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  • Writer's pictureCourtney Dempster

Travelling to Japan with Kids! A Detailed 2-Week Family Itinerary!

An in-depth look into our two-week trip in May 2023 to Japan with kids (3 & 8 years old) and all the tips and tricks we picked up along the way. Check out our Instagram to see our Story highlights and daily mini Vlogs from the trip. I have also added costings throughout the blog and totals at the very bottom.

Where do I even start? We have just returned from two weeks in Japan! It was the most amazing holiday and I'm already planning our next trip! This is the second time we have visited Japan. Our first trip was over Christmas & new years in 2018/2019. It was before Havana was born so there were just the 3 of us then. Mason was almost 4years old and we Just loved it so much so we always wanted to head back when Havana was a similar age! The first time we only visited for 8 days and we only went to Tokyo. So this time we knew we wanted to stay longer and also explore Osaka as well. We opted out of any other large travelling days/trips this time (to places like Kyoto, Nara, mt. Fuji etc.) Just because we wanted to minimize the travel and moving around being this was Havana's first time overseas, and our first time as a family of 4 and I can get a bit overwhelmed and stressed, and I had already easily filled up our two weeks with so many other amazing things!

Before You Go -
Plan your Days & Activities

I am a little OCD and definitely very particular, so I spent hours and hours researching things we wanted to do, and places we wanted to go. There is so much to see and do, so I really wanted to make the most of our time! I Pre-booked as much as I could as during my research I had found that since covid, capacities were smaller than normal and certain things would book out in advance. (As I mention attractions we visited in the detailed breakdowns below I will add the booking sites and links I used to purchase) So knowing we were all booked in, and weren't going to miss out on any of the experiences we wanted was a huge relief. It was also nice to know that 90% of our activities were paid for before we left so I only needed to worry about spending money.

To create my daily Itinerary I used Google Maps to pin/favourite all the places I found, and made my days around activities that were in the same area. Even tho I am very particular I don't like to have a full scheduled timetable with every hour planned out because you just don't know how your day is going to go, or what the weather is going to be like, and I don't need that stress in my life haha. With each day I started with any bookings I had and then I would use my map and note down all the nearby places, cafes, etc., and how far away via walk/train, etc. I also added in a little info on how to get to our main attraction point via train for that day and the cost, so we could decide on the day if we wanted to jump on the trains or book an Uber (depending on how tired we were or if we were running late etc) If you want to check out my exact daily planner I've attached it Here.

For our theme park days, because they can be so busy and a bit overwhelming I did a lot of research and created a quick overview to take with me which noted down all the rides we wanted to ride and I used coloured stars for ones that Havana could ride, and ones Mason could ride. I also noted all the parades/shows and times as well as any fun theme park foods we wanted to try and where to get them from. I definitely recommend following TDR Explorer on Instagram. He has so many great Tips for the Japan parks. I also purchased his guidebooks which were a great help in making sure I could make the most of our days! But I will try to share as much information as possible when I get to the park days in my daily breakdowns!

Book a pocket Wi-Fi

Having wifi or an international SIM is a must! We used a pocket wifi on both of our trips and I highly recommend it. We relied heavily on Google Maps to navigate the trains and around the city so without wifi we would have been very lost! We pre-booked ours via Japan Wireless and it was waiting at our hotel when we arrived! When you're done, you just drop it in a post box at the airport in the envelope they provide! (It cost us approximately AU $110.00 to hire for 13 days)

FAQ's -

Before I get into all the breakdowns of our days I wanted to answer a few questions that I get asked a lot on our socials about travelling to Japan with kids.

Is it hard to navigate if you don't speak the language?

No! Not at all! A lot of the people in the tourist areas can speak enough English to communicate with you! And if they don't, they usually have a translator of some sort. 99% of signage has Japanese and English. Including the trains and stations so it is very easy to navigate! Cafes and restaurants all have photos on their menus, and a lot will have an English and a Japanese menu. If we came across one that didn't we would just use Google translator for images to translate and just point to photos when ordering. It really was very easy!

Is it difficult to use the Trains with kids and a pram?

Short answer, No! We took a stroller over with us for Havana and we had no issues at all. Train stations can be very busy and do have a lot of stairs and escalators... so what we would do is fold the stroller up as we entered the train station and Demo would carry it, & Havana would walk or I would carry her until we hopped off at the other end. In saying that, it doesn't mean the trains aren't pram friendly... there were a few times when Havana would be asleep as we were heading to the train, so we would keep her in the pram and just use the Lifts. All platforms have a lift, you just have to find it as sometimes there may be only 1 and it might be down one end.

Do we need a JR Pass to get around?

This is a hard question for me to answer because it depends on where you're travelling to etc. We didn't get one either time we visited, as it was cheaper for us to just buy the tickets we needed. JR Passes are great for saving money when you have multiple large trips you need to take. As we flew into Osaka and out of Tokyo we only had the 1 Bullet train ride from Osaka to Tokyo, and the fare for that single trip was less than half of the cost of the JR Pass. On top of that, it cost us Approx AU$10-$15 a day for the local trains around the cities (And not all of them were JR Lines) so it just wasn't worth it for us to get a JR Pass. There is an online calculator where you can put in the trips you need to take and it will tell you if the JR Pass will be worth it for you. Check it out here.

Are the Theme parks expensive?

Yes and No. I mean all theme parks are expensive to some extent. But compared to other theme parks around the world Japan definitely is more affordable in my opinion. I found the shopping and food fairly average in price. But it definitely was expensive in the sense that I went a little overboard haha. I mean how can you not when you're in Japan with kids and at places like Disneyland and Universal?

Family in front of universal sign in japan

Flights -

To save money, we decided we would Fly into Osaka and out of Tokyo, so this way we would only need to travel once on the Bullet Train between the two cities and I'm so glad we did this!

