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Family Adventure: 15 Fun Things to Do in Kyoto With Kids

Family Adventure: 15 Fun Things to Do in Kyoto With Kids

Date published: 14 March 2023

As a parent who has explored Kyoto with my child, I can attest to the city's appeal for families. Despite its reputation as a hub of history and culture, Kyoto is a destination that caters to all ages, with plenty of opportunities for fun and entertainment.

While it's true that visiting multiple temples and shrines can be tiring for little ones, don't let that deter you from experiencing the city's rich cultural offerings. From traditional tea ceremonies to hands-on crafts workshops, there are many ways to engage your children in Japanese culture and history.

But that's not all - Kyoto also boasts a range of attractions that are specifically geared towards kids. Whether your little ones are into animals, theme parks, or interactive museums, there's something for everyone. And if you're on a budget, fear not - there are plenty of affordable options that won't break the bank.

So if you're planning a trip to Kyoto with your family, be sure to check out our list of child-friendly destinations. We've done the research so you don't have to, and we're confident that you'll find plenty of activities to keep your kids entertained and engaged throughout your stay.

Main image: PIXTA

Table of Contents
  1. Fun places to visit with kids in Kyoto
  2. Explore nature in Kyoto with your children
  3. Enjoy cultural experiences with your kids in Kyoto
  4. Temples and shrines to visit with children
  5. Tips for families visiting Kyoto
  6. How to save with attractive bundles

Fun places to visit with kids in Kyoto

All aboard the fun train at Kyoto Railway Museum

(Image: PIXTA)
(Image: PIXTA)

For families visiting Japan, a trip to the Kyoto Railway Museum is an absolute must. This impressive museum is a testament to Japan's reputation for having some of the world's best trains and railways.

At the museum, kids can witness some of Japan's most historically significant train vehicles, including steam locomotives, Shinkansen, express trains, and much more. One of the most popular attractions is the interactive exhibition, which includes a 10-minute ride on an actual steam locomotive train. This ride is a thrilling experience that will create lasting memories for kids and parents alike.

But the museum has much more to offer than just the steam locomotive ride. Little train engineers (and even adults who love trains) will enjoy the impressive railway diorama and the chance to test-drive a train simulator.

It's important to note that the interactive exhibitions require extra tickets and have time slots and caps allocated on the number of entrants. These attractions can get booked out quickly, so it's a good idea to purchase your tickets as soon as you arrive at the museum to secure your spot and avoid any disappointments.

The Kyoto Railway Museum is a fantastic destination for families seeking a fun and educational experience in Kyoto. With its rich history and interactive exhibits, it's a great way to explore Japan's fascinating train culture and create unforgettable memories.

・Best for ages 3 and up
・Multilingual support: English, Chinese, Korean multilingual guide (From QR Code on your mobile device)

A wild adventure at Kyoto City Zoo

(Image: PIXTA)
(Image: PIXTA)

For families looking for a break from Kyoto's historical sites, a trip to Kyoto City Zoo is an excellent option. While Kyoto is renowned for its rich cultural heritage, many visitors are surprised to learn that the city is also home to Japan's second oldest zoo.

Established in 1903, the Kyoto City Zoo is a World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA)-approved zoological facility, featuring around 130 species of animals, including elephants, chimpanzees, giraffes, hippos, and many more children's favorites.

After exploring the city's historical sites, a visit to the Kyoto City Zoo is a perfect way to give kids a break from all the sightseeing. They'll love seeing their favorite animals up close and personal, and learning more about wildlife conservation and animal habitats.

For parents, the zoo offers a chance to relax and take in the beautiful surroundings. With plenty of greenery and open spaces, it's a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

So if you're looking for a fun and educational activity for the whole family, be sure to add the Kyoto City Zoo to your itinerary. It's a great way to enjoy a different side of Kyoto and create lasting memories with your children.

・Best for ages 3 and up
・Multilingual support: English, Chinese, Korean (website)

Dive into marine life at Kyoto Aquarium

(Image: PIXTA)
(Image: PIXTA)

Kyoto is a city steeped in rich cultural heritage, but for families looking for a break from temple hopping, the Kyoto Aquarium offers an excellent alternative destination that is sure to impress both parents and children alike.

