Our Free and Easy Family Holiday to Japan with kids

We’re just days away from July and already I’m reminiscing our family holiday in Japan during the June school holidays where we were there for 13 days. Our free and easy family holiday to Japan covered Osaka, Tokyo and Kyoto and we had an amazing vacation as it proved to be such a kid friendly travel destination now that Sophie is 8 years old.

Hubby had always been against traveling to Japan due to radiation scares. But over the years, he slowly eased up to the idea of Japan because it’s such a beautiful country with so much to offer from cultural experiences, gourmet food, shopping and Disneyland theme parks! So when he got the chance to travel to Tokyo for work, he jumped at the opportunity and booked air tickets for us.

Now I tend to be horrible at completing my vacation blog entries, so I’m going to try my best to document our travelogues and hopefully it will serve as a helpful guide to those of you are planning to visit the Land of the Rising Sun too.

Since hubby is a theme park or rather roller coaster junkie, we made it a point to include both DisneyLand and DisneySea to our itinerary and added Universal Studios to our plans. That’s how Osaka came into the picture which turned out to be the best decision as we enjoyed it much more than Tokyo.

Day 1 in Tokyo

Looking all excited to board the plane to Japan

We took the morning flight at 8am with SQ and lucky for me, hubby graciously exchange our seats so I got to relax in Business Class where I managed to catch two movies, Hidden Figures (awesome movie by the way) and Jackie (Girl Power!).

I also got to enjoy a fancy breakfast of eggs benedict with salmon and hash brown while Sophie complained about her rather lack luster breakkie.

Fancy eggs benedict breakfast on SQ

Managed to lie down and catch a wink before we landed

When we landed at Haneda airport at 4pm after a 7 hour flight (Japan is one hour ahead of Singapore), we wasted no time and searched for the baggage delivery service counter so that we can deliver our luggage to the hotel that we’re staying in Osaka the next day.

We opted for JAL ABC and it cost 1,750 yen (approx S$22)  and I must say it was a breeze traveling “hands-free” between places without extra bulk especially when there’s so much walking to do. We brought along a day bag for a change of clothes,  toiletries and everything was kept to a minimum.

Luggage delivery service at Haneda Airport, Tokyo

As we bought our JR passes in advanced, we went to the JR counter to have them exchanged for physical passes. With our 7 days JR pass, it gave us free realm to travel from Tokyo to Osaka and Kyoto as well as the local JR trains.

We also purchased our local train tickets with little difficulties as we were assisted by staff who could speak English, no doubt in preparation for the upcoming 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Instructions on how to use the Japan Rail (JR) pass

Instructions on how to use the Japan Rail (JR) pass

Buying tickets for the local trains

From the airport, we took the Yamanote line and traveled to Tokyo Main Station where we booked an Airbnb apartment nearby for the first night. The first thing we did was to locate the JR Travel Service Center to reserve our seats to Osaka. It’s not necessary but for a 2.5 hour ride, we wanted to ensure maximum comfort  🙂

Exploring Tokyo Train station

I’ve heard how huge the Tokyo Train station is nevertheless I was still overwhelmed by the multiple exits, lanes and felt disoriented in a maze of shops. We finally settled on this Udon restaurant located on level 1 of Kitchen Street.

What to eat in Tokyo Station

This restaurant was was listed on the 2016 Michelin Guide, so we’re expecting it to wow us. We could only rely on photos to place our orders and I’m guessing that their specialty is the one with fishcake which is shown on their store front. Alexis ordered that while I had the beef and enoki mushroom tempura udon and their soup base was an interesting yuzu lemon base which we enjoyed very much. In fact, we forgot that it was acceptable to slurp our noodles and Sophie was so tickled to hear a chorus of satisfying slurps.

Shop front of the restaurant

Since it was still early, we explored the rest of Tokyo station and spotted shops that sold all kinds of snacks, food, with restaurants and cafes at every turn.

I remembered that there was a Character Street and asked a local for directions.

If there is one thing that I’ve taught Sophie and hubby on this trip, is to make your mouth useful and ask for directions as I’m sure the locals will be more than happy to assist with directions instead of fumbling with Google Maps. After all, human touch always scores one up, no?

Character Street in Tokyo Station

Character Street a long passageway filled with shops selling popular Japanese cartoon characters, like Hello Kitty, Totoro, One Piece or even Dragon Ball, remember this?

