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  • Angelamc11 195 posts

    I’ve managed to get 4 tickets to Japan for mid December and will be travelling with my three teenage children. 13,14 & 15. We have a total of 10 nights. All advice welcome on places to go see and hotels to stay. I have status with IHG and Marriott. We are comfortable travelling around and would prefer to spend 2/3 nights per region to see as much as possible.

    Any advice is much appreciated.

    yonasl 953 posts


    December is not a bad month but days will be short and it can be cold. For just 10 nights you may want to keep it simple.

    – If you arrive early to Tokyo, maybe use that first day to move away. Take the shinkansen to Kyoto and visit from there back to Tokyo where you can spend your last nights and fly home

    – The price of the Japan Rail pass is going to skyrocket in October 2023. You can however buy the pass before that and have 90 days to redeem it so could still benefit from the current “low” price

    – However, if you have Avios, internal flights are 7,000 and £0 (which allows you to book and cancel as you wish). You can maybe jump via plane and then make it one way via slower trains

    – With that in mind:
    1) Arrive to Tokyo … fly/train to Osaka
    2) Spend 4 nights in Kyoto (from where you do day trips to Nara and osaka)
    3) Spend 2 night in Takayama (perfect to book a Ryokan and spend a couple of days sleeping in a tatami)
    4) Spend 4 nights in Tokyo

    TBH, hotels in Japan are great and good value. I wouldn’t focus on deluxe large names that can be further away from areas you may want to visit. For instance, in Kyoto many places open for lunch 11-1pm and then close again. If you have a massive breakfast you are never going to be hungry by 11am and will then miss being able to enjoy those eateries.

    Angelamc11 195 posts

    This is brilliant. Thank you.

    meta 1,434 posts

    I think with teenagers, Tokyo will be more appealing than Kyoto, but then of course that depends on what they like. So I’d not go to Takayama, as much as it’s a great suggestion. 10 days is a bit too short to do more than Tokyo and Kyoto/Osaka/Nara. Don’t try to squeeze too much into one trip, Japan is best experienced slowly.

    Kyoto is also more expensive than Osaka hotel wise and IHG options in Kyoto are limited, though there is a lot of choice with Marriott (better options require a lot of points). I also prefer to do brunches in Kyoto as @yonasl said and skip breakfast whereas in Tokyo I’m okay with big breakfast, small snack in the afternoon and great dinner.

    Reney 763 posts

    Firstly one of my fav family blogs MilesforFamily has just written a multi part series on her visit to Japan with an elderly and kids not too dissimilar in age to yours. So I would suggest having a read.

    I am planning an April trip with mum (no kids), for similar amount of time it is my second time and mum’s first. This is what my plan is so far:

    Arrive HND
    One night in Tokyo – probably some light cherry blossom seeing. Currently booked at Intercontinental String and Hyatt Centric Ginza. Will probably cancel the latter to save hyatt points. The string has gotten pretty good reviews and easy to get on bullet train the next day

    Train to Hakone, onsen town for 2 nights. Booked Hotel Indigo which has private onsen on each room and I had enough points for it. Am giving up Osaka for this but mum had wanted this.

    Train to Kyoto for 3 nights, will hang out here and maybe some day trips to Nara/Kobe or Osaka. Booked the new hyatt place, someone said location for transport is good, i had points and they have laundry – good for mid trip.

    Train to Hiroshima 2 night at the CP as it is good for the ferry and I had points.

    At the moment planning train back to Tokyo as Hiroshima airport is quite far out (a kind poster mentioned this) so it is about the same amount of time between train and plane.

    2 nights in Tokyo at Aloft Ginza – good location and had Marriott points.

    I have never stayed at any of these hotels, they are chosen due to a mix of I had the points, easy transport link and broadly good reviews on tripadvisor.

    I really liked Kyoto so it was important for me to spend some time there, Milesforfamily influenced the addition of Hakone and Hiroshima. To be fair I was meant to go to Hakone in 2020 but we know what happened that year!

    kjt 14 posts

    Hiroshima has a very nice Sheraton at the station . Good access to Shinkansen. Miyajima island is close by and great day trip as is the naval museum in Kure.
    Yokohama has an Intercontinental at reasonable prices and a great harbour area . Also handy for Haneda airport .
    Consider some of the regional JR passes rather than the nationwide JR pass .JR west pass covers Fukuoka to Osaka and Kyoto. You can fly to Fukuoka at a reasonable rate from Tokyo.
    Crowne Plaza hotels in Japan are pretty good with nice upgrades for members with status.
    Consider the Klook app for theme park tickets . Disney Sea is a great park at around £50 for a day ticket .
    You’ll have a great time and the exchange rate is excellent at this time.

