Travel Stories: Japan with a Baby

I’m so pleased to share Amy Ballantyne’s story. She traveled to Japan with a baby at 7.5mos pregnant and with her 16-month-old son. They had a great time!

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Making new friends in Japan…

Japan with a Baby…

What an amazing place to travel. It has been a year since we traveled to Japan with a baby but an experience we will never forget. Japan is filled with kind, generous, and helpful people. They were excited to take care of the travelers to their beautiful country.

10 Days in Tokyo

We travelled to Tokyo for 10 days for a baseball tournament and decided to bring our 16 month-old with us (along with Grandma and Grandpa!). He was the perfect age for this trip. He still wasn’t walking but learned in Tokyo. And he would he eat pretty much anything we gave him.

We stayed right in the heart of Tokyo and the hotels we used were the Tokyo Prince Hotel and the Prince Park Tower Tokyo. Both hotels were very nice and the staff were exceptional at making us feel welcome. They helped us find our way in a city with little to no English and helped us stay cool in the extreme heat. Thanks to the concierge’s assistance we could navigate the intricate subway and rail systems used by millions each day.

These two hotels were in the beautiful Shiba Park area and close to one of the historic ZoJo-Ji Buddist temples.

Getting Around Tokyo with a Baby

A couple of points to note when traveling to Tokyo, Japan with a baby. First, using a shuttle to get from the airport to your hotel is critical. We used Friendly Airport Limousine buses. The Narita airport is located a good distance from downtown Tokyo. After a very long flight and transition of approximately 20+ hours, take a reliable shuttle and don’t sweat figuring out the subway or rail system. Not to mention figuring out the language while sleep deprived.

Second, we decided not to rent a car so we used the subway and rail system. It is an amazing system but you must pre-plan routes to the places you want to visit. It is so intricate and complicated that you could become easily lost and there is little English available.

Navigating the Tokyo Subway with a Baby

Some stations have maps that include written words for the station, but usually there is just the Japanese symbols. Acquaint yourselves with the maps and if you have an idea of where things are, the Japanese people are quick to rescue travelers who look lost. A little old lady who could tell we were lost attempted to provide directions using the maps and body language since neither of us could speak the same language.

Consider also that the subway and rail systems are below ground (sometimes very, very far down) and in most cases there are no elevators. We had to carry our baby, the stroller, the diaper bag, and anything else we had up and down the stairs. In other words, bring a light, small stroller! We frequently saw Japanese women carrying their strollers up and down the stairs on their own. Impressive!

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Beating the heat in Japan…

Finding Diapers in Tokyo

Finally, I am glad I followed someone’s advice about packing lots of diapers. I brought about 45+ for the flight and transition and the first few days. It was absolutely impossible to find diapers that were not ridiculously overpriced in downtown Tokyo. I was able to find two diapers (yes, just two) in the hotel store. It was going to cost me about $10 USD for those two diapers.

We searched nearby grocery stores in the Nakamise-dori Asakusa Market and in the grocery stores near our hotel but found nothing. It wasn’t until we went out of the metropolitan of Tokyo to a city called Yokohama (a beautiful city with numerous sights to see) that we found a drug store close to the subway station. They had a package of diapers (about 35 or so) for $10 USD. Thank goodness for that store! We were on our last few diapers and I was starting to worry. They got us through the remainder of the trip and our flight home.

Food in Japan with a Baby

As far as food goes, it should not be a concern at all. It is very easy to find familiar food everywhere in Tokyo. And most places post pictures of the food they offer outside the restaurants so you can see what the meals look like. We found grocery stores and were able to eat very North American food for most of the trip. We did try some food (that was delicious) here and there. And I found some baby food at a grocery store for my son, but we had packed enough jars of food, puffs, Cheerios, formula, and apple sauce to last the entire trip.

Each day we would buy bananas and apples at the grocery store and sandwiches for lunch at the bakery in the lobby of our hotel. Having the store and bakery in the hotel lobby was a godsend for food we knew and not having to go far to get it.

