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Shikoku to Olympics with Children

Hi! We are very excited to have landed some tickets to the Olympics next summer. My husband and I lived in Takamatsu 15 years ago before having children, and would like to start there to show our boys (ages 7 and 11) where we lived before making our way up to Tokyo. I haven't booked our flights yet, but we are looking at about a 2 week time frame from July 22-August 5. Thinking we should fly into Osaka and head down to Takamatsu first, then make our way up north. Hitting Kyoto along the way. We will be in Tokyo 6 nights (July 30-August 5) for the Olympics and would also like a day at Tokyo Disney. Suggestions on Itineraries and JR passes?

Appreciate any suggestions! We are so thrilled to have this once in a lifetime trip with our boys!


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    >>Thinking we should fly into Osaka and head down to Takamatsu first...

    Not necessarily.
    You need to consider where you are flying from, the airfares of landing at KIX instead of Tokyo, the time of landing, etc.
    If you fly into KIX, it would take you about 3½ hours on trains to get to Takamatsu, and changing trains at least twice. Doing all that after a very long airplane trip is not something I sure would want to do. If you can land at Haneda, it is easy to get a connecting flight that goes straight to Takamatsu, and there are around 6 flights a day. Connecting flights are often well discounted; if not there are also very cheap fares for foreign tourists, like ANA's Experience Japan Fare.

    It's plans like this where you can save yourself a lot of grief by speaking to an experienced human travel agent.
    If you are only going one way from Kansai to Tokyo, then no rail pass is going to pay off for you.
    Japan is now exploding with tourists - you will be stunned about how different it is now compared to 15 years ago. Even in the last 7 years, the number of foreign tourists has quadrupled. Kyoto and Nara are like a gigantic Chinatown. It's over 30 million a year now, and Japan is aiming for 40 million in 2020.

    Adding at least a half day for Nara is still worthwhile though; the Todaiji Temple will leave you awestruck and your kids will like feeding the deer.

    If you lived in Japan before, then you are already aware of the extremely muggy and sticky summer weather - that has not changed. It is hydrangea season though in June to July which is gorgeous, and there are some extraordinary places to see them, like in Kamakura (Hasedera & Meigetsuin Temples, for example). You might consider going to some cooler places at least a few times. Karuizawa in Nagano makes a good day trip for example, and Nikko makes a good trip as well. If you use a Tokyo Wide Pass you can use the bullet trains to get to both, and save a lot of money.

    Seeing the TeamLab Borderless and Planets exhibits are certainly something your kids won't forget.

    And there are many good gardens in Tokyo if your kids have a ton of pent of energy to burn off, while you enjoy the scenery.

    It's just up to picking what you like - there should be a lot for everyone.

    You can check on train info on Hyperdia - you can see regular fares, routes, and schedules.

    Good luck.

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    Wow! Thank you so much for all of this wonderful advice!
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