Anyone with wee nippers knows that the holidays can be, on occasion, quite tricky to come up with things to do to keep them busy. Also, Tokyo can get hectic over Golden Week and the thought of waiting in line to see the latest Disney movie can drive any sane parent to the local conbini for several cans of super-strength chu-hi. As an aside, Lawsons have come up with some super cheap chu-hi going for around the ¥100 mark which will keep the edge off—so to speak.
Parks are great places and there are an abundance of them in the capital. They’re (usually) free, and both kids and parents can enjoy a picnic, activities and lots of culinary goodies. Nerima-ku’s Hikarigaoka is a mammoth park, great for barbecues and all sorts of fun with children. Not far from Ikebukuro, it’s a pleasant alternative to the well-trodden parks in Yoyogi and Kichijoji’s Inokashira. On the other side of Tokyo you can find Kasai Rinkai Koen, famous for its large Ferris wheel. Also of note is Bunkyo-ku’s famed Rikugien Gardens. Full of beautiful nature and ponds it’s a tranquil hideaway and perfect for a quiet day with the family.
If dragging your kids kicking and screaming around Tokyo’s shopping offering is something you’re fond of (although I don’t honestly know why it would be) then there is a fresh face on the retail block. Tokyo Midtown Hibiya has just opened with a plethora of stores, eateries and a cinema. It’s also close to Hibiya park if you need the aforementioned chu-hi break. To be honest, although it entails shopping, it’s a much brighter option than a depressing trek through suburbia’s Akachan Honpo chain, which is enough to drive me to distilled liquor – preferably Scotland’s wonderful Bunnahabhain.
Also on the retail radar is the Marunouchi area which has the bonus of having tree-lined streets and fairly-quiet pedestrian zones. Worthwhile is Marunouchi Brick Square which has a lovely wee outside garden area with restaurants, cafes and stores. Comme des Garcons has a few stores in the area and the larger store nearby Tokyo Station has the Parisian Rose Bakery which is great for some sustenance and respite.
If spending an afternoon in a state of monotony floats your boat, be my guest and take your kids to the many cinemas in the capital. United Cinemas in Toshimaen, on the Seibu Ikebukuro line, is worthwhile and has 3D and IMAX theaters and is handily located across from Toshimaen amusement park. Roppongi Hills’ Toho Cinema is also child-friendly. If you’re cool with sitting through the latest Doraemon or Crayon Shin-chan while your toddler sleeps all the way through, then these should definitely be a Golden Week option.
Also in Roppongi, during Golden Week, is Tokyo Midtown’s Open the Park event, until May 6, which is decorated with lots of Koi Nobori and a great spot for kids to run around mad.
Another option is to head out of Tokyo to nearby Kanagawa, Chiba or Shizuoka where there are some lovely seaside towns. Although beware of the infamous Golden Week U-turn Rush where families seem to be content with spending two days locked inside stifling cars on dreary motorways.
Anyway, Happy Golden Week everyone…