We Flew with Jetstar from Gold Coast to Osaka (with a 3-hour stopover at Cairns). We Flew out at 6:50 am and arrived into Osaka at 6:55 pm. We did have to collect our baggage at Cairns and re-check in for our flight to Osaka. It honestly wasn't a bad stopover as by the time we grabbed our bags and checked them in we only had to wait 45min before we started boarding! (For the 4 of us, it cost AU $2553.00) We only paid for check-in luggage for 2 people on the way over and I pre-purchased around $80 in flight credits to use for food and drinks.

Coming home we flew with Jetstar direct from Tokyo to the Gold Coast. We flew out at 7:50 pm and arrived into the Gold Coast at 6:30 am. I am not a huge fan of overnight flights myself as I can never sleep on them.. but they are great as you don't lose any days travelling and the kids just sleep! (For the 4 of us, it cost AU $2804.00) We all had checked luggage on the way home, and I pre-purchased food and snacks for this flight.

Accommodation -

For this trip, our priorities really were Universal Studios & Disneyland. The Kids were at the perfect age, and it was what they were most excited about (..and probably me too) So we really wanted to stay close to the parks so we could make the most of days by getting there early, and not having to travel far at the end of the day. We also didn't want to be changing hotels too much with all our luggage, and as this was also our second time in Japan with kids so we felt confident enough with the trains to travel into the cities on our exploring days.

Osaka: Singulari Hotel and Spa at Universal City

Definitely recommend this hotel! It is located in Universal City which is like a Shopping Complex full of Cafes and restaurants and a few stores, as well as 4-5 Universal Partner Hotels. The Train station was about 10 metres from the front entrance of our hotel, and it was only a 5-minute walk through Universal City to the Entrance gates of Universal Studios. On non-park days it only took us 15-20min and 1-2 trains to get to places like Dotonbori etc. So the location was perfect! The Room itself was small, but it was comfortable enough for the 4 of us! We had 2 double beds (that were pushed together) and a single sofa bed. It was very clean & Tidy and the staff were great! The only downside if I had to pick one was not having a lot of space for our suitcases. But this just made me keep on top of things & keep it tidy haha! (For 6 Nights & 4 people at the Singulari Hotel, we paid AU $1317.00 via

Tokyo: Mitsui Garden Hotel Prana Tokyo Bay

We loved this hotel. The Rooms were really big compared to most Japanese accommodations. Being in Tokyo Bay and so close to Disney they definitely had families in mind when designing the rooms! We had 4 single beds which we pushed together and it was so nice to have so much room! It was very clean and Tidy and I would definitely recommend it! It was in a good location and was a Disney partner hotel so it has a Disney shuttle for the parks (approx a 15-20 min ride) which stops at the main bus terminals at the front entrances and the Disneyland Terminal is opposite the Mahihama Train station & Ikspiari shopping centre. On Non-park days we would use the Disney shuttles, hop off at Disney, walk over to the train station, and head into Tokyo from there. It would only take 20 minutes on 1 or 2 trains to get into the main city suburbs like Harajuku or Shibuya. At peak times of the day the shuttles come every 15 minutes so it is super convenient. (For 6 Nights and 4 people at the Mitsui Garden Hotel, we paid AU $1179.00 via

Hotel Transfers -

I'm not going to lie, one thing I was nervous about was moving around with luggage & kids. So I decided to book private transfers from the airport and when we moved hotels. It wasn't the cheapest option, but would I do it again... YES! Especially arriving in Osaka after a day of travelling it was so nice to know we had a driver waiting for us to take us straight to our hotel. I booked all our transfers through (I'll pop the exact prices below) It was so easy and it even had a messaging service to contact the drivers when we were looking for them etc. Our driver who picked us up from the airport waited over an hour for us to get through immigration and we just messaged the whole time to keep in touch! We did brave the trip from our Osaka hotel to the Bullet train as this was one of the shortest trips and we only had to take 2 short trains... (We had 1 large Suitcase, 2 Medium ones, 1 Carry on, and 2 kids with backpacks..) and it was definitely doable if you want to take the cheaper option!

  • Kansai Airport to Singulari Hotel Private Transfer AU $149.62

  • Tokyo Station to Mitsui Garden Hotel Private Transfer AU $127.32

  • Mitsui Garden Hotel to Narita Airport Private Transfer AU $174.75

All via

Our Daily Recaps - Let's get into the fun Stuff!

Day 1 - Dotonbori & Pokemon Cafe

Our first day in Osaka! We flew in at 7 pm the night before & by the time we got through immigration and got to our hotel it was about 11 pm, so we had showers & went straight to bed!

We had one booking for today, the Pokemon Cafe at 1:50 pm. So we had a little sleep-in and then got ready for the day! The first thing we did was head downstairs to the Lawson to grab breakfast! Lawson stores and 7elevens in Japan are next-level convenient! The food! If you are on a budget, you can eat most of your meals from convenience stores, and it's so cheap but so delicious!! We got a selection of pastries, Fruit, Yoghurt, Coffee, & of course some Karage Chicken Nuggets! (and it was less than AU$15) After breakfast, we jumped on the train and headed to Dotonbori. We arrived about 10 am and soon realized 90% of the shops weren't open yet... Besides theme parks, I wouldn't rush anywhere too early as most things like stores open later than they would in Australia. So we decided to walk over to the Namba Yasaka Shrine (the lion head shrine) Other than being a great photo spot this shrine is one of a kind! The lion head is 13 meters tall and is one of the most beautiful places of worship. After we finished exploring there we decided to hop in an Uber to head back to Dontonbori (& yes your Uber app works just the same in Japan!) as we stupidly thought we'd leave the pram at the hotel today and see how Havana would go with walking... immediately regretted that decision haha.

