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Sep 22, 2009 11:51 AM

kids in Japan

We are going to be two weeks in Japan, between Tokyo and Kyoto. We'll have two children with us, ages ten and twelve. Which kinds of restaurants are child-friendly, and which restaurants would not welcome children? Obviously, we will not take them to any very high end, Michelin-starred restaurants, but what about izakayas that serve alcohol, and such?

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  1. Your family will almost certainly be warmly greeted anywhere you are likely to go for food. Plus I got the impression, when I was there traveling with my 14 year old, that they expect tourists will be dressed in 'tourist clothes.' So quite a bit more casual than you might be dressed at home. Nobody will care.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Steve

      I'm not sure who "they" is. I live in Tokyo, and when I see tourists walking around in tourist clothes in the middle of a business district, I think they look silly and out of place, and I'm certainly not alone in that opinion. If you don't care what people think of what you're wearing, that's fine, wear whatever you like, but don't assume that nobody will notice or care.

      1. re: Robb S

        You're right, they may care. But I'm pretty confident the OP will be greeted warmly and graciously by the Japanese nonetheless. At least that was my experience.

        1. re: Steve

          Kids in Tokyo will be entertained with the extensive department stores, the Harajuku Takeshita street (crepes), parks and temples… Museum might be on rain days and a day Asakusa-DrumTaikoMuseum. The Izakaya, the chain ones won't be difficult : like TOFURO... Please don't eat on the street, it is anpolite except the "sembei" at Asakusa...

    2. To add: I've eaten at the Gyoza Stadium at Sunshine City in Tokyo. Sunshine City has a two-story indoor theme park called Namjatown (the attractions are all in Japanese and cannot be done with a language barrier), an aquarium, a zoo, an observation deck, and a planetarium all within a 60-story, four building office/retail complex.

      There are about a dozen gyoza stands serving mostly gyoza but also some other small plates of soups, veggies, etc. This is probably as close as you will come to a vibrant street food experience in Tokyo. There is one stand that features garlic gyoza ( they'll hand out a plastic menu with English on it, otherwise no signage in English) and that is seriously good. Seek it out. Probably most of the places are not all that special, but you will eat very well, and some of the other food we had, such as cukes in a hot soy sauce, was impressive.

      There is also Ice Cream City located here as well, about a dozen different ice cream stands. If you go, I recommend focusing on exotic flavors like wasabi or green tea. If your kids are a tiny bit adventurous, they will love it. Both Ice Cream City and Gyoza Stadium are located within Namjatown.