Travel

Japan trip in April 2018 with 3 little children?

  • Last Updated:
  • Nov 8th, 2017 9:21 pm
[OP]
Newbie
Dec 11, 2006
79 posts
3 upvotes

Japan trip in April 2018 with 3 little children?

My wife and I are planning to go to Japan for 30 days in April 2018 with 3 kids (5.5 yr, 4 yr, 9 mos). We've never been to Japan and we want to see the cherry blossoms. We will be travelling mostly in JR trains, subways, buses and flying inlands, staying in Air B&B and Ryokans in major cities and also smaller towns. I know this will be a challenging trip with 3 small kids, knowing there will be many kilometers of walking. Has anyone had such experience before? Any advice? We are planning to buy a smaller lighter weight double stroller for 2 kids at a time. Is Japan stroller friendly? A bigger stroller is easier to push and maneuver but possibly not in the big cities. Thank you.
18 replies
Deal Guru
Dec 31, 2005
13191 posts
666 upvotes
We have been all around the world with our kids: depending on when it was 1, 2 or 3 of them. Went throughout Europe, Australia, China, Singapore, Bali etc.....

The best advice we learned through practice was not to design a trip that we as parents would want. For example, when we went to Chengdu for a week, we do plan a day event only every other day. We also made a point of doing something for them as well. When we went to the old city (significantly recreated) we made a point of allowing him to play the games (i.e. kids crossbow etc).

Anyway, we also found that everyone was extremely patient and friendly with us because we had children...and particularly because we had two or three boys at the time. Often we had to stop for our boys to have their picture taken with locals. It was amusing the first 10 times :-

We did use a carrier from MEC for our trips--in winter and summer. Halve also used baby bjorns.

You may also find that a stroller for the 5 year old might be a good idea. We did that when we went to France. At the end of the day he was exhausted so having something for him to sit in and be pushed was a huge benefit to all--keeps your sanity.

One challenge with strollers though can be cobblestone roads or similar. They destroyed one of our stroller the wheels just were not right for that surface when walking for hours.
Member
Nov 22, 2014
284 posts
60 upvotes
Toronto
Where in japan are you going? If going to somewhere like Kyushu just rent a car the whole time...easier
If going to big cities like Tokyo/Osaka/Kyoto then it's gonna be hectic with the JR trains..buses etc
[OP]
Newbie
Dec 11, 2006
79 posts
3 upvotes
We are travelling Japan from top to bottom, Sapporo, Sendai, Nikko, Tokyo, Hakone Kyoto, takayama, Hiroshima matsushima Nagasaki etc.
Member
Nov 22, 2014
284 posts
60 upvotes
Toronto
Oh woah, nice long trip then. In that case, car should be out of the picture because it's way too much long distance driving and expensive given the expressway fees in Japan vs trains. It's definitely not worth it for you guys economically given the itinerary.

You probably know this already, but your 9 month and 4 year old 5.5 year old children don't need JR passes according to the official website. Only age 6 and above for children passes, but you still need to pay for local buses...etc. (not sure if you're kid is going to be 6 by the time you're in Japan)
http://www.japanrailpass.net/en/about_jrp.html

For staying at ryokans, I recommend you find a place with a family room that has in-suite private onsen so parents don't have to be separated.

Sorry I can't be of much help.
[OP]
Newbie
Dec 11, 2006
79 posts
3 upvotes
Thanks for your reply. I guess my main concern is I want to get a bigger stroller with better wheels but not sure if it'll fit in subways and buses
Deal Fanatic
Jan 27, 2006
6454 posts
1667 upvotes
Vancouver, BC
kanfive wrote:
Nov 3rd, 2017 7:54 pm
Thanks for your reply. I guess my main concern is I want to get a bigger stroller with better wheels but not sure if it'll fit in subways and buses
You might be better off to see what's available in Japan... with those Japanese strollers, you know that they will fit on subways and buses as they were made for the market. North American strollers might not.
Deal Fanatic
Sep 21, 2004
7875 posts
565 upvotes
Don't bother with a stroller. It's too big and bulky for a country of that density. We travel with soft/backpack carriers only. Easier to maneuver. Keeps the kids close. No need to find elevators, etc. Rough terrain is no issue. We've done this around the world.

