Top Tokyo Spots for Kids with Autism

 

Top Tokyo Spots for Kids with Autism pin

 

Tokyo is a great travel destination for families visiting Japan. Parents looking for an international city that features cultural experiences, natural wonders, and amusement parks should put Tokyo on their bucket list. After having enjoyed the city’s sights on our latest Asian adventure, here are our top autism-friendly spots for traveling families.

7565403988_d507929801_k-001Disneyland Tokyo and Tokyo Disney Sea

Parents looking to incorporate a bit of Mickey Mouse into their Tokyo vacation should visit Disneyland Tokyo and its sister park Tokyo Disney Sea. Filled with thrill rides and shows, these two Disney parks are sure to deliver a fun-filled experience for the entire family.

Though Disneyland Tokyo is similar to its US counterparts, Tokyo Disney Sea is unique. Tokyo Disney Sea boasts an ocean theme with gondola trips and the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride.

Top Tokyo Spots for Kids with Autism views

Tokyo Sea Life Park

This place is a fantastic way to acquaint children with sea life from different oceans around the world. Kids will marvel at the unique sea creatures indigenous to various bodies of water, colorful fish, sea horses, and sharks. Also, they will be more than likely to get a chuckle out of the bird antics in the penguin exhibit. The Sea Life Park is located just across from Disneyland in the Kasai Rinkai Park so it should not be too hard to find.

Top Tokyo Spots for Kids with Autism statue
Odaiba

Odaiba is an artificial island rising out of Tokyo Bay. This island is a hub of all things futuristic, as it was originally meant to showcase futuristic living much like Epcot in Florida.

Today, Odaiba features attractions like the Daikanransha Ferris Wheel and Sony Explora Science. Kids will love the arcades with the most up to date games, and parents will savor the views from the Fuji TV building. Everything from state of the art electronics to futuristic architecture will enthrall all family members. Not to be missed is the Rainbow Bridge beautifully lit at nighttime.

Top Tokyo Spots for Kids with Autism temple

Ginza and the Sony Showroom 

Ginza is a shopping district, the closest thing Japan has to Times Square in New York City. There are numerous upscale boutique shops and posh department stores where children and parents alike can deck themselves out with high-end fashion. Geeks will enjoy a short tour of the Sony ExploraScience building with its interactive activities, and hands-on demonstrations.

Top Tokyo Spots for Kids with Autism sony

 

Edo-Tokyo Museum

The Edo-Tokyo Museum gives visitors a walk through the history of Tokyo. Travelers get a rare glimpse the origins of a city from a unique perspective. Here, guests can visit scaled models of buildings that re-create important events in history from the beginnings of Tokyo to the war-torn aftermath of World War II. The museum ends with a modern rendition of Tokyo built to scale. Children will love this up close and personal view of one of the greatest cities in the world.

Families can get English speaking personalized guided tours for free, an excellent feature.

Top Tokyo Spots for Kids with Autism diorama

 

Sensoji Temple

This location is the city’s most famous Buddhist temple. It is also the oldest. However, the structure that currently stands there is relatively new despite its ancient history. This fact is because WWII bombings nearly destroyed the structure.

Having been rebuilt, Sensoji is a serene space for Buddhists to practice and live out their faith. The street leading up to the temple is lined with souvenir shops and restaurants that families can enjoy. Parents will want to keep their children close to the main gate to avoid crowds. However, once inside, parents can introduce their children to a culture like no other. Those visiting at six pm can hear the regular ringing of the bells.

Top Tokyo Spots for Kids with Autism lamp

 

Tokyo Tower and Skytree

Parents can explore the Tokyo Tower, a communications hub found in the Shiba-Koen district of Minato. The Tower’s construction was inspired by the Eiffel tower and stands as the second highest structure in all of Japan. Families can ride the escalator to the tower’s observation deck or climb its 600 steps. Just below the Tower is FootTown, a four-story building with museums, eateries, and shopping areas.

The Tower was initially constructed for television and radio in 1961, but when Japan transitioned to digital television, the Tower was not tall enough to support the change. Therefore, the Tokyo Skytree, the tallest structure in all of Japan and the world, was built in 2012 in Sumida.

Top Tokyo Spots for Kids with Autism wedding

Studio Ghibli 

Founded on June 15, 1985, by directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, Studio Ghibli is the number one Studio for Japanese animation. It is based in Koganei, just outside Tokyo. The studio is best known for its films such as My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, and Princess Mononoke.

Production at Studio Ghibli is currently temporarily halted with Miyazaki’s retirement, but travelers can still visit the Studio. Check out the small cafe ‘s bamboo straws and unique ice cubes.When we went, the lack of commercialization in the studio struck us especially. Studio Ghibli is nothing like US Studios, and visiting is more of a journey into the creation of anime movies and the process behind it. This visit is more recommended for older kids.

Top Tokyo Spots for Kids with Autism ticket

Hama Rikyu

Hama Rikyu is a beautiful garden park at the mouth of the Sumida River. The park was originally the home of a feudal lord in the Edo period but opened as a park officially in April of 1946. A seawater moat circles the entire park. Visitors can enjoy matcha tea and sweets at the teahouse in the garden’s center. During the New Year, travelers can also see falconry and aikido demonstrations at the park.The park is a relaxing spot for kids to run about and enjoy the outdoors in what is a very busy metropolis.


Top Tokyo Spots for Kids with Autism park

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents should be aware that landmarks and entertainment venues in Japan are quite autism friendly and will go out of their way to accommodate personal needs.
  • Always ask before purchasing tickets if there are any discounts for disabilities.
  • Japan is a polite society, so advise your kid to say please and thank you and use their inside voice.
    Parents should ask for the complimentary guided tour of the Edo Museum
  • Though the theme parks here don’t  use the same disability pass like in the US, the staff does a superb job of accommodating autism
  • Noise sensitive kids should avoid visiting the Sensoji Temple around six pm when the bells ring quite loudly.

 

Have you taken your child to Tokyo? What are your thoughts?

 

 

Taking Your Child with Autism to Japan

Taking Your Child with Autism to Japan pin

Japan is a fascinating family-friendly country to experience for all, including children with autism. Before traveling, parents should understand its customs and culture better to help everyone have an enjoyable visit.

Taking Your Child with Autism to Japan kitty

 

 The Japanese toilets can be scary

One of the first things travelers will encounter in Japan are the plug-in Japanese toilets. The commode facilities have individual settings for sound and heating which may freak some travelers with autism.
Our son with autism was frightened he might get electrocuted when he saw the toilet plugged into the outlet. Though we tried to reassure him repeatedly that it was safe, his fear never really went away.

