What can you do with a child in Tokyo in 24hrs? Actually, a lot more than you’d think!
A few years ago I took up the challenge of taking on Tokyo over a weekend. It wasn’t too hard since I was there on business, but spent almost all of it navigating the city. Fuelled on a heady mix of Red Bull and excitement, I took the ten hour journey to the cleanest destination I’ve ever visited. And although people kept to themselves, I found them to be lovely, interesting and utterly charming.
Tokyo won a place in my heart and I vowed that when I had a child, it would be the first place to take him. With lack of time and money, and a toddler that needs lots of entertaining. I’ve been thinking about what I would do, and have put together my guide to ’24hrs in Tokyo with a Toddler’ – it can be done!
Rise and shine – 7am!
Look, you’re going to be up early anyway, so you might as well make the most of it and start with a traditional Japanese breakfast. Wake up and smell the sushi at Tsurutontan a noodle bar situated in the ex-pat friendly area of Roppongi. Get lost in an enormous bowl of noodles, and watch your toddler laugh at the fun to be had. Noodles for breakfast Mum, have you gone b-0-n-k-e-r-s!
Take a walk – 10 am
When you think of Tokyo, you think of a sprawling metropolis. But it’s actually home to one of the most beautiful parks – Shinjuku Gyoen. You’re there for 24hrs, so time is of the essence and the tube system is far too hard, so get yourself a taxi over. This is a stunning green park for a stroll with a baby. If you’re lucky as I was, you might even see a traditional wedding.
Fuel up on food – 12.30pm
You’ve earned your appetite, but Tokyo restaurants can be very intimidating if you don’t know what to order. A place recommended by a friend of mine is Chano-ma Daikanyama in the tourist-friendly area of Shibuya. With lots of soft furnishings for kids to crawl on, it offers a healthy seasonal menu offering lots of choice for fussy eaters.
Explore YoYogi – 2pm
It’s probably around this time that your little one needs a mid day nap. So you need to be able to hot foot it around the city with a buggy, making YoYogi the perfect place. Home to another park, some quirky shops and some beautiful temples that will liven up your Instagram account, it’s a chilled place to take a stroll and discover on foot.
The Cat Cafe – 4pm
Just go with it when I tell you, The Cat Cafe is an essential place to tick off your Tokyo bucket list. For around a tenner, you get to go and hang out with Mr Kitty and friends. Your child will have a field day, and with it being the selfie capital of the world. And no-one will bat an eyelid at your ridiculous photo posing.
Feeding time is here again – 6pm
It’s unlikely that your kid is old enough to have seen Kill Bill, but the venue won’t be wasted on him or her, when you enter Gonpachi. An absolutely incredible restaurant, with wagyu beef on the menu and lots of cute harijuku girls having fun. This is somewhere not to be missed!
Cross over the road my friend – 8pm
As people with little people know, nights out are cut short when you have children. But if there’s one last place you have to go to before the night ends, it’s the world-famous iconic crossing in Shibuya. A melting pot of everything you will love about Tokyo can be found here.
If you have time, set yourself up in the Starbucks above the crossing and get your GoPro ready to film some timelapse footage to show your child in years to come, when they don’t remember the mad weekend you had in Tokyo!
Sleep tight – 9pm
At the end of the day you need to get your sleep. It’s important to be centrally located, but insulated enough from the loud noise outside.
So there you have it, 24hrs in my favourite city – Tokyo, and with a Toddler. What did you do today!