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Known as the traditional and cultural heart of Japan, Kyoto is full of ancient temples, beautiful gardens and impressive examples of traditional Japanese architecture. One of the big challenges of traveling to Japan with kids is that it can be an expensive place to visit. Rest assured, because this article offers you 3 fun and inexpensive activities to do in Kyoto with the children.

Visit Iwatayama Monkey Park

Japan has truly unique local wildlife in each of its regions. Kyoto is perhaps one of the largest cities in the country in which people and native wildlife live so close together. It is not uncommon to see deer, snakes, great and little egrets, herons and even capybaras in the tall grass of Kyoto's rivers. Visitors can also get up close and personal with Kyoto's wild macaque population.

Iwatayama Monkey Park is located in the Arashiyama area, famous for its lush green bamboo corridors. After a short hike up the mountain, you can find yourself in a small park overlooking the city and you will have the chance to feed the monkeys in a specially built enclosure.

Good to know: although monkeys are accustomed to human hosts, they are still wild animals. Visitors are warned to avoid eye contact with the monkeys and to be careful when interacting with them. That said, the experience of interacting with these adorable gray monkeys is too enticing to pass up.

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Stop at the Samurai and Ninja Museum in Kyoto

It's difficult to talk about Japan without mentioning samurai and ninjas. The influence of these martial figures in Eastern and Western culture is considerable and cannot be denied. It is therefore natural for any visitor to the ancient capital of Japan to want to capture some of the mythical magic of these warriors of the ancient century.

Fortunately, Kyoto offers plenty of opportunities for visitors to follow in the footsteps of the samurai. One of the largest and most interactive of these experiences is the Kyoto Samurai and Ninja Museum located in the Nakagyo district. Here, guests can view authentic items from the Muromachi and Edo periods, including swords and armor.

Guests have the opportunity to take a free English-language guided tour of the museum and try on samurai or ninja clothing. Learn what makes the Japanese katana unique compared to Western blades. Participate in a yukata tea ceremony. And, above all, have fun discovering the Japan of yesteryear in this highly interactive, fun and welcoming environment.

Take a family trip to the Kyoto Aquarium

The Kyoto Aquarium is a relatively recent addition to Kyoto's modern entertainment landscape . Opened in 2012, this multi-exhibition aquatic center focuses primarily on the marine life endemic to Kyoto's waterways.

The aquarium seeks to both entertain and educate its guests about marine life and aquatic ecosystems. This makes it a great place for a fun and intellectual outing with the kids. Young and old will be amazed by their discoveries. Exhibits include Kyoto River biomes with:

  • Asian giant salamanders
  • fur seals
  • penguins
  • dolphin shows
  • coral reefs
  • many more