Traveling with children can be a lot of fun, and overall I have found japan to be very child-friendly.
What can be a problem is finding a nice place to stay in the major cities, in particular Tokyo. It is difficult (and expensive) to find a place with good access to the city’s hotshots where rooms aren’t so cramped. Kids need room to play, but also rest regularly. When you only want to escape the hotel room as quickly as possible because it is too small, that is not ideal.
A few years back I found the perfect place to use as base for visiting Tokyo with kids: the National Children’s Castle (Kodomo no shiro – こどもの城).
It’s main function is a day-time activity center, and most visitors are Tokyo natives who take their kids there to play for a couple of hours. The activities include: pool, play areas (some on the roof top, some inside), music work shops and creative work shops. But it is is also a family hotel, and as a hotel guest you have access to all activities. Some understanding of Japanese is handy, as most staff does not speak English. But children never seem to have any language barrier.
The location is very good, in Aoyama, close to Shibuya (5-10 min walking distance from Shibuya station) and Omotesando subway station.
Link to their official website. There aren’t many rooms, so booking in advance is absolutely essential.
Another blog post about this place can be found here.
if you have found great places to stay or go to with children in Tokyo, please post them in a comment.
There is a poll embedded in this article.
The place is well sign-posted.
The statue in front of the building is made by famous Japanese artist Tarō Okamoto (岡本太郎), who – amongst many other things – designed the Tower of the Sun, which was a central piece of the Osaka expo of 1970.
Walkway up the roof play area.
Walkway reflecting in the opposite building.
Roof-top cycling area.
The inside playing area "waku waku land"
Looking out on Shinjuku from the hotel room.