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Plan a Vacation in Autism Friendly Japan

Updated: Mar 9

A sunset photo of a pagoda in Japan.  The sun is shining through some trees.  There is a title that reads Autism Friendly Travel Autism Friendly Japan.  Have you always wanted to take a vacation in Japan, but are nervous your autistic family isn't up for the challenge?

Have you always wanted to vacation in Japan but are nervous your autistic family isn’t up for the challenge? Well, I want to relieve those fears! Japan is very autism-friendly if you have your vacation planned accordingly. By now, you probably know that I have two autistic boys. I have traveled to many destinations with my boys. They are the loves of my life. Each trip with them hasn’t been straightforward. But I have taken every precaution during the planning stages to make it easier for everyone. The best part is I use what I have learned to help autistic families like yours! Having walked in similar shoes as yours, I know what it takes to plan an autism-friendly vacation.

While we are waiting for our meeting time, you may want to learn a little bit more of what you can expect during a vacation in Japan. Today, I am going to share information on where to consider staying, as well as what attractions to visit. I will also discuss transportation and a few tips that will make this your best trip yet as an autistic family.

Let’s get started!

Plan a Vacation in Autism Friendly Japan

* This post contains affiliate links; I earn a small commission if you decide to purchase something; this helps me keep blog posts like this one and running the site!*

An evening photo of Kyoto with the river that runs through the city.  There are cherry blossoms in full bloom along the river that casts a pink hue over everything.

Where to Stay During a Vacation in Japan

I love staying in ryokans while in Japan. Ryokans are traditional Japanese-style inns. You will discover that many ryokans are attached to Japan's theme parks and hot springs.

The reason I love staying in ryokans with my autistic sons is these inns are so much more than a place to lay our heads down at night. We get the opportunity to experience authentic Japanese hospitality, as well as their lifestyle.

Each room has tatami mats for flooring. They all have their unique interior designs, too. Futon beds and Japanese-style baths complete the look.

The best part about staying at a ryokan though is being introduced to many different local dishes. Breakfast and dinner are served at most ryokans. That means you will have ample opportunities to try new foods. Hopefully, your autistic child will be a willing participant too. If not, it isn’t something you will need to stress over.

Transportation in Japan

The Metro

The Metro is the easiest way to move around the city of Tokyo. There are thirteen lines that run continuously all day long. During rush hour, the trains come speeding in every two or three minutes.

The Metro can be used to reach many of the major tourist attractions in Tokyo. This means you won’t need to find alternate transportation to check everything off your itinerary.

There are a couple of different ticket options for the Metro. You can purchase an individual ticket. However, I find the PASMO cards are much better. They are prepaid and rechargeable. You can use them at any ticket gate. These are perfect since you can easily add money to them as you need to.

The best part about the Metro is there is an app you can download. This app will allow you to look at the map, find stops, and so much more.

Japan Railways

If you plan on exploring outside Tokyo, you will want to consider using Japan Railways. These trains can take you almost anywhere in the country.

Purchasing a Japan Rail Pass before your vacation in Japan will save you the most money. These passes can only be used by foreign tourists. You can easily travel by train for a meager price for between one and three weeks.

The rail passes are available in two forms. One is the ordinary rail pass, which is your normal ticket. The other is the green car rail pass. The green cars are considered first-class cars that offer more spacious seating. Those passes may be beneficial for your autistic family.

Attractions in Japan for Autistic Families

Tokyo Disneyland

Tokyo Disneyland is similar to all the other Disney Parks. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check out this magical destination in Tokyo!

Riding on the Omnibus is an excellent way to get a feel for Tokyo Disneyland. This bus will take you all around the plaza. It also gives you a glimpse of all the themed lands within the park.

Over in Adventureland, you can ride the Western River Railroad. Or adventure with pirates and Captain Jack Sparrow on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.

A leisurely ride on the Rivers of America on the Mark Twain Riverboat might be just what you need for a little downtime. Thrills can be had on Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain.

You can’t leave Tokyo Disneyland without a whirl on the Castle Carousel. You should probably conquer “It’s a Small World” too.

The Electrical Parade, Dreamlights, is the perfect way to end any day at Disney. Add in the fireworks if your autistic family wants to see them, and your kids may fall in bed once back in your room. If they don’t, you will at least have much to discuss!

Planning a trip to the Tokyo Disney Resort? Get your ticket here. Save yourself the trouble of trying to charge your card in Japan or calling the Tokyo Disneyland Resort to get support getting your tickets.

A photo of Cinderella Castle in Tokyo Disneyland.  The sky has a dusty sunset glow.  The there are arces that contain the castle in the frame.

Tokyo DisneySea

Over at Tokyo DIsneySea, your family can wander through seven themed lands. Although, they are actually called ports of call in this Disney Park.

