Umi no Hi (Ocean Day) marks the unofficial start of summer in Japan! Unfortunately, the rising temperatures might discourage you from heading out with your little ones. I‘ve rounded up a few fun ways to beat the heat if you’re wondering how to spend summer in Tokyo with a baby or toddler.
The destinations on this list will be east-Tokyo centric (because I live here). But, these are all places that I have personally been to last year when the monster was just a few months old. Two years later they’re still our favorite summer destinations!
Let’s face it: summer in Tokyo is hot and humid. And, if you haven’t experienced it yet, you will soon. You want your little one to be as cool as possible, so have them strut their stuff in a jinbei, a two piece kimono-like garment typically worn in the summertime.
Jinbei are extremely easy to wear – just tie the strings on the top (the left panel goes over right), and the bottoms have an elastic waistband.
Invest in a few Airism mesh tanks from UNIQLO and stash a few in your diaper bag to keep your baby fresh and cool all day.
Even though it’s hot AF outside, public transportation and shopping malls are often very, very cool. Bring a lightweight blanket or cardigan to coverup when indoors. Little Kaiju was gifted this cotton blanket when she was just a newborn and it’s held up two years later.
When it comes to staying hydrated, we’re all about “mugi cha” (麦茶), caffeine-free barley tea. Other types of tea to try are Sokenbicha (爽健美茶) and Juurokyu cha (十六茶). Both are caffiene-free.
Make Some Fishy Friends At The Edogawa Goldfish Festival
The highlight of my summers in Edogawa Ward is the Edogawa Goldfish Festival, a two day event celebrating the local goldfish farming industry.
More than 20,000 goldfish take center stage at the event’s main event, kingyo sukui, a game where you use a special paper covered scooper to collect fish from a small pool.
As with any matsuri, or festival, there’s traditional fare like kakigoori (shaved ice), yakisoba, as well as dishes featuring the locally grown leafy green veggie, komatsuna.
While you’re there, check out the (free) mini zoo at Gyosen Park, which has penguins and a petting zoo.
READ: Edogawa Goldfish Festival (Gaijin Pot)
Splash Around At Sogo Recreation Park
When most people think of parks in Tokyo’s Edogawa Ward, Kasai Rinkai Koen nearly always comes to mind. After all, it’s home to Tokyo Sea Life Park and a giant Ferris wheel. However, Sogo Recreation Park is right down the street and just as exciting — minus the crowds.
My favorite thing to do here is play around in the wading pool and fountain. You can also ride a mini-train to get a better view of this spacious park. Plus, there are plenty of picnic areas throughout the park. All you need to do is bring a tarp and hit up the nearby Family Mart for snacks and drinks (it’s right next to the park’s main entrance on Kannana Doori).
Learn About About Tokyo’s Metro System at the Tokyo Metro Museum
I’ve been to this museum so many times on field trips, but it’s still one of my favorite summer destinations. The Tokyo Metro Museum is located right underneath Kasai Station on the Tozai Line, so you can’t miss it.
A majority of the displays are in Japanese, but there’s plenty of interactive exhibits to enjoy, like the diorama of Tokyo. Right at the entrance are old school Ginza and Marunouchi Line train cars which make the perfect photo opportunity. If you’re lucky, you might even meet the train’s mascots!
My favorite is the train conductor simulation games and seeing the replica cross section of the tunnel digging machine. There’s a library for those who really want to learn more about the subway system. The back is a rest area complete with tables, a sink, and vending machines.
Experience Edo Japan at the Tokyo Goldfish Wonderland at Sumida Aquarium
I love how the tiny goldfish is such a major part of matsuri and summers in Japan, and Tokyo Goldfish Wonderland at Sumida Aquarium is a wonderful exhibition featuring them and their history in Japan.
A section of the aquarium is transformed into a brilliant display of fish tanks, goldfish streamers, goldfish themed arts and crafts — goldfish everything!
The highlight of the display is a 100 meter long tunnel decorated with 100 goldfish lanterns.
Soak Up the Sun (and Water) At Tokyo Skytree
After you’ve gotten your goldfish and marine life fix at the Sumida Aquarium, head outside to enjoy the water foundation. Adults seem to avoid the water as much as possible but the kids love it!
Cool Down At Tokyo Sea Life Aquarium
Tokyo Sea Life Aquarium is on the grounds of Kasai Rinkai Park. Yes, I called the park overrated a few sections ago, but the aquarium is worth visiting.
It’s a bit of a walk from the train station/bus stop to the entrance, but there are several places on the way where you can take commemorative photos.
To many, the main attraction is the giant tuna tank, but for me, it’s getting up close and personal with sharks and rays at the petting zoo.
And don’t forget about the penguins (Fun fact: nearly 6 years ago, one penguin actually escaped from Tokyo Sea Life Aquarium and was later found swimming in Tokyo Bay. True story.)
Walk Around Ikspiari Mall and Ride the Disney Monorail
As a teacher, I’ve got plenty of off days in the summer- unfortunately, so does every other school kid! I can’t bear to take little Kaiju out to the Happiest Place On Earth when it’s so hot out and crowded at Disneyland. It’s a real shame since Disney Resorts is literally across the river from us!
So, to get our Disney fix, we stroll around the Disney-themed Ikspiari mall and eat lunch, then we hop on the Disney Monorail (there’s a stop inside the mall).
After doing a few rounds on the monorail, get off at Tokyo Disney Sea, and take the bus back home… but not before getting a few souvenirs at the Disney Store!
This is how I spend summer in Tokyo with my girl — what are your plans?
How To Spend Summer in Tokyo With A Baby Or Toddler