Visiting Kyoto With A Toddler
Exploring Kyoto with a toddler is easier than you think. The city is extremely safe, the public transportation is easy to navigate and there’s plenty of food options. Toddler entertainment can be a bit more difficult to find, so here’s a little list of what we’re loving about visiting Kyoto with a toddler.
The ancient city is loaded with parks. Most have a sandbox, a few swings, slides and a tunnel. Almost every neighborhood has at least one park. Just start walking and you are sure to run into one. PRO TIP: On your way to the park, pick up some inexpensive toys for the sandbox at Daiso or be prepared to watch your toddler try to steal another kid’s toys.
We’ve found two train cafes. One is located in the Aeon Mall and the other on a back street near Gion. Both are great. But the train cafe near Gion actually has two cafes located in the same building. One cafe is specifically for younger children, the entire track is made from plastic, bulky, toddler trains. They also have kids’ set meals available. The other cafe is located upstairs and is a work of art. There is a nice bar for dining that wraps half way around the huge model train scene. The train set spans the length of the entire restaurant.
It might be a bit tricky to get here from central Kyoto but it’s worth it. Ohara is about 1 hour by train and bus from Kyoto Station. The market is open every day and definitely worthy of a visit. But on Sundays the market area much larger, expanding into the parking lot and stocked full of local specialties and produce from the region. You can try freshly made onigiri, wonderfully sweet sesame miso pasta and homemade daikon kimchi. There’s also sandwiches, mochi, roasted sweet potatoes and a coffee stand that serves freshly brewed coffee to order. After filling up some delicious snacks, you and your little one can get some exercise by taking a long walk through the country side.
How to get to Ohara Sunday Market? You can get to Ohara by taking the Karasuma line north until the end of the line (290yen). You’ll stop at Kokusaikaikan and take exit 3 to walk towards the bus terminal. Then take bus 19 towards Ohara (About 500yen). You can back track to go home or make a pit stop and take the 18 bus towards Kinkakuju.
The Kyoto Aquarium is much smaller than it’s Osaka cousin. It is well laid out and easy for a toddler to explore with you trailing behind. During summer, there is a small splash zone at the end of the aquarium loop. PRO TIP: Pack and extra change of clothes if you plan on allowing your tot to splash around. If you are staying in Kyoto for any extended amount of time, then buying the annual pass might be a good option for you.
A safe play for tots to run around on a hot or rainy day. The food court level has an arcade with toddler appropriate games and a few small rides. Don’t miss stopping by Toys R’Us, the Kyoto location is a million times better than any we’ve ever been to in the U.S. or Thailand. If you stop in, definitely check out their huge selection of natural wood toys, they are beautiful!
Early in the morning it is less crowded and another great place for your tot to run around. In addition to stores, the covered shopping area has a few arcades, a shop full of photo booths and plenty of food to taste.
Early morning temples
Many of Kyoto’s most famous temples can be extremely overcrowded during peak hours. If your little one is still experiencing jet lag and waking way too early, a good choice is to head over to Kiyomizudera when it opens at 6am and let them roam for a bit.
Kamogawa is a popular spot for everyone to relax and enjoy the scenery. During the summer, the water is usually calm enough for young children to splash around in. The section of the river closest to Demachiyanagi Station is a favorite for young families.
An expansive grounds with temples, gardens, pathways and a beautiful children’s park at the north end. The mostly car-free zone is a great place to let your toddler experience a bit of freedom and release some energy.
The World Heritage Site has four lovely temples and a beautiful forest walking path. When we visited the temple forest had been taken over by a creative company called TeamLab, they illuminated the forest with brilliantly colored lights, set to music. It was breathtaking. Shimogamo-jinga would make a great stop before playing near the river by Demachiyanagi Station. Don’t forget to grab some snacks from a nearby konbini, so you can have a picnic under the trees.
Are you planning a trip to Kyoto with your toddler?
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