The moment you land in Tokyo, the sights, sounds, smells, and overall feel of the city will be truly indescribable and a little overwhelming.
An American expat family offered the following advice to families about to make a significant move, "Embrace the adventure and have an open mind!" Read their story here.
Your first few weeks will likely be filled with work, children’s schooling, extracurricular activities, and trying to maneuver your new everyday life, it’s important to use any spare time to explore this extraordinary city.
We understand time is of the essence and it’s of the utmost importance to immerse yourself in the Japanese culture and learn the language, but what better way to do so than taking your family to must-see locations which provide truly unique Japanese experiences?
To guarantee your time can be spent exploring, rather than researching, here is a list of six family-fun weekend trips near Tokyo.
1. Seeing the City from Above
To truly understand the significance of Tokyo - including the size, the buildings, and the population - it’s encouraged to see it from above. Cue the Tokyo Tower. There are two viewing decks - one 150 meters from the ground and the second 250 meters up.
The Tokyo Tower gives its visitors an irreplaceable experience and is a short, 21-minute walk from Nishimachi.
If you would like to venture out on the train, Tokyo Sky Tree is another option to see the incredible views of the city and is a beautiful, 40-minute trip from Nishimachi.
2. Bathe in an Onsen
Japan is one of the most volcanically active countries in the world and because of this, it also has many natural hot springs, or onsen. The warm water is said to have healing properties and will help you and your family have some peace and tranquility, two feelings which can be hard to find in a bustling Tokyo.
At Oedo Onsen Monogatari, you and your family can enjoy open-air baths - usually divided into gender - and private baths, where you can bathe together. What’s special about this location, is there are carnival games, a fortune teller, a candy shop, and little places to eat. Oedo Onsen Monogatari will have your family busy for the entire day and is only an 18-minute drive from Nishimachi.
3. Attending a Traditional Tea Ceremony
Japan is known for its matcha, the fine powder found in green tea, and its traditional tea ceremony. The ceremonies are peacefully quiet and you’ll be served - or make in some of the places - a delicious green tea and some Japanese sweets.
With children, finding a location can be difficult. But at Omotenashi Nihonbashi, you can experience an hour-long ceremony, hear explanations and stories behind the ceremony, and try to make the tea yourselves, and children are welcome.
4. Have a Hanami During Cherry Blossom Season
A tradition in Japan called a hanami includes families packing a basket full of food and a blanket to sit on, and heading to a local park to eat under the cherry blossoms.
Imagine peaceful ponds, quaint pathways bordered by beautiful cherry blossom trees and wide lawns where you can set up a hanami. To find this type of serenity, we suggest venturing to Hamarikyu Gardens or Shinjuku Gyoen.
5. A Weekend Getaway at a Ryokan
This item on our list truly gives you a taste of traditional Japanese accommodations while experiencing true Japanese hospitality. At a ryokan, you and your family will be treated to a traditional multi-course meal and have the chance to bathe in luxuriating hot springs.
Hoshinoya Tokyo has a 9.3 rating on Booking.com and is truly a piece of paradise in the heart of Tokyo. This ryokan is also a short, 14-minute car ride away from Nishimachi.
If you want a weekend getaway outside of the city, Hakone is a great place to visit. Just over an hour outside of Tokyo, you can enjoy the beautiful nature, amazing ryokans and numerous hot spring options.
6. Tokyo Disneyland
At the magical park of Tokyo Disneyland, you and your family will have the chance to meet Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Cinderella and so many more of your favorites from Disney.
In addition to meeting your on-screen favorites, you’ll also have the chance to go on some thrilling rides. Attractions include Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and the infamous ‘it’s a small world’.
It goes without saying that Tokyo Disneyland is a popular spot to visit and therefore the crowds you’ll sometimes encounter can make it so you spend most of your time waiting in lines.
To solve this problem, use the crowd calculator, an awesome tool to let you know which days are the busiest. The tool is in Japanese, but you can see from the colors which days to avoid.
Tokyo Disneyland assures to be a memorable day for the whole family and is only a 27-minute drive from Nishimachi and an easy train ride as well.
Now that you have six places to explore during your weekends in Tokyo, you no longer need to worry about filling your schedule to familiarize yourselves with the city.
Before the move to Tokyo - know what to pack. Our new checklist notes items you may have easy access to currently, but might not be able to get once you arrive in Japan. Download it for free today.