Some travel professionals will try to convince you that there are a host of activities to do with kids in Kyoto.
I have decided that these well-intentioned travel professionals don’t have kids of their own 🙂
Kyoto is a city that has fascinating temples and shrines, beautiful gardens and delicious food. But in all honesty, it’s not all that set up for the younger crowd. There are a few playgrounds (a tad questionable in both age and safety) and a handful of sites (the new Kyoto aquarium, the currently-closed-for-renovation Railway Museum) but for the 6-and-under crowd, there’s not a whole lot more.
Which is why I was thrilled to stumble across the Kodomo Miraikan this past autumn just south of the Imperial Palace. The center is sizable, with the main focus being on a multi-story playset/maze in the large room on the first floor. Underneath the raised play set, there are multiple smaller sections – a play kitchen, a wooden ball pit, a dress-up corner, and a doll cubby. In the corner of the room, there were cubbies for parents to leave their things and the chests scattered around the room and used as seats could also be used to store purses/bags/etc.
When we arrived, the staff were just finishing up a daily “class” – many play centers conduct 30-40 minute classes with songs and stories and that seemed to be the case here.
The weather was bearable on the day we went, so we enjoyed a cold hour out on the playground. My daughter loved the cement climbing hill, with chains for scaling the “peak” and wide slides down the sides. There were also swings, monkey bars and bouncy animals.
The Kodomo Miraikan (website here but Japanese only) is free to visit and a short walk from the Marutamachi metro station. It’s open from 9am-9pm (5pm on Sundays) and closed on Tuesdays. When your youngster gets burned out on temples and shrines, come here to give them a bit of rejuvenation.