The Kyoto Aquarium provides an immersive experience that showcases the unique biodiversity of Kyoto's local waters, educating visitors on how the creatures living in these waters work together to create a healthy ecosystem.

In addition to learning about marine life, kids will love seeing and interacting with the aquarium's impressive collection of sea creatures. From playful penguins and dolphins to the famous giant salamander and mesmerizing jellyfish, there are plenty of animals to see and admire.

The aquarium's interactive exhibits and educational programs are perfect for young learners, offering a hands-on experience that is both engaging and informative. Children can see animals being fed, watch live animal performances, and enjoy watching spotted seals swimming in large tubular pools.

After exploring the aquarium, visitors can relax and refuel at the on-site restaurant, which serves up delicious food, or browse the gift shop for souvenirs to remember their visit.

・Best for children 3 and up
・Multilingual support: English, Chinese, Korean (website)

  • Kyoto Aquarium
    • Address 35-1 Kankijicho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, 600-8835
    • ・Open daily 10  a.m. – 6  p.m. Hours subject to change.
      -Adults (18 years and above): 2200 yen
      -High School Student: 1700 yen
      -Junior High School Student and Elementary School: 1100 yen
      - Children (ages 3 and over): 700 yen
      ・Website: https://www.kyoto-aquarium.com/

Sightseeing made easy with Sky Hop Bus Kyoto

(Photo: Klook)
(Photo: Klook)

Traveling with kids can be a daunting experience, especially when navigating public transportation in a foreign country. Fortunately, the Sky Hop Bus service in Kyoto provides a stress-free solution for families looking to explore the city's famous sights.

With unlimited travel on their double-decker open-top bus, the Sky Hop Bus service covers many of Kyoto's must-visit destinations, including Kinkakuji, Ginkakuji, Kiyomizu Temple, Yasaka Shrine, and more. Parents can sit back and relax while their children enjoy the fun and excitement of an adventurous bus ride.

The Sky Hop Bus Kyoto offers two options for travelers: a 12-hour or 36-hour pass. Children aged 6 and below can ride for free if they do not occupy any seats, making it an affordable option for families on a budget. So, if you're looking to reduce travel time and hassle during your visit to Kyoto, consider utilizing the Sky Hop Bus service.

・Best for ages 3 and up
・Open: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. (Depends on the bus stop)
・Admission: 2500 yen (12 hour); 3600 yen (36 hour)
・Multilingual support in seven languages (English, Chinese, Korean, German, French, Spanish, Japanese)

Explore nature in Kyoto with your children

Experience the beauty of Arashiyama by rickshaw

(Image: Klook)
(Image: Klook)

For families looking to experience a historical Japanese setting, Arashiyama is a must-visit destination. As a government-designated place of scenic beauty, Arashiyama boasts an array of temples, imperial villas, and historical sites that have been recognized as world heritage or national treasures. From the stunning bamboo forest to the cherry blossoms, autumn foliage, ancient townscapes, and temples, Arashiyama has something for everyone.

However, exploring Arashiyama with children can be a challenge. Thankfully, there's a solution! To fully immerse yourself in the beauty of Arashiyama, consider taking a traditional rickshaw tour with Ebisuya. Their Arashiyama Rickshaw tour provides a scenic ride around the area's most famous attractions, including the Togetsukyo Bridge, Nonomiya Shrine, and Bamboo grove. With three course options available (30 minutes, 60 minutes, and 120 minutes), you can tailor the experience to your family's needs.

This tour is a great option for families, as children can embark on an exciting adventure while parents can relax and enjoy the stunning views of Arashiyama passing by. Don't miss out on the chance to see the beauty of Arashiyama in a way that's fun and accessible for the whole family!

・Best for ages 3 and up
・Open: 9:30 a.m. till sunset
・Admission: *Depends on the duration
・Multilingual support: English, Chinese, Korean (website)

Monkey around at Arashiyama Monkey Park

(Image: PIXTA)
(Image: PIXTA)

As a parent, when traveling with children, it's always great to have outdoor activities on the itinerary. A hike around Arashiyama Monkey Park is one such activity that is sure to delight both kids and adults alike.

