Which part of Japan is Kansai?
Kansai is not a city, but a general term for a region that includes Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Shiga, Mie, Wakayama and Hyogo 2 prefectures and 5 prefectures. People visit the Kansai region mainly to see Osaka, Kyoto and Nara, while other cities are less developed and less known for their tourism.
Although Kyoto, Osaka and Nara are relatively close to each other, their styles are very different, so you can enjoy different Japanese styles in one trip. Make sure to check the current travel visa and travel restrictions before your departure to Japan.
What can I do in Kansai with my children?
In Osaka, you can enjoy great food and shopping, and there are plenty of fun places for kids, such as Universal Studios with its newly-opened Super Nintendo World and LEGOLAND Discovery Center!
In Kyoto you can see ancient buildings with thousands of years of history, see Geisha in costume on the streets of Gion, and buy antique Kiyomizu-yaki porcelain in the small stores of Futsuzaka.
The living sign of Nara is the herds of deer that are herded in the city. They gather in Nara Park and the mountains and are friendly with people, and are the most attractive part of Nara, and both children and adults will be adored by the deer.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at each.
This post is part of our Discover Asia series on the Globetrotters Blog
If you like the ancient atmosphere of Japan and want to take your children to play slowly, then it is recommended that you stay in Kyoto for 3 days, one day to visit some of Japan’s traditional buildings and attractions, one day to take a slow stroll around Gion, you can wear kimono Oh, and then one day to visit Arashiyama scenic area.
Fushimi Inari Taisha
Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine is one of the most popular shrines in Kyoto and has a strong incense culture. The biggest attraction of Fushimi Inari Taisha is the Senbon Torii, which is a Japanese shrine building that represents the entrance to the shrine and can be regarded as a kind of gate.
There are countless bright red torii erected along the long mountain path, all donated by individuals or companies. Senbon Torii is also the location of the movie “Memoirs of a Geisha”, and you can also overlook the scenic spot at the junction halfway up the mountain. If you want to walk all the torii intact it takes about two hours one way, so you can turn back depending on your situation.
Access: Take the JR Nara Line and get off at Inari Station; take the Kyoto Main Line and get off at Fushimi Inari Station.
Kinkaku-ji Temple and Kiyomizu-ji Temple are the two temples you must visit in Kyoto.
Kinkaku-ji is named after the golden pavilion where the relics of Buddha’s body are enshrined inside the temple. The outside of the temple is covered with gold leaf, and the sun shines brightly in gold. However, you can only see it from afar and cannot enter the interior. This is the place where Master Ichigo practiced!
The unique feature of Kinkaku-ji is that visitors are given a vermillion seal with a blessing instead of an entrance ticket. In addition, there are divination signs in Chinese and Korean next to the Fudo Hall in the courtyard, and the matcha ice cream sold inside Kinkakuji Temple has a very good reputation.
Kiyomizu Temple is a famous spot for maple and cherry blossom viewing. Take a bus from Kyoto Station to Kiyomizu-do Station or Gojosaka Station, walk up the hill and follow Kiyomizu-zaka to the end of Kiyomizu Temple, the most famous temple in Kyoto. The entrance fee is 300 yen for adults.
The old temple is built on a hill, and the Kiyomizu stage, which is supported by hundreds of huge logs, is the most interesting sight to see. The Jizo Shrine inside Kiyomizu Temple is a spiritual place for praying for marriage, and you can ask for various kinds of Gosho, so it is naturally the most popular place, and the shelves are full of ema with wishes written on them.
You can also see many people wearing kimono here, which blends well with the surrounding scenery. It is recommended to avoid the rush of tourists after 10am to 4-5pm, which spoils the peaceful atmosphere of Kiyomizu Temple. There is also a small store under the Kiyomizu stage that specializes in udon and soba, and the miso soup with raw egg is very good. The matcha puffs on Kiyomizaka are also very popular and almost everyone gets one, with a rich matcha flavour.
Osaka is a popular destination for children and adults alike. We recommend spending 3 days in Osaka, one day at Universal Studios, one day at Legoland, Kaiyukan and other places your kids like, and one day for shopping and eating.
Universal Studios Osaka
Located in the flower district of Osaka, Japan, this is one of the world’s three Universal Studios theme parks. The greatest feature is the Universal Studios Harry Potter castle area, which is the world’s first Harry Potter theme area, opened even before the United States. Harry Potter fans should not miss it!
If you want to enjoy as many rides and experiences as possible, then a fast ticket that allows you to jump the queue is absolutely essential, when you cross the 2 or 3 hours queue, that feeling of superiority is indescribable!
Important reminder: The number of fast tickets is limited, they are difficult to get. Fast tickets must be booked more than half a month in advance. Note your fast ticket is not your park ticket, you need to have both “tickets + fast ticket”.
Access: Universal Studios is located in Sakurajima, take the JR Sakurajima line and get off at Universal City station, then walk for 5 minutes.
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
“Why do you have to go to Osaka to see the aquarium? Because it is one of the world’s largest aquariums in the world!”
Another recommendation is that there is a touch area where you can put your hand in and touch some of the marine animals up close, which is definitely a special experience!
When you enter the museum, take the elevator to the top floor, and then follow the instructions to go down the spiral of the road, you can see the huge sharks swimming past you, and also pass by the jellyfish swimming beautifully, both shocking scenes and beautiful pictures, children will love it!
Access: Subway Chuo Line Osaka Port Station Exit 1, then a 5-minute walk.
Nara is a small place, and most of the day is enough, so you can arrive in Nara in the morning and check back to Kyoto or Osaka in the evening.
There are more than 1200 wild deer in Nara Park. In the park, there are many stalls selling “Kagami”, which is a special treat for the deer, for 150 yen per bundle. The local people are very careful, and the paper strings used to tie up the deer scallops are made of coarse grain, so it’s okay if anxious deer accidentally swallow them.
When feeding the deer, you have to watch the deer scallops carefully, some deer will come up and grab the food, and when they can’t grab it, they may even bite your clothes and pamper you, so you have to hide the deer scallops before feeding them.
Important Tip: There are places to store luggage in the park, from 300 to 700 yen depending on the size of the luggage, but the storage place is limited, if you go with luggage, remember to go early to avoid no empty lockers can be stored.
In Nara Park, there are also attractions such as Todaiji Temple and Kasuga Taisha, where you can pray and kneel if you are interested.
Access: Nara Park is about a 10-15 minute walk from Kintetsu Nara Station or JR Nara Station, with Kintetsu Nara Station being closer to the scenic spot.
We hope we’ve inspired you to add Kansai to your family travel wishlist. You can easily pair a trip to Kansai region with visiting Tokyo for a thorough and incredible Japanese itinerary.