10 Fun Events & Places In Tokyo To Take The Kids This Summer Vacation
Tokyo's most exciting summer kids workshops, events and museums
Let the summer vacation begin ... with a plan.
Bugs, water, art and craft, science and fun—these words pretty much sum up what Japanese summer vacations are all about. Helping to celebrate the season (which for most Japanese schools begins this week), venues across the metropolis are running special workshops and exhibitions for kids on these very subjects. Whether you’re looking to plan an outing with family or friends, or find a way to help your kids get their school projects done, this list of ten activities and recommended kids-friendly destinations will surely help!
1. Kids’ Workshop 2018 at Roppongi Hills
To mark the 10th anniversary of its now ultra-popular Kids’ Workshop program, this year, Roppongi Hills has further expanded its summer activities and now features 80 types of workshops and 400 courses. From cupcakes making to flower arrangement to programming and even urban planning, the workshops cover all fields of curiosity and will surely keep the kids entertained. Tenant companies and stores are all participating in the event in one way or another, while experts in various fields will be visiting to teach the workshops. Among them is architect Yasutaka Yoshimura who will help kids to design a house using iPads and professionals from the German chemical manufacturer BASF will guide students through some exciting experiments.
Although most activities are aimed at elementary school students, some classes welcome kids as young as three, and some cater to junior high school students, such as the Teens Film School workshop. Kids can also enjoy the bon odori traditional dance festival that Roppongi Hills will hold on the weekend of August 25 and 26.
When: Aug 13-29 (Final stage). Apply by July 31 online or by phone. Check the website for details. (Some workshops do not require pre-registration)
Where: Roppongi Hills, 6-11-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Cost: Most workshops are free.
Recommended for: Little scientists, athletes, curious minds
2. Kids Weeks 2018 at Tokyo Midtown
Tokyo Midtown’s summer program for kids focuses on art and design. From August 3 to 19 kids can contribute to the interactive display “Forest of Summer-Colored Birds” by coloring their own paper birds to attach to the forested wall mural. A selection of children’s books on the theme of art and design will also be available to read.
Free craft workshops, including making a kaleidoscope, a flapping paper butterfly, or a sunflower field, will be held on the weekends of the first three weeks of August for children aged up to about nine. Until August 28, Midtown is also holding a stamp rally which sees kids end up with a paper fan decorated by their own stamping efforts.
Midtown is also running the Design Hub Kidsweek 2018 from August 5 to 12. Under the theme of “design something,” there will be workshops using bamboo or play-doh, exploring color or font and making a camera or photo frame. See the details here (in Japanese only). Also worth checking out is Midtown’s wind-chime display on the first floor and the footbath stream in the garden.
When: Program Period: Aug 3-Aug 19, Stamp Rally Period: July 13 – Aug 28, 2018 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: Tokyo Midtown Plaza B1F, 9-7-1 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Recommended for: Kids who love art and crafts
3. Transform! Bug’s Amazing Tricks Exhibition
There is perhaps a no better way to celebrate the Japanese love of bugs than via the innovative insect experiences available at this bug exhibition currently underway at Orbi Yokohama. Under the theme of “the world of bugs,” this limited-period, hands-on event has kids take the form of insects to fulfill a task, such as donning cicada wings to climb a tree trunk and scream loud enough to send the noise meter to max and win the heart of a female cicada. Or see if they can maneuver mechanical praying mantis arms well enough to catch some prey.
Until September 9, the World Bug Exhibition for Everyone 2018 is also being held on the same floor as Orbi. This display features live exhibits of the Rainbow Stag Beetle and the beautifully colored Orchid Praying Mantis, as well as a petting corner for the Atlas Beetle and the three-horned Caucasus Beetle. Entry costs ¥600 for kids from 13 years and up, and ¥400 from four years of age.
When: Now through Sept. 30, 2018
Where: Orbi Yokohama, 3-5-1 Minatomirai, Nishi-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa
Cost: ¥800 (Adults), ¥300 (Elementary school kids)
Recommended for: Kids into bugs and nature
4. Kids Art Classes at ArtBar Daikanyama
Relaxed, bilingual art studio ArtBar has added weekday classes to its kids-only schedule during the holidays to offer kids projects such as painting a flowerpot or a fan, or creating string art, or painting a lion or a hippo, or a tree in the style of Kandinsky. Classes are aimed at elementary school students. You can drop your children off to enjoy a two-hour session on their own, with drinks and snacks. This is an incredibly creative and fun place for adults, too, so consider a separate family session later on, as well!
When: Various dates during the summer vacation. See website for details of each event.
Where: 7-2 Daikanyama-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Cost: ¥3,500 (including snacks, painting materials and the painting itself)
Recommended for: Little Picassos
5. Dinosaur Zoo Puppet Show
This amazing dinosaur puppet show is touring Japan this summer, giving you a chance to get up close and interact with these lifelike and endearing creations. Triceratops makes a new addition to the line-up, teaming up with that eternal favorite, the Tyrannosaurus. Tokyo shows can be viewed on July 22 and August 1 and the show is also touring other locations across Japan. See all details and dates here (in Japanese only).