Furthermore, visitors may encounter a traditional Japanese squat toilet that looks nothing like the western ones. This ground level commode requires balance that people with autism might not have and presents a challenge to use.

 

Taking Your Child with Autism to Japan toilet

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Show your kids pictures or videos of the plug -in Japanese toilets before visiting so they understand they are safe to use.
  • If your kid is uncomfortable with using, the plug-in toilets remember they can be unplugged.
  • Parents should bear in mind that hotels and restaurants have Western toilets to use for free if the traditional Japanese facilities are too scary.

 

The Japanese food is different

Food in Japan is quite different than in other countries, with many dishes either being saltier or sweeter than travelers might be accustomed to in their countries of origin.
Visitors should understand that restaurant portions are smaller than in the US or Europe and that the options of free drink refills and returning food to the kitchen if disliked aren’t offered.

Also, parents should be aware that many of the budget friendly restaurants only provide chopsticks which may be challenging for kids with autism.

 

Taking Your Child with Autism to Japan food

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Travelers should always ask the price of the dishes before ordering.
  • Some venues have plastic replicas of the served dishes displayed in the front window, so visitors can see what they are about to order
  • Avoid American chain restaurants as their fare is usually adapted to local taste preferences which could disappoint kids used to particular flavors and textures.
  • Parents should prepare their kids for the possibility they might not find their favorite pizza selection since Japan isn’t big on cheeses (many people in Asian countries are lactose intolerant.)
  • Tourists should check out the local supermarkets for cheaper food and samples of the local dishes.
  • For kids that can’t use chopsticks, parents should pack plastic cutlery to facilitate easy eating.

Mind the trash

Japanese streets are immaculately clean with virtually no litter on the streets. Surprisingly enough, as we discovered during our visit, there weren’t that many public bins to dispose of waste, which made it cumbersome to dispose of any trash after enjoying street grub.

Taking Your Child with Autism to Japan street grub

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Carrying a plastic Ziploc bag in one’s pocket for unexpected garbage may be a good idea when touring Japan.

There’s quite a bit of smoking

Japan still allows smoking in public places. Therefore, parents need to request non-smoking hotel rooms and restaurant tables ahead of time to avoid unnecessary snafus.

Taking Your Child with Autism to Japan lines

 

Autism Travel Tips:

  • As customer service is excellent in Japan, travelers can always ask to change their room or table even at the last minute.

Crossing the road is complicated

The major cities in Japan have intersecting crosswalks that can be downright daunting for tourists from other countries. During our first visit to Tokyo, we stood at a Shinjuku crossing for a few minutes trying to decipher which way we should go. Because of this, parents should reiterate to kids the importance of staying close to them and not darting into traffic which in these cases can come from multiple directions.

Taking Your Child with Autism to Japan crosswalk

 

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Familiarize your children by showing them pictures and videos of this type of many crosswalks.

Navigating public transportation takes practice

Navigating the subway in the large cities like Tokyo takes a bit of practice. Travelers might find themselves lost or unable to pay the fare the first few times, as the machines aren’t exactly user-friendly. In addition, many subway stations are so large that passengers might easily find themselves walking a mile from one exit to the other. All these factors can lead kids to autism to unnecessary frustration and meltdowns if not planned for in advance.

Taking Your Child with Autism to Japan maps

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents should pack two pairs of comfortable, broken-in walking shoes for their kids.
  • Travelers should try to get acquainted with using the fare adjustment machines on the subway the very first day.
    If they find it complicated, they should ask for help and videotape the process to help memorize the steps. A budget friendly option when using the subway is purchasing the cheapest ticket and then paying for fare adjustments during the day.

Anime and Manga might not be PG

Japan is famous for its anime and manga comics and characters, translated into many languages around the globe. What many parents don’t realize is that some of the comics easily fall into the soft porn category.
Moreover, those visiting certain neighborhoods like Tokyo’s Akihabara might be taken aback by the young girls in manga uniforms soliciting customers.

Taking Your Child with Autism to Japan manga

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Depending on the kid’s level of comprehension parents can decide whether to expose their child to this genre of entertainment.

 

Japan is very Autism Friendly

Many museums and tourist attractions we’ve visited offered disability passes, which helped us with discounted pricing and bypassing long lines.
Moreover, everybody was incredibly respectful and helpful with our son even when he experienced a meltdown.
An excellent example of Japanese hospitality and kindness was when we couldn’t get tickets for Ghibli Studios. Our disappointed son was crying in the middle of the street, and several people approached us offering to help. The person who finally succeeded in calming him down was a gentleman who spent over twenty minutes of his time figuring out a way to order the tickets through an automated machine.

 

Taking Your Child with Autism to Japan train

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Tourists should download apps that show maps and basic words in Japanese.
  • Parents should teach their children to thank people in Japanese when they get help.  (ありがとう Arigatō)

 

Have you visited Japan? Come and share your tips with us!

 

Tokyo Shopping with Family

Tokyo Shopping with Family pin

Shopping in Tokyo is vastly different than the experience most of us are familiar with in the United States. Most of the city’s shopping areas are comprised of walkable streets or portions of streets. Others have grown around areas, with heavy foot traffic such as train stations or temples. When it comes to purchasing souvenirs, the products available run the gambit from cutting-edge electronics to inexpensive tchotchkes. For those traveling to the Japanese capital for the first time, here are our favorite spots to explore.

Tokyo Shopping with Family akihabara

 

Akihabara

The shopping venue enjoys the reputation as the place to go to for anything and everything electronic. Akihabara began as a group of small shops which supplied do-it-yourselfers with specific electronic components. The area later experienced increased demand for consumer-ready, out-of-the-box products.

While the small, very specialized shops continue to thrive, large mainstream stores, such as the massive Yodobashi Camera store, now comprise the majority of the shopping experience.

 

Tokyo Shopping with Family akihabara electronics

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Discuss with your child in advance the items that you are looking for to purchase and how much you are willing to spend. The area is filled with many bargains, and one might find themselves tempted to buy unnecessary things that can’t be returned.
  • Make sure at all times that your child is next to you so they don’t press any buttons or break any items.
  • Parents might want to explain ahead of time to older kids the concept of the Maid cafes since they might ask questions about girls in odd uniforms standing on street corners.

Nakamise-dōri

Nakamise-dōri is one of the oldest shopping areas in the city and continues to be one of the most popular. This shopping area begins at the Kaminari-Mon gate and ends at the foot of Asakusa’s Sensoji Temple. The area is famous for tourist fares such as figurines and T-shirts, along with several shops selling local food. With over ninety shops to explore, this venue is always busy, so parents should be prepared to spend several hours walking around.
Tokyo Shopping with Family fried mochi

 

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Visitors should arrive early in the morning since it gets mobbed with tourists and school kids in the afternoon.
  • THE food to try is the sweet and fried mochi balls.

