After settling the itinerary, gearing up for the flight, booking the accommodations and deciding what and how to feed your baby, there are other logistics to settle. One big item for us to decide was whether to bring a stroller for the trip. Some mummy friends have also asked about my breastfeeding experience in Japan, whether Japanese are okay with breastfeeding in public etc. Some also asked about the availability of changing stations. These will be the 3 items, plus a shopping tip, that I will be sharing about in the last instalment of this series.
Should I Bring My Stroller?
After reading a few posts on traveling in Japan with a baby on some travel forums*, we decided to wear her in the baby carrier and not bring our stroller along. It was a decision made at the very last minute: a week before we leave. Though the stroller can relieve us off her weight or hold our shopping, we are more mobile with our baby in the carrier. While most subway stations in Kyoto and Osaka have lifts and/or escalator, some sightseeing venues aren’t that stroller friendly.
I am sure you wouldn’t want to bring your stroller to Ginkakuji and Fushimi Inari
There are also places that allows you to push your strollers along. Two main reasons why we decided not to bring the stroller. 1. It is another piece of ‘luggage’ that we need to handle. We choose a small luggage over the stroller. 2. We don’t want to be carrying the stroller up and down all the time. We also don’t want to restrict ourselves to stroller-friendly places.
Other parts of Fushimi Inari, Philosopher’s Walk, Kiyomizu-dera area, Arashiyama and Dotonbori are more stroller friendly
We encountered a family who brought their baby in the stroller up on the bus and it was taking up most of the space of the aisle, so it was a little difficult to pass through. I am not sure if the stroller is not foldable, but if you are bringing your stroller up the bus, it would be considerate if the stroller doesn’t take up almost the entire aisle :)
Wearing our baby in the carrier though can be a little tiring, it gives us a lot of mobility. It gives us some handsfree moment while we sightsee (especially when we need to take photos) or shop, Our baby also take her naps while we travel from place to place in the carrier itself. It also keeps us warm in colder days. You can even breastfeed discreetly in the carrier!
*Many mentioned that they brought both the stroller and the carrier but if they were to do the trip all over again, they would prefer to use the carrier exclusively.
Breastfeeding in Japan
My breastfeeding experience in Japan has been pleasant. Even though I was prepared to nurse in public, I was a little concerned about the nursing culture as it is contained within an Asian culture (which tends to lean towards the conservative side). I am not sure whether I was oblivious or the Japanese are generally supportive (they are extremely friendly towards baby by the way), I do not feel intimated, or uncomfortable nursing in public in any way.
I use a nursing cover whenever I nurse on the bus, at cafes, restaurants, Fushini Inari and up at the Ferris wheel in Osaka. I also made sure that my attires are all separates as I don’t have any nursing tops or dresses. I also wore bra tops from Uniqlo underneath my tops. They are one of the best nursing bras around – provides support and avoids any unnecessary exposure of skin when you lift your tops.
I wouldn’t say that changing stations are abundant but they are definitely available in Kyoto and Osaka, mostly in the malls or larger/main subway stations. When we are unable to locate a changing station, we change her in the handicap toilet. There was once we changed her on a wide bench in a discreet corner.
Wherever changing stations are available, there are very spacious with sufficient space for a stroller. We have seen or use one at Tokyo Haneda domestic terminal, a couple a Arashiyama (one at the foot of the hill along the river, one at the main station), and one at Osakako Station (nearest to Kaiyukan). We are more flexible regarding the availability of facility, but are more concerned about getting the deed done.
Very spacious hanging room in Tokyo Haneda Airport. I am standing in front of the changing table.
Shopping for Japanese Snacks/Tidbits
Everyone buys snacks and tidbits from Japan when they are there! You can buy most of them such as Meiji, Collon, Glico, Kitkat etc from the supermarkets or the speciality shops downtown. We did our snack shopping on the last day at Dotonbori, lug them all the way back to our accommodation, repack before heading to the airport. If you would like to save all these trouble, you can actually buy most of them at the airport. Prices are more or less the same! All you need to do is to prepare a (huge) bag for dump them all in.
This concludes the series of my experiences of traveling with a baby. The other three instalments of this series can be found here:
Before You Travel with Your Baby and Itinerary
Accommodation and Food
On Flying and What to Bring On Board
I hope that it has provided some useful information on traveling with a baby and make it an enjoyable experience for the whole family. It is important to be a little more flexible on the usual routine and make do along the way. Our first family trip to Japan was definitely an experience and I am looking forward to our next family trip!