I know that mostly say Japan is nice place, nice country, great food, friendly people. And that’s make you want to visit Japan more and more.
I couldn’t agree more too.
But that only happen if you travel with adults. From my own and latest experience, travelling to Japan with kid, now i know that the country is not as sweet as what people think.
Let the insight begins. I will tell you things you need to know and learn (the bitter experience from my own), suggestion place, tips and tricks, shopping place, as well as place for kids activities.
Please continue to read.
Things You Need To Know About Japan Before Travelling With Kids
1. Japan is not Stroller Friendly
You might heard that Japan is not stroller friendly. It’s 100% TRUE.
Most stations don’t have lift and only long staircase. So you need to carry your stroller up and down.
If it has lift, the exit mostly far away and you need to walk extramiles to reach your destination/train platform.
The longest walk i had is go around 4 blocks to finally find a lift to the train station.
Only a few stations have lift with nearest exit to tourist destination.
As it is not stroller friendly, the same things would apply for elderly with medical chair or person with special automatic chair.
Mobility for subways will be hard.
What should you do?
• Travel with companion so your partners can help you carry the children or stroller
• Use bus instead of train if possible
• Use hipseat carrier for bettee mobility
• Allocate budget for taxi. Taxi is very expensive especially in Tokyo. One trip cost us 1 million rupiahs (small cab, people only). And it’s not far frankly speaking.
But have you heard that most restaurants in Japan not family and kid friendly?
2. Many Japanese Restaurants are not Kids Friendly
I never knew about this until my last trip. And then i browse on google and found that sad experience happened to most of families travelling with todds.
We got rejected several times there. Made us feel sad and suddenly lost interest of Japan.
I can understand that todds can be noisy and messy, just tell us nicely that you don’t allow kids. They rejected us with very rude voice tone and manner.
And it’s not even peak hours. We got rejected while they have so many available seatings there.
What should you do?
• Make reservation or call first so you know whether they allow kids to come in or not
• Browse from google and other blogs
• Opt for Fast food restaurants and Foodcourt/foodhall or 7Eleven, or Family Mart
• Famous restaurants that allow kids to come in even on busy peak hours: Negishi Restaurant, Yutaka Kyoto, Coco Ichibanya, Ichiran Ramen, Matsusakagyu Yakiniku Osaka, Sukiya, Yoshinoya, Gyukatsu Motomura, ChaoChao Gyoza, Chibo Okonomiyaki Osaka, Fugu/GlobeFish Zuboraya Osaka, Hanamon Tokyo, Zanmai Sushi.
They served todds well and even prepare children cutlery.
3. Japanese only Prioritize Child / Elderly / Pregnant Woman on Designated Car Train
One of the biggest cultural shock for me.
I used to live in Singapore where “no pushing” “don’t squeeze in” and “give up seat” are basic manner, even if you’re not standing near the prioritize seating.
I know some of them will still ignore, but you won’t find it hard to find someone else willingly give up the seat.
Here in Japan, no matter that the train already so crowded and there’s no space left from 1 foot to another, they will push you to be able to squeeze in.
They don’t bother to wait for the next train.
Bringing my old granny and todd, and stroller all bymyself, they don’t give up seat.
I only experience 1 time kindness from old Japanese man who gave up his seat for me. While the rest didn’t care.
Let’s take example of New York, i also went there with Darren. The cities also not stroller friendly (for subway). Many stairs, few lifts only.
But the citizen didn’t rude. They allowed some space for stroller and elderly. They didn’t push hard and squeeze when the train too crowded. They welcomed kids and families on restaurants. Only few fancy places didn’t allow kids, but they communicated it nicely, friendly manner. Polite.
What should you do?
• Some stations equipped with sticker on floor to tell you which car train designed for elderly/kids/pregnant woman. So board on that specific car train.
If they don’t have that sticker, wait until the train come and see the sticker on the window. Board on that specific car only. Less squeezing.
• Avoid peak hours (12-1pm , 6pm, 8-11pm) if possible
• Make your way to the very first or very last car train. Because the first and last car train very spacious.
I observe that people travelling with babies and younger children (above 4 years old) are less headache and less rejection.
Why is that so?
– Baby still tiny and sleep all the time. You can carry on hipseat, so less headache with staircase on train station.
– Baby doesn’t eat and play with cutlery, doesn’t make noise, they allow you to come to the restaurant.
– Younger children strong enough to walk independently
– Younger children listens to instructions, less messy, less noisy, can feed themselves, restaurants are open for them.