If you want to do some shopping then Shinsaibashi-Suji Shopping Street at Dotonbori is a must! It is a Giant Shopping arcade that spans over 600 metres and has everything from cosmetics, apparel, duty-free, character items, vintage stores, and more plus loads of cafes and restaurants! We definitely shopped till we dropped! Then it was Pokemon time! The Cafe is located inside the Diamaru building in the shopping arcade. (which is why we planned our day around this area as we knew we would need to be back here at 1:50!) This was definitely a fun experience! I LOVE this sort of Character stuff and of course, the kids thought it was pretty cool! You can't visit the cafe unless you have a booking, and it does book out very fast! (like within a minute of the bookings opening. See below for a few tips for booking the Cafe) You line up at your booking time and then they take you to your seat. You get an iPad to order on, which you can also switch to English! The price adds up if you're like me and want to try lots of things! (In total we paid around AU $135) Both Mason and Havana got the Kid's burger meal and Demo & I both tried the Pikachu meal. (I don't eat seafood so this was my only option) The food was pretty nice! It was nothing fancy but obviously, the appeal of a place like this is it being themed... but we all finished our whole plates! I also had an Eevee's Milk Tea which was delicious! And the kids shared a Gengars Grape Frozen Smoothie which was like grape hubba bubba! It was so yummy! We were pretty full but couldn't leave without dessert so we tried the Pikachu Pancakes! The Japanese really do pancakes so well!! You also earn points when you order and the staff come around with games on iPads that you play with your points and then win little prizes like stickers and collectible coasters etc which is so fun for the kids! Pikachu of course makes an appearance and does a little show/dance, it is all in Japanese... but they did sing "If You're Happy & You Know It" in English. After we finished up there, we couldn't leave without doing some shopping at the Pokemon store next door! Then it was time for us to head back to our hotel! It was a Massive First day!!

Booking Pokemon Cafe

My biggest tip to book the cafe is to Practice! Also, use a desktop or laptop computer if you can, it is way easier to navigate and have your "Auto Translate" turned on! The bookings open up at 7 pm Japan time (so it was 6 pm my time) 31 days prior. So for about 2-3 days before I needed to book I practiced booking. The first two days I was too slow and did not get any, and the next night I had it sorted. What helped me I think, was to try not to be too specific with what time you want as times can be booked out in seconds, so while you scroll the times you may miss out... When the page popped up I just would click anywhere around the middle knowing we wanted a "lunch" time slot just to get one... And thankfully we got 1:50 which was perfect! Another tip is, if you miss out right at launch time, try again at exactly 20min past, as they hold your time slot for 20min for you to fill out your information, so at exactly 7:20 pm Japan time all the slots that didn't complete jump back to being available. If you don't get a booking I have heard that if you head straight to the cafe first thing in the morning, they pop up a board out the front with any time slots that they have available for the day, and if your quick you can snag one of those spots. This is the Official booking website. Good Luck!

Day 2 - Universal Studios Day 1

It's Universal Studio Day!! To say I was excited would be an understatement! I Booked 2-Day studio Passes via the Official USJ site. It is a little bit harder to navigate than purchasing from a partner site like Klook, but if you are buying Fast Passes (Which I recommend) on the official site you can choose your times for the Timed entry to Nintendo World and Harry Potter. If you purchase via Klook the times are random so you may end up with a 5 pm entry for Nintendo World which I didn't want, as we would have been exhausted by 5 pm! (Havana was free, so for 2-day Tickets for 2 adults, 1 child, and 3x 1 Day Express4 passes we paid AU $761)

The park's open time is 9 am, but I had read that they open 30-60 minutes early every day... so we got up, got breakfast at Lawson, and headed straight to Universal. We got there just before 8 am and the lines were already packed. We could see they started letting in the "Early Entry" visitors around 8:15 am and then the main gates opened for us at 8:30 am. I was so glad we arrived early as the lines had grown so big behind us... (Tip: Make sure you have the USJ official app! You will need this throughout the day to see wait times and show times and just as a map to find out where you're going!) As we had Express passes for the day and timed entry for Nintendo World and Harry Potter World we didn't try to rush to those areas like most people do. I had done a lot of research and I took a printout of my itinerary page for the day as a little cheat sheet of what rides the kids could ride, show times and the foods I wanted to try, and where to get them!

The First ride we went on was Jaws! As we walked past it, Havana really wanted to go on, and she loved it! (we rode it twice more throughout the day!) It was in Japanese so we didn't know what the staff member was saying throughout it, but it was still pretty cool. Then we headed over to the minions, and then to Sesame Street where we rode all the rides! We even met Elmo, Cookie Monster & Hello Kitty! Next up was Nintendo World! It was time for our timed entry pass, we walked straight up, showed our tickets, and headed on in! TIP: there is a Powerband stall just after the ticket entry in the walkway up and the line is always long (I think everyone thinks this is the only one...) but there is another one right outside the tunnel entry which had no line! So we grabbed our power bands there, then connected them to the app and headed in! It is incredible! You really feel like you're in the game! It was very busy but you're still able to participate in all the fun! There are games and challenges throughout the world where you can earn coins and special stickers which you track on the app! You also get points for riding the rides! The Mario Kart ride is AMAZING! You walk through a themed castle as you line up which is fully decked out! and then the ride... it's just next-level cool! but I Highly recommend getting a fast past... we still had to wait around 20-30min even with the fast past. without one the normal line was around 120min long. We lined up for the Yoshi ride for Havana as she couldn't ride Mario Kart, and that was probably our longest wait of the day at around 40 minutes. Havana loved it! It's very slow, and targeted at the smaller kids... but you get an amazing view of the whole world which is worth it! After we were done there Havana was getting tired and fell asleep, so Demo and I took turns riding our fast pass rides with Mason. We rode Spiderman, Jurrasic Park, and Minon Mayhem! Then it was time for our Harry Potter timed entry... but as we got there we noticed there was no "entry point" It was just open & we didn't need our entry ticket... it was mid-afternoon by this point and it was SO Busy! Harry Potter World was the main thing I wanted to do #HarryPotterNerd but the lines were all 60+ Minutes long, even for Butterbeer... I was so upset because I felt like I couldn't fully enjoy it being so busy.. so as much as it broke my heart, I decided to leave & save it for tomorrow and do it early in the morning now that we knew we didn't need a timed entry & hope it was less busy! It was starting to get late and we were exhausted! so we did a little bit of shopping on our way out and then we headed back to our hotel!

