The family travel guide to Japan

Let’s visit a famous chocolate factory that’s popular for souvenirs! Shiroi Koibito Park (Sapporo City, Hokkaido)

Perhaps many of you have heard about the chocolate cookies Shiroi Koibito from Hokkaido that is really popular as a Japanese souvenir. In this article, we’ll introduce to you the popular Shiroi Koibito Park, where you can actually see how they make these famous sweets.

The exterior of the Shiroi Koibito Park looks just like a European castle! Inside is the Shiroi Koibito factory, an exhibition on chocolate, and a studio where you can try your hand at making sweets (Entrance fee: 600 yen for Adults, 200 yen for Junior high school students and younger). At the factory, you can observe how they sandwich chocolate between oven-fresh langue de chat cookies and how they are packaged on the production line from behind glass. There are many interesting surprises and discoveries to be made from observing the many Shiroi Koibito cookies going around the conveyor belts and the amazing skills of the staff. Another attraction is the interior of the factory itself. Rare for even Japan, a cute factory that looks like it just came from the land of sweets is truly a must-see.

At the cookie craft studio, putting on the chef’s hat just like a real patissier, let’s try our hand at the “My Shiroi Koibito experience”, where you can make your own giant heart shaped Shiroi Koibito cookie, and the “Painting cookie experience”, where you can decorate your own cookie in the shape of Hokkaido. Having the finished product in your hand, and being able to say you made it yourself is surely an unforgettable experience for kids. (Workshop fee:From 1050 yen. Reservations are possible (until the day before))

In addition, there is a big shop that sells chocolate drinks, Shiroi Koibito soft serve ice creams and sweets that you can also enjoy shopping at. Inside there is also a recommended specialty shop called the “Candy Lab” that does candy art. The artistic candy made with various layers of colors, fruits and lettering is a great choice for a souvenir. The candy artisans also conduct performances, so don’t miss out!

Shiroi Koibito Park

Address: Miyanosawa 2-jo 2-chome, Nishi-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido
Access: 7 minutes walk from Miyanosawa station on the Tozai Subway line

Learning about Creative thinking–The Cup Noodles Museum (Yokohama City, Kanagawa prefecture)

Did you know that Instant Noodles were invented by the Japanese? Mr. Momofuku Ando, founder of Nissin Foods Co. Ltd invented “Chicken Noodles” in 1958 from the result of many trial and error experiments. This became the world’s first instant noodles. At the “Cup Noodles Museum”, there is an exhibition on the history and development of cup noodles with many fun things to see and do. There is also a facility where you can learn through experience about the “Creative thinking” that Mr. Ando prized so much. (Entrance fee:500 yen for Adults, Free for High school students and younger)

The “My Cup Noodles Factory” is the only workshop in the world where you can make your own “Cup Noodles”. Just by drawing the design of the packaging, choosing the flavor of the soup and the toppings yourself to create your own flavor gets everyone from kids to adults excited. You might be surprised that there are 5,460 possible combinations of soup and toppings. Seeing the creation of your own cup noodles before your own eyes will really captivate the kids’ attention. (Cost: 300 yen for 1 packet. Numbered tickets are distributed on the day to determine the order of entry)

“Cup Noodles Park” is a playground created by the factory for kids aged from 3 to elementary school age. Kids can experience the production of Cup Noodles from the noodle’s point of view from making the noodles to shipping them out (Entrance fee: 300 yen for 30 minutes, for kids taller than 90cm only).

In addition, inside the museum there is also the “Instant Noodles History Cube” exhibit which houses around 3,000 packages of Cup Noodles ordered by year of sale, “Creative Thinking Boxes” where you can learn about the keys to innovation and thinking, and the “Momofuku Theater” which you can enjoy via voice guidance units available in English, Chinese and Korean. Shopping for limited merchandise and Chicken Ramen mascot Hiyoko-chan goods available in the museum shop is also highly recommended.