Problems happen for children around 1.5 – 3.5 years.
Now, if you insisted to visit Japan with todds, here what you need to do:
1. Go with tour / private tour : they will arrange everything for you from foods to accomodation. Less tiring, no rejection
2. Always browse and learn first
3. Prepare mental and body
I have told you my bitter experience. For me, Japan is blacklisted country to travel with kids.
Now let’s show you place for kids activities, shopping, and more fun in Japan.
More Insights About Japan:
• Itinerary: Spend more nights in Osaka and Kyoto than in Tokyo.
• Place To Visit:
Tokyo: Tokyo Observatory Deck, Ginza, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Harajuku, Shinjuku Gyoen National Park, Disneyland & Disneysea, Sensoji Temple, Asakusa Temple, Tsukiji Fish Market, Hachiko Monument.
Kyoto: Fushimi Inari Shrine, Yasaka Shrine, Kenninji Temple, Gion District – Geisha Village, Bamboo Forest, Nishiki Market
Osaka: Osaka Shinsekai, Dotonburi, Shinsaibashi, Osaka Castle, Universal Studio, Aquarium, Osaka Tower, Umeda Building
If you have time, i will recommend you to board on a train to Nara from Osaka or Kyoto. Farm life. Petting a sheep. Nice and relaxing. It’s an old city like Kyoto. Peaceful.
• Weather: In Autumn and Winter, Tokyo much colder than Kyoto and Osaka. It’s also more windy. Osaka weather is more nice both day and night.
Kyoto get more chill at night.
• Street foods / snacks at market are the best. Try them all. Go to: Nishiki Market Kyoto, Tsukiji Fish Market Tokyo, Osaka Shinsekai
• Budgeted Shopping Spree: GU, Uniqlo
• Souvenirs and Snacks to Bring Back: Bic Camera, Daiso, DonQ, WeGo. (WeGo Kitkat cheapest amongst all! DonQ offers more variety of snacks, Big Camera offers those looking expensive packaging for souvenirs that in fact consider affordable)
• Food To Try:
– Globefish / Fugu , poisonous if you don’t know how to cook this one. That’s why this is a mascot for Osaka. I love the sashimi more than the shabushabu. Place: Zuboraya.
– Beef tongue that taste like expensive steak: Negishi
– Matsusaka beef: Matsusakagyu Yakiniku Osaka or Hanamon Tokyo,
– Kobe Beef – Rokasen, served fine meats. Inknow it is a bit expensive but after you experience its finest taste, you know it is worth. This place consider cheaper than Hanamon and Matsusaka Yakiniku.
– Gyukatsu: Motomura (they give you hot stone to cook your gyukatsu again) , Beef Cutlet Kyoto (no hot stone, your gyukatsu meat is medium rare)
– Porkloin Katsu, very tender crispy and juicy: Yutaka Tokyo . This place also serve other katsu like shrimp, squid and more.
• Place for Kids:
Tokyo: Firetruck Museum at Yotsuya Sanchome, Disneysea (Ariel Playground, indoor, perfect for summer and winter), Disneyland, Toys Museum, VenusPort
Kyoto: can’t find any specific yet, but Darren were happy at the temples, playing with birds and just running around.
Osaka: Aquarium, Universal Studio, osaka castle (outdoor playground).
That’s all about my Japan tips for you.
If you want to see more, go to my Japan Highlight on Instagram.
Please remember if you travel with kids, have no agenda.
Then you can fully enjoy the moment.
If you have many agenda on your own, you’ll be stressed as you can’t complete your own interest. I am talking because i also experience the stressful period there where my parents have not yet come and help.
It’s only me and Darren and new place: Japan. Handling everything from zero.
But the moment i put aside my own agenda (to take lots of pic, doing OOTD, eat this and that, shop this and that), i start to care about his interest and just do it ❤️
Sometimes the key also to let loose.
For example, Darren always put off his jacket. I always angry and fear that he catch a cold. But then okay, let’s do like what he wants. Once he felt cold, he approach me and asked for his jacket. The moment he felt warmer, he took it off again.
But less drama and less fighting between us.
And also to buy some chocolates, ice creams, and toys.
But still, be ready to control and say NO if it’s too much.
I don’t want to go back Japan with kids, ever, unless they’re big enough. But i willingly go back there for solo travelling or travel with bunch of adults.
I hope this post give you insight and preparation.
Merry Christmas 2018 and Happy New Year 2019 ❤️❤️🌈