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Spending 1 month in Japan with 2 young children

Sunnyvale...
Level Contributor
9 posts
5 reviews
Spending 1 month in Japan with 2 young children

We are thinking about splitting our trip up into 4 segments, one week at each. We are traveling in October. I have 2 questions, below:

Tokyo (hitting up Disneyland at the end of the week)

Osaka-Kyoto

Kyushu (staying in Fukuoka unless someone recommends someplace different to consider)

Okinawa

While I'd like to stay at many hotels, I think that having a "home base" in each area will make it easier with the kids so we will be using our JR rail pass a lot the first 3 weeks.

Question 1: Any tips for traveling with children? Mine are 1 & 3 - what are the must see's that you'd recommend for our family?

Question 2: Would you change the itinerary?

I am pretty sure we will stay at Marriott hotels throughout if anyone has any recommendations on ones that they'd recommend. We want to do Airbnb but are nervous (I've been reading about restrictions and last minute cancellations and when you travel with kids you're a lot less open to these sorts of disruptions!!!).

Basically, any advice would be greatly appreciated. Also looking into hiring a tour agency for some day trips, for example, to Mt. Fuji from Tokyo. Any recommendations or advice on whether or not to hire a tour agency?

We don't speak Japanese so just want to get our ducks in a row on what to expect :)

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7 replies to this topic
Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
598 posts
99 reviews
1. Re: Spending 1 month in Japan with 2 young children

When our kids were smaller we always did Disneyland near the start of the trip (4weeks) and always did DisneySea near the very end (or vice-versa) By doing this you always had a 'carrot on a stick' for the kids to look forward to when the trip seemed to be getting too long or at times too uninteresting for them. Our kids always started to get home sick (for pets, friends, home) at about the 3week mark on long trips.

Cambridge
Level Contributor
81 posts
55 reviews
2. Re: Spending 1 month in Japan with 2 young children

Japan is very child friendly. Many large department stores and restaurants have baby/young kids facilities (play area, diaper changing stations, and nursing rooms). You will probably bring one or two (?) strollers, but the places like the airports and the malls have free strollers for rent too.

In Tokyo, I found Roppongi Hills (huge shopping/restaurants complex) very good for small kids. It has a great baby/kids playroom and changing/nursing rooms. There is a small park nearby.

Also, in general, Japanese cities have many parks and green spaces as well as temples and shrines. I found those are good places to let young children run around safely.

As for the stroller, I don't recommend bringing a heavy duty one. Japanese sidewalks are very crowded and often narrow. People walk fast and they ride bicycles on the sidewalk too. So it will be much easier if you take a light weight umbrella stroller. It will be much easier for getting on/off the subways and buses.

As for the food, udon will be good for young child. It's a type of noodle that's soft and easy to digest. I also found having an onigiri (rice ball) from any convenience stores is useful. It keeps at room temperature at least half a day and it's not messy to eat. I just put one in my bag and carried it around in case my child got hungry on the road.

Since it's a long trip, you will probably have a lot of luggage for kids stuff. You might want to check out the option of sending your luggage from your hotel to the next hotel when you are moving to the next home base.

Lastly, about the diapers. . . Japanese (seem to) prefer pull up diapers even for much younger kids. When mine was little and when we needed to get some at a local drug store, we actually had difficulty finding non-pull up style. . .

Sunnyvale...
Level Contributor
9 posts
5 reviews
3. Re: Spending 1 month in Japan with 2 young children

Good tip! Thanks.

Sunnyvale...
Level Contributor
9 posts
5 reviews
4. Re: Spending 1 month in Japan with 2 young children

Thank you for the stroller and food suggestions and the heads up about pull on diapers.

London, United...
Destination Expert
for Solo Travel
Level Contributor
11,064 posts
28 reviews
5. Re: Spending 1 month in Japan with 2 young children

I think Nagasaki might make a better base than Fukuoka as it is more varied and the trams are great.

Saying that, I think there is a fabulous festival in Nagasaki sometime in October so you might want to check dates whether you like the idea of a festival or want to avoid it.

California
Level Contributor
4,329 posts
335 reviews
6. Re: Spending 1 month in Japan with 2 young children

Frankly, I would cut Okinawa out and redistribute that week among the others...which are all urban areas with lots of green spaces and scenery. How old are the children, and what are your intended entry and exit airports. From the west coast, it is easy to arrange to fly into a Tokyo airport and out through Kansai International Airport.

I would base myself in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Fukuoka (10, 12, 8 days respectively...and if flying out of a Tokyo airport, split the 10 in two segments in Tokyo). The Kansai (Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara, Himeji) has a lot to do, including with children, and that's why I would concentrate the plurality of days there. I recommend Fukuoka because you can day trip back east to Hiroshima/Miyajima if you missed them, plus it is in the eastern part of Kyushu for an easier return to Tokyo or the Kansai. Plus from Fukuoka you can get to spa towns like Beppu.

I won't ask your budget, but if you live in Sunnyvale, I suspect you have the means. Japan is a not inexpensive place to visit.

On stroller use, I suggest www.Accessible-Japan.com which is aimed at wheel chair users but which might be applicable to your circumstances. I would not, for example, go to Kiyomizudera with strollers because it is much too hard to descend the Sannenzaka and Ninenzaka which are steep and stepped but part of the Higashiyama experience in Kyoto.

Have fun.

Edited: 06 August 2018, 21:03
Level Contributor
37 posts
92 reviews
7. Re: Spending 1 month in Japan with 2 young children

check out Kidzania in Tokyo as well. Not sure how you will travel around but language barrier is a real issue for us when we went if you are looking to use public transportation.

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