Are you thinking of traveling Japan with a baby? In this guide we will tell you all the tips and tricks we learnt from our own Japan travel experience with a baby, with advice on strollers, carriers, best time to visit and of course the best things to do in this magnificent country with a baby in town.
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Travelling to Japan with baby tips and tricks
Travel at the right time of year
Japan is a very seasonal country but you will find the summer and winter in Japan have the more extreme weather. We visited Japan in the summer with our little one and it was definitely very hot so we had to be careful about over heating and dehydration.
We therefore recommend visiting Japan in the shoulder seasons of Spring and Fall. The only issue with Spring is that because of the Sakura season and the beautiful cherry blossoms is that both the crowds and prices will swell. Therefore unless you are desperate to see the cherry blossom (and let’s face it is on many people’s Japan bucket list) we would say Fall might be the best time to visit Japan with a baby.
Chose your Flight Time wisely
Now if you are traveling to Japan international, the chances are that you will have a long flight ahead of you so it is really important to prepare for the flight well.
Firstly if you are traveling with a baby to Japan then you will want to make sure that you have the bulkhead seats reserved. Having the bulkhead will mean that your little one will be able to use the bassinet to nap in during this long flight (which means you won’t have to have them lying on you for the whole flight – turbulence withstanding).
Also be sure to check that you know whether or not your airline provides baby food etc. Even when a ticket price says it includes this we will always take enough with us to cover us for the duration of the flight as there is nothing worse than a hangry baby.
On top of this if you are flying with a formula fed baby you need to make sure you have enough formal to last the whole flight and some extra. You can either pack this and take through security or preorder to pick up in the terminal.
Be Prepared for Jet Lag
Now if you are coming from Europe or North America for your Japan vacation then it is best to be prepared for jet lag. Now jet lag with babies is never fun however I actually found that my baby bounced back quicker than I did when we were traveling around Japan.
Our biggest tip is to make sure you have plenty of snacks with you, keep to the correct meal time at the correct time and most of all make sure you get outside and into the sunshine.
Next Read: For more information on great Asian countries to visit with kids check out this post.
Choose the right type of accommodation
As you may have heard space is at a premium in Japan and you will find that many of the hotel rooms are very very tiny. You might want to consider that airbnbs or accommodations other than hotels might be better for you and your little one especially when you are trying to get them over their jet lag.
Move Around – Don’t just stay in one place
The rail system in Japan is amazing and I would definitely say that it is worth even if you are only in Japan for a week to sample at least two locations. The obvious two are of course Tokyo and Kyoto and they are two completing contrasting sides of Japanese life. But…
Don’t move around too much and take it slow
Slow travel is a must when you are traveling with toddlers or babies but in a place like Japan you really do want to cover mire than one place.
We recommend picking one or two places to base yourself out of and then exploring them in depth and taking a few day trips too. Be sure to check out our Japan itinerary with kids for more information.
TOP TIP: Also while for most couples and solo travellers in Japan who plan to move around a lot the JR Pass can be a definite budget saver however if you are looking at only doing one or two big journeys on the trains I would advise doing the calculation as it might not be a cost saving to you. But be sure to factor in the cost of day trips too.
Take Day trips
The great thing about basing your self out of big cities in Japan such as Kyoto and Tokyo with a baby is that there are almost endless possibilities for day trips.
For instance the city of Osaka, Hiroshima, Nara for the deer and Arashiyama Bamboo Forest all can be done as day trips really easily from Kyoto. And from Tokyo you can get to Yokohama, Disneyland and Disneysea, Hakone as really easy day trips even with a baby.
Time your Journeys
You may have heard that Japan is a busy place and it hasn’t been exaggerated. Tokyo in particular is a very busy place on the subway especially at rush hour. To save yourself some stress by avoiding traveling in Japan at rush hour.
You will notice that whatever accommodation you book you will find space it at a premium. And on public transport you will find it hard to move with masses of luggage. Therefore we recommend keeping packing to a minimum to make your life easier when traveling around Japan.
Eating with Babies in Japan
One of the easiest things about taking a baby rather than traveling Japan with a toddler, is that a baby will not be fully weaned and you won’t need to put as much thought into what they will need to eat as restaurants.
However do not expect there to be a ready availability of high chairs. Now those of us from Europe and North America might be used to all restaurants having a provision of high chairs however don’t expect this to be the case in Japan.
We found very few restaurants had high chairs so we packed a fold up fabric high chair which can covert any chair into a high chair which was very useful. On occasions where we didn’t have this with us she just sat on our lap during the meal or where there was room we used our stroller covered in a blanket in place of a high chair which worked just fine.
While we didn’t eat at any high end places we did find that everywhere we went was more than happy for us to take our little one in and on many occasions the waiting staff are extra helpful with our little one.
Japan with a baby Packing List
Can I use a stroller in Japan?
One of the things we had heard before we traveled to Japan was that using a stroller there was difficult. However, we decided to take one with us regardless. So did we find that you could use a stroller in Japan?
The answer was yes and no. We are definitely glad that we took a stroller with us and if we were going to Japan again we would definitely take a stroller again. However there are some places in Japan that are easier with stroller than others and some types of strollers are better than others too.
For instance we recommend taking a stroller that collapses easily as you will find it has to be folded in some of the more inaccessible stations.
While you can use a stroller on the subway in Tokyo, some of the stations are not accessible and do not have elevators so you will need to fold them up to take them up or down.
Also the you may find shrines and temples slightly more difficult with a stroller. However I would still advocate you taking a stroller with you but I would also take a carrier too for certain locations.
For more information on using a stroller in Japan check out this post.
Should I take a Carrier to Japan?
