We just got home from our one-week family vacation in Osaka. Now I know why Japan is one of the must-visit countries in the world – especially for people with kids. If you are a mom or a dad who’s looking for your next travel destination, read on. In this post we will share why you should travel to Japan with your family. We will cover the experiences we most enjoyed and why we can’t wait to go back there again soon!
Reason To Visit Japan #1: Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan.
Super Nintendo World (SNW) is the main reason we chose Osaka over other cities in Japan. No, it is actually our primary purpose to visit Japan in the first place!
If you’re a fan of the Super Mario Brothers, then SNW is more than enough reason to travel to Japan. Here are some of the most notable experiences my kids and I enjoyed during our visit:
- Riding the Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge.
- Celebrating my wife’s birthday at Kinopio’s Café.
- Punching the floating bricks to collect coins.
- Showdown with Bowser Jr.
- Meet and greet with Mario and Luigi.
We stayed at SNW for 10 hours, and it feels like we still haven’t exhausted all the things we can do there. It’s definitely one of the most memorable moments in our lives.
Reason to visit again: The idea is to explore Disneyland and Disneysea in Tokyo on our next visit. But Universal Studios Japan recently announced that Donkey Kong Country will open inside SNW in the Spring of 2024. It might be worth it to take a look!
Get Your Discounted Universal Studios Japan Pass
Reason To Visit Japan #2: Authentic Japanese Food
My wife and I love Japanese food. But the kids, not so much. That’s why we seldom go to Japanese restaurants here in the Philippines. And whenever we do, there’s nothing they want to order except for chicken teriyaki. Thankfully, they became more adventurous when we were in Japan. Do you also love Japanese food? Here are some of the best food you can enjoy there:
- Kobe beef
- Matsusaka beef
- Shrimp tempura
- Crabstick tempura
- Japanese ice cream
Omurice now tops our kids’ list as their favorite Japanese food. They actually have been asking for it since we came back. My wife didn’t have a choice but to learn how to cook it at home. Read our gastronomic family experience at Kobe.
Reason to visit again: Food always plays a huge part in my travels. In fact, it may be my biggest reason to visit Japan if I don’t have kids. I can see myself mapping out all the must-eats in the area and would visit them one by one. But travelling with children is different. We often found ourselves simply eating anywhere nearby, and hoping it’s good. We simply cannot find the energy to really traverse the places we wish to dine. Thankfully we were able to check the boxes on the Kobe and Matsusaka beef. But my wife and I felt we weren’t able to really satisfy our cravings. We still haven’t gone to the best ramen, sushi, and curry place yet.
Reason To Visit Japan #3: Courteous People
Most travelers won’t list the local citizens as one of their reasons to visit Japan. But to me and my family, it was a big deal. When we got lost on our first night, a random lady approached and walked with us for 20 minutes to take us to our hotel. Who does that?! We’ve been hearing a lot about how respectful and polite Japanese people are. But those didn’t mean anything until we experienced it ourselves. I received a real life lesson on kindness that night. I’m sure the kids got it too. The only regret we have is we weren’t able to take a photo with the lady.
Reason to visit again: Overall, you can feel the “care” in Japan. Japanese people are overflowing with empathy. They think forward and consider other people’s potential needs. As for us parents, you will appreciate how they put extra effort into making our lives easier:
- Every restaurant (that we have gone to) has a kid’s menu.
- They also provide dinnerware sets for children.
- All train stations have elevators.
- Every toilet has wipes to clean the seat.
- They provide a play area in shopping outlets.
- There are lots of diaper changing areas.
- You can rent lockers in train stations, so you can travel light.
Reason To Visit Japan #4: Pop Culture
Lalaine and I grew up enjoying Final Fantasy, Suikoden, YuYu Hakusho, and Naruto. If you love gaming and anime, then Japan is something you should not miss. The country itself is like one massive theme park. You will see your favorite characters here and there. In posters, food packaging, and such. If you’re lucky, you can even meet cosplayers during your train ride. I don’t know, but being in Japan seems to nourish my inner child.
Reason to visit again: There’s still a lot to explore. Our last trip was solely focused on Nintendo. There’s still Pokémon, Capcom, and Naruto.
Reason To Visit Japan #5: Train Rides
I must say that riding the train as a family is one of our favorite highlights in Japan. It’s no secret how efficient their public transportation is. But more than that, train rides in Japan will also give your kids a sense of adventure and exploration.
In every train station you’ll see a small table where you can collect a stamp. I call them “saving points”. It’s a reference from playing video games where you save your progress by going to a certain spot in the game. These stamps are unique per station, and they only serve as a souvenir. Regardless, the kids are always excited about the next stop, as they want to add more stamps to their collection.
Here’s a quick guide of the tickets we bought for our train rides:
- Nankai Rapi:t Kansai Airport Express Ticket – for airport transfers.
- ICOCA IC Card – it’s a reloadable card used for everyday transport. Also accepted at selected stores, restaurants, and vending machines.
- Kansai Thru Pass – this card offers unlimited train and subway rides to 5+ cities in Japan. We used this when we travelled to Kyoto and Kobe.
- Osaka Amazing Pass – we used this card to explore Osaka. It gives unlimited train, bus, and subway rides within the city.
Reason to visit Japan again: We still haven’t tried the bullet train, plus there are more stamps to collect!
The list I presented above is already more than enough to make our family keep going back to Japan. But here are the honorable mentions that put the cherry on top:
- Cool weather. The weather here in the Philippines is mostly humid so we, more often than not, prefer to go somewhere cold. Japan is an ideal country to go to if you also love cool weather because it’s just three to four hours away.
- Shopping. I’m not a big fan of shopping. But it can easily be one of the top answers to the question, “Why visit Japan?” — just ask my wife. To be fair, I also enjoyed buying stuff when we were there for some reason. I bought a PlayStation 5 and lots of Nintendo merchandise.
- Historical sites. I love history. I am fascinated by the way people live during their eras. Japan has not only done a great job of preserving their historical sites. They also did well in presenting them in such a way that even kids could also appreciate.
It’s my first time traveling internationally with my two kids, and Japan has been nothing but spectacular. I don’t know what I could ask for. They have amazing theme parks, sumptuous food, courteous people, and super efficient public transportation. Japan definitely is one of the places my family will never tire to visit again and again.
If you are planning to visit Japan soon, be sure to check out our one-week Osaka travel itinerary.