3 Tips to Building Your Itinerary in Japan With Kids
”How do you manage your itinerary when traveling with kids?”
Someone asked this in an instagram Q&A while we were in Japan and thought I would share it here - 3 things to consider when traveling to Japan with kids.
Addie was 18 months on our most recent trip (April 2019) so details of your itinerary will differ depending on how long you’re visiting, how old your kids are, and where you’re staying. Nonetheless I hope these tips help!
RESEARCH KID FRIENDLY SPOTS
You’re traveling with kids, so take some time to research kid friendly spots and activities that’ll entertain them too. It doesn’t have to be a “kid” activity, but should be something that entertains them. The last thing you want is a bored kid while you’re out and about. Sometimes super touristy spots might not be the best because of the nature of the activity and crowds. Yes, check them out but maybe not for the whole day.
For example, popular shrines wasn’t at the top of the list because I knew Addie won’t be interested at this age. Nothing wrong with them but I really had to think about where our time would be best spent. Whereas, I knew Team Lab’s Borderless would be great. It’s super visual and highly interactive and I knew she would be entertained.
TIP: Google “baby friendly things to do in ____” wherever you’re going. Some things were planned prior to our visit but sometimes it was on the spot.
What about if you’re already there and need to figure out what you can do with kids on the spot? We were at the Shibuya crossing and needed a place to be away from the crowds, rest up, but still be able to see the crossing. I googled “baby friendly shibuya” and I found this spot below, thanks to @thetokyochapter (she has A LOT of resources and answered so many of my questions, thank you Jo!)
These photos are from the top of a department store called Magnet and you can see the Shibuya Crossing from up top. It was awesome to be away from the crowds and see the crossing from a different view. We even got to enjoy a nice cold refreshing beer after we were done “viewing” right inside of Magnet.
THINK ABOUT HOW YOU CAN BREAK UP THE DAY
Remember those days when you could just go go go and do whatever you wanted at the pace you wanted? That’s just not realistic anymore. Allow for naps, tantrums, and rest for even us parents. We plan as much as we can but expect the unexpected too. We’ve had to rearrange our schedule a lot because of the weather, or Addie was hangry and started throwing a tantrum, so we had to quickly change things up.
That said, we plan for ONE (at most two) main event/activity for the day. Then let things pan out. Never underestimate the fun of letting things just happen.
YOU’LL BE WALKING EVERYWHERE
In Japan your main transportation method is the train. I repeat, you’ll be walking everywhere. It’s important to take this into account for everything.
Some things to consider:
How you want to bring your personal and baby items with you. I suggest a good backpack, a baby carrier (if this applies), and a foldable stroller.|
How you travel in the city vs. in the train will look different. While you can use a stroller in the city, it’s frowned upon to use it inside the train (especially at peak hours). When your’e in the train with a baby/young child, it’s best to use your baby carrier or hold them.
Considering how much you’ll be walking, your family will get tired. So factor in rest time in between activities!
Trains don't run for 24 hours. Make sure to check the last train time for the day if you plan to be out late. If you miss the last train, there’s always taxis though not the most budget friendly.