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Playing at Roppongi Hills Mall

Fun Things to Do in Japan with a Baby

The July we visited was the hottest on record that Tokyo had seen in many years. We purchased a significant amount of water and tried to stay cool any way we could. Be advised that even if your hotel has a pool it likely is not included in your price. We had to pay to swim and only did so on one day because of the cost.

In general Japan is a very baby and kid-friendly place. A few highlights include: seats for baby to sit in inside the washrooms at baseball diamonds, stores, airports, and more. At department stores (i.e. MYLORD) we found kids areas for children to let loose, play, and have some fun.

Out and About in Tokyo with Baby

At the Roppongi Hills mall there were a few baby/kids locations that were equipped with change tables, microwaves, snack spots, toys, breast feeding rooms, and more. Also at this mall we found an open outdoor area where over a hundred Japanese children were playing with water toys donated by a toy company for the children to ‘test out.’ My son loved playing side by side the Japanese children!

At the Narita airport we were so happy to find another kids area similar to the mall that had everything our son could need during the long wait.

Travel While Pregnant in Japan

In addition to having our toddler with us, I was also 7.5 months pregnant. This was not an issue at all. I was not able to eat any sushi but that was easy since most menus (even in the rural areas we visited for baseball) had English translation under the foods on the menu.

Having great footwear was important as we did a lot of walking and it was hot! I was sure to take advantage of the priority seating on the subway/rail system for the pregnant and individuals traveling with a child! Finally, many spots in Japan have ‘western’ toilets. However, in subway station washrooms, malls, and many other locations, you will only find the traditional Japanese squatting holes. This was a bit tricky as a pregnant person but I had to try it anyhow!

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Amy and her husband…

Traveling with Grandma & Grandpa

My husband and I were very lucky to travel with his parents. Taking them with us was absolutely amazing! Traveling to such a different place, it was great to have comfort and security every step of the way.

Some favourite locations we visited included: ZoJo-Ji Temple, Nakamise-dori Asakusa Market, Tokyo Tower, Senso-ji temple in Asakusa, Yokohama park and stadium, the MYLORD department store in Atsugi, Meiji Jingu Stadium, the Imperial Palace in Kokyo and the Roppongi Hills shopping centre.

Final Thoughts on Visiting Japan with a Baby

I am so thankful that we had the experience of a lifetime traveling to the beautiful country of Japan. The people were amazing. The sights and culture was spectacular. It was a trip we will never forget. Sure, the flight was long, the weather hot, and the language tricky to learn. But I would 100% recommend traveling to Japan (even pregnant and/or with a baby) if given the opportunity!

Amy is an executive, life, and wellness coach and a former personal trainer. Connect with her at

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8 Responses to Travel Stories: Japan with a Baby

  1. Jessica at #

    Amy I would love to learn more about how your trip was in Japan with pregnancy and also a little child. I have been wanting for the longest time to go to Japan with my husband and we’re about to have our first child. I have so many questions about how you got around, how much walking there was, etc. How receptive were Japanese to children? Were you able to travel/walk much? How much were you guys able to cover? Did you find yourself using the taxi a lot? Do they do Uber there?

  2. I always wanted my son to come and experience.

  3. Jemi at #

    Thank you for sharing your travel experience with your baby in Japan. I’ve always dreamed of going there too and now that I have a little girl, I think it will be even better now to realize this dream with her. 🙂

  4. Claudia at #

    Great tips on visiting Japan with wee ones. Now I want to visit Japan with my adult babies!! It’s number one on my travel list.

    • Corinne at #

      My daughter is a huge anime buff so Japan’s on the top of her list as well 🙂

  5. Sorin at #

    I have been to Japan last September (without the kids) but I have seen a lot of parents with kids struggling (at least in Tokyo) due to the lack of escalator and the only way was via the long stairs! I felt pity for them!

  6. I visited Tokyo without my family but they’re so jealous and begging to plan a trip there. Will need to get back to Japan someday, hopefully with the kids!

    • Corinne at #

      Japan is totally on my daughter’s bucket list as well!

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