Photo: すしぱく on Pakutaso

Tips for Traveling in Japan with Young Children

Japan – Whether it be the big cities of Tokyo or Osaka, or the quiet countryside with rice paddies and dirt roads, many parents would agree that traveling with children has its difficulties. Even going to the market holds its challenges – packing their bags with their necessities, getting them dressed for whatever weather it is, getting them out the door and either into a stroller or your car’s child safety seat, trying to calm them if they’re fussy, finally getting to the market and then realizing that you forgot your grocery list at home…Luckily, the items on that list don’t increase unless you want it to. The list of things that you’re responsible to do when doing anything with children however just keeps on growing. So, compiled here is a little list of things that might make it a tad bit easier for you on your visit to the land of the rising sun.

Child Safety Seat Laws in Japan

When traveling anywhere with a car, it’s important to know the laws of the road. This doesn’t change with kids and as most parents know, there are even more laws that we must abide by when placing our child into any moving vehicle. And, most if not all of those laws have a direct correlation to child safety seats.

In America, it is known to most parents that children must be buckled in at all times. There are no if’s, and’s, or but’s. This is obviously for your child’s safety and while some will agree that no matter what the case be, their child should always be buckled in, there are always others who may feel the need to take their extra fussy child out. In Japan, child safety laws are similar to those in America; however, you may find that they are lax in certain areas. For example, your child can be taken out of their child safety seat if they need to breastfeed. The person driving the vehicle should, of course, pull over when they can to avoid any possible accidents, but this is the one exception to the rule that Japan has made. Additionally, children do not need to be strapped into a child safety seat if they are riding on a bus, train, or a taxi.

Strapping children in to child safety seats may also be different depending on your area as there is no real law regarding forward facing and rear facing seats. The way that the seat faces in Japan, is all dependent on how heavy and/or tall your child is. So, even if your child must sit rear-facing where you’re from, if they’re too heavy or too tall for your new seat while facing the rear, you will have to switch it around and have your child face forward. Personally, I found this to be useful as my son enjoys riding in the car much more than before when it was facing the rear.

Eating Out With Kids

This, I know is something that most people dread. But just like in most parts of the world, there are child-friendly places that have special seats for your children to sit in. And, if you know where to go, you may even find a few places that go the extra mile for your children.

Personally, I’ve been to restaurants that have baby bouncers. Some had toys. And, I’ve even been to a lovely café that had a play area just for your children where you could sit at a table enjoying your meal, all while watching your child enjoy themselves, playing. The key to finding these places is to search for child friendly places and look online. A lot of restaurants these days have pages on social media sites like Facebook. Do some research on the area that you’re going and see if there’s anything close to where you’re headed. The majority of places that are child friendly will most likely have pictures of what they have available for children, so make sure to look those up and you won’t have as much to worry about when going out to eat with your children.

Shopping with Kids

Another thing that most parents cringe at is shopping with kids. However, you shouldn’t worry too much. Most shopping malls and markets will have specially designed carts to put your children in, and if it’s a well-known shopping mall like AEON, there will even be two types for you to choose from. For smaller babies that need to be laid down, there is a cart where the angle in which you lay your baby is adjustable. Then, there’s the cart for children that will have them enjoying their visit to the mall. For this cart, children can ride in what seems like an open car with a steering wheel. It’s even decorated with cute characters like Pikachu or Hello Kitty sometimes.

The Most Convenient Stores When Traveling with Kids

Tzuhsun Hsu on Flickr.

Last but not least, you need to know about the most convenient stores to go to when traveling with kids. Whether your child has an accident, you’ve just run out of diapers, or your child has somehow misplaced their favorite pacifier, these are the most convenient stores to go to.

Nishimatsuya is a chain store for children with cute and cheap clothes. They carry diapers and even packets of baby food. If you want to buy a cheap new stroller, you could come here too! They have everything that you could possibly need at affordable prices. Other stores include, but are not limited to Akachan Honpo, Shimamura, and even Toys R’ Us and Babies R’ Us.  For formula, your local market, drugstore, or Don Quijote most likely carries it, so if you’re in a bind, you may be able to find it there. Taking a quick pit stop at one of these stores may help you to replenish your stock of necessary supplies that children seem to use up so quickly, so be sure to look up which one will be closest to you on your travels!

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