Day 3 - Universal Studios Day 2

We started today with a plan! We had accomplished a lot yesterday so today our main focus was Harry Potter World and the parade as we missed it yesterday as we were riding all the rides! We got to the park around 7:30 and I'm glad we did because today they opened the gates at around 8 am. We didn't have Fast Passes today... So as soon as we got in we headed straight for Nintendo World! You can't enter Nintendo World without a Timed Entry Pass, but as the park doesn't officially open till 9 am, The earliest timed entry slot is around 9:30 am... So if you get there before 9 am you can go straight in... & we knew this would be our only chance to get in there today. It was a bit crazy following the huge crowd trying to get in, but once we were in, it was surprisingly a lot less busy than the day before. The Ride lines were still insanely long, so we avoided them and took advantage of the lower crowd and the kids played games and got their points on their bands. We stayed about an hour and then headed straight to Harry Potter World. I was one happy Girl. There were no Lines, and the crowds were small! I got to take thousands of photos and live out my wizarding dreams. We visited the Olivanders Wand shop and got our wands and drank butterbeer, which was so delicious! We cast some spells and watched some wizarding shows... & I just took my time and soaked it all in! And I'm so glad I decided to wait yesterday and come back. After that, we rode the Jaws ride... again... and then we got some burgers for lunch, found a good spot along the parade route, and just chilled out while we waited for it to start! The parade was amazing! It had some epic floats and there are points in the parade where they stop and invite the crowd into the street to dance with the characters and dancers! Such a cool idea that I've never seen before! I definitely recommend getting a spot 30-60 Prior so you don't miss it cause it is amazing!! For the rest of the afternoon we just kind of pondered around, making sure we had seen and done everything we wanted to. We used the app, rode any rides that had low wait times, and ended our day back at Sesame Street. We found Elmos Imagination Land just as we were about to leave... If you have little kids put this as a must on your list! It is an Indoor playground with all these little themed areas... There was a big slide with a ball pit, an area with Giant balloon balls, a climbing gym, a dance party area where characters come out and dance with you, and a little water ride! The kids could have stayed in there for hours and were so sad we hadn't found it earlier! It was seriously two huge but AMAZING days!!

Day 4 - Lego Centre, Aquarium & Baseball

It was a bit of a wet weather day today... It wasn't too bad, but It was kind of drizzling all day. Luckily we had a few indoor activities already on the itinerary! So after breakfast, we headed over to Tempozan Market Place. You can easily spend half a day or a full day here! First up we headed into the Lego Centre. I didn't pre-book our tickets today but when we got there at the opening time people were waiting outside and I soon realized they were only letting in bookings first and then, slowly letting in everyone else after... So I quickly jumped onto the Lego Centre website and booked our tickets and activity packs and we were inside within 5 minutes. (For 2 adults, 2 Children, and 2 Activity Books we paid AU$ 102) The Lego centre was really cool! Everything was interactive, and we got the activity books (they have English versions) where the kids had to collect stamps from different areas, and at the end, they got a little prize! They have Rides, playgrounds, mini-worlds, and even a Lego-themed cafe!

After the Lego centre, we headed over to the aquarium. I also didn't pre-book tickets for this... (I wasn't sure what order we would want to do things in, so I left it open... But big mistake...) When we got to the ticket booth there were no entry time slots available in the next 3 hours... we weren't going to wait that long... so I quickly jumped to their official website and purchased tickets for a 2 pm entry (which was only an hour wait at that time.) Luckily there is a cute little shopping centre next door, so we went in & got lunch and looked around while waiting. (For tickets for 2 Adults and 2 Children we paid AU $85.46) There was a huge food court and some cute little souvenir stores so you can easily kill some time there! We even found a little petting zoo upstairs with cats, dogs, monkeys, etc! But Havana was asleep at the time, so we didn't go inside! The Aquarium in all honesty wasn't as amazing as I was expecting... It was just a little lacklustre... I mean the kids enjoyed it, and there were a few cool exhibits, but we strolled through it pretty quickly. After we were done there we took a ride on the Tempozan Ferris wheel. It was really cool! We just purchased tickets for this at the gate. (We paid around AU $30 for the 4 of us to ride) The sights would have been amazing on a clear sunny day!

After the Ferris wheel, we headed back to our hotel to quickly freshen up as we had Baseball Tickets!

