With temperatures regularly dropping below 10ºC, winter in Tokyo is freezing, but there’s no need to be stuck in your hotel room with the heating on. Tokyo has some fantastic indoor amusement and theme parks that are perfect for both adults and kids, where you can escape into virtual reality, hang out with Hello Kitty and friends, play with anime pirate Luffy and his crew, and plenty more besides. You’ll forget about the single-digit chills outside in no time.
RECOMMENDED: More indoor things to do in Tokyo
One of the few indoor amusement parks in Odaiba, Tokyo Joypolis is packed with Sega’s virtual reality attractions across three floors. There are a total of 21 thrilling rides and activities, most of which are available in English. Enjoy a rafting adventure along the Wild River or board the Wild Wing, a hang-glider flying over tropical islands. For even greater thrills, you and up to five of your friends can arm yourselves with laser guns and fight zombies at the Zero Latency VR attraction (reservations essential; additional fee applies ¥1,800, Sat, Sun & hols ¥2,000 per person).
Tokyo’s Legoland Discovery Center may not be as big as the ones in California and Denmark but for fans of the world-conquering plastic bricks, it still offers bundles of fun. There are two rides to enjoy: at Kingdom Quest you must rescue a princess by zapping trolls and skeletons from your chariot, while over at Merlin’s Apprentice Ride, you’ll enter a fantasy world where you’ll attempt to become the wizard’s top apprentice by helping him conjure magic.
You can also tour a Lego factory, admire a stunning diorama of Tokyo built entirely with the iconic bricks, and catch a film at the 4D cinema. Kids especially will love the Lego NinjaGo City Adventure, where they can conquer various obstacle courses. Dinosaur fans, meanwhile, should explore the Dino Island to create their own stop-motion short film. Oh, and don’t leave without taking a photo with the huge resident Lego T-Rex.
Playtime can be educational too, especially at KidZania Tokyo, which introduces future generations to the world of work through fun activities. Here, children can role play – as pilots or cabin attendants, police officers, firefighters, car mechanics or factory workers, all set in a fully realised miniature city complete with shops, vehicles and a
Non-Japanese speakers should drop in on Wednesdays, when around 40 out of the 100 or so available ‘jobs’ and services can be experienced entirely in English. The kids are also paid a salary at the end of their stint, in the form of the city’s own kidZos currency, which can be used to shop at the department store and soft-serve ice cream parlour, or redeem for several services including the rental of child-sized cars. Activities are designed for ages three to 15, and reservations are recommended.
This indoor theme park in Tama city is a dream come true for fans of Sanrio, the creators of Hello Kitty and friends. Upon arrival, take the escalator down to a fairytale kingdom of hyper-cuteness, where you’ll enjoy a kabuki-style Hello Kitty musical (with translations in Chinese, Korean and English), explore the cat-girl’s mansion to see how she goes about her daily life, and of course, meet and take photos with the feline female herself. There’s also a colourful parade plus an entertaining My Melody ride.
Fans of the lazy egg Gudetama, who joined the Sanrio family back in 2013, can enter the character’s world on the first floor, with several activities on offer including bowling and dancing games. When you’re feeling peckish, visit one of the four on-site restaurants and order one of the many Instagrammable menu items, including a Hello Kitty curry, a Gudetama roast beef rice bowl and My Melody dessert cups.
Ikebukuro’s indoor theme park Namjatown – with its huge range of AR attractions and rides – is also an unlikely hotspot for fans of dumplings. An alley decorated with red lanterns and flanked by one gyoza shop after another, the Namja Gyoza Stadium serves up about 100 different kinds of dumplings, while the nearby Fukubukuro Dessert Yokocho offers fancy cakes and crepes. Namjatown recently expanded with a new amusement park across the top levels. Called the Mazaria, this VR facility features 20 games and attractions spread out over four zones.
Mazaria, a VR facility with about 20 games and attractions spread out across four zones, is the new extension of Namjatown. Here you can turn into Pac-Man and munch cookies in a maze while avoiding mean ghosts, and partake in a virtual taiko drum festival at Taiko no Tatsujin by using your whole body to create sounds. Need a bigger boost of adrenaline? Escape from ferocious dinosaurs in the survival game Jungle of Despair; find your way out of the abandoned Hospital Escape Omega while being attacked by zombies; or get on a helicopter and fight Godzilla together with your friends.
The first theme park of the pirate manga and anime series ‘One Piece’ occupies four floors of the iconic Tokyo Tower. For those unfamiliar with the plot, which centres around Monkey D. Luffy and his Straw Hat Crew, not to worry: a short video of their adventures plays across a massive 360-degree screen right after the entrance.
Of the nine attractions, each based on a different character, we recommend Robin’s Finding Ponegliff, a puzzle game that will have you searching far and wide for clues to solve mysteries. You’ll get hints (available in English) from archeologist Robin through ‘Transponder snail’ telephones. If that sounds a tad too energetic, you can sit down for an exciting 20-minute live show starring Luffy and friends, complete with projection mapping and lighting technology.
On your way out, pick up some ‘One Piece’ merchandise at the shop, or fuel up on hearty meals including risotto and pizzas at Sanji’s Oresama Restaurant.
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