All About Japan

5 Lesser-Known 'Theme Parks' for Families

| Theme Parks , Family
5 Lesser-Known 'Theme Parks' for Families

While Disneyland, Disney Sea and Universal Studios Japan are enough reasons for you and your family to visit Japan if you're amusement park fans, you'd be surprised to find out that Japan has more options. While not everything listed below is called a theme park, these theme-centric side trips may just be something exciting for your family!

5. Sanrio Puroland in Tama

5. Sanrio Puroland in Tama

If you, like me, spent your childhood hoarding everything Hello Kitty, this is the place to be. While the park is not very extensive, and you may not need a whole day to explore it, this place has everything a Sanrio fan could ask for or imagine. Sanrio Puroland in Tama New Town, on the outskirts of Tokyo, has regular mini shows featuring Sanrio characters, which allow kids to interact with the star on stage. Even if you're an adult, you'll be amused to eat Sanrio character-stenciled food in the restaurant hall or try light-and-motion interactive games.

4. Pokémon Center in Yokohama

4. Pokémon Center in Yokohama

This indoor "theme park" may just have all the special Pokémon you'd like to collect in your Pokémon Go hunt. While there aren't many activities to try here compared to Pokémon Center Tokyo, this is worth a stopover if you're in the Yokohama area and you dig everything Pokémon. If you feel you need more to do after your stop here, head to Tomica Shop for toys cars, Jump Shop for anime goods, and Yokohama Trick Art Museum, which are all inside the same building! Minato Mirai 21, where all these fun spots are located, is only one ride from Shibuya (Tokyo) via the Tokyu Toyoko Line.

3. Legoland in Nagoya

Japan has the kind of magic that'll bring you back to your childhood. If Lego bricks were (or still are) your prized possession as a child (or a child-at-heart), then don't miss the opportunity to check out Legoland in Nagoya, which takes about half-a-day bus ride from Tokyo, costing about ¥10,000 (US$88.11) for a comfortable round-trip travel. While Legoland is currently smaller than Disneyland, it will soon have a Legoland Hotel and Sea Life Aquarium, which are additional reasons to visit this theme park. But we feel the 17 million bricks and 10,000 Lego models you can see now at this amusement area should already be worth your time!

2. Studio Ghibli in Kichijoji

2. Studio Ghibli in Kichijoji

Even if you're not a diehard fan of Studio Ghibli or the works of Hayao Miyazaki, the Ghibli Museum in Kichijoji is worth exploring for a quick, fun-filled day trip with the family. This Ghibli-themed park will appeal to the kids because of its candy-colored cuteness, while it will capture the hearts of adults with the story-behind-the-story of Miyazaki's handiwork. For a cheap ¥1,000 entrance fee, this is a welcome break outside the bustling city. Since exploring it is time-limited, a trip to nearby Inokashira Park may just be in order too.

Keep in mind that tickets are not sold at the museum, so make sure you order your tickets in advance from a Lawson convenience store.

1. Aqua City in Odaiba

Odaiba, a must for every family, is like a giant playground with many noteworthy sites such as the Gundam installation (to be reinstalled in Fall 2017), Rainbow Bridge, Statue of Liberty replica, and Palette Town. Aqua City is specifically interesting for its Sony-themed indoor amusement center. This interactive science museum will treat your party to exhilirating lights, sounds and entertainment, which is a fantastic way to bond as a family.