Hello Kitty in Character Street, Tokyo Station

Tokyo Station’s special item

But none of these characters interest Sophie, except POKEMON.

Super cute Pikachu!

Pikachu, so cute, how to eat chu?

So happy to find so many Pokemons in Tokyo Station

Sophie was contented looking at the toys and she was amazed by the number of Pokemon characters that are not from Pokemon Go. Their merchandise sure are cute and they have EVERYTHING from toys to stationery, apparel and accessories and even food!

Just before we headed back to our Airbnb, we saw the Calbee Plus shop and ordered a cup of freshly made jagabee potato sticks. It was so good and tasted so divinely sinful.

Calbee jagabee pencils. So kawaii!

The No. 1 recommendation by staff is the roasted seaweed in soya sauce

We wrapped up the night for a good rest as Osaka was waiting for us. Our first night at the Airbnb is nothing to raved about and I wouldn’t recommend it as it was a distance from the train station and was tiny even for Tokyo’s standard.


Heading to Japan soon?

If you’re travelling to Japan soon, don’t miss the rest of my Japan posts below.


Enjoyed reading this post? Do like my Facebook page to get more family friendly travel updates. You can also follow me on Twitter (@Susankoh) or Instagram (@ajugglingmom) for more travel and parenting posts. See all the places that we visited on our Japan holiday with the hashtag #TaysinJapan

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Comments: 20

  1. Karen June 29, 2017 at 8:35 am Reply

    Thanks for the update Sue. This came in handy for my trip to Nihon!

    • Susan June 29, 2017 at 1:49 pm Reply

      When are you going to Japan Karen? I’m sure you’re going to love it 🙂

      • Karen June 30, 2017 at 12:42 am Reply

        I’m going this Dec, so excited.

  2. Madeline Heng June 29, 2017 at 9:11 am Reply

    Im so missing Japan!!!! Must be wonderland for you as a Hello Kitty fan! Hahaa

    • Susan June 29, 2017 at 6:54 pm Reply

      Yes, no doubt about that. But now that I’m older with a more minimalistic lifestyle (or that’s what I’m aiming towards), I didn’t come home with any Hello Kitty items. Proud of myself 🙂

  3. Low June 29, 2017 at 9:48 am Reply

    Definitely very useful for me for future diy Japan trip !!

    • Susan June 29, 2017 at 9:51 pm Reply

      Glad it’s useful 🙂

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  7. Terry April 27, 2018 at 9:43 am Reply

    If jus stay at tokyo which location is the best plc to stay n easy?

    • Susan May 5, 2018 at 11:41 am Reply

      When we were in Tokyo, we stayed at an Airb&b in Shibuya as it’s in the heart of Tokyo with lots of shopping, entertainment and dining options. Our Airb&b was also within walking distance (12-15mins) to the train station.

      • Leah Castillo May 21, 2018 at 2:21 pm Reply

        Good evening from Hawaii. I will be visiting Japan in October with my family which include 2 kids ages 8 and 5. Planning this trip is hard as it will be our first time. May I get a copy of your itinerary? I was thinking of starting in Tokyo and going to Osaka

        • Susan May 26, 2018 at 11:16 am Reply

          Hi Leah, I’ve emailed my Japan itinerary to you. Hope it’s useful 🙂

  8. aack91drew Ang May 2, 2018 at 5:57 pm Reply

    Hi Susan,

    I’m planning for a japan trip soon. May i if possible ask for your itinerary and plannings ?

    • Susan May 14, 2018 at 2:41 pm Reply

      Hi Andrew, I’ve emailed the Japan itinerary to you 🙂

  9. lily May 22, 2018 at 4:49 pm Reply

    Hi Susan,

    I’m planning for a japan trip in early Dec. May i if possible ask for your itinerary and plannings ? Thanks in advance!

    • Susan June 20, 2018 at 12:50 pm Reply

      Hi Lily, Sorry for the late reply. I’ve dropped you an email with my Japan itinerary 🙂

  10. Efa May 29, 2018 at 3:41 pm Reply

    Hi Susan,

    I’m going to Japan next month with two kids. Would you mind to share your itinerary? Thanks in advance.

    • Susan June 20, 2018 at 12:52 pm Reply

      Hi Efa, Sorry I missed your email earlier. Hope it’s not too late to send you my Japan itinerary.

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