Harajuku

The concept of this area is different than anything found in the States. or Europe.
Harajuku is comprised of two parallel streets filled with shops selling  Japanese designer clothing.

The uniqueness of Harajuku is the choice of the fashion genre. Though the area may look awkwardly designed is an efficient way for parents and children to shop together. Omotesando street is famous for its upscale apparel boutiques while counterculture and youth apparel dominate Takeshita Don.

 

Tokyo Shopping with Family clothes

Autism Travel Tips:

  • This place caters mostly to fashion oriented young people, especially teenagers.
  • If your child is not particularly interested in fashion, then make sure they have adequate electronic entertainment while other family members shop.

Shinjuku

Travelers can find the Shinjuku shopping area around Shinjuku Station, the world’s busiest train stop. Flagship stores of many major electronic and fashion retailers can be found here. Also, there are additional shopping opportunities in the underground areas.

Shinjuku is also one of the largest entertainment districts in Tokyo, with a huge selection of clubs and restaurants to enjoy. With such a diverse array of shopping, entertainment, and dining options, anyone is sure to have an enjoyable experience.

Tokyo Shopping with Family shoes

Autism Travel Tips:

  • One of the worst intersections in Tokyo is in Shinjuku, where pedestrians can cross in eight different directions simultaneously.
  • For families with kids that are not interested in shopping, there are several cat cafes in the neighborhood that will delight all members of the family.

100-Yen Store

The 100-Yen store is Japan’s version of the Dollar Store. There are many of these stores around Japan, and more are opening every year. The concept is the same like in the US; the company buys in bulk and can sell their products at a reduced price. As in the United States, it is not the best place to purchase electronics, but the 100-Yen store is perfect for T-shirts, souvenirs, and sundries.
Tokyo Shopping with Family city

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents should set a fixed budget when shopping since one might be tempted to buy things that are not necessary.
  • The store sells toys and souvenirs that are great to use as budget friendly rewards for kids with autism.

Have you visited Tokyo with your children? What are your shopping tips?

 

Taking the Kids to Tokyo’s Edo Museum

Taking the Kids to Tokyo's Edo Museum

The famous Ueno Park in Tokyo, Japan is home to several major museums. Among these is the Edo Museum, a national icon for Japan and prized building in Tokyo. This museum is easy to spot while walking because of its unique elevated structure and shape modeled after an old storehouse in the Kurazukuri style.

Taking the Kids to Tokyo's Edo Museum building

Located at 1-4-1 Yokoami, Sumida, the Museum focuses on Tokyo history during the Edo period from 1603 to 1868. The venue opened in March of 1993 with the purpose of passing on the history and culture of Edo-Tokyo to future generations through interactive exhibitions and preservation of their collection of over 590,000 items. When visiting the museum, visitors can learn more about the 400-year history of the city; from the time  Tokugawa Ieyasu, established his government in Edo to present day Tokyo.

Taking the Kids to Tokyo's Edo Museum structure

The concept behind the  Museum was that it would become a center for the creation of a new future for the city as well as a place to educate tourists. However, we discovered the best part about the venue is how it encourages interaction between the locals and visitors.

Getting There

Travelers can get to the Museum by bus, taxi, train or walking depending on from where they are arriving. The most common mode of transportation is the subway. The subway in Tokyo is relatively easy to navigate so families should have no issues in figuring out how to get around. Visitors can either take the  JR Sobu Line to Ryogoku Station and exit out of the West exit or take the Oedo Line to the Ryogoku Station and get off at the A4 exit.

Taking the Kids to Tokyo's Edo Museum street

Museum Highlights

The museum offers a permanent exhibition that showcases original objects and replicas dating back  400-years. The exhibit is interactive; featuring videos in multiple languages, performances, and activities for all ages. Furthermore, various dioramas and life-sized displays show the city of Edo through the different centuries. Several times a year the museum hosts special exhibitions on its first-floor. Furthermore, offers hands-on classes, traditional Edo Haku theater, and a traditional culture experience program for foreigners.

Taking the Kids to Tokyo's Edo Museum side

Edo

We enjoyed a private tour led by a museum volunteer docent. He took time explaining the different areas to us and answering all our questions.

We started by crossing a full sized replica of the Nihonbashi Bridge back to 1590. That year, Tokugawa Ieyasu entered the Kanto area and established Edo as his home base.
Ieyasu, who became the ruling shogun, worked diligently to turn Edo into a capital worthy of the shogunate. He commissioned moats, roads, temples, shrines, and permanent living quarters for the building of his army. Our sons admired the detailed scale model replicas of the chain district and the Edo Castle.

Next, we were off to checking out how the ordinary people lived in the 1600s. Most people lived in houses called “Na Gaya,” which resembled a tenement type of row of houses. We found it interesting that as early as the 1600s Japan already had an established printing and publishing industry to distribute information. We also learned about the economic patterns that emerged in Edo; from migrant workers seeking work to the transportation of goods from Japan’s various regions. It was at that time that the city’s main thoroughfares (still in use today) Shinagawa, Itabashi, Senju, and Naito Shinjuku stations were established. Furthermore, it surprised us to discover that though Japan was mostly closed to foreigners during its Edo period, it still maintained connections with the Netherlands, China, and Korea.

Tokyo

The museum charts the gradual decline of the Edo shogunate and rise of Meiji Restoration after Matthew Perry’s fleet arrival in Uraga.
The exhibit has several sections describing Japan’s transition from isolation to the westernized country we know today.

According to the displays, the city experienced two catastrophic events that shaped it for decades to come.
After the 1872 fire, the first of these events, they reconstructed the neighborhood  Ginza as a westernized fireproof city.
The second was the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923. The quake that killed 70,000 people triggered a large-scale reconstruction project that transformed the city’s streetscape and helped develop Tokyo’s suburbs.

For us, as Americans, the sections of Tokyo during the war and post-war were most memorable.
Our sons learned what it was like for Tokyo’s citizens to not only survive the WW2 air raids but the severe shortages under the Allies occupation after the war. The last area of the exhibit traces the recovery of the city that by 1955 had built multiple cooperative housing complexes and had its citizens saving up for the “three sacred treasures” – black and white TV, washing machine, and refrigerator.

Taking the Kids to Tokyo's Edo Museum ship

On a Personal Note

Our English speaking guide, Mr Iohiro Yamamoto, was a polite and eloquent man in his 80’s. He walked us through the exhibits, describing Japanese history throughout the ages as we looked at the beautiful dioramas.