This was the highlight of the day! We saw the local Osaka Team the Hanshin Tigers. If you are in Japan in Baseball Season I definitely recommend checking out a game! You don't even have to be into baseball to enjoy it! The atmosphere is electric, the fans really get into it and you can't help but join in!! The only downside is these were the hardest tickets to get... I can't give you any tips other than you NEED to use a desktop or laptop computer, as the site when translated doesn't work correctly on a phone. And then use this website here which shows you each step on how to get tickets from overseas. (For 4 seats we paid AU $81.00)

Day 5 - Osaka Castle & Umeda Sky Building

Today was a free day and our last day in Osaka! We had no plans... but we had a few things we still wanted to do! So we set out to do some sightseeing. The first stop was Osaka Castle. This castle was so pretty! as were the gardens surrounding it! You get to go right into the castle. It is multiple levels and you start at the top observation deck and work your way back down through lots of historical artifacts. It is definitely a must-visit when in Osaka. (Tip: if the ticket booth to enter has a long line, jump online and buy tickets. Show your code and skip the queues! (Kids are Free, so for 2 adults we paid AU $12.10 via Klook) Next, we checked out the Umeda Sky Building. We headed up to the 40th-floor observation deck which is over 170 metres above ground level. We also purchased a Heart Love lock which you can have engraved and lock up on the skywalk deck. It was pretty cute! I pre-booked our tickets for this as you can only get the heart padlocks when you buy tickets online. (Havana was Free, so for 2 Adults, 1 Child, and a Heart padlock we paid AU $49.10 via Klook)

After we finished up at Umeda we headed over to the Tennoji Zoo... But honestly, I wouldn't recommend it... It was actually really sad... The enclosures were really small and a lot of the animals, there was only one... so they didn't have any friends. We walked through it pretty quickly. I mean the kids obviously don't understand and they loved seeing animals but It just felt wrong and sad. There was a lot of construction and new enclosures being built, so maybe the upgrades will be better... But at the moment... No... When we visited Tokyo back in 2019 we went to the Ueno Zoo and that one was cool! So if you want to visit a zoo, I'd recommend Tokyo! So as we finished up a little earlier than we thought we headed back to Dotonbori so we could check out all the famous billboards lit up at night! It wasn't quite dark when we got there so we tried to find somewhere to grab a late lunch, And we came across a cute little pink door that led us into the pink Kawaii Cafe. It was like we stepped into a rainbow Kawaii wonderland. All the staff were dressed in their fun kawaii clothing and all the food was rainbow and unicorn-themed! Safe to say Havana and I loved it! We had rainbow cake, rainbow bread with ice cream, and even french fries with an assortment of colourful sauces! The drinks were also next-level amazing! As our food came out, one of the staff members came over and taught us a little Kawaii dance which we all did together... (Even demo haha) We then headed back into the main street of Dotonbori. There are a lot of street performers out as the sun starts to go down and seeing all the Billboards lit up along the bridge was such a cool experience.

Day 6 - Osaka to Tokyo

It's a travel day! Today we are leaving Osaka and Heading to Tokyo! I Pre-booked seats on the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) via the official Smart-Ex App but you can also book via the official website. It was super easy to use and the tickets were added straight to the Apple wallet on my phone. (For 2 Adults and 2 Children with Reserved seats one way we paid AU $421.84) We arrived at Tokyo Station at around 1 pm and our pre-booked private Transfer was waiting to take us to our Tokyo Bay hotel. We checked in and were so pleased with the hotel and the size of our room. I unpacked a little bit... I like to set the room up and put a few things away, Set up the bathroom etc haha! It makes it feel a little less chaotic than living out of a suitcase. After we settled in a bit, we jumped onto our Hotel's Disney Shuttle bus to see where exactly it stops and suss out if we could use it to get to the main train station. Luckily as our hotel was a Disney partner hotel we had a bus stop at the main Bus terminal which was right across the road from Maihama Station and Ikspiari Shopping Centre. So we spent the afternoon doing some shopping and of course, we had to check out Bon Voyage, the official Disney Parks store outside of the park, and get ourselves some Minnie Ears ready for our First Disney Day Tomorrow! There is also another Disney Store inside Ikspiari, but it doesn't sell the official park merchandise but does have a lot of other amazing Disney Goodness! The Ikspiari Shopping Centre is also FULL of restaurants, so it is a great place to get dinner after your park days or on your way home after you hop off the train! There is a little counter service Food court on the bottom floor which has the most amazing Udon & the best Karaage Chicken and Fried rice we tried on this whole trip!

Mand and woman at tokyo disney sea

Day 7 - Disneyland Day 1

It's Disney Day!! The happiest place on earth! We were up bright and early! I wanted to get there at least 45-60min before opening time. It Opened at 9 am but I had heard they do start letting people in a little early... We got there around 8:15 and the lines were huge! But they did start letting everyone in at about 8:30 and we were in 10min later! (Havana was free, so for 2 Adults and 1 Child for one day cost us AU $250.20 via Klook) First things First, I needed to book our Premier Access slots. (Disney's version of Fast Pass) You can only book one P.A every hour so I Booked Beauty & The Beast Ride first as that was the one I didn't want to miss! (Premier Access is only available for a few rides in each park and ranges from AU $15-$20 Per person per ride for ticket holders. So Havana could come with us for free as she was free to enter) Make sure you have the official app because you'll need it! Once I had secured our spots we headed towards the castle and obviously had to spend 15 minutes taking photos haha! Then we went into Fantasyland and took advantage of the small lines and rode Small World which is always a winner and then Pooh's Honey Hunt. The wait was around 40 minutes for Pooh's ride at that point, but I knew how busy it could get throughout the day so we waited! And it was worth it! It was pretty amazing! While in the line I booked my next P.A for Splash Mountain for later that afternoon. After we finished at Pooh's, it was time for our Beauty and the Beast time slot... The ride is right in the middle of a brand-new area which is all themed to suit. There is even a Gaston & Lefou Statue Water fountain! I'm so glad we paid for the Fast Pass as the line at 10 am was already over 2 hours long! We walked straight in, showed our passes, headed through the castle, and were on the ride within 20 minutes. There is no other ride like this one! It is so magical! You ride in a big teacup and dance through the story! It is in Japanese but it didn't really affect it much. I still knew all the songs and music. And the Special effects are insane!! I understand why the line is so long!!

