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Dance and theatre are large parts of the Japanese cultural

experience. Book tickets for a show at Kabuki-za in Tokyo for

a sense of the classical dramatic experience that dates back

to the early 18th century. Inspired? Your family will have even

more respect for the work that went into life as a geisha and

samurai when you sign up to dress like one for the day. From

the decorative combs in your hair to the mock sword on your

hip, the experience is done with respect and adherence to

the ancient traditions. The result: A chance for real learning

amidst the giggles. Your outfit is yours for a few hours, so

make sure to head down to snap some photos in the historic

Hakodate Red Brick district.

MEDIUM

Tweens and teens will love the cutesy kitsch of

cosplay-dressed crowds in Harajuku, an area where

anime characters come to life via the clothes and

hairstyles of local youth. Walking down Takeshita

Street is fantastic, immersive fun. Pop into the shops

to buy giant sticks of cotton candy, oversized gummy

bears and every imaginable variety of the funky,

knee-high, five-toed socks that seem to be a Japanese

teen wardrobe staple. Teenagers with souvenirs to

buy or allowance to burn will have a hard time deciding

between desserts that look like puppies and Hello Kitty

everything.

FAST

Ready to kick things into a higher gear?

Head to Tokyo where you can book tickets

for Robot Restaurant and watch metal giants

battle it out amidst a laser show and really

loud music. Or head for Akihabara, where

Sega gaming centres offer opportunities for

video games both nostalgic and new. Prefer

real life racing? Try your hand at the rapidly

changing street crossings in Shibuya. And

if you prefer your meals speedy, skip the

standard fast food outlets and head for the

Washo Ichiba market in Kushiro, Hokkaido.

The entire market is like a Whole Foods

Salad Bar – except with the freshest seafood

on offer. Buy a bowl of rice and build

your own “Katte don” by touring dozens

of surrounding stalls and selecting the

sashimi, shrimp or crab you like best.

For teens who love tech, adventure and things that move

really, really fast, Japan is a dream come true. This is the

birthplace of anime and Nintendo, the home to both

thermal baths and raging rapids, and the country where

trains hit speeds that surpass the fastest racing car. Best

of all, Japan is safe, easy to maneuver and welcoming to

travellers. Choose the vacation activities that perfectly

match your family’s preferred speed and you’ll be

guaranteed a vacation to remember.

Japan

Tackling

with your teens

By Heather Greenwood Davis

Find your family’s perfect speed in the land of the rising sun.

26

Ultimate Family Vacations | SPRING 2018

SPRING 2018 | Ultimate Family Vacations

27

AUTHOR AND HER FAMILY IN TOKYO

©HEATHER GREENWOOD DAVIS

COTTON CANDY IN HARAJUKU

©HEATHER GREENWOOD DAVIS

BULLET

Your teens won’t have many opportunities to ask “Are we there yet?”

while riding the famous bullet trains of Japan. (Book a Japan Rail Pass

before you head out to save well over 50 per cent of the price.) With

speeds reaching more than 480 kilometres, you’ll be able to watch

their eyes grow as the speed on the train climbs to take you to your

next destination. Not fast enough? Consider heading to Minakami, the

adventure capital of Japan for some adrenaline-raising adventures.

Hit the Class 4+ rapids for white water rafting, or send them over a

20-metre high waterfall for canyoning. The adventures are led by

well-trained guides who manage to stress the safety without stealing

the thrill of the adventures. Expect faces plastered with grins for the

rest of your trip.

BULLET TRAIN

BULLET TRAIN PASSING MOUNT FUJI

STREET CROSSINGS IN SHIBUYA