This unique park is nestled in the mountains and is home to around 120 wild native Japanese macaques. As you explore the forest trails, you'll have the opportunity to observe the monkeys in their natural habitat. Kids will love watching the playful monkeys, while adults can appreciate the beauty of Arashiyama's natural surroundings.

The hike to the top of the mountain takes approximately 20-30 minutes, but the stunning panoramic views from the top are well worth the effort. The park also has a feeding area where you can get up close and personal with the monkeys. Unlike a zoo, the monkeys here are wild and can be observed without fences or walls. Just be sure to follow the park's guidelines to ensure the safety of both visitors and monkeys.

Taking a break from the hustle and bustle of city sightseeing and enjoying a peaceful hike surrounded by nature is a great way to recharge your batteries. And, of course, the added bonus of watching the monkeys play and interact is sure to keep the kids entertained.

・Best for children age 4 and up
・Multilingual support: English

Enjoy a scenic ride through nature on the Sagano Romantic Train

(Image: PIXTA)
(Image: PIXTA)

Families visiting Kyoto with children will surely appreciate the unique experience that awaits them aboard the Sagano Romantic Train. This mode of transportation is an ideal way to enjoy Arashiyama's breathtaking scenery without having to hike or walk for long hours.

The Sagano Romantic Train departs from the Sagano Torokko Station, and the journey lasts around 25 minutes, showcasing the natural beauty of the Hozugawa River and the surrounding mountains. Along the way, you will be mesmerized by the picturesque views of cherry blossoms in spring, autumn foliage in fall, lush greenery in summer, and snowy landscapes in winter.

What's more, the train's charming retro design inspired by the 19th century is sure to capture the imagination of both children and adults. The cozy carriages are perfect for relaxing and enjoying the scenery with your family while creating unforgettable memories.

To add to the experience, consider purchasing a special ticket for Diorama Kyoto JAPAN, an impressive exhibit at Saga Torokko Station complete with a real locomotive engine and an expansive diorama showing Kyoto’s neighborhoods and model trains.

・Best for ages 3 and up
・Multilingual support: English, Chinese (website)

Enjoy cultural experiences with your kids in Kyoto

Experience history at the Kyoto Samurai and Ninja Museum

(Photo: KKday)
(Photo: KKday)

Be sure to add the Kyoto Samurai and Ninja Museum to your list of must-visit attractions! This museum offers a unique, interactive experience that allows you to step back in time and learn about the ancient Japanese warriors, samurais, and ninjas.

As you make your way through the museum, you'll have the chance to admire various ancient artifacts such as armor, weapons, and garments. A guided tour of the museum is included with general admission, giving you the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the history and philosophy of warriors in the medieval era.

But what really sets this museum apart from others is the chance to dress up as a samurai or ninja and wield a sword or ninja stars. Kids (and adults!) will love the chance to feel like a hero as they gear up in authentic costumes and weapons.

Make sure to have your camera ready, as the museum allows you to take photos of all the action. This is a great opportunity for families to bond over a unique experience and create memories that will last a lifetime.

  • Kyoto Samurai and Ninja Museum
    Kyoto Samurai and Ninja Museum
    • Address 292 Utanokoji-bldg., Higashidaimonji-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, 604-8043
    • Phone Number 075-585-5410

Experience the world of Japanese film at Toei Kyoto Studio Park

(Image: PIXTA)
(Image: PIXTA)

Families looking for a unique way to immerse themselves in Japan's rich history should definitely consider a visit to Toei Kyoto Studio Park. This theme park is a true gem, especially for those who are interested in Jidaigeki, a popular genre in Japan's performing arts that showcases a specific period of Japanese history.

What sets Toei Kyoto Studio Park apart is that its grounds are actually used as a set for Jidaigeki films. As you explore the ancient streets of Edo (perhaps even in a rented kimono!), you'll feel like you've been transported back in time, with every shop, dwelling, and castle providing an authentic representation of that era in Japan's history.