When: July 22, August 1 (Tokyo). The show tours across Japan until Sept. 1.
Where: (July 22) Machida Civic Hall, 2-2-36 Morino, Machida-shi, Tokyo; (Aug 1) Tamashin Risuru Hall, 3 -3-20 Nishikicho, Tachikawa-shi, Tokyo
Cost: ¥3,000 for those aged three or older.
Recommended for: Jurassic Park fans, children or adults.
6. Masurecchiku Land at Mitsubishi Minatomirai Industrial Museum
Another good reason to head out to Yokohama is the Mitsubishi Minatomirai Industrial Museum where you can see and touch new technologies through exhibits of actual machines and large-scale models. The space is divided into four zones: aerospace, ocean, transportation, and environment/energy, and also includes areas where kids can try out some experiments, as well as a Kids’ Zone play spot for preschoolers. A particularly popular attraction here is the flight simulation experience in a model cockpit of the first passenger jet to be built in Japan, the MRJ.
Until August 20, the museum is also running Masurecchi Land, which seems to be a mash-up of the terms “math” and “athletics” and apparently is what you get when you add numbers to shapes and multiply that sum by fun! Yes, this exhibit is all about enjoying numbers and math and features around 40 hands-on displays. This exhibition is also running a handful of workshops, like July 28’s “Discover the arithmetic inside a soccer ball.” To participate, get a ticket on the first floor.
When: Museum open Wednesday-Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Masurecchi Land Exhibition: until August 20, 2018.
Where: Mitsubishi Minatomirai Industrial Museum, 3-3-1, Minatomirai, Nishi-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa
Cost: ¥500 (Adults), ¥200 (elementary school students), ¥300 (for older kids), admission to Masurecchiku Land included.
Recommended for: Kids into trains and planes (and math)
7. Design Ah! Exhibition at Miraikan
The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, or as it is more commonly known as — Miraikan — is a fantastic place where children can explore science and technology from the broad perspectives of human beings, space, innovation, and information society. Until mid-October, Miraikan is also holding the special exhibition, “Design Ah! Exhibition in Tokyo.” This is a tie-up with the program on NHK educational TV, which tries to teach the design-oriented thought process, and in this case, how that relates to science and technology. Let the kids explore design by looking, thinking and creating.
When: Museum: Wednesday-Monday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Design Ah! Exhibition: Until Oct. 18, 2018 (Open every day until the end of August)
Where: Miraikan, 2-3-6 Aomi, Koto-ku, Tokyo
Cost: (Museum) ¥620 (Adults), ¥210 (Children and teens); Design Ah! Exhibition: ¥1,600 (Adults), ¥500 (preschoolers)
Recommended for: Kids into design; future scientists. Also fit for adults.
8. Mirai Campus at Futako Tamagawa Rise Shopping Center
The Rise shopping center in Futako Tamagawa is holding a wide array of free workshops for elementary school kids over the course of three days from August 10. Titled “Mirai Campus,” these fun workshops will teach the kids everything about nature, science, mural painting, space (and what they eat there) and so much more.
On Friday, August 10, the first day of the event, kids can enjoy planting vegetables and petting horses, then learn about space and take home a sample of space food. On the 11th, they can move on to more detailed themes and study the moon and earth, as well as learn about the Hayabusa space explorer, 3D printers and how to use one to make a radio-controlled car. On the last day, they can learn programming and how to make a robot using a 3D printer, then beat some drums in the drum circle workshop. Kids can also participate in a group wall-art painting project over all three days.
Also on at Galleria from August 2 to 4 is Paper Expo 2018, where kids can learn about paper through paper crafts.
When: August 10 to 12, 2018, 10 a.m. to 5:40 p.m.
Where: Rise shopping center Galleria, 2-21-1, Tamagawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
Recommended for: Kids who always ask the “Why?” question — for pretty much everything that crosses their minds.
9. Places to cool down and get wet
Summer is all about pools and places to chill our bodies with something other than air conditioning and luckily Tokyo has tons of them. Big kids will probably want to trek out to big pools such as Showa Kinen Park’s Rainbow Pool, Toshimaen, Tokyo Summerland, or the Water Amusement Island at Yomiuri Land. Little kids will love the pool at the Arakawa Yuen fun park or with water-play spots at local parks, like these near Oji, or the Jabu-Jabu-Ike water play pool at Shinjuku Central Park.
10. Indoor Play Centers
Last but not least, Tokyo is also a wonderland when it comes to indoor kids spaces and with the unbearable heat outside, those are highly recommended. These are places where kids can easily spend a full day of fun with a group of friends, or have an active, but cool, family outing. Experience the joy of analog toys at the Tokyo Toy Museum in Yotsuya, get active at Galaxcity or at Asobono at Tokyo Dome City, or visit the work-experience theme park Kidzania or Odaiba’s Aneby Trimpark. Further from the city are the multiple playgrounds-equipped Fantasy Kids Resort and Kidokid at Yomiuri Land. All those facilities offer plenty of ways to keep the kids happy and cool.
Wishing all kids and their parents a very happy summer vacation!