Sushi bars, sake tasting and relaxing in onsen (hot springs). Power shopping for everything from clothing to Ikebana vases, bags draped over both arms. Waiting in line at my favorite Tonkatsu (beef cutlet) restaurant and day-long sightseeing excursions that would be tough for young legs. My version of Tokyo used to be different.
But blending what I love the most about this vibrant, massive city with desires of a five year old was made entirely possible by our stay at Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi for several reasons: a prime location, wonderful service and luxurious accommodations. And, it was brilliant to see Tokyo through the eyes of a young child.
*Off-season makes it easy: A little rain is no big deal. We toured Disneyland in light rain, common during summer months. The bonus—no lines!
*Mod-traditional fusion: In the midst of neon lights and modern buildings lie temples, shrines, beautifully manicured gardens and glimpses of ancient heritage.
*The concierge: Akhil and his staff will help you map out an itinerary that’s perfect for your family.
*Tokyo is a completely different experience at night versus during day. Experience both by reserving a babysitter.
*Toys everywhere: from the latest gadgets to comic books to eclectic finds, Tokyo has plenty of souvenir-worthy goodies for kids. Hello Kitty, Pokemon and Snoopy each have their own stores. Kids will shop til they drop.
*Tsukiji Fish Market for early risers (or the jet-lagged). See fish of all sizes up for auction at the largest wholesale fish market in the world.
*Hotel fun: Play Station 2 or X-box, which can be put in the room. The welcome gift and booklet outlining kid-friendly activities in Tokyo. Watching the trains zoom by from the window.
*Trying out future careers at the edu-tainment center and amusement park, Kidzania. Reserve tickets in advance of for one of the two daily sessions.
*A hotel-provided escort to the train platforms at busy, sometimes confusing, Tokyo Station. The Narita Express, JR East and Shinkansen trains pass through here.
*Shopping in Ginza just a quick walk away. Ito-ya for gorgeous paper and Tokyu Hands for bento box supplies.
*Finding zen at the hotel’s spa and traditional onsen bath.
*Attentive and friendly service—there are just 57 boutique rooms at Four Seasons.
*Keeping healthy the entire time. Jogging or biking around the Imperial Palace. Enjoying the view from the 7th floor gym (open 24 hours). Eating perfectly proportioned, beautifully presented Japanese food. Free bike rentals at the hotel.
*The pillow menu. Fear not pregnant moms—maternity pillows are available!
You can see the Shinkansen bullet train, recognized by its flat-nosed engine car, right from your hotel window.
*The hotel’s ekki BAR & GRILL boasts spectacular city views from its floor-to-ceiling windows.
*Order a proper Japanese breakfast, afternoon tea or a glass of wine in the Lobby Lounge right next door.
*In-room dining has many of the same menu items as ekki BAR & GRILL if you feel like settling in.
*Gonpachi in Ginza serves an assortment of Japanese favorites (sushi, ramen, katsu) in an upscale, family-friendly atmosphere.
*For a more theatrical dinner experience, try robatayaki at Robataya in the Roppongi district. Food is cooked-to-order on a hot stone in front of you by outgoing, animal-napkin-folding, happy-go-lucky chefs.
*You’ll also find many fast, inexpensive cafés all over Tokyo. Do try a Japanese dessert (wagashi) at Toraya, Minamoto Kitchoan or Cha-no-ha in Matsuya department store food court.
1. Tokyo Disney Resort: The resort has shopping, dining and hotels, but the two places your kids are going to care about most are Disneyland and DisneySea. Disneyland has most of the popular rides that all kids love, a Cinderella castle and costumed Disney characters waiting for a photo opp with you and Junior. DisneySea has seven elaborate ports of call where sea-themed Disney favorites such as Princess Ariel can be found. Because the parks are one monorail stop away from each other, they could both be visited in one long day, but two is better.
2. Admire the view: Tokyo Skytree is more than a 634-meter high broadcasting tower with 360-degree panoramic views. The world’s tallest steel tower houses restaurants, shops and even an aquarium.
3. Kamakura day trip: Japan’s capital from the 12th to 14th centuries, today this is a small town just an hour away from Tokyo by train. Home to ancient Zen temples, a famous Buddha statue, family restaurants, gorgeous landscapes and a nice beach. This sleepy village will give you a taste of Kyoto without traveling the distance. And, there are no cars.
4. Odaiba: A family could easily spend a full day or two on Odaiba, a man-made island—dining, shopping, museums, one of the world’s largest ferris wheels, futuristic buildings and too many theme parks to mention.
5. Imperial Palace and East Gardens: Young kids may not enjoy the history lesson as much as you will, but they will enjoy running around the picturesque gardens between bridges, stone walls, lily ponds and moats. Have the hotel chef pack a picnic for you to enjoy here. Learn about Japan’s monarchy through a guided tour or grab a bike to tour the garden.
*Babies: Enjoying Tokyo-style constant motion in the stroller, baby carrier or on the train.
*Toddlers: Wandering through perfectly manicured parks. Taking in the sights, colors and lights. The playgrounds found inside and on rooftops of some departments stores (Takashimaya or Isetan). Tokyo Disney Resort.
*Tweens & teens: The fashionable Harajuku area where young Japanese hang out, dressed in the latest trends. Gadgets, manga (Japanese comics) and Japanese animation videos in Akihabara. Kidzania for tweens. Hakuhinkan Toy Park.
Read more about Tokyo in Four Seasons Magazine and http://marunouchi.enewsletters.fourseasons.com/fall-newsletter/.
Read our Concierge Recommends for Tokyo in Four Seasons Magazine.
Katie Dillon writes La Jolla Mom, a lifestyle site covering parenting, travel, cooking with kids, home management and local happenings. After seven years of expat life in London and Hong Kong (Four Seasons Place in Hong Kong was her home for four years), she is now grounded in the seaside community of La Jolla, CA with her husband and preschool aged daughter. You'll also find Katie active on Twitter and Facebook.
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