For kids, this park is an absolute dream come true. There are so many rides, games, and shows that will capture their imagination, from haunted ninja houses and trick art exhibitions to ninja mazes and samurai shows. And what child wouldn't jump at the chance to dress up like a samurai warrior or try their hand at throwing ninja stars?

And older children will love the Evangelion Kyoto Base, where they can go aboard a giant 15m tall EVA! Kids will love posing for photos with the giant mecha, and picking up some souvenirs at the gift shop. It’s an incredibly fun way to spend a day while strolling through Japan's fascinating culture.

・Best for ages 3 and up
・Multilingual support: English, Chinese, Korean (Website)

Rent Kimono and Yukata at Kimono Miyabi Kyoto

(Image: Klook)
(Image: Klook)

Kyoto is a fascinating city that offers a lot of historical and cultural attractions for families to enjoy. One of the cultural gems of Kyoto is the kimono. It's a traditional garment that has gained popularity worldwide, and your children are sure to love dressing up in one!

If you want to explore the allure of Kimono culture with your children, you can rent the garment from various rental shops around the city. Shops tend to carry a wide selection of kimonos to choose from, including sizes suitable for foreign visitors.

At Miyabi Kyoto, your family can have a fantastic experience trying on the kimonos and feeling like royalty. The shop also provides fittings for families, ensuring that everyone can feel like a prince or princess. However, it's important to note that the Kimono can be somewhat uncomfortable for children to walk in, so be mindful not to venture too far from the rental shop.

・Best for ages 4 and up (with height of 95-140cm)
・Multilingual support: English, Chinese, Korean

  • Kimono Rental Miyabi (Kiyomizu Temple Branch)
    Kimono Rental Miyabi
    • Address Tsukimicho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0829
    • ・Open: weekdays, 10:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.; weekends, 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
      ・Admission: *Depends on the tour package and options

Transform your kids into Geisha-in-Training with a Maiko Makeover Experience

(Image: KKday)
(Image: KKday)

If you're looking for a unique and unforgettable experience for your children, consider a Maiko makeover at Maiko Henishin studio Shiki. This studio offers an enchanting experience for children aged between 5-10 years old, allowing them to transform into a charming Maiko.

During the makeover, your child will be dressed in a beautiful Kimono, complete with their special hair and makeup. The experience is topped off with a professional photoshoot, capturing the special moment forever.

Becoming a Maiko is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you can only have in Kyoto. Your child will cherish the memories of their transformation and the photo shoot for years to come.

・Best for ages 5-10
・Multilingual support: English, Chinese, Korean

  • Maiko-Henshin Studio Shiki
    • Address 2 Chome-208-7 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0862
    • Phone Number 075-531-2777
    • Open: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (daily)

Learn to make Japanese sweets with a fun and educational class

(Image: KKday)
(Image: KKday)

If you're looking for a unique cultural experience for your family, visit Kanshundo Higashi Branch and participate in a Wagashi workshop. Wagashi is traditional Japanese confectionery, and Kyoto is a treasure trove of these delicious treats.

At the Kanshundo Higashi Branch, you can learn how to make these delectable sweets first-hand with guidance from a professional. During the workshop, you'll make three wet confectioneries and one dry confectionery, each of which is tailored to the season. At the end of the session, you'll be served matcha, providing the perfect complement to your Wagashi creations.

This workshop is suitable for children aged 10 and up. It's a great opportunity for children to have fun while learning about Japanese aesthetics through gastronomical art. Making Wagashi is not only enjoyable, but it's also a treat for the taste buds. Your family will treasure the experience and the delicious treats you'll make.

  • Kanshundo Higashi Branch
    甘春堂 東店
    • Address 511-1 Chayacho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0931
    • Phone Number 075-561-1318

Temples and shrines to visit with children

Hike to discover the spiritual side of Kyoto at Fushimi Inari Shrine

(Image: PIXTA)
(Image: PIXTA)

Fushimi Inari Shrine is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Kyoto. As a parent, I highly recommend taking your children to this traditional Shinto shrine, which is most famous for its striking row of red Torii gates that ascend the mountain of Inariyama.

Walking through the red Torii gates is a unique and entertaining experience that children will love. With over 1,000 Torii gates, you can even turn it into a fun game for your children to count as you explore Fushimi Inari.