When we finally reached the WWII section, our guide sat down and said he wanted to apologize.
When we asked why he said he felt the need to apologize to us as Americans for what his country did to ours over 70 years ago.

He proceeded to tell us he had witnessed the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki as a young boy but bears the U.S. no ill feelings.
We were brought to tears.

Needless to say, it was one of the most powerful moments in travel we have ever experienced as a family.

Taking the Kids to Tokyo's Edo Museum shoes

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The museum does provide wheelchair accessibility. Those with wheelchairs will come in on the ground floor and take the elevator to the sixth-floor exhibition. If the wheelchair does not fit in the museum (Japan has smaller walkways than other countries), visitors can borrow one from the museum on the first or sixth floor.
  • A downside of the museum’s design is that while a majority of displays are easy to see from a wheelchair, one cannot access the screens due to the small walkways.
  • The museum does not provide raised guide blocks for the visually impaired.

Taking the Kids to Tokyo's Edo Museum roof

  • This museum takes anywhere from an hour and a half to three hours to walk. Even though the venue is air conditioned, parents need to prepare kids for extensive walking.
  • Families can request a complimentary English speaking guide at short notice.
  • .While some of the exhibits can be touched, most are untouchable. Parents should make sure their kids are mindful of what is ok to touch.
  • It is best to visit later in the day because the museum often hosts school tours.

Taking the Kids to Tokyo's Edo Museum dress

Taking Your Kids With Autism to Bangkok Thailand

 Taking Your Kids With Autism to Bangkok Thailand pin

Here at Autistic Globetrotting, we believe that there’s no substitute for personal experience. While most of the articles here detail our personal travel experience, in this post we interviewed Yumi Yasuyama about her recent trip to Thailand.

 

Taking Your Kids With Autism to Bangkok Thailand family

Photo Credit: Yumi Yasuyama

How was the flight?

This time we flew with Thai Airlines. We couldn’t get a flight with Japan Airlines because it was peak season, but even so, the Thai Airlines flight was crowded.The flight was 6.5 hours from Chūbu Centrair International Airport to Bangkok. The service was excellent. The flight stewardess gave Aki, my son with autism, a lot of papers and colored pen markers so he wouldn’t get bored.

Where did you stay?

We stayed in the  Sukhumvit area at Grande Centre Point Terminal 21 Hotel. We were looking for a very convenient area especially because Aki has autism, not to mention ADHD, a panic disorder and food issues. I chose this central location so that if Aki had some meltdown, it would be easier to rush back to our room.

As always, I emailed the hotel before booking and explained our situation. The hotel gave us connecting rooms and even upgraded us to a room with a kitchenette.

Furthermore, they put us on a less crowded floor, and every time we showed up in the restaurant, lobby, pool, spa or fitness center, the staff was quick to give us assistance. We felt like we were given V.I.P treatment.

Taking Your Kids With Autism to Bangkok Thailand swimming

Photo Credit: Yumi Yasuyama

What the highlights of the trip? 

Aki wanted to ride an elephant, so it was our primary purpose. We made inquiries online and planned a visit to an elephant camp.Also, the original plan included visits to some temples and some public markets. When we were there, most of the temples were under construction, which was quite a disappointment for us.
Also, it was too hot at 39℃ to be outside. So we ended up visiting the Indian district of Bangkok, had made-to-order tailored suits and shirts for the boys, and tried differThaimassages.We found the people in Thailand very helpful and friendly. They didn’t even ask for tips, but their services were fantastic.

Taking Your Kids With Autism to Bangkok Thailand pool

Photo Credit: Yumi Yasuyama

Did you encounter any particular issues?

In the hotel, the communication was not a problem since everyone spoke English.Outside it was a little more of a challenge, but we were able to communicate through gestures, a little bit of English, pointing to pictures, and a Google Translate App. It was fun, and the boys giggled every time they understood us.
Overall we had a great experience even the street vendors were polite. At night we did wander into some districts where there were bars, but we still felt pretty safe.

In what ways did you find Thailand similar to Japan?

The people in Thailand are very honest. I left some tips for the staff in the hotel for making our beds, and when we got back to the rooms, the money had been left there on the top of our pillows.

Aki lost his bag in Bangkok, and we didn’t know where, but somebody found it, saw our hotel room key and brought it to the hotel lobby. We had already given up hope on ever finding it, but when it was returned,  the money inside was untouched. Sadly, since the kind person who returned it never left their name, we couldn’t thank anybody.

Taking Your Kids With Autism to Bangkok Thailand night view
Photo Credit: Yumi Yasuyama

In what ways did you find Thailand different from Japan?

The foods were different in Thailand compared with Japan. They add a lot of spices. The boys giggled every time they tried new foods.We tried noodles, BBQ, and Thai curry. Their fruits were superb! We even found this Steak House right outside our hotel where they served Angus prime ribs which were delicious.

Tackling the congested traffic was challenging for Aki; especially with loud horns and motorcycles driving in the opposite lanes.

One of the sad differences was seeing some young girls, very young much younger than our boys who are 17 and 18, in the alley at the night district in Sukhumvit acquiring customers while wearing their very sexy outfits. I’m glad my son didn’t ask for clarifications as to what these girls were doing.

What souvenirs did you bring home?

Aki bought some fridge magnets, dried fruits, and chocolates that he gave to his teachers.Our other son got these scorpion keyholders and a Bulgari leather belt. He didn’t go crazy shopping this time. I was quite impressed.
We visited a gem factory, and my mom bought 23k earrings as she thought the prices were lower than in Japan.

Taking Your Kids With Autism to Bangkok Thailand elephant

Photo Credit: Yumi Yasuyama

What is your fondest memory?

My favorite memory is of visiting the Safari Park; riding the elephant, seeing so many giraffe and tigers up close and touching them. Seeing my boys communicate with the local vendors using sign languages and trying to get discounts is a close second.

The best part was that Aki didn’t have any meltdowns.We traveled with some friends this time, and they did help me a lot with the boys.
Sometime in the near future, we would like to go back and visit some of the Thai islands and stay longer . This visit was way too short.

Yumi Yasuyama lives in Aichi-Ken, Kariya City, Japan and is a mother to two sons, one of which (Aki) has autism and ADHD.She and her sons share their family adventures on their Facebook page called-Adventures in Autism. In this interview, Yumi sheds light on what motivates them to travel as well as describing the different challenges associated with planning their trips.