But even if you like us decide to take a stroller to Japan, I would also recommend taking a carrier. This will be useful at some of the more inaccessible sites. Also if you are traveling to Japan in the summer months such as July, August and September I would recommend taking a carrier that can deal with hot weather.
For instance I would take one that has a lot of mesh and is designed with hot weather climates in mind. If you don’t have one of these and your are traveling over the summer you and your baby will find it a very sweaty experience.
Click here to shop hot weather baby carriers.
Is if easy to find baby changing facilities in Japan?
The baby changing facilities we found in Japan happened to be some of the nicest and cleanest that we have ever used anywhere in the world. They might not be on every street corner however so it is advisable about thinking ahead to places that may have these facilities.
Generally speaking we found the following places usually had great baby change facilities in them
- train stations and other transport hubs
- department stores
- tourist attractions such as museums
One of the other things I loved about Japanese toilets, apart from the toilets themselves obviously was that in each toilet cubicle I went to there was a seat on the back of the door where your baby or toddler could seat while you used the restroom. It was amazing and something I wish they would start introducing back home.
Where to buy Baby Supplies in Japan
If you are traveling with a baby probably the biggest concern you will have is where can you buy baby supplies such as formula milk, pureed baby food and diapers.
We found the department stores, although more expensive had plenty of baby supplies but the 7-11 and drug stores were probably the best places you could go to get baby supplies.
We actually found all of the baby supplies we bought in Japan to be of excellent quality. In particular the diapers were super soft and we had never had any problems using. However you will probably find it cheaper to bring them from home if you have plenty of room in your suitcase.
We also found there were a few varieties of baby formula to chose from. We used Meiji and our baby loved it.
Admittedly it was easy to find the sizes and supplies we needed easier to find in the cities than smaller towns so you may want to factor this in so you don’t spend too long hunting down supplies.
Also if you come across one of my favorite stores in Japan, Daiso it is always worth heading in as they sometimes have baby supplies and you will find them a lot cheaper here than anywhere else.
Can I breastfeed in Japan?
While I was formula feeding in Japan I did see people breastfeeding with no issues. However everyone I saw was being discreet.
What are the best places to visit in Japan with babies
Tokyo with a baby
No Japan itinerary is complete without visiting Tokyo. Being the capital and business centre of Japan it should come as no surprise that Tokyo will be the busiest place you will visit.
In order to have a success trip to Tokyo with a baby we recommend planing your day so your are never traveling at rush hour. But other than that the beautiful parks and other child friendly attractions mean that Tokyo is a great place to visit as a family.
Some of our favourite places int eh city to visit with are baby are:
- Borderless Teamlab digital art museum,
- the two Tokyo Disney resorts
- The Fish Market
- Tokyo Tower
I would recommend spending at least 3 days in Tokyo to explore the city on its own but if you want to do some day trips from the city I would advise prolonging the amount of time you stay here.
Kyoto with a baby
Out of all the places we visited in Japan my favourite was without doubt Kyoto. While Tokyo is the business centre, Kyoto is the cultural capital of Japan and requires at least 4 days to explore this city fully.
Some of our favorite things to do in Kyoto with a baby include:
- The Golden Pavilion (Kikakuji)
- Fushimi Inari
- Nijo Castle
- Imperial Castle
- Gion and the Geisha
However there are also some great day trips that you can take from Kyoto too such as
- Nara to see the deer and
- Arashiyama bamboo forest
all of which are great places to visit with a baby.
Osaka with a baby
If you are traveling to Japan with a baby I would personally recommend either staying in either Osaka or Kyoto as they are quite close together and can easily be done as day trips and will save you having to take luggage and all your baby paraphernalia to a new location.
We opted to stay in Kyoto as it had more of the things we wanted to see (Gion, Fushimi inure Tashi and the golden pavilion to name but a few) but this is really a personal choice so I would advise picking the one you think you will be spending the most time in for your base location.
Nara with a baby
Again, this is an easy day trip from Kyoto and while babies will love seeing the deer in Nara I think it makes a better day trip from Kyoto than as your base.
Hokkaido with a baby
We spent over a month in Japan so decided to head up to Japan’s most northern island of Hokkaido. We loved visiting Hokkaido with kids as it is much quieter than the island of Honshu and has lots of things that babies will enjoy doing such as the zoo in Sapporo.
I wouldn’t advise going to Hokkaido on your first visit to Japan especially if you are short on time but if you are a repeat visitor or like us are in the country for an extended amount of time it is definitely worthwhile. Check out our guides on the best time to visit Hokkaido and our Hokkaido itinerary for more information.
Okinawa with a baby
We didn’t make it to Okinawa with a baby but it is currently near the top of our Japan Bucket List. Okinawa still has loads of cultural things to do but the attraction for me is to see its beautiful beaches. Hopefully I will be writing about a trip to Okinawa soon!
FAQs about Japan travel with a baby
Is Japan a good place to travel with a baby?
Although Japan is known for being busy, work centred and crowded I have to say Japan is one of our favourite places to visit with a baby. Although Tokyo is all of the above things, it is also friendly, exciting and very baby friendly with oodles of attractions your baby will love such as the gardens and parks for instance. It is also a great place to have your child’s first Disney experience.
But outside of the capital you can also find countryside, cultural icons and much much more that you will enjoy exploring with a bay. We would go back to Japan with a baby tomorrow.
Is Japan a child friendly country?
We found Japan to be an absolutely child friendly country but it was perhaps even more so a baby friendly country. We had no problems finding baby supplies and wherever we went with our baby we were greeted warmly and had an amazing time.
Is Japan stroller friendly?
I would say Japan both is and isn’t a stroller friendly country. It depends where you are as to how stroller friendly it is. For more information see out post on using a stroller in Japan which breaks down where you should and shouldn’t use a stroller in Japan.
Have you been to Japan with baby? What were your favourite things or top pieces of advice?