    BJ 657 posts

    Agreed @meta, let’s be blunt about this and avoid ruining the kids vacation – Kyoto and Nara would be trash for most teenagers! Frankly, they’re dull for me now and it’ll soon be four decades since I ceased to be a teen. Teenagers, and you too, could have a ball in Japan if you planned your trip around contemporary lifestyles and popular culture. Not only in the cities but in the countryside too if you are into that. IMO the best of Japan is not in the past but in the present and I think it would be a mistake to plan your trip around a checklist of tourist sites. It would help us advise you better if you could share with us some of your interests and those of your kids including stuff like food, music, gaming, sports, fashion, arts etc. That said, if history, museums, galleries etc is what you as a family are into then elements of that suggested by @yonasl will work well.

    yonasl 953 posts


    In Kyoto I can recommend: Solaria Nishitetsu Hotel Kyoto Premier as a good place in a perfect location. If price is high just check similar places around that same area

    In Tokyo I love to stay around Shinjuku some consider it a “red light district” but to be honest it is not in your face like Amsterdam but instead neons, tall buildings, 24/7 eateries and what for us are “weird” and “quirky” bars. (what may be happening behind door could not be very PC but it is not something you experience as a foreigner).

    Angelamc11 195 posts

    Thank you for all this really good advice. The kids are into Disney, music and gaming. So far their must dos include the robot hotel and Disney. For me, it’s Mount Fuji, Onsen, nightlife, illuminations and culture. They are all very plain eaters.

    I’ve a budget of around 3k for hotels and would like to spend most of this on Marriott to collect points. However I’d also like to experience a cultural style of accommodation at some point.

    yonasl 953 posts

    You will find the true geekiness in Osaka more than Tokyo (after all Otaku street is in there). So maybe a couple of day there will delight your kids to visit the many manga/anime/video game shops.

    Kyoto is a must and if you simply mix very touristy stuff with getting lost in small roads you will encounter less tourists.

    You definitely want to stay in Shinjuku then not far away from the Godzilla hotel and the Battle Robot arena (or whatever it is called).

    meta 1,434 posts

    Kyoto is actually where a lot of manga artists are based. There is Kyoto International Manga Museum.

    It’s true that Osaka is geeky, but in Tokyo you get more of a cool contemporary. Don’t forget that Akihabara is the centre of gaming world – it will hit the spot for both you and kids with illuminations and gaming/anime.

    Then there are pet cafes which could be fun.

    yorkshireRich 185 posts

    I have a companion voucher and would love to go to Expo held in Osaka in 2025. I am watching this thread (and the other various ones discussing Japan) with interest. That said our daughter will be just under 2, and the wife is not sure that it is a practical holiday destination for an infant. I have quite a while to work on it.

    meta 1,434 posts

    I think that you will find Japan quite child friendly. They’ll take care of you well in hotels and most places will adore you. Having said that, I’d avoid mid-June to October. It’s too humid and hot. Since Expo will be in April to October, I’d go in April/May or October.

    Angelamc11 195 posts

    Some great advice here. Thank you everybody for your contributions. Now the planning begins (my favourite part)!

    Reney 763 posts

    Using an old thread. @meta, and anyone else with recent experiences. I’m travelling in Japan the first 2 weeks of April (cherry blossom season), I think I will need the following bullet trains tickets:

    Odawara to Kyoto
    Kyoto to Hiroshima
    Hiroshima to Tokyo

    Do I need to book in advance? By advance I mean like now, online. I’m only at most of these places for 1-2 days before moving on so most of the online advice for buying in station 3 days in advance in person is not helpful. I can’t seem to see much advice on purchasing online. Thx!!

    Aston100 1,388 posts

    I thought this was the defacto master thread?

    Reney 763 posts

    I thought this was the defacto master thread?

    Thanks will post over there too.

    meta 1,434 posts

    You get a discounted rate (think 1000 yen less) if booked 21 days or more in advance and also the earlier you book the better chances you get the window seats with Mt Fuji views (always D,E). However, if that’s not important, you can just purchase on the spot. Plenty of trains.

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