Five Sensory Activities for Families in Kyoto

SinceFive Sensory Activities for Families in Kyoto pin

Kyoto, located on the island of Honshu in Japan, was the imperial capital of Japan for over a thousand years. Now known as City of Ten Thousand Shrines, Kyoto is famous for its museums and festivals. We checked out some of these sites on our most recent trip to Kyoto and have created this list of five sensory activities that are perfect for families and travelers with autism.

Five Sensory Activities for Families in Kyoto river

 

Once in Kyoto, it is relatively easy to get around, since the city has an excellent public transportation system, making it easy to hop on a bus, train, or subway. Kyoto also has taxis, which are reasonably priced, and the city is quite walkable and bike friendly. Any way you choose to get around; it likely to be a safe experience!

Five Sensory Activities for Families in Kyoto pond

Nijo Castle

The building of Nijō Castle began in 1601 and was completed in 1626. It is now one of seventeen historical monuments in Kyoto that are designated by UNESCO as  World Heritage Sites. The Castle boasts an outer wall area and an inner wall area, which demonstrate the social system at the time when only the most notable guests were able to enter the inner area. The inner area consists of the Ninomaru Palace which is built almost entirely of cypress and filled with elaborate gold leaf woodcarvings, as well as gorgeous wall paintings. Visitors should check out the magnificent gardens on the property, where they will see the pond and groves of cherry and Japanese plum trees.There is plenty of room to walk around and explore, and there are English guides available, but it’s not a very interactive place for children.

Five Sensory Activities for Families in Kyoto red

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents should prepare their child to remove their shoes at the entrance. If they’re not comfortable with that, they won’t be able to enter the castle.
  • The castle can get crowded and stuffy in some rooms, especially in the summer time. Parents should bring a mini fan and water for kids that are temperature intolerant.
  • Five Sensory Activities for Families in Kyoto gold castle

Iga Ueno, the Ninja Palace

Any kid interested in Ninjas will enjoy the Iga Ueno! The Iga school of Ninjutsu was one of Japan’s most famous Ninja schools in the feudal period. It has since been turned into a Ninja museum. One of Japan’s greatest poets, Basho Matsuo, was born here, so the site includes a museum and his birth home.The interactive aspect of this palace is impressive. The Ninja Experience Hall will show visitors the tools that Ninjas used and a video about how stealthy Ninjas were.

Five Sensory Activities for Families in Kyoto pond

Autism Travel Tips:

  • There is Ninja show that most kids will enjoy. However, parents should bring earplugs along because the show is somewhat noisy.

Tea Ceremony

For those visiting Japan, a must-do is participating in a traditional tea ceremony. This ceremony is a favorite activity in Kyoto, so there are several places to go for a tea ceremony. Most services run relatively the same – a little bit of education before and during the ceremony, and a relaxing experience sipping tea in the traditional Japanese way. The prices are typically around 2000-3000 yen per person.

Five Sensory Activities for Families in Kyoto statue

Autism Travel Tips:

  • As some of the customs may be different than what a child with autism might expect (taking off shoes, sitting on the floor, doing things in a certain order, sitting quietly)attending a  Tea Ceremony is something that parents might want to research the topic ahead of time. Parents should check out our YouTube video below to get an idea of what to expect.

Meet a Geisha

Kyoto is the place to go to meet a traditional geisha. Despite popular urban legends, geishas are NOT prostitutes but entertainers trained in traditional Japanese dance, tea ceremony, and other traditions. It can be quite expensive to attend a geisha (geiko) or maiko show, but since they mostly live in Kyoto, it is possible to spot one on the street.

Five Sensory Activities for Families in Kyoto geisha

 

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents should make sure children do not make disparaging remarks about the customary costume and heavy makeup.
  • In Japan, there is a higher level of politeness/etiquette observed; parents should help their child be mindful.

Day Trip to Nara

Nara is worth its own post, so be sure to check our separate about it for more information. Nara was Japan’s first capital, designated in 610, and is home to some of Japan’s largest and oldest temples. It is about an hour outside Kyoto, so it is not hard to see some amazing temples and gorgeous gardens. Travelers should tour Naramachi, an old merchant town with some interesting old houses and have fun feeding the wild deer roaming freely around the area.

Five Sensory Activities for Families in Kyoto deer

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Families should bring plenty of hand wipes, as visitors will either touch or be touched by the wild deer.
  • The deer are persistent and can chase, stalk, or nibble on the belongings of guests. Parents should prepare their child for this as it can be frightening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Experience Japanese Hospitality at the Westin Miyako Kyoto

 

Experience Japanese Hospitality at the Westin Miyako Kyoto (1) pinOne of the highlights for families when visiting Japan is exploring the ancient city of Kyoto. Famous for its iconic Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, and royal palaces, the city is a must-see for those interested in history and architecture. Furthermore, the city is well known for its traditional houses on stilts, specialized dining, and the geisha female entertainers. For families wishing to explore the city, the  Westin Miyako Kyoto Hotel is an excellent option.

Experience Japanese Hospitality at the Westin Miyako Kyoto red

What Makes it Family Worthy?

This five-star hotel with its luxurious 499 rooms is located at 1 Higashiyama-Ku Awada Chika-cho. Perched up a small hill its somewhat secluded location provides a peaceful refuge for travelers while still relatively close to the city’s subway system.The property runs a complimentary shuttle service to the downtown section of Kyoto for visitors who need it.
Also, the hotel is only a ten-minute walk from the Nanzen-Ji Buddist temple dating all the way back to the 13th century.

Experience Japanese Hospitality at the Westin Miyako Kyoto light

Fellow Travelers

Though the venue primarily caters to business travelers, it does an excellent job catering to couples and families as well.

Hotel Decor

The hotel’s public areas were decorated in neutral hues with light wooden furnishing giving its lobby and dining halls a classic ‘Old World’ vibe. Plush and ample seating, as well as various spots to work on laptops, helped create a welcoming feel for all travelers.

Experience Japanese Hospitality at the Westin Miyako Kyoto bus

Our Suite

We received a complimentary upgrade to a two bedroom suite, which was greatly appreciated.
The views overlooked the nearby gardens, decorated in the Zen style an iconic Japanese tradition. The spacious quarters decorated in muted greens and grays had a full living room area with a velvet plush sofa, two armchairs, two tables along with a flat-screen television. Furthermore, it boasted a separate station with tea and coffee supplies and clean glasses provided.
We thought that the video doorbell at the entrance to the suite was a great safety feature.

Experience Japanese Hospitality at the Westin Miyako Kyoto dining

Our bedroom, the parents’ room, boasted a large king sized bed with two nightstands on each side and a modest sitting area with a desk and chair for furnishings. Furthermore, it had a dresser with large drawers with a TV set on top and a separate closet.

