It practically goes without saying that wrangling the family for a trip abroad involves many moving parts. Sometimes, it can feel like too many moving parts. But, we love how with a well-planned itinerary (ahem, an organized travel agent), taking the kids to a foreign country goes far beyond fun; it enriches their young minds. So, to celebrate the New Year, we took the kiddos to Japan, a country that is perfect for families thanks to its squeaky clean facilities, endless cultural learnings and really, really good food.
The predominant feel throughout the Mandarin Oriental, Toyko is an extraordinary sense of space. Not only are they some of the largest in Japan, but glass walls open up to endless views across the city. The futuristic luxury of the interiors illustrate their defining style; extreme comfort whilst reflecting the country’s characteristics.
Discover the style and vibe of today’s Japan at a brand-new hotel with an 800-year-old ikeniwa (pond garden) at its heart. Intimate and contemporary, Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto is set in the scenic district of temples. Let the Four Seasons help you unlock the mysteries and capture the essence of Kyoto
With a commanding presence on Nakanoshima between the Dojima and Tosabori rivers, this sleek luxury hotel offers incredible views of the water and Osaka from all guest rooms and public areas. Conrad Osaka resides on the highest floors of Nakanoshima Festival West Tower, home to shops, restaurants and an art museum.
Exploring Harajuku and Lunch at Kawaii Monster Cafe Day 2
Fushimi Inari Red Gates and Food Tour in Osaka Day 7
Arrival to Tokyo
Welcome to Japan! Whether you arrive into Haneda or Narita Airport, meet your driver at arrival and they will whisk you to your hotel, the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo.
Pro-tip: Make sure to make a dinner reservation at the hotel this evening. We love the pizza bar at the hotel, The Pizza Bar on 38th, for something more interactive and familiar. Don’t be fooled, some of the best pizzas in the world can be found in Tokyo!
After breakfast, meet your guide and start the morning visiting Meiji Jingu Shrine, one of the most significant temples in Tokyo. Nearby, check out the landmark toy paradise that is Kiddy Land. Its four floors are filled with items and toys of popular characters from Snoopy to Sailor Moon and Pokemon.
In Harajuku, walk down Takeshita street where you can stop for a giant fairy floss at the Totti Candy Factory, as well as rainbow colored foods of all kind! Don’t forget to take a purikura (photobooth picture printed on stickers), and be sure to order a creme brulee crepe.
When lunch time comes around, head over to the Kawaii Monster Café for a fun show with the kids where the staff are as much part of the experience as the food and drinks. Be on the lookout for the cool Harajuku Girls!
Then, head to Origami Kaikan to discover the art of folded paper. The gallery space displays beautiful intricate pieces while the upstairs area showcases how origami paper is dyed and painted. Here, try your hand at folding your own pieces. Before you leave Harajuku, visit a bunny, cat, owl, or hedgehog cafe.
Culture Fix, the Tokyo Way
This morning visit Tokyo’s Fish Market in Toyosu district or Jogai where you can have sushi breakfast or optional sushi making class.
After breakfast, head over to the Borderless Labs Light Museum, Tokyo’s newest interactive light museum, and it has to be said, the city’s most instagrammable spot. Produced in collaboration with local urban landscape developer Mori Building Co. Ltd., the amazing light displays are housed in their very own building, spread out over two floors in a huge space in Tokyo’s Odaiba district. The Light Museum is popular with tourists and locals alike, you’ll need some tips on how to maximize your visit, be sure to ask your advisor!
After, make your way to the vibrant neighborhood of Akihabara, known for its pachinko & video game parlours. Finally, visit the historic Asakusa district. This atmospheric neighborhood is a part of Tokyo’s shitamachi (or “old town”), and is also home to Senso-ji, the oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo. The narrow streets and alleys around Senso-ji are full of little shops that sell traditional Japanese handicrafts.
Tokyo to Kyoto
Morning at leisure, and this afternoon, transfer to the station and take a bullet train to Kyoto. Upon arrival, head over to the Four Seasons Hotel, Kyoto to check into your hotel.
This evening, organize dinner at the hotel and relax.
Temples, Geisha + Bamboo, Oh My!
Today explore the calm western side of the city where charming temples and backstreets are tucked along the Arashiyama mountain base. Stroll on the Togetsukyo Bridge, visit the famous bamboo groves and a monkey park, as well as the sacred Tenryuji Temple.
Return to town, but on your way, make a stop at the iconic Golden Pavillion, and then make your way to Kiyomizu-dera Temple, one of the city’s most famous temples that sits in the eastern foothills and has sweeping views of the city. Meander down from the temple through historic preserved side streets lined with high-end handicraft boutiques and eateries.
Reach Gion, famous for colorfully-dressed geisha who shuffle down the quiet, cobblestoned streets, on their way to entertain the patrons of one of Gion’s many teahouses and restaurants
Ninja in Training
This morning, after breakfast, meet your Four Seasons rickshaw driver for a fun way to discover some of the city’s most visited spots.
Starting from the Hotel, this tour first takes you to neighboring Sanjusangen-do Temple where you can admire the Thousand-Armed Kannon, designated a National Treasure in Japan. Next, take a stroll to Miyagawa-cho, one of the well-known ‘flower towns’ where generations of geishas have been living for centuries. Finally, visit the Rokuharamitsuji Temple and popular Toyokuni Shrine, the official tomb and shrine of daimyo Toyotomi Hideyoshi are completed before you return to Four Seasons Kyoto.
After, take a taxi to Kyoto’s famous Nishiki Market, wander through the market’s myriad of food stalls and observe locals grocery shopping and browse the shopping arcades nearby Nishiki market.
Afterwards, experience an authentic and traditional ninja training at the tatami dojo, complete with ninja clothes, shuriken (ninja stars), and sword. Feel the spirit, wisdom and survival skill of ninja and learn the survival technique that’s been handed down over 500 years of generation.
Iconic Red Gates Moment
After breakfast visit the iconic red tori gates of Fushimi Inari Shrine. Meander up the mountain through the seemingly endless tunnel of thousands of vermilion torii gates, passing by various graveyards and shrines.
Transfer to Osaka and relax. Enjoy evening touring of the vibrant Dotonbori neighborhood, which comes alive at night. Enjoy a food tour with your guide and sample iconic Kansai staples such as okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake omelette), takoyaki (ball-shaped octopus fritters), kitsune udon, and more.
Transfer to KIX and depart on your long haul flight home.
Contact your SmartFlyer advisor to begin planning your adventure to Japan.