Visiting Japan with baby? Here are some Top Tips for you!
Japan is a wonderful country to visit, with numerous breathtaking sights and fascinations attractions. Whilst Japan can be an easy country to visit with a baby, it can also be challenging – confusing, yes I know! The trick to enjoying Japan with baby is to know what to expect, be prepared, as well as having some tips and tricks up your sleeve to make things as easy as possible.
Here are a few essential tips that will ensure a smooth and stress-free experience as you visit Japan with a baby.
Book a comfortable flight for your baby
Ensure that the plane, you book, has bulkhead seats and bassinets. These seats will give you extra room where baby can play, but most importantly, there will be no reclining seats squashing you and your baby! We are always more than happy to pay just a touch more to get the most direct flights that fit in the best with baby’s nap times. You can find loads more tips and tricks on how to best travel with your baby in our post here.
Buy a Japanese Rail pass in advance
Passes for Japanese Rail are available in other countries, and they will help you to save time and money – especially if you intend to use the bullet train between Tokyo and Kyoto. You can easily buy these online (Kids under the age of 6 can travel for free). The receipt you are given on purchase will be redeemed for the actual pass once you arrive in Japan.
Make use of great department stores
Many Japanese department stores have private rooms and change tables where you can breastfeed and change your baby. Many also have strollers that you can use for free whilst you browse the shops. Some of the well-known stores with these amenities include; Daimaru, Isetan, Matsuya and Mitsukoshi.
For food and baby supplies we often found it best to head to the drug stores instead of the supermarkets. They will sell your pre-packaged baby food, formulae, baby snacks and diapers. However, we do recommend that you bring your own food from home, because our baby didn’t like the Japanese baby food purees.
Forget strollers; get a good-quality baby carrier
Japan is not ideal for strollers. Many metro stations in the country do not have lifts or escalators and you will most likely use the metro every single day. In addition, the amazing hills and busy temples all have loads of stairs to climb. So, we highly recommend that you bring an excellent quality baby carrier with you. Whilst we did take our stroller with us, we barely ever used it and to be honest, it was just a pain to carry from one destination to the next (so we sent it to the airport to be stored until our departure flight!).
On the same note, we also use a backpack diaper bag, which is great to not only balance out the weight of our baby on the front, but also makes it easier for us to deal with money and tickets. We love our backpack diaper bag as it has pockets to organize all our goodies and it is large enough to fit supplies for not only our daughter but for us as well. You can find a great guide on backpack diaper bags here.
Choose family-friendly apartments
To make your trip more enjoyable, stay in an apartment since they are more spacious than hotels. In addition, most of them have a kitchen and a washing machine. So not only will your baby have some room to play and crawl around, but you can also easily cook up some food for them or do a quick wash of clothing.
Hotel rooms tend to be very small and are much more expensive. When booking, it is also advisable to ask if the hotel has portable cots because we found that very few had them available. We ended up taking our own portable travel cot along, to ensure that baby always had a safe space to sleep.
Pack wisely and sparingly
Pack sparingly for your Japanese trip. Getting from point A to point B in Japan can be a bit of a mission when you have kids with you. The best way to get around is via the bullet trains, but that means that you will need to carry all your luggage, plus your baby, down and up the many stairs at the stations. So, it is important to pack light. We had one suitcase for baby, one for both my husband and I, one for our two older girls, together with a backpack and the baby in the carrier.
It was too much luggage to handle at the stairs and it was tricky to fit all the luggage into the luggage compartment on the train. So, we ended up using the luggage forwarding system in Japan and only took our main suitcase with us on the train itself. Your hotel can arrange your luggage to be picked up and dropped off at your next hotel.
Take it slow
Because you are traveling with your baby, you want to avoid running around too much and getting knackered during your visit – even though there are many things to see in Japan. Attractions in the main cities can be scattered far apart and to reach them you might need to catch a few trains. So, try to plan your days with only one or two main points of interest per day. Everything will take longer than it would’ve pre-baby. It will take you longer to get out of your hotel in the morning and you will need to stop to change baby, to feed baby or to rock baby to sleep. So, keep your itinerary days light and simple.
Following these tips will ensure that visiting Japan with a baby will be a breeze!
This guest post is brought to you by Andrzej & Jolene from Wanderlust Storytellers, a widely successful family travel blog. They love sharing their passion for travel with people all around the globe.