However, it's important to keep in mind that Fushimi Inari is a popular destination for both locals and tourists alike, so it can get crowded at peak times of the year. When visiting with children, it's best to avoid these times to prevent the possibility of getting separated or lost. Additionally, there are a lot of stairs to climb, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes.

Despite the crowds and stairs, Fushimi Inari is a must-visit destination for families visiting Kyoto. The stunning scenery and unique experience of walking through the red Torii gates are sure to create lasting memories for you and your children.

・Best for ages 5 and up
・Hours: Open 24 hours
・Admission: N/A
・Multilingual support: English, Chinese, Korean (website)

Discover the history and beauty of Kiyomizu Temple

(Photo: Klook)
(Photo: Klook)

When traveling to Kyoto with your children, Kiyomizu Temple is another must-visit destination. This historic temple, established in the 6th century, is a sight to behold. Your children will be amazed by the temple's wooden stage, which extends out 13 meters over the cliffside of Mt. Otowayama, and the impressive three-storied pagoda.

One of the unique features of Kiyomizu Temple is the Otowa Waterfall that flows inside its premises. The waterfall is divided into three streams, each of which is said to have a different benefit: longevity, happy love life, and success at school. Children will love drinking the water from the long-handled ladles and making a wish for one of these benefits.

However, be prepared to wait in line as the waterfall ritual is quite popular, and you may need to keep your children occupied while waiting.

Another tip for visiting Kiyomizu Temple with children is to check the schedule for the special light-up sessions held a few times a year. If you're lucky, you can witness the temple's spectacular nighttime illumination.

Overall, Kiyomizu Temple offers an exciting experience for children to explore the rich cultural heritage of Kyoto while enjoying the breathtaking views and learning about the temple's fascinating history.

・Best for ages 5 and up
・Multilingual support: Japanese and English (website)

Tips for families visiting Kyoto

1. Tips on how to travel in Kyoto

(Image: PIXTA)
(Image: PIXTA)

As a parent traveling with children, it is important to plan ahead to avoid any unnecessary stress during your trip. One of the essential tools you need when traveling in Kyoto is an electronic travel pass, which can make your journey smoother and more convenient.

In Kansai, the ICOCA card offered by JR West is a popular choice, while in Tokyo or the Kanto region, the SUICA card from JR East is widely used. These cards can be pre-charged and can be used to pay for public transport, as well as at many shops, restaurants, and even taxis. By having these cards handy, you can avoid the hassle of buying individual tickets every time you use public transport.

For more information about ICOCA refer below.

It's also important to note that many of the popular tourist sites in Kyoto are located in downtown areas and may require some walking to get to. If you're traveling with young children, it may be more convenient to catch a taxi instead of walking.

Taxis in Japan accept credit cards and electronic passes like ICOCA, making it easy to get around even if you don't speak the language.

2. Tips on where to eat

2. Tips on where to eat

For parents traveling with children, finding kid-friendly dining options in Kyoto can be a daunting task. While Kyoto is renowned for its Michelin-starred cuisine, it's not always easy to please little palates. Here are some dining options that are sure to satisfy everyone's taste buds.

Family restaurants:
If you are traveling with children, Japan’s family restaurants are a great option for a satisfying and affordable meal. Popular family restaurant chains like Saizeriya offer a variety of Western-style dishes such as pasta, pizza, and soup that children are sure to love. They also have children's menus that offer smaller portions and kid-friendly dishes.

Cafes and Bakeries:
Kyoto is home to many charming cafes and bakeries that serve delicious treats. Japanese bakeries offer a variety of interesting types of bread that are quite filling and make for a great breakfast or lunch option. You can try savory bread like curry-filled buns or Sandos with croquettes or pork cutlets, which are perfect for picnics in one of Kyoto's beautiful parks.

Restaurants with private rooms
Satisfying your kids is definitely important, but since you are in Kyoto, you don’t want to miss out on its great food culture.

While some restaurants in Kyoto could be uptight and difficult to set foot in, if you do the research and pick venues with private rooms, families can rejoice in the gastronomical experience without having to worry about children breaking manners.