Our sons’ room featured two single beds with accompanying nightstands bolted to the wall. This feature was apparently because of all the earthquakes in Japan. Just like in our room, they had a velour lounge chair, a work desk, and a flat-screen TV sitting atop a large chest of drawers.
The only difference between the two rooms was that our sitting area had two live plants as is typical of most Japanese hotel rooms.

Experience Japanese Hospitality at the Westin Miyako Kyoto TV

Complimentary kimonos, pajamas, slippers, and bathrobes were provided in each room.

Another important feature of the suite was that each of the room had a separate thermostat prominently displayed on the wall. This feature allowed us to adjust the temperature to suit our tastes and needs.

Experience Japanese Hospitality at the Westin Miyako Kyoto bed

Our Bathroom

The suite featured two separate marble tiled bathrooms, one for our sons and one for us parents.

Our bathroom was slightly bigger than our kids’. It included a tan speckled granite countertop vanity, a full tub, and a separate enclosed shower with a handheld showerhead. The room also had a Japanese-style plug-in commode separated by a glass door.

Experience Japanese Hospitality at the Westin Miyako Kyoto tub

Our kids’ bathroom had a similar set up with the granite countertop, tub, and separate Japanese-style toilet, as well as a similar shower enclosure.

Experience Japanese Hospitality at the Westin Miyako Kyoto plant

Both bathrooms offered top of the line Bulgari amenity kits that included soaps, shampoos, and conditioners. Besides the main amenity kit, the also hotel provided a box that contained some much-needed travel essentials, from toothbrushes and combs to shaving razors. We appreciated the metal baskets in each of the bathrooms where we could place wet towels instead of leaving them lying on the floor.

Executive Lounge

We found the executive lounge in this hotel somewhat lacking.
The actual room was on the small side and had little seating available, which made it quite unpleasant to relax after a day of touring. Moreover, it seemed that the staff only allowed a strict number of appetizers to be sampled each visit, a restriction we had never experienced before.

Experience Japanese Hospitality at the Westin Miyako Kyoto sauce

 

Our Breakfast

While disappointed by the executive lounge, we did find comfort in the lavish daily breakfast buffet, which we considered an excellent value.

A wide variety of fruits, juices, cereals, yogurt, and meats were available. Travelers could help themselves to scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, cooked vegetables, or even fish stew from the buffet. Numerous condiments were provided for buffet goers to enhance the various entrees.

We saw separate stations set up for rice, soup, homemade tofu, and dim sum. A basic salad bar was likewise available, and guests could choose from several different dressings. There also was a superb selection of meats, bread, some cheeses,  cakes and various types of jams to accompany them.

Experience Japanese Hospitality at the Westin Miyako Kyoto food

The only thing that we found uncomfortable was the fact that the breakfast buffet was hugely popular and often too crowded the days we were visiting.

Amenities

The hotel had a full spa and skin care salon available as well as an indoor and outdoor pool. For the active travelers, there was an outdoor tennis court to practice their swings.
Guests seeking a quieter past time could walk the picturesque 40-minute walking the trail and explore its wild bird sanctuary or find tranquility in the hotel’s three Japanese style gardens.Experience Japanese Hospitality at the Westin Miyako Kyoto tree

Families with little kids will be excited to discover that the hotel provided a small separate room close to the lobby with a play area for the younger kids to enjoy.

The free WiFi available throughout the entire facility was reliable and fast.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • We found the Japanese gardens, as well as the walking trail,  perfect to help kids with autism relax during their stay.
  • Both rooms had tubs with safety bars so that disabled persons will have no trouble entering or exiting the bath.
  • Due to the large size of the suite with multiple doors, parents to kids with autism that wander off should bring stick on alarms to alert them if the main door to the suite is opened.
  • Parents of children with autism that suffer from pica should inform the front desk and request the live plants be taken out for the duration of the stay.
  • Parents should pack night lights to help everybody navigate the room in the dark.
  • It is advisable to bring bath mats for the shower area to prevent kids from slipping.
  • Parents should explain to their children the plug-in Japanese toilets, so they won’t unnecessarily press buttons and break them.

The Family Friendly Westin Tokyo

The Family Friendly

 

Any family wanting to explore Japan and expose their children to Japanese culture will want to visit Tokyo. When staying over in the city, travelers have some quality options. We decided to stay at the  Westin Tokyo, and we were pleased with our decision.

The Family Friendly Westin Tokyo GATE

What Makes it Family Worthy?

Travelers can find the Westin at 1-4-1 Mita Street in the Meguro-Ku area of Tokyo. Though the location may not be in the more popular and touristy areas of the city, its main advantage is the peaceful neighborhood it is in along with the fact it has a giant mall and Ebisu subway station nearby.

Families will appreciate the location of this hotel, about 30 minutes away from the local airport as well as the city center. This five-star hotel contains approximately 438 rooms, with 20 suites.

Fellow Travelers

This hotel caters to business travelers as well as couples and families on vacation.

The Family Friendly Westin Tokyo LOBBY

Decor

The lobby, decorated in opulent dark blues, reds, and hues of brown and black had an understated elegance. From the massive marble pillars to the shiny floors and the plush seating, the luxurious feel of the hotel was evident. These colors complimented the neutral tones throughout the building.

The Family Friendly Westin Tokyo PIANO

Our Room

Our rooms 1616 and 1617 on the 16th floor had lovely city views.The boys’ room had two twin beds, each with an adequate number of pillows, and a nightstand between them. A cabinet containing complimentary kimonos and a sizable flat screened television faced the beds. There was also a well-equipped vanity area in their room, as well as small sitting area with two armchairs and a table. In addition, the room’s furnishings included a work desk with all the usual paraphernalia.

The Family Friendly Westin Tokyo BED

The well-lit, large closet in the boys’ room had an excellent array of amenities including a clothes brush, iron, and an ironing board. Plentiful tea and coffee making supplies were provided in the room as well. There was a mini fridge for guests to use, which we found very convenient for holding leftovers and other edibles. In one of the drawers beside the mini fridge, we found drinks and snacks available for purchase. Directly below that particular drawer was the in-room safe, a feature which always comes in handy for storing valuables.

The room that we, the parents, stayed in had similar furnishing but a much larger sitting area, as well as a king-sized bed. Our room also featured a tea and coffee making area with ample amounts of counter space.

