Beyond Tokyo, Osaka & Kyoto: 10 Family-Friendly Things to Do in Japan

Beyond Tokyo, Osaka & Kyoto: 10 Family-Friendly Things to Do in Japan

Bookmark this for your next family trip to Japan!

A perennial favourite amongst travellers all over the world, Japan has taken the world by storm. Indeed, its stunning landscapes, quirky culture, futuristic tech and superb hospitality has captured the hearts of many. The only problem with travelling to Japan? With increasing popularity comes bustling and, at times intense, crowds.

If you’re looking for a quieter and more peaceful, yet equally as novel, experience, we say skip the human sea in the typical haunts of Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto. Instead, why not set your sights on exploring the rest of Kyushu, the so-called “birthplace of Japanese civilisation”? Kyushu has much to offer to families seeking a different Japanese experience, and may be just the destination that you’re looking for.

What always comes together with planning a family holiday? Frantic research and a mad scrabble to please everyone. But what if we told you we had a solution to all this?

Sit back, relax and check out JTB Singapore’s 6D4N Kyushu Tours! You can choose to:

Let the experts do the talking (and planning) whilst you do the enjoying. Sounds too good to be true? Well with JTB Singapore, it isn’t.

Sit back and relax – having a family trip hasn’t never been easier.

However, why just take our word for it? Go ahead and experience this unique locale for yourself! Here’s the lowdown on what you can do on this mysterious Japanese island of Kyushu:

1. Marvel at a gorgeous gorge

things to do in japan

Image credit: JTB Singapore

Japan is well-known for its scenic landscapes, and the Takachiho Gorge stands testament to that very perception. With cliffs forming volcanic basalt columns, the Takachiho Gorge is a natural spectacle that stands out in Kyushu. This serene oasis is a sight to behold, especially with the 17-metre high Minainotaki waterfall cascading down to the river below. We’ve heard that it is especially beautiful in the autumn months when the entire valley is draped in the changing shades of fall!

While many choose to walk along the elevated bridge spanning the gorge, why not try your hand at rowing instead? Pick up a rental boat and meander along the lush environment together with your loved ones. The slow ripple of the river amidst the foliage in the background makes for a therapeutic scenery that will definitely leave you wanting for more.

2. Visit a shrine located along the coast

things to do in japan

Image credit: AHLN

Vermilion coloured gates lined up next to the crashing waves along the Nichinan Coast. What more could you ask for? Tucked in a cave on the edge of a cliff, the Udo Shrine’s spectacular location leaves little to the imagination. This cultural phenomenon is the perfect mishmash of natural flair and cultural exuberance culminating in the shrine’s prominence as a significant landmark in Kyushu. Follow the trail into a cave that overlooks the ocean and marvel at the ravishing surroundings! Grab your cameras and snap some shots of this amazing view.

Your climb up to Udo Shrine will not be complete without trying your hand at throwing small ceramic undama, or lucky balls, off the terrace! Legend has it that landing your undama within the target just outside the cave will bring you good fortune, and we’re sure the younger members of your family will have a blast hurling objects into the crashing waves down below.

3. Go trigger happy amidst green and gold foliage

things to do in japan

Image credit: JTB Singapore

With gleaming ponds, flowing streams, ancient shrines and towering bamboo groves furnishing its surroundings, the Senganen Garden is the perfect place for a leisurely stroll. The sublime architecture of this garden, coupled with views of the active volcano Sakurajima looming in the distance, makes for an utterly picturesque backdrop.

Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, remnants of the ancient Edo period can be found nestled in the heart of this scenic garden. It’s well-worth a visit for any visitor to the park! As you stroll along whilst capturing priceless memories with your families, don’t miss out on the iconic bamboo grove located within the garden premises. For those craving for more insight into their visit to the beautiful Senganen Gardens, take up a guided tour of the Iso Residences and get a chance to sit in for a traditional Japanese tea ceremony!

Psst…Those attractions listed above? That’s not the end of it. With any of these Kyushu tours by JTB Singapore, you’d be guaranteed a Japanese experience like no other!

If you’re looking for a destination that’s perfect for the whole family, THIS is it. Book your tour now!

4. Cruise down a Japanese canal

Image credit: JTB Singapore

Forget that trip to Venice, Yanagawa has got you covered. Known as the “Venice of Japan”, Yanagawa’s boat rides down its river is an absolute must-do when you’re in the area! Marvel at the Namako walls and Yaemon Bridge as you cruise down this charming fairytale town lined with rustic buildings. We promise you that after this three kilometre boat ride, you’ll be begging to go another round!

But wait, there’s more! Yanagawa is more than just a scenic town littered with canals, especially since much of this quaint town is still left undiscovered! For starters, Yanagawa is famed for its delectable “unagi no seiromushi”, a unique barbequed eel dish that is bound to trigger your hunger pangs. From humble eateries to traditional restaurants, you can be sure to find some of the most gastronomical unagi you’ll ever try right here in Yanagawa!

