Things to do in Kyoto with kids…
How to best spend 24 hours anywhere is like choosing a favourite ice cream flavour, you want it all but only so much will fit in the cone (or 24 hours in Kyoto in this instance).
Our visit to beautiful Kyoto was too brief; yet left such an impression we are returning again later this year (exploring the neighbourhood of Gion is high on our list…).
One of life’s pleasures is to simply stroll…actually this is my favourite Urban pastime. If I can weave a shopping experience into the occasion, all the better. Antique and vintage clothing stores draw me in like a moth to the light; I simply love nothing more than a browse through the past, clothes from another era, household items that speak of a country’s historic path.
Kyoto has many charms; Geisha, Temples, traditional Ryokans and also lovely meandering lanes – where passionate purveyors have resided in the same location for decades.
There is also the now; I discovered Japanese retail is like no other. Attentive service, finesse (you have not shopped until you have experienced gift wrapping in Japan), a fashion aesthetic that suits my love of clean, almost architectural lines (Harajuku girls aside), and did I mention the service? So seamless it deserves its own story…
Here is a snapshot of where I suggest you stroll – if ever you find yourself asking – what are the things to do in Kyoto with kids?
Our pick was attached to the JR Train Station, note the thread of options in Kyoto I chose for convenience. I believe it is the best way to travel successfully with kids. Hotel Review Hotel Granvia Kyoto. Superb, well priced.
Breakfast: Le Temps – Full hot/cold Breakfast Adults AUD$26, Kids AUD$16 (Hotel Granvia Kyoto)
There are many superb bakeries in Kyoto, you will not be starved for choice. Sometimes however a heartier start to the day is required – so a hotel buffet it was. We ate in our hotel, worthy of note for the value and quality – specifically if you are travelling as a family and the kids are looking for familiar foods.
Lunch: Nishiki Market – There is only so much shopping and sword fighting kids can take before hunger calls. This 400 year old market is connected to Teramachi Street – with loads of noodle shops to choose from. I suggest you wander the fresh produce stalls for a lesson in traditional Japanese foods,allowing opportunities to sample and buy.
My pick – try the senbei (rice crackers) near the Daimaru end of the markets and ask for the lemon/icing sugar topping. Try stopping at just one. If little legs need a rest there are plenty of ‘cafe’ style eateries outside either end of the market.
Isetan Department Store – any Japanese department store will blow you away with their food department. I mention this store particularly because it was attached to the JR Train Station, therefore an easy stop to pick up snacks for the Bullet Train back to Tokyo. Go later in the day and meals will be sold at half price.
Dinner: Noodle Hall on the top of The Cube Shopping Mall (attached to JR Station) – there must be literally thousands of places to eat great noodles in Kyoto. This spot is superb with kids, housing about 25 different outlets with specialty noodles from around the regions of Japan. Ordering is generally done via vending machine (heaps of fun), and service is quick. Pricing is cheap AUD$50 for a meal for four including beer and soft drinks.
Cool Kyoto Walking Tour – a local walking tour is a wonderful holiday extravagance, when your guide is 85 year young Joe Okada of the Last Samurai fame – you know you are in good hands. Several options of tours are available, with the option to culminate in a Samurai Sword demonstration – an absolute winner with our ‘tweenage’ boys. We elected for an abridged Private Tour, to suit the ages of our children (10 & 12).
Every Saturday 1000am-3.00pm – Adults AUD$31 Kids under 12 free (price includes light lunch)
Private tour prices vary, as a guide we paid AUD$32 for our family of four.
Mr Okada (resplendant in traditional Samurai robes), met us in our hotel lobby. After a quick subway ride we emerged in Teramachi Street – a shopping precinct dating back to the 16th Century. Quaint shops line the laneways (specifically the stretch between the Imperial Palace and Shijo Street) – traditional Green Tea houses, calligraphy and Japanese paper shops, artisan ‘white sugar’ Japanese sweet shops, and the superb well priced Antique shops.
For pearls – Okano & Co (just down the road from the Antiques Centre)
For tea – Ippodo Tea
For Antiques – post WWII and Kimino treasures – Kyoto Antiques Centre
For handmade paper – Kamiji Kakimoto
Haru Cooking School – a Japanese cooking class a highlight of our 24 hours in Kyoto; we toured Nishiki Markets with Chef Taro, (however this does make it a long affair with kids, to that note I would suggest that 10 years would be the youngest age child you would want to take to the cooking class). Chef Taro conducts the classes in his family home (very much a labour of love – he choses only fresh ingredients and explains in detail the origin of Kobe beef, before letting you loose on the recipes).
Six hours (including Market Tour, class, recipes and dinner) AUD$460 for four guests.
Muji – no trip to Japan is complete without a visit to this house of ‘cool’.
My Picks – the best eye masks, kids pencil case nicknacks, and striped cotton tees – all at brilliant prices.
Yodabashi Camera – electronics, bookshop, supermarket, cafe – kept the whole family happy for several hours.
HAVE YOU VISITED KYOTO?
Would love any suggestions for our next visit…
** All goods and service were paid for in full by The Urban Mum. Prices given valid at time of writing.
++Our trip to Kyoto: January 2015