The Family Friendly Westin Tokyo CHAIR

The Bathrooms

Both suites had bathrooms with black granite counter-tops and white porcelain sinks. The bathrooms both had separate tub and shower units, each with raised sides so that the bathwater didn’t splash out and cause the floors to become slippery. In both bathrooms, there were water glasses, fresh towels, and all the usual toiletry supplies such as soap, shampoo, and conditioner. Additional useful items, including toothbrushes and makeup sponges, could be found in the kits that were provided in each bathroom. Extra bath supplies were provided in the tub and shower areas, so travelers won’t find themselves hopping out of the tub and soaking the floors while they hunt around for the toiletry items. An excellent privacy feature in both bathrooms was the frosted glass shower door that obscured bathers from view.

The Family Friendly Westin Tokyo SINK

Our master bathroom somewhat differed from the boy’s bathroom. The tub and shower area in our room was paneled in black marble, adding a touch of elegance. Our bathroom also contained a linen basket for wet towels, which we thought was a very good idea.

The kids’ bathtub had a shelf behind it to hold extra towels and their toilet area was sectioned off from where the bathtub was, lending extra privacy to those who needed it.

The Family Friendly Westin Tokyo CHEESE

Our Breakfast

The breakfast area was a beautiful room decorated with red carpeting and white chairs around set tables. We noted an outside area where travelers could eat if they desired.

The breakfast buffet had the typical American fare of scrambled eggs, bacon, and sausage, with a pancake and build your own omelet station. In the pancake station, guests could top their pancakes with chocolate and banana sauces. There were several options for vegetarians and vegans, including tofu and a salad buffet.

There was a section dedicated to Japanese foods, which included rice, wontons, boiled fish paste, smoked salmon and soybeans. Visitors looking for drinks could choose from fresh grapefruit or orange juice.

The Family Friendly Westin Tokyo PLANT

Dining

The hotel featured several onsite restaurants. Diners had the option of selecting from French, Chinese, and Japanese cuisines without leaving the building, or even their rooms with the Westin’s 24-hour room service.

Those dining at the Compass Rose on the 22nd floor could experience stunning city views with dark wood decor. There, diners could enjoy live jazz with a nice alcoholic beverage and even a Cuban cigar. Guests who ordered a cocktail could watch the unique method the bartenders employed for spinning ice in a glass.

Also on the 22nd floor, travelers could enjoy the Teppanyaki grill of the Yebisu. Diners could watch their meal be prepared right in front of them. The Yebisu offered three private rooms that could seat up to 10 people for a quieter dining experience.

The Family Friendly Westin Tokyo FLOWERS

The hotel’s Ryutenmon, a Cantonese restaurant, received a Michelin Star in the Michelin Tokyo 2010. This restaurant on the second floor boasted Chinese inspired decor. Parents should be aware that this restaurant had a smoking and nonsmoking sections in the restaurant as well as five private dining rooms. Noteworthy is the restaurant’s Shark Fin Soup which, though controversial, some travelers might like.

Also, the Westin had an onsite sushi restaurant, Mai, where guests could experience a Japanese Afternoon Tea with traditional tea cakes. Diners could sit next to each other at the sushi bar, or a family with up to four members could enjoy their meal on a private counter. The restaurant also offered a weekend Japanese Buffet.

Even all the way in Tokyo, visitors could enjoy authentic French dining at Victor’s. Executive Chef Toshio Numajiri, using local produce and meats, was able to create delicious French dishes such as bouillabaisse. While dining in the restaurant, patrons could enjoy fantastic views of the city in the main dining hall or the “Rococo” private room.

Travelers looking for a quick meal on the go could try out the Westin Deli, where they could get coffee, croissants, and even banana bread.
The Family Friendly Westin Tokyo APPETIZERS

Amenities

The hotel had a spa, a beauty salon, and concierge services available for guests. The reception desk was open at all hours as well. We had to purchase In-room wifi. However, public areas of the hotel had complimentary wifi.

Executive Lounge

The lounge featured elaborate decor with dark blue carpet and beautiful furniture. We loved the fantastic city views as we sipped our morning coffee in the lounge.An assortment of teas, coffees, and sodas were available throughout the day. In the morning, the lounge served breakfast for guests. During Happy Hour, the Lounge had a plethora of hot and cold appetizers as well as a variety of libations.

The Family Friendly Westin Tokyo SALMO

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The bathtubs at this hotel have safety handles, but bathmats are not provided, so travelers should plan accordingly.
  • There is a handheld head in the shower, which makes bathing easier for disabled persons.

 

Five Tips For Successful Travel with Autism in Asia

Five Tips For Successful Travel with Autism in Asia pin

For people born and raised in western countries, exploring Asia is an adventure worth experiencing at least once. However, people challenged with autism might feel it is also an assault on their sensory system when it comes to different smells, flavors, sounds and sights. To make sure your child with autism feels comfortable while traveling to Asia, here are a few tips to follow:

Smell

The minute we landed in Hong Kong, our son started complaining about the smell and how it bothered him. At first, we dismissed him thinking that he was probably tired, jet-lagged, and on a sensory overload but the feeling persisted well into the week. We later figured out that the issue was that he was reacting to the scents of the spices used in the Cantonese cuisine as well as the incense used in temples.

Five Tips For Successful Travel with Autism in Asia market

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The best way to help your kid cope is to start exposing him to spices and different smells by visiting local ethnic neighborhoods and sampling foods before you embark on your Asia travels. The continuous exposure and desensitization will help your kid get accustomed to the smells, and their adverse reaction will lessen with time.

Tastes and Textures

Most foods in Asia are usually more salty, spicy or in some cases sweeter than in the United States. Textures are also different since the diet of locals may include spices your kid has not yet encountered. What we found useful in Japan compared to other Asian countries, was the fact they had plastic displays of the dishes in almost every restaurant we went to so you could sort of figure out what it was was you were ordering.

Five Tips For Successful Travel with Autism in Asia dessert

Luckily for us, our kid is open to trying most items at least once. He ended up sampling most local delicacies, including insects and animal internal organs, that most people probably wouldn’t consider touching. He did develop a small addiction to jelly donuts and jelly desserts served at the tea ceremonies.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • If you are traveling with several family members, order several items on the menu and see which one appeals to your kid the most since in most places you can’t send the food back if your child dislikes it.

Close proximity to people

One cannot escape proximity to people in a densely populated area like Hong Kong, China, or Japan when using any form of public transportation or when visiting local markets. Markets are not for the faint of heart, with live animals caged and even killed in front of you. If you are traveling with younger kids, the scenes may be quite disturbing as your child may see animals that are regarded in the United States, as house pets, such as rabbits and guinea pigs, sold or cut open in plain sight.

