Japan in February with 10-year-old

We are planning a ~10-day trip to Japan in February 2024 with our 10-year-old son, and looking for recent travel tips. We have been to Japan several times, but all of our prior trips were pre-parenthood (so, a long time ago, and with different priorities!), and obviously pre-Covid. We're flying in to Osaka and flying home from Tokyo. We plan to spend several days skiing in the Nagano area, so specifically interested in tips about that. We definitely plan to visit the snow monkeys nearby, but are wondering about kid-friendly lodging and dining in the area, plus the best places to ski (we have the Epic Pass). We're also thinking of taking the bullet train from Nagano to Nagoya to visit Legoland Japan. Other than that, we're open to just about anything we can squeeze in! Apart from skiing, our kid is really interested in robotics and video games. Thank you for any and all advice! 

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It's moving to a different spot in Tokyo, but I highly, highly recommend teamLabs Borderless. Should be open by then. Fully interactive, immersive digital art museum. I didn't have kids when I went, but I'm positive a 10-year-old would love it.

If you’re stopping in Nagano, I’d highly recommend the Toyota Museum of Industry and Technology. They have fascinating demonstrations and great English-speaking guides showing off the evolution of technology in textiles (Toyota’s original industry) from hand looms to spinning Jenny’s to their advanced looms today (using air and water to weave the fabric!) and, of course, automobiles. They also have a violin-playing robot play concerts! I’m not sure about a 10 year old but as an adult who’s not particularly interested in engineering or manufacturing, I nonetheless thought it was one of the best and most fascinating museums I’ve been to!

If you are flying into Osaka, I think Universal Studios Japan is worth a trip for game loving 10 year olds. I personally think it would be more fun than Legoland (unless your kid is a super fan of legos.) 

Although I used to live in Japan and we just returned from a trip, I don’t have ski related recommendations, as we don’t ski. 

For Tokyo, Sunshine City in Ikebukuro would be very fun. A building full of games, food, and even an aquarium.

For Tokyo, do not take kids to Akihabara. It is not appropriate. Arcades are plenty and they are so fun. Gacha gacha machines are very common and all kids love them. I recommend discussing limits. You can easily end up with a suitcase full of plastic balls and little toys. 

There are so many wonderful things to do with kids of this age in Japan. 

1. Kyoto: Fushimi Inari Taisha (an amazing temple complex built on a hill -- if your kid likes to hike, it's lots of fun to make your way through the thousand-or-so torii gates, pausing to look at the many fox statues--all dressed up in red aprons-- and live cats that live there...; Toei Kyoto Studio Park (where many famous old Japanese movies were filmed) -- the Edo-esque sets are still intact, supplemented by a cool haunted house (we all got scared), and all kinds of special effects installations; Nanzenji -- another gorgeous temple site with beautiful gardens (if your kid likes to take photos, this is a special place.

2. Koya-san: an ancient village on top of a sacred mountain, where you can stay in a temple (not recommended if your child is rambunctious, but truly magical if he is an introspective, soulful, artistic type). Getting there is half the fun (you take this very vertical cable car up the mountain, and then jump on a jitney bus that goes around the village). There's also a very famous, very ancient cemetery that is especially fun to wander through at dusk.

3. Osaka: SpaWorld. A real contrast with Koya-san, a huge hotel-hotspring complex smack in the middle of the city. Hard to describe, but you can look it up. And it is situated right in the Naniwa district, full of restaurants that compete in their crazy-amazing-beautiful facades (think amusement parks with nice aesthetics) -- great for photos.

4. Tokyo: Sumida Aquarium (also hard to describe, but just beautiful)--located in the Tokyo Skytree, which is worth a visit, too (fun to go up to the top and take in the immense view, and there are always exhibits in the corridors as you make your way around (Disney was the subject when we were there in June); TeamLab Planets -- an immersive art/light experience. Look it up--you'll need to get your tickets way in advance for this, but totally worth it.

5. Hakone: a small hilltop village near Mt. Fuji (which you can see when weather permits...which it didn't for us...), some of the airbnb's have their own hotspring baths, and there's a cool hotel from the 1920s where many luminaries stayed over the years (thing: John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones). The little train that goes there is lots of fun to take, too.

These were the highlights, for us. Our daughter is 14, but she would have loved it when she was 10, for sure.

In Tokyo, definitely check out this museum: https://www.miraikan.jst.go.jp/en/ Like most places in the Tokyo area, it's easy to get to on public transit

Since you've already been to Japan before, you probably know about the great deal that the Japan Rail pass can be, especially if you are taking the train to get around. It's also valid on some trains within Tokyo. Your 10-year-old will qualify for the child price. https://japanrailpass.net/en/