The ports of call are:

  • American Waterfront

  • Mediterranean Harbor

  • Lost River Delta

  • Port Discovery

  • Mermaid Lagoon

  • Arabian Coast

  • Mysterious Island

This is an excellent theme park that combines rides with water adventures. The Venetian Gondolas will take your family through the canals. Aquatopia, Nemo & Friends SeaRider, and the DisneySea Transit Steamer Line will all take your family out on the water too.

The kids won’t want to leave Crush, the sea turtle, over at Turtle Talk. No one will be able to resist the magic performed over at The Magic Lamp Theater.

Both Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea offer support to those guests with disabilities. However, it won’t be as amazing as what you will find at Disney Parks in the US.

Guests with disabilities will need to show an official disability certificate, as well as their passports. You must take those items to Main Street House at Tokyo Disneyland or Guest Relations at Tokyo DisneySea.

You can then arrange for special services at a specific attraction or character greeting. Unfortunately, these arrangements do not mean you will get through a line faster than you would without it. There are times when this service works well though and is worth it at these Disney Parks.

I did a podcast on the Disability Access Services at Tokyo Disneyland. You can listen to it here.

Tokyo Skytree

Checking out the city of Tokyo from above is simple when you head up to the top of the Tokyo Skytree. The Tembo Deck is on floor 350. You can see panoramic views of the entire city from this deck.

There is an app you can download that will tell you where all the major tourist attractions are located.

Drum Museum

If you happen to have a child who loves the drums, you may want to check out the Drum Museum. This museum was opened back in 1988.

There are currently around 800 drums on display from around the world. Most of the drums are taiko drums.

Kite Museum

One of the best places to see different kites from around Japan is the Kite Museum in Tokyo. They have approximately 100 kites on display, including Edo kites. If your kids love to fly kites, it will be interesting to see how these kites are different.

National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation

This museum will offer hands-on experiences for your family. Start your visit by exploring space and Earth. Then, zoom into the future to see what it looks like will soon become a reality.

There are numerous self-guided tours you can take when you visit this museum. There is an app you can download for the tours. However, the kids may prefer to take a tour using the Reco AI.

If you escape Tokyo and head to Kyoto for a few days, you must visit this bamboo grove and monkey park. This park can be found at the base of Storm Mountain.

A lovely tranquil stroll through the bamboo forest may be precisely what you need during this time away from home. The bamboo grove is open 24 hours a day.

While at the bamboo grove, you may consider crossing the Tsutenkyo Bridge to the Arashiyama Monkey Park. Once you cross the bridge, you must walk for about a half hour to reach the monkey’s lair.

Kyoto Railway Museum

Another fun attraction in Kyoto is the Railway Museum. There are 54 railway vehicles on display inside this museum. As fascinating as those are, the railway diorama may capture everyone’s attention. Well, that or a ride on the SL Steam train


There is also an operating simulator. During this experience, you can learn precisely what a train conductor does throughout the day. Tickets must be purchased in advance for the operating simulator experience.

My Top Tips for an Autism-Friendly Vacation in Japan

  1. You can pick up an English version of Tokyo’s Metro subway map at the airport. You will find them at the information desks. This will be a lifesaver because there aren’t too many signs in English once you reach the Metro. You can also download the English version of the app and use it offline.

  2. The trains in Japan are reasonably quiet on the inside. If the noise bothers your autistic child, you may let them wear headphones. However, using a tablet to watch a show, movie, or game with noise is considered rude. The same goes for talking on the phone.

  3. Learn a few essential Japanese words and phrases. These will come in handy when you need assistance. Although, you will find many people who speak excellent English.

  4. It is best to visit many of the popular attractions early in the day if possible. You will encounter fewer crowds.

  5. Always have a pair of socks with you, especially if you plan to visit any temples. Shoes must be removed before entering temples. Plus, you never know where else you may end up where this is necessary. If your autistic child doesn’t like walking around without shoes, you may need to discuss this with them before your trip.

There is so much your autistic family can do while on vacation in Japan. This barely touches all the fantastic attractions you can visit and the activities you can experience. As a travel advisor, I can book your accommodations at a ryokan and plan what you will do and see. I can work with you to determine which mode of transportation will be best during your visit. And I will make sure to share even more tips to ensure your vacation in Japan is as autism-friendly as it can be. If you long to vacation in Japan, don’t postpone your dream any longer! Contact me today, and let me show you how your autistic family can have an incredible time in this part of the world. Remember, travel is for everyone!

A photo of cherry blossoms. They are close up in the frame.  There is a title that reads 5 Fun & Family Friendly Tips for an Autism-Friendly Vacation to Japan Spectrum Getaways

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