Five Tips For Successful Travel with Autism in Asia chickens

Whether you are using the old ferries, tram, trains or even the ultra-modern subway, the space allocated per capita is minimal, and passengers are used to leaning against and breathing on each other. This can be especially unpleasant on hot and humid days. As if waiting in line for any extended period isn’t hard enough for people with autism, imagine an avalanche of individuals moving hastily at the same time towards the entrance or exit of a ferry boat, ready to trample anyone or anything in their way.

We learned pretty early on in our Asia travels that we couldn’t rely on any accommodations for special needs as in many places locals didn’t speak English.

Five Tips For Successful Travel with Autism in Asia fruit

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Travel off-peak hours. Select the furthest cabin on subways and stay as close to the exit door as possible, ready to dart out fast. Avoid rush hour when traveling and spring for first class tickets on trains if possible.
  • For market shopping, try to arrive when they first open so you escape the crowds and when the smells are less pungent.

The noise

Five Tips For Successful Travel with Autism in Asia tree

Crowded cities are noisier by definition, but it goes a bit beyond that when it comes to some countries in which the locals speak loudly and may sound like they are screaming at each other. Markets, busy streets and public transportation venues including subway stations are the most common place for this sort of thing, but there may be other unforeseen places where this might happen too.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Pack a pair of headphones or ear plugs if your son or daughter is noise sensitive

Toilets

Five Tips For Successful Travel

Don’t take the availability of a western commode for granted. Places like China and Japan still have traditional squatting toilets that your kid may have never seen. Some toilets in Japan are plugged in and make certain sounds disguising the user sounds that may stress out your child. Our son with autism refused to use them at first. He insisted we unplug the toilet each time in the hotel rooms in Japan before he used them, as he was scared of the noises and the fact that they were connected to electricity. The worst were the old fashioned squat toilets in public places like attractions and trains. He can’t squat and kept toppling over and sitting on the floor. The toilet situation got so bad he threatened to take Imodium for the duration of the trip so he wouldn’t have to go potty.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • If you book day trips, ask the tour operators if western toilets are available or head on to the nearest western chain hotel’s lobby if you need to use a bathroom.

Using some planning and tips, travelers with autism can successfully visit countries and Asia.

 

Take your Kids to Nara Park, Japan

Nara Park, Japan:Tips for Your Family Day Trip shrine

 


If you are spending a significant amount of time in the Japanese city of Kyoto or Osaka, then you want to take a family day trip out to Nara.

Nara, designated back in 610 as Japan’s first capital, is nowadays home to some of the country’s oldest temples and ornate gardens. It’s relatively easy to get to Nara, and there are some fun things to do for all ages!

Nara Park, Japan:Tips for Your Family Day Trip walkway

What to see

Nara has two prominent temples that should be on your must-see list: the Todaiji and Heijo, both listed on the Unesco Heritage sites. The Todaiji, the temple housing the world’s largest bronze statue Buddha Vairocana, was the largest wooden structure in the world until 1996.

The Heijo temple, about half a mile in length served as Nara’s Imperial Palace back in the 8th century when the city was Japan’s capital.

Nara Park, Japan:Tips for Your Family Day Trip deer

The South Gate in front of the Todaiji Temple, constructed at the end of the 12th century earned its claim to fame after being featured in several Hollywood movies and online game by Microsoft.

Nara Park, Japan:Tips for Your Family Day Trip buddha

Not to be missed are the two gate guardians, Ungyo, and Agyo, that may look like a pair at first glance, but boast opposite expressions-one has his mouth open the other closed.

Nara Park, Japan:Tips for Your Family Day Trip gods

It is well worth walking down to the nearby Kasuga Taisha Shrine to see thousands of stone lanterns that line the walkway. Imagine attending the ‘Mandoro Festival’ when they all are lit!

Nara Park, Japan:Tips for Your Family Day Trip gold deity

And speaking of festivals, one of the most spectacular festivals involves fire. Every first weekend in January, during Wakakusa Yamayaki the grass on the hillside of Nara’s Mount Wakakusayama is set on fire along with spectacular firework show.

Nara Park, Japan:Tips for Your Family Day Trip lanterns

What to do

You do not want to miss feeding the deer at Nara Park! The ruminant mammals regarded as messengers of the gods in the Shinto religion are allowed to roam the grounds undisturbed.

Nara Park, Japan:Tips for Your Family Day Trip baby

It might take some time for some kids to warm up to feeding a wild animal; others will jump right in for the experience. It’s the largest park in Nara, so it’s easy to find, not to mention the nearly 1200 deer roaming around!

 

Nara Park, Japan:Tips for Your Family Day Trip kiss
Over the years, these deer have been taught to emulate people and bow their head in return for food. Make sure to purchase crackers for the deer at various vendors around the park as they are bold and will come up to you to feed them.

Nara Park, Japan:Tips for Your Family Day Trip walking
If you value your belongings keep your purse and coat are safely out of the way as they are persistent and been known to chew on almost anything.

Nara Park, Japan:Tips for Your Family Day Trip bird

The caveat is that once they know you have food, they will follow you, practically stalk you as you make your way around the park.

 

Nara Park, Japan:Tips for Your Family Day Trip pair

Autism Travel Tips

If you go on your own, you should know there are two train companies that you can travel with– Japan Railways and Kintetsu Railways.

The train ride, is about 45 minutes and then getting to Todaiji and the deer park is an additional 30-minute bus ride.

 

Nara Park, Japan:Tips for Your Family Day Trip resting

We suggest you go with a tour company as we did to eliminate the wait for public transportation.
It might be a bit pricier but if your kid with autism can’t wait patiently then spending a few extra bucks might totally prove worth it.

If your child gets antsy, get him or her to look for the wooden column with a hole in it behind the giant Buddha. Legend has it that those who fit in there can reach enlightenment.

Nara Park, Japan:Tips for Your Family Day Trip tourist

The terrain in the park is highly uneven, composed mostly of gravel and grassy patches, so closed toe shoes are recommended.

Nara Park, Japan:Tips for Your Family Day Trip begging
Remember you are walking around wild animals so tell your kids to look where they are stepping as there might be excrements on the ground.
Pack hand wipes your family can use after feeding the deer.

Nara Park, Japan:Tips for Your Family Day Trip poop

Since most of the park ticks are carrying visible ticks (around the ears), you may want to dress in long-sleeved shirts and long pants to protect yourself. Another less desirable option is to use a tick repellant containing Deet chemical to deter the ticks.
Like in all ‘touristy’ areas there are multiple extensive souvenir stands both inside the temple and in the park itself selling stuffed animal deer and well-wish trinkets, so establish ground rules for souvenir purchases before arrival.

Nara Park, Japan:Tips for Your Family Day Trip souvenirs

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