5. Have a taste of royalty

Image credit: LuxTonnerre

The colossal Shimabara castle is the extravagant centrepiece of the surrounding landscape, serving as a stark reminder of the royalty that resided in this area. Saunter through the royal quarters, and live the high life as you explore the glamorous rooms and furnishings adorning the castle. For those feeling frisky enough, scale this white walled castle for a priceless view of Mount Unzen and across the lake to Kumamoto in the distance!

If climbing stairs doesn’t appeal to your family, there are still plenty of highlights in and around Shimabara Castle. From carefully curated museums that document the Shimabara Rebellion in the 1600s to well-preserved samurai houses open to the public, both adults and children will be thoroughly engaged! Otherwise, just appreciate the grandeur of this castle from its exterior. After all, how often do you get such royal views?

6. Choose your “Catch of the Day”

Image credit: JTB Singapore

You absolutely MUST visit a Japanese market when you’re in Japan! The Tanga Market’s Showa-era atmosphere and authenticity make it the perfect stop for your shopping endeavours. Sink your teeth into some freshly prepared Kitakyushu delicacies or opt to do some window shopping instead! Rest assured, you will be able to find everything you’re looking for in this huge complex! From fresh seafood to tea leaves, there’s a piece of Japan waiting to be found by everyone in your family here.

There’s even a Shokushisai (food festival) on the 1st of every month, promising exceptional cuisines and exhibitions. Tanga Market’s your one-stop market to satiate all your Japanese cravings.

To give you that extra push, no matter which Kyushu tour you pick, you’ll be able to enjoy a JTB Exclusive Kyushu Night in Kumamoto! This normally costs S$150 per person, but will be included in any of the Kyushu tour packages.

Indulge in sumptuous Kyushu food specialties, feast your eyes on Kyushu local performances, and be surprised by special guest appearances! We won’t tell you who they are – you just have to find out for yourself!

With so much in store, what are you waiting for? A fun-filled family holiday is just a click away!

7. Go ape at a monkey park

Image credit: Jordi Sanchez Teruel

Yes, a monkey park. Forget the bathing hot spring monkeys in Nagano, the Takasakiyama Monkey Park brings you up close and personal with close to 1,300 of these primates! Witness one of the mass feeding sessions and watch the furry critters scurry about for their food and play around with one another, all whilst oblivious to their newfound human friends.

Your Japanese adventure isn’t complete without a visit to this unique attraction – especially since these monkeys are native to Japan. Do your best monkey impression and snap some photos of yourself in the midst of their amusing antics during your visit!

8. Brave the pits of hell

Image credit: JTB Singapore

Stand unfazed by the “blood pond hell” that emanates fiery steam and boils in a crimson red pool. The Chinoike Jigoku makes for a photogenic shot due to the uniquely spine-chilling appearance, with a cloud of steam constantly emanating from the surface of the water.

Little do most visitors know that the pool was originally used as an actual torturing device, where it was used to boil its victims to death. Despite its hellish facade and morbid history, tourists flock to this attraction in hopes of marvelling at this striking natural display. Besides capturing the obligatory family photo at this stunning hot spring, purchase some exquisite skin products made from the mud of Chinoike Jigoku!

9. Catch a picturesque surrounding from up high

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Think you’ve seen all there is to see from Japan’s cloudbusting landmarks? Think again. Move aside Tokyo Tower, the Kokonoe Yume Grand Suspension Bridge is here to transport you to a completely different world! With crisp air, falling autumn leaves and the Shindonotaki falls in sight, you’ll be treated to a spectacular panoramic view from atop this 390-metre bridge. Bask in this moment for as long as you want, it’s not everyday you get to see Japanese mountains in the backdrop and listen to the sound of gushing water in such an idyllic setting.

10. Bask in a poet’s prairie

Image credit: JTB Singapore

Kusasenri is literally the stuff of poets. Many iconic poets have written stanzas after stanzas depicting this prairie’s lush greenery and vivid beauty. With an ever changing landscape as the seasons go by and the animals roam, you can be sure that you and your family will always be greeted with new sights and sounds of the Japanese landscape.

Watch horses graze the tranquil pastures as Mount Nakadake looms in the distance. Saddle up and hop on a horse to see a greater spectrum of these majestic plains!

With an eclectic lineup of activities and attractions in Kyushu, there’s no reason to miss out exploring this part of Japan! Skip the crowded compounds and treat yourself to a more intimate encounter with Japan and its culture. It’s the perfect destination for a family holiday!

Get the full experience with one of JTB Singapore’s 6D4N Kyushu tours, where everything (and we do mean, everything) will be settled for you. There’s no better way to bond with your family than with a family trip overseas and with a variety of options to choose from, there’s bound to be something for everyone. Start booking your holiday now!

Brought to you by JTB Singapore.

About Authors

Kevin Mak
Kevin Mak

Apart from catching overly-dramatic movies, quenching his voracious appetite and just lounging in his free time, Kevin finds François Rabelais' quote "I am going to seek a grand perhaps" resonating with him at times. It is this very desire that sees him travelling to foreign lands in search of new experiences, and food. In his adventures, the only thing that can temporarily impede his journey is his soft spot for pizza.


Joel Low
Joel Low

Believing there is no greater happiness to be had than when travelling, Joel explores the world eager to explore foreign cultures, meet new people and constantly rediscover what makes Singapore his home.