This post is as much for my reference as for anyone else’s but I though it would be a good idea to pen down what traveling to Japan with kids is like.
Now I’ve been to Japan many, many times. I spent my junior year of college in Kyoto at Doshisha University, and I try to make it back at least once a year – usually Tokyo or Kyoto/Osaka, but I’ve made trips to Nagoya, Hokkaido, Kobe, Hiroshima, etc as well.
This however was my first time going to Japan with kids in tow. As a mom, I now notice many things about the country that completely missed my radar before. Other parents looking to visit Japan with their children may be interested so here they are.
- Baby rooms are the bomb in Japan
We were wandering around Daimaru (a Japanese department store) when suddenly we smelled something horribly familiar – Fighter had pooped. Went looking for the restroom (and hopefully a baby changing room) and found one. To my surprise, the room was incredibly well furnished!
First of all, there were two sturdy wooden changing stations complete with padding for use.
In true Japanese style, the bin is electronic and ingenious. You’re supposed to place your used (rolled up) diaper in the slot. It won’t fall in because there’s a plastic bag stretched taut just inside the slot. I pressed the button on the wall as shown, and the diaper slowly falls into the plastic sheet, is enclosed and sealed, and disposed cleanly inside the bin.
So clever and hygienic! No need to worry about smells, germs, or getting your hand caught in the lid when you’re tossing a diaper.
As expected, the rest of the baby room was spick and span! Nifty soap dispenser stood by the sink and there was a box of plastic bags for further use too. The only thing that was missing was paper towels and tissue paper I dunno why.
2. Japanese food is extremely palatable to my kids
Now this may not apply to everyone because I think it also depends on what your kids are used to consuming. But coming from an Asian background, Japanese food turned out to be extremely palatable to my kids and they actually ate even better than they do at home!
Japanese food is full of grains and I got two carbo monsters so everything is right up their alley hahaha.
And nori…. At one noodle restaurant, they served nori as a free appetizer and these two walloped TWO boxes of it *hides face in shame Surprisingly Fighter loves shrimp tempura! I thought he wouldn’t cos he never liked beef and shrimp has a pretty strong smell too right? But he loved it and that half his meals he ate shrimp tempura wtf. I think it was the tempura that pulled him in la hahaha.
They also loved kamameshi (釜飯 – rice dish cooked in a pot), fried garlic rice… and Fighter LOVES wagyu beef omg why so expensive taste. *shivers It was so easy getting food for them too.
Convenience stores are everywhere and any time I could just easily pop in and get a snack or a drink for them. There are all these little bottles of flavored milk and yogurt and juices so I bought some and gave to Fighter.
They ate so well so I don’t think food is an issue at all in Japan.
3. Restaurants and malls generally are pretty kid friendly
Besides the awe-inspiring baby rooms, baby facilities are quite widely available. Most of the restaurants we dined at had high chairs and baby dining sets.
See got plastic cutlery and even baby straws for drinking.
However, maybe about 30% of the restaurants didn’t have high chairs but I think it was cos these were really hole in the wall places and people generally didn’t bring babies there.
There are tons of play areas too! In the places we went anyway. These are in Isetan and Kansai airport.
4. Japanese look very kindly on little kids and babies
When Fighter threw tantrums I didn’t get disapproving looks wtf. Everyone around just tactfully looked away. And when Penny went up to random strangers (because she likes children) everyone would entertain her!
Even when she was being slightly annoying waddling around like a little drunk person and getting in busy people’s way, they’d smile indulgently at her and go “かわいい” lolol. Maybe because she looks like this in her little trench coat. OK LA I FORGIVE YOU EVERYTHING 5. Bring lots of plastic bags and wipes OK wet wipes are a no-brainer when you have a baby but the thing about Japan is, it is crazy clean but at the same time it’s hard to find a trash can. With babies come messes, so it’s a good idea to bring plastic bags with you to store trash until you find a bin. We found this out the hard way when Fighter upended his carton of strawberry milk on Teramachi…. and Fatty was forced to clean it up with tissues hahaha. The streets are all so pristine and we didn’t want to be not civic conscious so we cleaned up as much as we could.
6. Do bring a stroller!
I know sometimes parents decide not to bring strollers cos they’re afraid it will be too cumbersome. Not in Japan! Everywhere seems accessible with strollers because there are elevators all around.
Our stroller was our saviour wtf. Or else we have to traipse around lugging shopping bags, diaper bags, and two big babies wtf. With the stroller, we could go anywhere we wanted to go easily and we just piled everything into the basket underneath or hung on the handles and dumped one kid into it and let the other walk hahaha. You should definitely baby wear too but that might make shopping for clothes a little bit tough. 7. They have the cutest shopping carts for babies! At first I was like nuuuu where are the big shopping carts how am I supposed to seat my kids? Then I saw. Oh. Ingenious. The cart carries the shopping basket and there’s a seat in front low down so it’s stable and safe for babies! Fighter was super happy about it and helped to push baby around hahaha. 8. Tons of delicious baby foods! Move over, Heinz. I am a huge fan of Japanese food products for babies! I randomly stumbled across Meiji baby jar food in Tokyo a few years ago and bought some for Fighter. Tried it and it was so tasty and fresh and didn’t seem canned at all! The magic is, instead of puree texture, their baby foods are like pasta or risotto or porridge totally ready to eat. All I need to do is warm it up. And each dish is a complete meal – with grains, veggies, and fish or meat. I try not to feed them too much of course but these are extremely useful (and delicious) for times when I don’t have time to cook or for when we’re traveling. I recently discovered that Isetan in KLCC sells a limited repertoire of instant baby food from Wakodo but I knew Japan would have more! The first time I bought from a supermarket but this time I couldn’t find it in Isetan, Daimaru or Takashimaya. I managed to find that the pharmacies or kusuriya (which sell way more than the usual pharmacy elsewhere) stock baby supplies including food and bought a lot.
My loot wtf. I got cookies and crackers, gummy vitamins, baby furikake, instant pasta and meatballs (and other instant food). Brands to look out for are Wakodo, Meiji and Pigeon. So there you have it. If you’re a parent thinking of going to Japan with your kids, I hope this helped you make a decision. We actually really enjoyed ourselves with the kids and I definitely consider Japan a baby friendly destination.