Set reasonable activities and expectations. You don't have to cater exclusively for the kids but be fair in what you hope to achieve. For us, we usually plan 1 main thing per day and 1 optional secondary activity.

Despite being an rfd'er, sometimes you'll have to pay some money for the sake of the family. It'll be worth it.

Make your older ones walk. Our oldest is 4 right now. This summer in DC he walked 5+km (I mapped it) before calling it quits and he's a big wimp. That imo was reasonable expectation of him and we had a good solid tourist day. No need for a stroller.

Have fun and make the most of it. Take. Lots of photos. Our two boys love traveling and love looking through our family travel photo books. We have lots of great memories even if they forget as they get older. Glad we have our photos.
Deal Addict
Oct 1, 2004
4138 posts
269 upvotes
Toronto
Can’t you just leave the kids here, and shorten the trip? It’s not like your going to Disney land, none of your kids at their ages will give two crap about the cherry blossom...
Deal Fanatic
Sep 21, 2004
7875 posts
565 upvotes
greg123 wrote:
Nov 5th, 2017 11:29 am
Can’t you just leave the kids here, and shorten the trip? It’s not like your going to Disney land, none of your kids at their ages will give two crap about the cherry blossom...
Why not? Travelling as a family can be a wonderful experience. We started our oldest at 10 months. He's turning 5 soon and been to about a dozen countries and all over Canada / US. His little brother has been on a fair share (but obviously not as many). They've had the opportunity to see a lot of that world, the different landscapes, the people, the cultures, the food, etc. Do they remember specific things from the earlier trips? No. But all the travel has helped build their identity and they now long to see the world. And for the things they've forgotten, we have our photos to fill in the void. Start them early and they'll enjoy these things.

OP - good for you. It's not easy to take 3 kids on a long journey. It can be tough mentally and tough on the wallet. Definitely a challenge but well worth it.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Jun 8, 2008
3616 posts
1058 upvotes
Toronto
Our kids were a little older when we took them to Japan, had an awesome time. We stumbled upon the NHK Studios in Tokyo and they were in Domo heaven. Enjoy.
Jr. Member
User avatar
Apr 28, 2011
144 posts
111 upvotes
Quicky question - are these 3 kids your children or is the plan to just take any 5.5 yr, 4 yr and 9 month old children with you?

Not Japan but in NYC we went with a regular sized single stroller and it was horrible getting into restaurants and stores near times square (had to take freight elevators). I wished we had a smaller compact stroller just for that trip. I hear it can get pretty busy on those trains.
[OP]
Newbie
Dec 11, 2006
79 posts
3 upvotes
Of course these are our kids. We want to go on a family trip together and take lots of pictures before they get older.
Deal Fanatic
Jan 27, 2006
6454 posts
1667 upvotes
Vancouver, BC
kanfive wrote:
Nov 7th, 2017 2:54 pm
Of course these are our kids. We want to go on a family trip together and take lots of pictures before they get older.
Ahhh... blackmail photos! :)
Member
Jan 31, 2007
224 posts
54 upvotes
Umm, nope. Just don’t.

Trains - luggage is your problem. You have to maneuver 3 kids and luggage for 5 people onto a train. Also, there is no actual luggage service on trains. It’s where you can wedge them in. Oh sure the NEX train from the airport has luggage on the ends. But the nozomi (bullet train) doesn’t. You wedge them in at your seat. And those seats are assigned. So it doesn’t mean you can just sprawl out anywhere.

Double Strollers - nope. Good luck maneuvering anywhere in Tokyo, never mind navigating the multiple stair levels. Oh you might find an elevator somewhere at the big stations like Tokyo or shinjuku. Go to a smaller station, even Nishi-shinjuku and it gets interesting as only some entrances have them.

Restaurants? Since there are kids you have to find a sit down. Which means lines. Long lines. The faster places are mostly standing only with chest level benches for your food. Kids can’t eat off of there unless you hold them.

But you’ve already decided you’re going. Best advice I can give? Stay central to take breaks to come back to the hotel. Use UberXL to go from train station to your Airbnb and back again as five kids and luggage is crazy. Don’t go anywhere during rush hour. Stop at seven eleven to get snacks.

Good luck!

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