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10 Awesome Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Osaka, Kyoto, and Nagoya
PHOTO BY Michelle Katigbak-Alejandro
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  • Japan is the land of the crazy, cool, and kawaii, and it has great fun in store for adults and children alike. No matter which part of Japan you go to you are sure to find unique experiences for the whole family while you learn about the country’s rich culture and heritage, Here are 10 super fun things you and your kids can enjoy in one of the most beautiful places on the planet!

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    Osaka is a cosmopolitan city, but at the same time, it’s still quirky and fun, too. If you're a fan of Japanese cuisine, this can be heaven. Cebu Pacific Air and Philippine Airlines, among others, have direct flights to Osaka, a jumping-off point for the Kansai region that includes Kyoto, Kobe, and Nara.

    1 Universal Studios
    No trip to Osaka is complete without a trip to Universal Studios, much like Disneyland is to Tokyo. The park has something for everyone and is, at least, one whole day of fun and excitement. It is especially exciting for Harry Potter fans who want to visit the Wizarding World. Be warned, however, that lines get very long at the Wizarding World. It's not unusual to line up for an hour and 20 minutes. The solution is to purchase Express tickets, which is separate from your entrance fee, and yes, it is expensive). Weekdays are usually the best day to go when the crowds aren’t too packed. 


    2 Osaka Aquarium
    Another major tourist attraction in Osaka is the Osaka Aquarium or Kaiyukan as it called in Japanese. It is located right near Osaka Bay and is one of the largest public aquariums in the world. The walk-through aquarium displays marine life in several habitats comprising 27 tanks in 16 main exhibits. They have a diverse variety of marine life including seals, sea lions, dolphins, and whale sharks! 

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    3 Food tripping in Dotonbori
    Japan has some of the best food in the world! There is no better place to enjoy delicious Japan food and quirky restaurants than Dotonbori. Huge signs outside the restaurants advertise their specialty. So you’ll see a giant crab on top of the crab legs place, a blowfish highlighting the fugu restaurant, a cow above the wagyu place, and so much more. Kids love the crazy sights and delicious food! Make sure to take a picture on the Dotonbori Bridge with the “Running Man” -- the area’s iconic billboard.

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    4 Tempozan Ferris Wheel   
    If you have time while in Osaka you can also check out the Tempozan Ferris Wheel, which is right beside the Aquarium and is over 300 feet high. Plus, the colored lights of the wheel at night provide the weather forecast for the next day. Orange lights mean sunny, green means cloudy, while blue indicates rain. 

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    Kyoto is a beautiful combination of modern and classic Japan. It has many stunning historical preserved temples, but you will find with fun and quirky modern Japanese sights.

    5 The Golden Temple
    While there are many lovely temples in Kyoto, a must-see has to be The Golden Temple or Kinkaku-ji. This breathtaking building, covered in bright gold leaf, is one of the most popular buildings in Japan and beloved by both kids and adults alike. The best part is that everyone can take a gorgeous photo because the temple is situated in the middle of a lake giving tourists an unobstructed view. 


    6 Owl Forest Zoo
    Who would have thought there would be an owl park right in the middle of shopping district Kawaramachi? The Kyoto Owl Forest Zoo is a place where families can interact with owls from all over the world. Best surprise? They have a snow owl just like Hedwig from Harry Potter.  

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    7 Authentic Kimonos in Gion
    A fun activity for both adults and kids is to dress up in authentic kimonos. Make it look like you went back in time by walking around the beautiful streets of Gion. It has been preserved to look like it did in ancient Japan with several stretches of cobblestone streets and pagodas. They even shot some of the movie The Last Samurai in Gion. Several stores rent out out authentic kimonos and will even do your hair and makeup, too. You can rent the kimono for the whole day and tour the majestic district in real Japanese style. We tried Okamoto-Kimono's branch near the Yasaka Pagoda.


    8 Cat Cafes!
    Kids love cats! And the cat cafes in Japan (some of which have made their way to the Philippines, too) are always a big hit. In Kawaramachi, there are two fun cat cafes – one with a plethora of different cat breeds and another featuring just beautiful Bengal cats. Entrance fee gives you a drink that you can enjoy while getting to know the cats better. 

    Nagoya is another cosmopolitan city bigger than Kyoto though smaller compared to Tokyo. There are fun activities and shopping for the whole family. There is also a very big Filipino community in the Sakae district in Nagoya so don’t be surprised if you see some kababayans. 

    9 Akamon Street in Nagoya
    If your kids are into video games, then a trip to Akamon Street is a fun place to visit. Situated at the end of the Osu shopping district, Akamon Dori specializes in used electronics including games, consoles, and video game paraphernalia. Some stores even have consoles outside for kids to play on while their parents are shopping. 


    10 Late night shopping at Don Quijote
    Don Quijote, or Donki as it is fondly called, is an extremely fun store that carries just about everything! From electronics, to clothes, to toys, to home goods, to beauty products if you need something you can usually find it among the cute items on the shelves of Donki. The best part is it is open 24 hours! So you can sightsee during the day and go shopping in the wee hours. The Donki located in Sakae is right across the street from Sunshine Sakae which is another shopping center with an elevated ferris wheel! 

    This list is just the tip of the iceberg for the fun things you can do with the little ones while in Japan. The best part is discovering new and exciting adventures as you go along! 

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