We were all starting to get a bit hungry so we checked out ToonTown and got some lunch. After we filled our bellies, we visited Minnie's House, Donald's Boat & Chip & Dales Treehouse! They are all like fun interactive playgrounds for the kids! And a big hit! While heading out of ToonTown we could see the Parade route was getting pretty busy and most of the good viewing spots were full.. I really wanted to get good seats for the parade so we thought we would skip the day parade today and be more prepared when we were back on Friday! So instead we checked out Cinderellas Castle then took advantage of the lower lines while the parade was on, and jumped on the Haunted House ride! No Surprise here, but this was one of Havana's Favourite rides! It's not scary... As in no big drops or things are jumping out to scare you, you just go through different scenes filled with "Ghosts". After we finished there, it was time for our Splash Mountain time slot. One thing I love about Disneyland is Havana can ride 95% of the rides! I was nervous about taking her on with the big drop... but she was insistent on going... and you know what...? She LOVED it! Her face in the photo was hilarious! (We ordered it, but forgot to pick it up!) After that, We rode Pirates of the Caribbean & The Jungle Cruise! It was about 6 pm after all that, and we were exhausted! But we wanted to stay to watch the night parade. We were early, so we got a seat on the parade route and just hung out and had dinner while we waited. I'm so glad we did because this parade was incredible! (See some of it in the Vlog linked below) All the floats are lit up, and it just adds an extra layer of magic! I Definitely recommend staying to watch this parade. We headed back to our hotel after this! What a day!

Day 8 - Harry Potter Cafe & Sumo Tournament

It was a bit of a Rainy day again today. But luckily we had mostly indoor activities planned! We were going to visit Hie Shrine, but we gave it a miss and will head there another day when it's not so wet! So that means our first stop for the day is the Harry Potter Cafe for Lunch! I couldn't come to Tokyo and not Visit the Harry Potter cafe! (I Booked for this via the "Table Check" app. But you can also do it via their Official website and it will take you to the Table Check website) It was everything I hoped for and more! The cutest little-themed cafe! We Tried most items on the Menu! We got the Expecto Patromun & Wingardium Leviosa Cocktails! (Nonalcoholic) We ate the Hogwarts meat pie, the Platform 9 3/4 Beans, and the Hufflepuff Bacon & Cheese Toastie. And it was all really yummy, not to mention themed! But dessert was the real winner! And we obviously had to try one of everything... We got the Eton mess Goblet, The Hedwig Cake, and the Aragog's Lair! Every single one was delicious. They do desserts well in Japan! Even if you are the smallest Harry Potter fan I definitely recommend dining here! (Like the Pokemon Cafe, it can add up in price if you are like me and want to try everything... It cost us approx. AU $135) There is also a Great Harry Potter Store just outside the cafe where you can buy heaps of souvenirs and other HP things! When you leave and walk around you will notice the whole area is Harry Potter-themed. We were looking for the train station and came across this amazing staircase decked out like the walls in the castle! it was really cool!

Our Second Stop for the day was the Sumo Tournament! When I found out there was a Tournament on while we were in Tokyo I knew we had to get tickets! I found all the Dates and information and also purchased our tickets through the Official website. (We purchased 2nd Floor Chair seats and it cost us AU $150) When you buy tickets for a tournament you get a ticket for the day which starts at around 8 am and finishes at like 6 pm. But you don't have to be there all day. And you can even leave and re-enter once with your tickets. I knew we didn't want to be there all day and that the kids would only last an hour or so, so I did some research and found out a lot of the main matches started around 2-3 pm. So that's when we planned to be there. This is a MUST-Do if you are there when a tournament is on. The Culture and atmosphere is amazing! The Stadium is huge & watching the matches in real life is so different from something you see on TV or online! We watched one whole round of competitors which was just over an hour long, and then we headed back to the hotel.

As it had been a pretty quiet day we decided to stop at Tokyo Station on the way home and do some shopping at Character Street. Character Street is located underground in Tokyo Station. It is basically a small shopping arcade filled with 30+ Small stores that sell merchandise of popular Japanese Characters and Anime. They have Stores like Pokemon, Disney, Sailor Moon, Lego, Hello Kitty and so much more. It is also right next to "Ramen Street" so you can grab something to eat while shopping and also pick up food souvenirs like the "Tokyo banana". I got myself a few boxes of them to take home!

Day 9 - DisneySea

It's DisneySea Day! Like all park days, I wanted to get there early as they open the gates a little earlier than advertised! This park is one of a kind! It is sea-themed and mimics world-famous harbours like the Mediterranean Harbour, Mermaid Lagoon, The Arabian Coast, American Waterfront, etc. It has a giant volcano backdrop rather than a castle which has a rollercoaster that goes through it. It is really so unique! I would say DisneySea is definitely more catered towards teens & adults but there is still lots of fun for little kids too, but we felt one day at this park was enough for us to get through it all. (Havana was free, so for 2 Adults and 1 Child for one day cost us AU $250.20 via Klook) The first thing we did after we got in was jump on the App to book Premier Access for Toy Story Mania. This was a must for us as we attempted to ride it the last time we visited back in 2019 but the lines were so long that we never made it. (Premier Access is only available for a few rides in each park and ranges from AU $15-$20 Per person per ride for ticket holders. So Havana could come with us for free as she was free to enter) So once that was done, we started to make our way to Mermaid Lagoon! Havana was so excited to see where Ariel Lived. On the way, we went past the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride and there was no line, so jumped on! We had no idea what to expect, but it was surprisingly pretty cool. It was like an underwater submarine ride where you control a little light! Great for the little kids... Once we got to Mermaid Lagoon it was ride, after ride! This area is definitely catered to the little kids and even goes underground where you'll find more rides, a theatre & Show, a playground, and a cafe! It's safe to say we spent a fair while down there. After we were finished at "Ariels Home" It was time for our Toy Story Mania time slot. Another one I recommend splurging on the P.A for as the normal line was around a 2-hour wait. With our pass, we were in & on the ride within 15 min. This ride is Super fun!! It's themed like a carnival and you move through Games in 3D and shoot to score points!

