The Peninsula Tokyo restaurant
hotel chinzanso tokyo interior
The world’s largest city has more parks, luxury family hotels, playgrounds, zoos and theme parks than any child could reasonably expect to work through in a lifetime. Taxis are abundant, public transport is ultra-reliable (though leave the Bugaboo at home – gates and escalators, much like the populace, are slim), and every department store has a children’s playroom. The food is quite simply the best in the world, and the general devotion to style is unequalled – be it in clothes, cocktails, architecture or decorative cappuccino froth. And if it all gets too much, every street corner in Tokyo has a vending machine that dispenses beer (and cartons of fruit juice).
Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo
An ultra-luxurious retreat just outside the city centre, cocooned inside one of Tokyo’s most beautiful gardens
For travellers who like to offset the thrills of the neon jungle with a little tranquillity, Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo, which is located in the northern part of the city, has five-star luxury suites and a famous Japanese garden with fireflies, ancient trees and historic Buddhist...Baby-friendly / Family-friendly Spa / Pre-Teen friendly / See this Hotel & Book »
The Peninsula Tokyo
Perfectly located on a corner of the Imperial Palace moat, The Peninsula is one of Tokyo’s newest chic retreats.
The Peninsula Tokyo s 24 floors of luxury, topped by a glitzy bar with show-stopping views over Tokyo’s skyscrapers. At ground level, the hotel has two of Tokyo’s best parks on its doorstep – Hibiya Park and the Imperial Palace East...Baby-friendly / Family-friendly Spa / Pre-Teen friendly / See this Hotel & Book »
Four Seasons Tokyo
The Four Seasons, Tokyo Marunouchi is a boutique luxury hotel in one of the best locations in town
Nestled between the Imperial Palace and the newly-revamped Tokyo Station, one of the city’s best-known landmarks, the Four Seasons Tokyo at Marunouchi is an urban getaway smack in the middle of traditional Tokyo. It’s the sort of place you probably used to stay in before you had kids – except it also happens...Baby-friendly / Family-friendly Spa / Pre-Teen friendly / See this Hotel & Book »
Starbucks, Tokyu Plaza Harajuku
4-30-3 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001
Not strictly a restaurant, but the best child-friendly café in Tokyo, if not the globe, this Starbucks is in a fantastic roof garden on one of the top floors of Tokyo’s ritziest new shopping destination, Tokyu Plaza. Fully fenced-off and safe, the space allows kids to run around, swing in hanging pod chairs and explore the miniature gardens, while parents lounge on ornate garden seats and take in the views over Tokyo.
Heiroku Sushi, Tokyo
5-8-5 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001
Heiroku Sushi is a cheerful and informal conveyer-belt sushi restaurant on Tokyo’s smartest shopping boulevard, Omotesando. A great place to get your kids to try sushi – the conveyer belt adds a fun element, and a children’s set menu is available. Staff are friendly and some English is spoken.
Beacon Restaurant, Tokyo
1-2-5 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0002
Tokyo has more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other city in the world, and Japanese standards of service are nothing short of extraordinary. However, little Westerners are not always wowed by raw fish and seaweed, and many restaurants are too small and select to accommodate pushchairs. For that reason, traditional Japanese establishments may not be your best bet when travelling en famille. Luckily, Tokyo’s restaurant scene encompasses every cuisine under the sun – you just need to know where to go.
If fish and fermented bean curd is not your idea of a child-friendly breakfast, head for one of Tokyo’s new crop of stylish American-style eateries that specialise in proper brunches. Beacon is one of the best, with friendly staff, plenty of space and an atmosphere that manages to be both classy and informal. Children are warmly welcomed in the main restaurant on weekends and holidays, and in a spacious private room at other times.
Yoyogi Park has pony rides, children’s bike hire and Tokyo’s best people-watching. On weekends, expect trombonists, Elvis impersonators, cocktail waiters practising bottle spinning, teenage girls doing J-pop dance routines and more skateboarding poodles in fancy dress than you strictly require.
Take a boat from the gorgeous Hamarikyu Gardens in Shiodome up the Sumida River to Asakusa, to see the oldest temple in Tokyo, Senso-ji.
The Nezu Museum on Omotesando
The Nezu Museum on Omotesando is a small (30 minutes is enough) but perfectly formed introduction to Japanese art and sculpture, with a beautiful garden.
Japanese maps and addresses are confusing to Western eyes. Most streets do not have names – buildings are instead identified using a chronological numbering system based on construction date. Maps in train stations do not have a northerly orientation, but instead portray what you are physically facing when standing in front of them. A smartphone or tablet with Google maps is therefore invaluable. Otherwise, you will be reliant on directions from your hotel staff. Always carry the hotel address card (in Japanese) with you to show taxi drivers, as most do not speak English.
Most foreign mobile phones do not work in Japan – only those using a 3G network. 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 in Tokyo provides a list of hospitals with English-speaking staff: http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-tokyodoctors.html#GENERAL
Earthquakes are a normal part of Japanese life, and you should not panic if you experience one. Modern Japanese buildings (including skyscrapers) 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. If tsunami-warning sirens sound after an earthquake (extremely unlikely), the general rule is to get to higher ground or the top floor.
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. Radiation levels in and around Tokyo are safe even for infants.
When to go
The Japanese are terrifically proud of their four distinctive seasons. Winters in Tokyo are wonderful – week after week of bright sunshine, no rain and temperatures that rarely dip below freezing. Summers are blistering hot, with humidity that takes the breath away, but the city is alive with exuberant religious festivals. Spring and autumn can be blustery with the occasional typhoon (June is the wettest month) but they also bring Japan’s best seasonal displays of cherry blossom and autumn leaves.