjo wa doko desu ka?

Does anyone speak English? : Eigo no hanaseru hito wa imasen ka

I dont eat meat or fish: watashi wa niku toh sakana wo tabemasen

  • Pack bags

See my travel essentials to pack for kids. Check the weather and plan your packing accordingly. No matter what season you are going, don't forget to add comfortable walking shoes.

  • Pack travel medical kit

What to do 3 days before departure

  • Get QR codes from immigration Japan Visit Japan web to perform arrival procedures for immigration and customs. once your register, it will generate a QR codes FOR EVERY SINGLE PERSON (including child) that will be needed once you land in Japan. This helped speed up the immigration process and we were barely in queue.

Note: Each passenger (even kids) will need their own QR codes.

What to do 1 day before departure

  • Download essential apps

Apps such as Navitime, Google Translate, Google Lens, and Suica/PASSMO in the Apple wallet

Note: Kids under 6 years travel free, so no need to get a suica card for them. However, kids 6-12 years old need a physical SUICA card that can be purchased at the airport.

  • Call bank for overseas expense

And that's it! You have your planning timeline ready. Hope this timeline helps you in planning your amazing Japan trip. I will be posting more information on Japan's planning.


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10 comentários

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20 de abr.
Avaliado com 5 de 5 estrelas.

Great advice for Japan with kids myself, but the info is great for anyone!

dimple verma
dimple verma
22 de abr.
Respondendo a

This article can help anyone with or without kids. we all know how exhauting planning a trip can be anyway. :)


18 de abr.
Avaliado com 5 de 5 estrelas.

Great tips for travels with kids!

dimple verma
dimple verma
22 de abr.
Respondendo a

Thank you!


18 de abr.

Excellent tips!

dimple verma
dimple verma
22 de abr.
Respondendo a

I am glad you found this article helpful. Hope this helps you plan a future Japan trip with ease


18 de abr.
Avaliado com 5 de 5 estrelas.

I can't wait to go to Japan and this checklist makes planning so easy. Thanks for sharing!

dimple verma
dimple verma
22 de abr.
Respondendo a

Def go to Japan, its such a culturally immersive experience. If i can recommend one thing for your Japan trip, it would be super super super COMFORTABLE shoes! lol.


17 de abr.

That’s absolutely amazing list.. I feel I don’t need any other research material after this. Thank you!

dimple verma
dimple verma
17 de abr.
Respondendo a

Thank you so much. I would love to hear any feedback to improve the material.

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