Our second trip overseas with our son Mali led us back to the beautiful land of Japan. The safety, the culture, and the warmth of the people drew us in once again.
Our first venture to Japan occurred when Mali was a mere 3.5 months old, a time when he was still a lightweight bundle of joy, with Mali now 9 months old, our journey was a bit more... let's say, dynamic.
Gone were the days of leisurely naps and stationary moments. Mali has become a little explorer, curious about everything around him, from the bustling city streets to the tranquil countryside. With his newfound abilities to crawl, stand, and grab anything within reach, we knew we had to adapt our travel plans accordingly.
Reflecting on our experiences, here are some indispensable items, tips, and places that may help when traveling wonderful Japan with a baby.
1. Hiking baby chair: Thank me later
A hiking baby carrier is a staple for any outdoor excursion with a little one. However, its value amplifies when traveling in Japan, particularly in rural areas where traditional dining experiences often involve sitting on tatami floors around low tables. This is where the hiking carrier transforms into a makeshift high chair, providing a secure and comfortable spot for Mali to join us during meals without the worry of him wandering off or reaching for neighboring plates. Trust me, this invention is a game-changer!
2. Pram: Choose wisely
When it comes to navigating Tokyo's narrow streets and compact spaces, selecting the right pram is crucial. We opted for the Redsbaby AERON pram. Lightweight, manoeuvrable, and stylish—this pram ticked all the boxes. Although we needed to check the pram in as baggage, it was well worth having all the features of a full-size pram while overseas.
One of the features we loved most about the AERON is its versatility. Not only does it effortlessly glide through crowded sidewalks and narrow alleys, but it also reclines flat into a day bed for Mali. Oh, and did I mention how it saved the day when I got lost in Tokyo? Yep, yours truly managed to take one or more trains in the wrong direction and ended up in the complete opposite direction of where I needed to go. Cue the panic! But thanks to the AERON's compact folding design, getting a taxi back home was stress-free. Just fold, hop in the cab, and off we go, with Mali none the wiser about our little detour. Talk about a lifesaver!
Pram, a must-have, yes! But a baby carrier? Priceless for navigating temples, shops, and anywhere prams aren’t allowed. Not only does it keep your hands free for exploring or taking photos (because let’s face it, selfies with a pram are just awkward), but it also provides a sense of security and closeness for both you and your bub. Especially in Tokyo, where there are more lights and people than you can imagine. So, while the pram may have its place, the baby carrier proves to be an Invaluable tool for exploring Japan, providing both convenience and comfort.
Finding suitable spots for Mali to freely explore in Tokyo was challenging, given the limited spaces accommodating babies. The city's constant movement meant we couldn't afford to let Mali roam freely. Therefore, planning outings around Mali's nap schedule became crucial for a smooth travel experience. It allowed us stress-free moments for shopping and dining while Mali was asleep.
5. Snacks: Obviously but where?
Snacks are essential when traveling with Mali, whether it's keeping him happy during long train rides or preventing hunger meltdowns. But in Tokyo, finding a supermarket was like searching for a needle in a haystack—way harder than back home in Australia. Thankfully, Japanese convenience stores saved the day with their wide snack selection. The best ones? Look out for the Natural Lawson stores—they're everywhere and offer organic snacks perfect for both you and Mali on the go. Highly recommended!
6. Toy Museum: Fun for everyone, mostly mum and dad while they get a break
I highly recommend visiting the toy museum in Shinjuku during wake times—it's a hit for both babies and parents. Mali was captivated for almost 3 hours, and for a mere 2000 yen (around $20), it was well worth it. The museum offers rooms tailored for children of all ages, ensuring your bub stays engaged and entertained. Mali's favourite room was filled with wooden toys—he couldn't get enough of them! And the nap that followed was truly a blessing for all of us.
7. Park: Our oasis in the city
Our top pick for park outings was Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, and for good reason—it quickly became our favourite sanctuary in the city! Mali had a blast crawling around the spacious grassy areas, and I finally felt a sense of relaxation and fresh air amidst Tokyo's hustle and bustle. The park's serene atmosphere, complete with beautiful lakes and gardens, provided the perfect escape from the city crowds. Plus, there were plenty of charming cafes scattered throughout for a delightful refreshment break.
The memories we made exploring Japan with Mali are ones we will treasure forever.
Traveling to Tokyo with an infant certainly has its challenges, but with thorough preparation and the appropriate equipment, it can be a truly rewarding experience for the entire family.
To all the daring parents contemplating a trip to Japan with their little ones—embrace the adventure, pack smartly, and prepare for an unforgettable journey!