Our next adventure saw us heading to "Jasmine's Home" on the Arabian Coast! I had read on a few blogs that Jasmine sometimes came out for meet-and-greets around this area, & I really really wanted Havava to meet her, as Jasmine is her favourite Disney Princess. So we hung around and rode all the rides including Jasmine's Flying Carpets, Sinbad, and the Genie Carousel... But sadly no Jasmine... So we thought we better head to the next area... As we were leaving we saw a large crowd of people... and I couldn't believe it, it was Jasmine!! Havana's little face lit up! She was so excited and waited so patiently for her turn to meet her... It seriously made my heart happy to see her so excited! And so relieved that she finally got to meet a "real life princess" as that was all she had been talking about for months! We also meet Daisy there as well! So it was all pretty exciting!

At DisneySea, they have a parade on the water in the main harbour. We really wanted to get a good seat to see it, as we only had one day there, so we found a good spot around an hour before it started, then got ourselves some food, and had a little break while we waited. Sadly it was pretty windy so the Parade was altered and only one boat with Mickey and friends came out... which was super disappointing... But it is what it is. Can't help the weather! I had booked Premier Access for Mason & Demo to ride the Journey to the centre of the Earth ride (the one in the volcano) so while they did that, Havana and I did some shopping! It was now around 5 pm & We were pretty exhausted & felt we had seen & done most of the park, so we did one last walk around, did a little bit more shopping, and then rode our last ride for the day, Aquatopia! Another really fun ride. We all enjoyed this one, even Demo and I! After that, we were well and truly done... It was time for us to head back to the hotel.

Day 10 - Hie Shrine, Harajuku & Shibuya

It was a beautiful day! So we started the day over at Hie Shire as we didn't make it there the other day. I like to try and do the shrines and temples first up as they are less busy. Hie shrine was one of the ones on my list as it has the Red Tori Gate stairs. But when arriving it was so much bigger than I anticipated and really was a beautiful place of worship. It was a little bit hidden and therefore not overcrowded with people, so you got a feel for the place. Once we had finished up there we headed over to Harajuku. Harajuku is a great place for shopping and is the home to a lot of well-known and high-end stores like Dior, Chanel, Gucci, etc as well as stores like Nike, H&M & Adidas. It also has Kiddyland which is a 5-level toy store! If you have kids, you will definitely want to check it out! (or maybe not if you're short on time haha) Another Harajuku must is Takeshita Street. This is the most well-known street in this area and is popular for its rainbow food, Fun fashions, and Quirky Cafes. We walked the street and did some shopping in the markets and then it was time for some food! We had to get one of the Chocolate brownie Crepes! It was delicious! We also tried some chocolate-covered strawberries, Yum!, and a rainbow cheese corndog... which was a bit bland, and the rainbow cheese wasn't very rainbow... but the idea was cool! We couldn't leave without getting a giant rainbow fairy floss (we got one of these for Mason when we visited back in 2019!) It was literally bigger than their two heads combined!! But they ate it all! (with a little help from Demo & I) After we had finished up all that yummy food we jumped on a train and headed over to Shibuya, most famously known for the crazy crossing which we crossed a few times! It really is insane how many people cross in all different directions! Shibuya is also another great place to shop with many of your favourite well-known stores lining the surrounding streets! One store you need to check out is MEGA Don Quijote! It is an 8-level variety store. It sells everything! We shopped till we dropped and then found a nice Ramen place for dinner before we headed back to the hotel to rest our legs haha.

Day 11 - Disneyland Day 2

Day 2 at Disneyland! I had a plan today! We did so much on our first day that I knew we could focus on a few specific things for today! Ride Monsters Inc, Meet Characters and get a good seat for the day parade. So as always, off to the park nice and early! (Havana was free, so for 2 Adults and 1 Child for one day cost us AU $250.20 via Klook) We were in by about 8:40 am this morning and we did a little bit of shopping first... The kids and Demo wanted to get some Park shirts to wear! I also booked us a Premier Access for Spash Mountain again for the afternoon as the wait was already at 90 min and we really wanted to get a photo from the ride (as we forgot to collect our one from Monday haha) Then it was straight to Monsters Inc. It always has a fairly long line so we wanted to get it done first. We waited around 40 minutes. But it's worth it, cause it's such a cute ride! You get a flashlight and you play Hide & Seek to find the monsters & Boo! Our next mission was Characters! There are special spots in the park where you will find characters like Mickey & Minnie all day... But they're like an attraction and you have to line up... So we went to Minnies Style studio as it had the smallest wait time (40 minutes). Once we got in, you walked through heaps of rooms like Minnie's office, and the sewing room, and in the final room, you meet Minnie!! Mason & Havana loved meeting her! So I'm glad we waited! I had read online that Princesses sometimes roam throughout Fantasyland, so we did a few laps around there hoping to find some... but no luck... So we tried the main courtyard as that was another place I had read characters come out to do meet-and-greets! And we were in luck! We saw Mary Poppins! She was amazing!! the kids spoke to her for about 5 min before they got some photos together! Then as we continued into the courtyard we saw another crowd of people, and couldn't believe it, it was Rapunzel!! We were pretty happy and felt super lucky that we got to meet some characters! Both Mary Poppins and Rapunzel left after about 15 min and we saw a few Staff members hanging around so we thought we'd wait to see what was going on... and I'm glad we did... because out came Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto, Winnie the Pooh, Tigger & Eyeore! It was Crazy!! The kids were so excited! they didn't know who to follow! I was definitely one of those crazy mums running around pulling the kids along! I think I was more excited than them!