3. When to visit popular tourist sites

3. When to visit popular tourist sites

Kyoto is renowned as one of Japan's top tourist destinations, which can result in a high volume of visitors that might frighten children or cause stress for parents who are concerned about their safety.

To alleviate this stress, it's advisable to schedule your visit during less crowded times, particularly during peak seasons for cherry blossoms and autumn foliage. Visiting early in the morning or later in the day is recommended, as the crowds are typically at their highest during midday.

4. Tips on some things children can do when they get bored

4. Tips on some things children can do when they get bored

Although the temples and shrines in Kyoto are impressive, children may start getting bored after visiting them 2 or 3 times. To enhance your children's experience and keep them entertained while you move around the city, here are a few ideas you can try.

Bingo game:
Creating a bingo game using words, emojis, or pictures of objects found around the city can be an engaging activity for children.

Hunt for interesting stone monuments and mons (seals) :
You can find stone monuments and seals (known as "mon") at nearly every temple in Kyoto, making it possible to turn this into a fun activity for kids by creating a game and hunting for them.

Kanji guessing game:
Similar to the Mon, temples and shrines in Kyoto are often embellished with numerous Kanji characters. As your children explore these places, they may encounter these characters repeatedly, providing an opportunity to turn it into a fun guessing game. This game can not only entertain them, but also aid in their learning of new characters and their meanings.

How to save with attractive bundles

If you are looking for some tips on how to efficiently use your time and make the most of your trip without having to break the bank, here are some attractive bundles that offer good values for families traveling with children!

Kyoto-Osaka Sightseeing Pass

If you are planning on touring both Kyoto and Osaka, The Kyoto-Osaka Sightseeing pass is a great service that grants you access to unlimited travel on Keihan Line and Otokoyama Cable Line, from a choice of 1 or 2 days.
With a hold of this pass you’ll not only save money but also travel time to many of the popular tourist sites of Kyoto and Osaka, including Fushimi Inari, Osaka Castle, Gion and more!

Kyoto Sagano Romantic Train, Arashiyama, Kiyomizudera & Fushimi Inari-Taisha Day Tour

(Image: Klook)
(Image: Klook)

If you are on a mission to complete the best of Kyoto in a day trip, you can consider purchasing this special pass, which allows you to tick off many of the must-dos of Kyoto on your bucket list; Kiyomizu-dera, Fushimi Inari Shrine and Arashiyama!

If you were to do all of Arashiyama, Kiyomizu–dera and Fushimi inari on your own, it is a lot of work, so why not have the pros do the planning for you?

Fun private family day tour with children

(Image: Klook)
(Image: Klook)

Kyoto boasts a plethora of attractions that are scattered throughout the city. While this is exciting, it can also make it challenging to plan an optimal itinerary with so many options to choose from. If you're feeling overwhelmed, why not consider a private tour guided by a local who can create a customized itinerary that caters to your family's needs? Kyoto locals know the city best and can take you on an adventure while giving you exactly what your family is interested in.

Nara Half-Day Bus Tour from Kyoto

(Image: Klook)
(Image: Klook)

If you're visiting Kyoto and looking to explore more historical heritage, Nara is a must-see destination. But if you're pressed for time, why not take a shortcut? Consider hopping on a bus tour from Kyoto that will take you straight to the heart of Nara Park, home to many of the city's notable heritage sites, such as Todaiji with the Giant Buddha and Kasuga Taisha. Not only will this save you time, but the park is also known for its friendly deer population, providing a fun experience for kids and adults alike!

Written by:

Hiroko Ariga

Hiroko Ariga

Hiroko, a Japanese national raised in Sydney, Australia, is a graduate of Sophia University with a degree in Literature and holds an MBA from the University of Newcastle, Australia. Initially working for a global institution, she transitioned to freelance writing after the birth of her son. In addition to LIVE JAPAN, she is a contributor to Tokyo Weekender Magazine. A Registered National Government Licensed Guide Interpreter, she actively collaborates with the Kanagawa government, designing tours around Hayama and Miura Peninsula and is recognized as an official Kanagawa guide. Besides being a devoted mother, Hiroko is a Kimono teacher passionate about Ikebana and Japanese History.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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