Hotel Granvia Kyoto exterior
Hyatt Regency, Kyoto
Kyoto is the soul of Japan and an ideal spot for luxury family holidays. The country’s capital for over one thousand years until 1868, it's the only major city not to suffer bomb damage in World War II. The bullet train from ultra-modern Tokyo transports the visitor back in time (and past Mount Fuji) to Kyoto’s cobbled backstreets and ancient temples. Chief among the city’s attractions are culture, history, haute cuisine and a chance to catch a glimpse of two mysterious and ancient, cloistered communities – monastic temples and the dwindling band of geisha. But never fear if your children are more interested in manga and samurai – Kyoto has enough to please everyone.
Iori Machiya offers stunning 21st-century self-catering in a traditional wooden townhouse.
Iori Machiya is a collection of nine atmospheric machiya, or old Japanese wooden houses, each of which has received a full luxury makeover. You’ll be sleeping on futons on tatami mats behind sliding paper screens in a 100-year-old building, but with under floor heating, air-conditioning, wifi and a full concierge...Baby-friendly / Pre-Teen friendly / Summer Sun / See this Hotel & Book »
Gion Hatanaka Ryokan
The Gion-Hatanaka Ryokan offers the finest Japanese hospitality in Kyoto’s geisha district
Leave the West behind and experience deep Japan at this historic ryokan, or traditional inn, Gion Hatanaka Ryokan in Kyoto. Sleep on futons on fragrant tatami mats, have an exquisite kaiseki dinner with sake served in your room, open sliding screens to reveal views of Yasaka-jinja, the geisha...Baby-friendly / Pre-Teen friendly / Summer Sun / See this Hotel & Book »
Hyatt Regency Kyoto
The Hyatt Regency Kyoto is a chic retreat in a historic district, surrounded by temples.
The Hyatt Regency Kyoto is a well-balanced mix of Western home comforts with Japanese design. The suites have views over the Japanese garden, deep wooden traditional bathtubs, tatami-mat living areas and espresso machines – handy after a night sharing a room with little early-risers. Some of Kyoto’s finest...Baby-friendly / Family-friendly Spa / Pre-Teen friendly / See this Hotel & Book »
Hotel Granvia Kyoto
A stylish trainspotter’s paradise in central Kyoto
Don’t let the conventional image of a railway hotel put you off the Hotel Granvia Kyoto. If you have children (or a husband) who go a bit breathless at the thought of a bullet train, this is the place for you. Perched at the top of the landmark Kyoto station building, this luxury hotel has views of the...Baby-friendly / Pre-Teen friendly / Summer Sun / See this Hotel & Book »
Japan specialises in food to go, which can come in handy if a restaurant meal with energetic kids is not a relaxing prospect. Nishiki food market is a god-send – your children (and you) will love the colourful stalls, the endless samples and the ritualistic cries of the vendors. Known as ‘Kyoto’s kitchen’, Nishiki has hundreds of stalls selling every tasty snack under the sun – all of it locally produced. Some of it’s pretty weird, all of it is fascinating. Munch your selection while wandering round the nearby Nishiki Tenmangu shrine or head down to the riverbank.
Kaburenjo-seinan, Pontocho, Sanjo-sagaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
One Japanese food that kids are almost certain to love is yakitori – grilled chicken on skewers. At its best, marathon basting and seasoning sessions by Japanese chefs transform this simple dish into a form of haute cuisine. Wabiya, on the beautiful old riverside Pontocho alley (which has several excellent bars), serves yakitori at its finest. It’s closed for lunch, but opens from 5pm, perfect for a child-friendly dinner. Counter seats are the most fun.
74 Ishibashicho, Jodoji, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
This atmospheric noodle restaurant is the perfect location for a hearty lunch after a stroll along the Philosopher’s Path and a visit to Ginkakuji temple (the Silver Pavilion – not to be confused with the much more touristy Golden Pavilion). The house speciality is a kind of posh ramen noodle soup: homemade udon noodles, broth and a gorgeous selection of vegetables are served in separate dishes, allowing you to mix and match as you please – perfect for fussy eaters. Choose from counter seats where you can watch the chef at work, to traditional low tables and cushions on tatami mats.
See Kyoto by bike
Japanese mothers generally transport their children by bikes with special seats – J-Cycle is a good rental company.
Kyoto Handicraft Centre
Children will love painting fans and making woodblock prints at the Kyoto Handicraft Centre and seeing actors in samurai costumes at the Toei Uzumasa Eigamura film studio, where TV dramas are filmed.
Choose your temples carefully – there are hundreds, but your children may not appreciate the profusion. Kiyomizudera is a must for its spectacular wooden terrace and gorgeous views over Kyoto. The surrounding Higashiyama alleyways are full of character and pleasant souvenir shops. Children will enjoy the walk from beautiful Eikando temple along the cherry-tree-lined Philosopher’s Path to Ginkakuji, a Zen temple famous for its garden. Arashiyama bamboo grove and monkey park is a lovely place to let off steam after a few temples.
Kyoto International Manga Museum
The Kyoto International Manga Museum will thrill comic-book fans and it has a children’s reading area.
English is widely spoken in Kyoto. Even so, you should also take your hotel business card with you to show the Japanese version of the address to taxi drivers. Even Japanese people find the country’s address system hard to decipher.
Japan is perhaps the world’s safest country. Earthquakes are a normal part of life, and you should not panic if you experience one. Modern Japanese buildings are equipped with excellent anti-seismic technology. If it feels strong and lasts more than a few minutes, move away from glass windows or anything that could fall on top of you.
Food in Japan is safe to eat and the tap water is safe to drink. The government introduced strict testing on foods after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Only mobile phones on a 3G network will work in Japan. The emergency number is 119 for ambulance and fire, 110 for police. Visitors on tourist visas will have to pay for any medical treatment in full. The US Embassy has a list of English-speaking doctors in Kyoto here: http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-osakakobedoctors.html
When to go
Any time, but be prepared for bitter cold in winter and thick humidity in summer. Late March and early April is cherry blossom season: beautiful but very crowded and expensive. Autumn, when the city’s seven surrounding hills are blanketed in orange and red, is a good option. Lantern festivals are held in early March and late December – temples are kept open after dusk and beautifully illuminated.