Japan: the home of painstakingly presented and mind-blowingly tasty cuisine, gorgeous gardens, steaming onsens and Asia’s largest Disneyland (just in case the kids need to be persuaded to pack their bags!). Take advantage of the upcoming end-of-year holidays to explore Asia’s most beguiling destination, where Tokyo’s many child-friendly attractions include one of the world’s largest aquariums. Alternatively, say konnichiwa to the ancient feudal town of Kanazawa, where you can don a yukata and explore ancient samurai and geisha districts.
From hip urban boltholes to charming ryokans, boutique travel experts Mr & Mrs Smith have got Japan covered…
Style Revamped ryokan
Setting Lush Yamashiro gardens
Experience Japan as it once was before the soaring skyline, pachinko parlours and vending machines moved in at Beniya Mukaya in Kanazawa, where kaiseki cuisine, futon beds and your own onsen await.
Sleeping The Japanese Premier Tatami Garden View rooms sleep up to five (children need to be seven or older to check in) and has a private terrace, hammock for the kids to swing in and an open-air onsen. Alternatively, splash out on the Wakamurasaki Suite Garden View, which features a twin bedroom and can sleep up to six. In both cases, kids will love bedding down on the extra futons. Meals can be served in the suite’s dining room, which has a Japanese dining table and traditional tatami mat.
Activities Head to the 1,300-year-old town of Yamashiro and explore some of Japan’s best-preserved samurai and geisha districts – a real-life history lesson for the kids. Lose yourself in the beauty of Kenroku-en Garden – one of the country’s three most revered – then visit the ruins of Kanazawa Castle. Pick up exquisite Kutani-yaki porcelain for souvenirs before you say sayonara and make the 25-minute train journey back to the hotel.
Feasting: As with most ryokans, kaiseki cuisine is a specialty and, over 10 courses, you’ll sample Kanazawa delicacies such as local crab with amber jelly and steamed bamboo shoots presented so beautifully, it hurts. Adults can say ‘kanpai’ to a free glass of local sake or wine at each set dinner. If the formalities of kaiseki begin to wear thin with the kids, head into Kanazawa for dinner at the Skylark Family Restaurant for inexpensive Japanese and Western dishes.
Sassy Savings: Book with Smith to enjoy a 3 Night Stay Offer including a traditional dinner on each night. The offer is valid until 14 September 2014.
Style Cool kid on the block
Setting Metropolitan Meguro
Leave Shibuya’s hordes and Harajuku’s cosplay kids behind and check into Claska for a more laid-back, local take on the Japanese capital.
Sleeping The minimalistic vibe of both the Japanese Modern Standard Rooms and Tatami Rooms – think muted colour palettes and a strictly functional approach to furniture – is oh-so-Tokyo. Extra beds cost JPY5,000 (plus service charge and tax). Want to explore the city’s cavernous malls and glam sky bars without the kids in tow? Babysitting is available for JPY1,890 an hour.
Activities Older kids will adore the indie boutiques and cafes in Meguro, particularly if you hire bikes from the hotel and pedal alongside the locals. If the weather’s good, flop down on the grass and watch the traffic stream past at nearby Meguro Sky Garden, an urban park loftily positioned atop Ohashi Junction. For a special treat, take them to Tokyo Disneyland, where attractions include Toy Story Mania! and the Tower of Terror.
Feasting Pull up a chair at Claska’s Kiokuh, which opens for breakfast, lunch (children’s menu available) and dinner and serves up Italian-inspired plates such as fritto misto with green-tea salt and Japanese citrus and pizza with prosciutto and wasabina (leaf mustard). Want to eat out? Take them to home-grown American-style diner Golden Brown for burgers, hot dogs and a chocolate brownie.
Sassy Savings Book with Smith to enjoy Room Only: 30-day advance-Purchase Rate from US$232 a night. This offer ends 31 December 2014.
Park Hyatt Tokyo
Style Celluloid sophistication
Setting Chic Shinjuku
Live out the Asian urban dream at Tokyo’s ultimate address, where you can re-enact your own Lost In Translation romance when the kids are in bed and seek out Tokyo’s most kid-friendly hangouts once they wake up…
Sleeping Book a Park Deluxe (king or twin) and you might just bag a Mount Fuji view – but at the very least you’ll be overlooking Tokyo’s stellar skyline. Hokkaido elm panelling, tufted carpets and a Japanese cypress tub await in the Governor’s Suite Twin; alternatively, the Diplomat Suite King has its own piano and two double beds. Cots are free and extra beds can be added to all but the Park Rooms for JPY8,000 a night (plus tax and service charge). Extras such as bed guards, mats and milk frothers are available on request.
Activities Zoom up to the Tokyo Tower Aquarium, which is home to more than 500,000 salt-water and tropical fish and is one of the largest aquariums in the world. With plenty of hands-on exhibits to keep the kids amused – plus a wooden ‘forest’ and toy factory – the Tokyo Toy Museum is another solid bet for an absorbing day out.
Feasting Head to European-style brasserie Girandole for casual fare like tagliatelle Bolognese or dig into fuss-free bites such as fish and chips and chicken sandwiches in the Peak Lounge, which is located in the gorgeous surrounds of the very zen Bamboo Garden. At Japanese restaurant Kozue, Mount Fuji vistas are delivered from every window on a clear day, and the kids can slurp on soba.
Sassy Savings Book with Smith to enjoy 15% off Stays of 7 Nights or More Advance Purchase from US$386 per night. This offer ends 31 March 2014.
Discover fun family-friendly breaks in Japan and beyond by visiting www.mrandmrssmith.com or call the expert Travel Team on 800 905 326.