Golden Week is without a doubt the most famous holiday period to visit some of Japan’s best family destinations, but—despite what the name might suggest—Silver Week isn’t exactly right behind it in terms of popularity. In fact, the term has only really caught on since 2009 and even today not everyone is totally sure when exactly Silver Week starts or ends.
Well, in 2020, Silver Week will start on September 19, which is a regular Saturday, and continue through Sunday (20th), the Respect for the Aged Day (21st) and the Autumnal Equinox Day (22nd), so right around the time when the weather starts to cool down a bit. It’s the perfect opportunity to take the entire family somewhere, but with Covid and all, your options might be limited. So here are some suggestions:
1. Wanpaku Tengoku Playground
Located a 10-minute walk from Tokyo Skytree, Wanpaku Tengoku is a large fort with wooden walls that are guarding possibly the best playground in the capital. From rope bridges to swings of all kind and an incredible selection of free-to-use toys (including bikes and stilts), any kid could spend hours here, and the best part is that entrance is totally free. Wanpaku Tengoku also has a well-equipped woodworking workshop where parents can help kids build all sorts of neat things but, due to COVID, only four people at a time are allowed inside it, and, needless to say, masks are compulsory.
2. Tokyo Dome City
Previously and weirdly known as Big Egg City (just… why?), Tokyo Dome City is an entertainment complex centered around the famous baseball stadium but, don’t worry, no one is suggesting you drag your entire family to a baseball game. Instead, head on over to the adjacent Tokyo Dome City Attractions, a huge amusement park that houses the Thunder Dolphin rollercoaster with a top speed of 130 km/h and near-total vertical drops. They also have a Ferris Wheel, a haunted house, a merry-go-round and lots of other attractions and games for children of all ages.
Unlimited passes for all the rides can get a little expensive but you can save money by getting yourself a TDC electronic coupon. *Please note that guests 2 years of age and older have to wear masks, and temperature checks are conducted throughout the facility.
3. Tokyo National Museum
Normally, museums are rarely anyone’s first choice when it comes to family excursions, but this is one of the largest institutions of its kind in the entire world and between all of their National Treasures of Japan and Important Cultural Properties, there’s bound to be something here to interest just about anybody. Perhaps kids won’t be too into ancient Buddhist sculptures and Noh theater masks, but they should perk up around the samurai sword and armor exhibit.
The museum hosts a Free Admission Day three times a year and one of them falls on September 21, so don’t miss your chance and head on over there during this Silver Week.
4. KidZania Tokyo
KidZania calls itself a city for kids where they can learn about the real world in a simulated, mini society of children. It’s kind of like a theme park that combines career day.
At KidZania, kids can participate in a variety of fun activities centered around cool jobs like chef, firefighter, even a game company employee, and everything in between. And they do it all without you. Adults aren’t allowed in the majority of the “pavilions.” Instead, while your kid plays and learns, you get to sit and relax at the Parents Lounge (though you can stick around and watch your kids through observations windows.)
This Silver Week holiday, from September 18–21, kids are able to participate in a special ice cream shop experience from Nissei. KidZania has implemented extensive safety and security measures to maintain a safe site for kids. Guests are asked to wear a mask (optional for kids under 3 years old) and a thermography camera will be used to measure guests’ temperatures.
Same-day tickets are available but they tend to go fast so it’s best to make a reservation beforehand.
5. Tokyo LEGOLAND Discovery Center
Although LEGO has by now become a hobby for both kids and adults, the LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Tokyo is aimed specifically towards the younger visitor. You can tell because adults aren’t allowed inside unless they’re accompanied by a child.
But there are a lot of things here that the entire family can enjoy. LEGO City Builder is a chance to create your own mini metropolis. LEGO Racers lets you construct and test out toy cars. Attractions like Kingdom Quest are like something straight out of an amusement park. There’s even a 4D cinema on the premises and a Duplo corner for the really young visitors.
However, to experience all that, you’ll have to buy your tickets in advance, to help the center control the number of people it lets in at a time. Consider downloading their official app, which will help you on your visit and also lets you participate in fun games.