Travel the World with Your Family... in Japan!
Travel the World with Your Family... in Japan!
Tokyo is a massive, international city; there are more than 40 million people living in the metropolitan area and most of Japan's nearly three million foreign residents live here. There are countless restaurants serving cuisine from all over the world and, in normal times, Yoyogi Park hosts numerous country- and culture-specific festivals every year.
There are a lot of ways for your family to experience the world without leaving the city. In addition to festivals and food, there are also several attractions that can make you feel like you're walking around in another country. CareFinder has listed a few of our favorites below!
France and Italy
Jiyugaoka is sometimes called "Little Europe" for its abundance of food and fashion from the continent, most notably on Marie Claire Dori, named after the French magazine. The Marie Claire Festival is traditionally held every May: See live performances and enjoy French food and wine from street vendors.
If you really want to feel transported (and snap some lovely family photos!), be sure to check out La Vita. It's a shopping mall that doubles as a little slice of Venice — complete with a canal and gondola!
If Maire Claire street whets your appetite for more Parisian adventures, one can't miss destination: Tokyo Tower! Inspired by the Eiffel Tower, Tokyo tower is actually a functioning broadcast tower and was built in 1958. In addition to being a great backdrop for photos, Tokyo Tower is located within Shiba Koen — a beautiful park with plenty of flowers, trees and footpaths to occupy your family for an afternoon.
Similar to Jiyugaoka, Kagurazaka is known specifically as "Little Paris." With cobblestone streets and more French bakeries, restaurants and cheese shops than you can count (plus lovely music piped over the neighborhood's speaker system!), making a trip here with your family will have you craving a baguette and brie in no time.
Korea and Japan have had an intertwined (and complicated) relationship for a very long time and, as such, you can find elements of Korean culture all over Tokyo! But if you want to feel immersed — and find the very best fried chicken you've ever had and inexpensive, unique skincare — you should make a trip to Shin-Okubo. Tokyo's Koreatown is located in Shinjuku ward and is just a few minutes away from Kabukicho ... but feels worlds away. Packed with Korean BBQ restaurants, Korean markets and the aforementioned cosmetics and skincare shops, your family can trade airfare and the three-hour flight for a ride on the Yamanote. Your household's resident KPop fan will also find all the merch they could ever want at Idol Park or KStar Plus.
Turkey is the crossroads of Europe and Asia. Istanbul (formerly Constantinople!) is a centuries-old city with influences from the Roman and Ottoman empires and was an international capitol for hundreds of years. One of its most beautiful attractions, Hagia Sofia, has served as a Catholic cathedral, an Eastern Orthodox church and a mosque. Today, it's a museum.
To approximate the experience for your family, head to Yoyogi Uehara. There you'll find Tokyo Camii (pronounced "jamii"), the largest mosque in Japan and home to the Turkish Cultural Center. You can visit the Halal market and get a guided tour (in Japanese).
Outside Tokyo (But Worth the Trip!)
A short train ride to Yokohama and your family can be transported to China! Home to Japan's largest Chinatown, the main attractions (apart from the shops and restaurants) are the neighborhood's ornate gates and temples. They are always beautiful to behold, but we recommend planning a special trip during Lunar New Year celebrations!
There are plenty of American bases throughout Japan, which means you can get your hands on less-expensive American goods if you're lucky enough to know some with access to an exchange. But if you want a glimpse of old-timey Americana, head to Saitama.
Home to a base after World War II, Johnson Town is now a residential area with some holdover American influences — including neat little homes with front porches. Many shops sell US-inspired goods and it's a great place to get a good burger!
Tokyo German Village is actually located in Chiba and is a very large theme park with tons of outdoor activities. Known for its beautiful winter illuminations, Tokyo German Village is designed, as you may have guessed, to replicate the German countryside. There, your family can enjoy nature, a children's zoo and plenty of traditional German foods — like Bavarian soft pretzels!
Named after a royal palace in the Netherlands, Huis Ten Bosch is a massive theme park in Kyushu. It may seem odd that there is a massive theme park in Sasebo modeled after a Dutch town, but it's actually a nod to the area's past when the Dutch were the only Western trade partners of Japan.
You can stay in a Dutch-themed hotel and tour a replica ship, in addition to enjoying the many more traditional theme park rides, like a Ferris wheel. If you have the time and inclination, your family might enjoy taking a boat taxi to and from Nagasaki Airport!