Once all the Characters had finished up and headed back in, we decided to go find a spot for the parade. This is the most popular parade, and people bring picnic mats and towels and sit down to hold good spots about 3 hours in advance! We weren't that eager but found ourselves a nice spot about an hour and a half before it started. We got a towel from the gift shop and used that to put down to hold our seats and Demo just hung out there while I went and got us some lunch! I was still a bit excited about the characters... so the kids and I had one last look out at the courtyard to see if there were any more, and we found Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter, Esmerelda & Peter Pan! But sadly by the time we got to each of them, they were saying goodbye.. they are on strict time limits, and once they start to say goodbye they don't stop and chat or take photos... Havana started crying when Alice and Esmerelda left and they were so sweet and hugged her and told her they were sure they'd see her soon! Then this lovely staff member came over and gave her some special Disney stickers, it was really sweet! So we left & got some Mickey Nuggets and hotdogs for lunch while we waited for the parade! I highly recommend taking the time to get a good seat because this parade is amazing!! The floats are incredible and there are so many of them!! All the princesses, Toy Story, Wreck it Ralph, Zootopia, The Incredibles, Coco & so much more!! Havana had forgotten about missing out on Alice after this! Next up was Splash Mountain! I'm still so surprised that both the kids loved this and wanted to ride it again. I mean it is a pretty easygoing ride, it just has a large drop at the end! This time we were seated in the front 2 rows... and we got so wet!! Well all of us except Havava, it went right over her head haha. We Ordered our photo and had to wait an hour to pick it up... But we felt pretty done for the day, so we were just going to wander around, do the last of our shopping, pick up our photo and head off! As we were walking out of Splash Mountain there were a lot of people in Fantasyland... and then I spotted Snow White! I wasn't sure how long they'd been out, so I picked up Havana and ran! #CrazyDisneyMum. Snow White saw us and pulled Havana in straight away! She was totally mesmerized! Then you wouldn't believe it, we saw Belle!! Havana loves Belle. She was so shy, it was so cute! Peter Pan and Captain Hook were also out which made Mason happy as he was not really into the princesses! We spotted Cinderella and Prince Charming too but as we got there they were saying goodbye... so you can imagine how that went down with Havava haha.

We definitely felt done now, we had met more characters than we could have ever imagined! The kids were on a high! So we headed to the Entrance to make our way back to the hotel. We were Walking through Main Street & out came Alice! and she remembered the kids from before and told them to come along with her... so they all walked together to find the perfect photo spot! And then out pops the mad hatter and they all had a tea party together! It was seriously the best! Once we said goodbye to them we ran into Esmerelda! She was amazing! She danced with the kids and spun around with them. Their little faces lit up! I actually couldn't believe how lucky we had been! It was home time now for real! we grabbed our photo and headed for the shuttle! It was so sad to be leaving, but it really is the happiest place on Earth!

-Day 12- Odaiba & Home time!

It's our last day... But we don't leave for the airport till 4:30 pm so we are going to spend the day exploring Odaiba. We checked out of our hotel and got them to hold our bags and we jumped on a train! We had pre-booked tickets for Team Lab Planets at 10 am so that's where we started our day. (Havana was free so for 2 Adults and one Child we paid AU $95.40 via their official website) Team Labs is a Multi-sensory art exhibition that you follow from room to room. There are rooms filled with lights, Flowers, Water and so much more. Not to mention great photo opportunities! It was a lot of fun for all of us! Once we finished up there we headed into Odaiba to see the giant Unicorn Gundam Statue Which was pretty cool. The kids thought it was a transformer! Then we walked along the boardwalk to see the Statue of Liberty! And then had some lunch in the Aqua City shopping mall. There was an amazing food court in there with lots of counter-service restaurants! After lunch, we did some exploring and found a really cool old-school arcade street on the second level of Aqua City that was full of games and markets! We picked up some last-minute souvenirs and the kids went crazy in the candy shop! At the end of the street, we found a trick art museum, which we had to try out! This filled up the rest of our afternoon and before we knew it, it was time to head back to the hotel so we could start our trip home.

I Cannot believe we were on our way to the airport and our trip was done! It was the most amazing holiday for our family and I am so grateful for all the memories we got to create! I'm not going to lie, I was already looking into our next trip on the flight home!

If you made it this far... Thank you!

For those of you who are reading because you are interested in the cost of our trip, I have put a little Total breakdown below. Please bear in mind that this is based on May 2023 and the exchange rate was approx AU $1 = 88 Yen and based on 2 Adults, 2 Children (8yr & 3yr) for 12 Nights.

Flights: AU $5057.00

Accommodation: AU $2496.00

Hotel Transfers & Bullet Train: AU $873.53

Pre-purchased tickets: AU $1838 (Both Theme Parks, Baseball, Team Labs, Sumo)

Spending Money: AU $7000 Approx.

(As we pre-booked 80% of our activities, this was for day-to-day expenses. Food, Shopping, and a few other ticketed activities. Spending money amounts can vary a lot, and can depend on what you want to spend your money on. I like to shop and I did a lot of shopping at the parks. It is definitely doable on a smaller budget.)

This totalled around AU $ 17,000. You can do an amazing Japan Trip for less, and you can also easily spend a lot more. It's really up to your preferences. I would also like to add that this trip was entirely planned and paid for ourselves. There were no paid promotions or any gifted opportunities.

I hope you've enjoyed reading about our holiday, and I really hope it's been helpful if you're planning your own trip. If there's anything I missed or if you have any more questions, please feel free to let me know! I absolutely love sharing our adventures and experiences, so I'm always here to chat.

And hey, if you found it useful and wouldn't mind, I'd be forever grateful if you could leave a rating and comment below, or even drop a review on our Facebook page! Your interaction really does make a big difference in getting the word out about my blog!

- Courts xx

Japan Daily
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May 31
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Thank you for such detailed story. We are planning to visit Japan with kids as well and it would help in planning a lot. I really like how you to put together a daily plan, amazing job!

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