Cup Noodles Museum

Address: 2-3-4 Shinko, Naka-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa
Access: 8 minutes walk from Minatomirai station on the Minatomirai line.

Experience Japanese technology at “Kawasaki World” (Kobe City, Hyogo prefecture)

Located inside the Kobe Maritime Museum is “Kawasaki World” – the company museum of the Kawasaki Heavy Industries group, which has been in Kobe for over a century. (Entrance fee:500 yen for Adults, 250 yen for Elementary and Junior high school students). “Kawasaki” is famous all over the world for its motorbikes, but actually it was originally a shipbuilding company. Currently, the group is involved in the development and manufacture of vehicles for land, sea and air.

Kawasaki World is a facility for experiencing all the various technologies collected within. At the “Kawasaki World Theater”, video footage of vehicles is displayed on 6 large screens, where it feels as if those trains and planes were right beside you. In the “Motorcycle Gallery”, Kawasaki bikes throughout history as well as race bikes are on display, and some of them you can actually sit on. Here, you can take pictures of your kids sitting astride huge bikes.

In each of the land, sea and air zones, actual products and simulators are featured. In the land zone, your eyes will immediately be drawn to the lead carriage of a first generation Shinkansen. At present, this type of train has been retired from service and no longer runs. You can enter into the precious interior and even sit in the driver’s seat to experience the feeling of being in control of a Shinkansen. In the sea zone, there is the “Monozukuri (Manufacturing) Theater” where you can learn about the manufacturing processes for ships and Shinkansen, and also jet skis are on display here. And in the air zone, an actual helicopter is on display, where you can check out the cockpit and pilot’s seat with all its instrumentation which is quite a rare opportunity. Also, you can experience take-off and landing in a light aircraft, which is also popular with adults (Age restrictions apply. Only for 4th grade Elementary school students and older). If you would like to try out this experience, it is conducted on a first come first served basis, so the first thing you might want to do once you enter the museum is make a reservation. You can see both the Kobe Maritime Museum and Kawasaki World with the same entrance ticket.

Kawasaki World

Address: 2-2 Hatoba-cho, Chuo-ku, Kobe, Hyogo (Inside the Kobe Maritime Museum)
Access: 10 minutes walk from Minatomotomachi Station on the Kobe Municipal Subway Kaigan Line

Public museums and galleries across the country are also worth visiting

Following company museums, the next most popular attractions for families are the public museums and galleries found all over Japan. Many special efforts have been made to inspire kids and make it fun. Also, the entrance fees tend to be low for kids, which is also an attractive point. Especially popular with families on holidays are the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur museum, which represents Japan in the realm of Prehistoric life, the National Science Museum where you can experience the latest in Japanese technological advances, and the Edo Tokyo Museum where you can learn all about the history of Tokyo.

Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum
Address:51-11 Terao, Muroko, Katsuyama, Fukui (inside the Katsuyama Dinosaur Forest Park)
Access:From JR Fukui station, take the Echizen Railway’s Katsuyama-Eiheiji line bound for Katsuyana and get off at Katsuyama station (takes about 1 hour). From Katsuyama station it’s 15 minutes by community bus or alternatively 10 minutes by taxi.

National Science Museum
Address: 2-1 Kitanomarukoen, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Access: 5 minutes’ walk from Takebashi station on the Tokyo Metro Tozai line, or 7 minutes’ walk from Kudanshita station on the Tokyo Metro Hanzomon line, Tozai line and Toei Shinjuku line.

Edo Tokyo Museum
Address:1-4-1 Yokoami, Sumida-ku, Tokyo
Access:3 minutes’ walk from Ryogoku station on the JR Sobu line, or a minutes’ walk from Ryogoku station on the Toei Oedo

Kazuko Murata’s profile

Murata is a travel journalist. Under her motto of “Gaining energy by traveling”, she writes and conducts lectures. Her specialty field is “Traveling education”. Together with her son, they have managed to visit all 47 prefectures of Japan. Based on this experience, she manages a website that supports traveling with family called “Kazoku de tabiiku (”