Over 28,690,000 foreign visitors came to Japan in 2017 (Japan National Tourism Organization). With such huge numbers, we’re seeing the expansion of convenient traveler services in Japan to make your stay even more enjoyable. Here are some that you can’t miss—especially for families travelling with babies and small children!
Planning to move around Japan to see its many sites? Have unwieldy skis or golf clubs? Hoping to do some serious shopping? One thing that makes travelling a drag is having to cart around your luggage, from the airport to your hotel, between hotels, and back to the airport.
Well, good news for you: with Japan’s speedy and reliable courier services, you can make use of baggage storage services or ship your heavy bags from place to place, in some cases even for same-day delivery.
The most comprehensive resource on this is Japan National Tourism Organization’s website for ‘Hands Free Travel’. Shipping and temporary baggage storage services are available even at department stores and other locations, so check out the website to find a ‘Hand-Free Travel’ counter.
TIP: If you’re flying ANA or JAL, their luggage delivery services to/from a few main airports will allow you to earn some miles.
Baby Goods Rental
The littlest of people come with a surprising amount of gear. Travel would be so much simpler if you didn’t have to bring the cot, stroller, car seat and baby bath with you. Luckily, it’s possible to rent some of these bulkier baby goods in Japan.
The first place to check for cots is, of course, your hotel. Some hotels, like this one, even offer free amenities such as toys, pajamas, baby bath and mattress protectors, as well as baby stroller rentals—so do check with your hotel to see what they provide.
As for baby strollers, while you’ll likely do a lot of walking in Japan, keep in mind that there are still many places with stairs and there’s little space to keep a big stroller in trains and buses. A compact, easily foldable umbrella stroller would be better. Or just bring your favorite baby carrier and make use of baby stroller rental services that are available in many major department stores and shopping malls (turn on your browser’s translation function to read in English), not to mention attractions such as Ueno Zoo, Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan.
TIP: You can also ask other users for information via Google Maps app and Trip Advisor Q&A forums.
As for car seats, Japanese law requires car seats for children under the age of six, but taxis and buses are exempt…which means that taxis are not equipped with car seats, although there does exist a chauffeur service for families with small children (advance registration and booking is required; ask your hotel if they can help with the booking). If you rent a car, most agencies will also loan a car seat for your child, with advance booking.
Several online rental shops lease out every kind of gear your baby could possibly need, such as Nice Baby, Baby Renta and Darling. Unfortunately, these companies’ websites are only in Japanese (undoubtedly an area for improvement!), but you may want to try asking your hotel in advance if they could help arrange it for you.
In a short period of time, the availability and ease of use of free Wi-Fi networks has grown rapidly in Japan. In Tokyo, for example, you can connect to free Wi-Fi in the airports, Tokyo Metro subway stations, as well as in convenience stores and many shopping malls. To make it easy to connect to these free Wi-Fi hotspots, download Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi app. You can also check hotspot locations in advance.
Apps to Find Baby Changing Facilities, Accessible Public Restrooms, and Nursing Rooms
One of the best things about Japan are the clean restrooms! To find one nearest you, try the Check A Toilet app (iOS/Android). You will also be able to search restrooms that are wheelchair accessible or have changing tables.
For nursing moms who prefer a bit of privacy, try the Mamapapamap app (iOS only) or visit the Mama Papa Map website (turn on the English translation function in your browser) to find the nearest nursing and baby changing facilities near you.
TIP: Speaking of apps, try out some of the translation apps for your smartphone to help you get by!
Not Sure Where to Visit?
English isn’t always spoken well in Japan, even at public facilities, but there are at least two places you are guaranteed to get some tourist info and guidance in English!
◯ JNTO TIC(Tourist Information Center)
The Japanese National Tourism Organization has tourist information centers all around the country, but this is THE main office where you can get detailed and comprehensive information for all of Japan, English-, Chinese-, and Korean-speaking staff. They also offer free cultural experiences, like trying on the kimono, and offer free Wi-Fi. The official JNTO website has some suggested itineraries for inspiration.
Location: 1st Fl, Shin-Tokyo Bldg., 3-3-1, Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo , 100-0005 (GoogleMap»)
Hours: 9:00-17:00, daily (closed January 1st)
Tel: +81 3 3201 3331
◯ JR EAST Travel Service Center, Shinjuku Station
Run by JR EAST, this center offers info and help on travel destinations accessed by JR’s extensive rail network and has positive reviews on the availability of English staff. Especially useful for those who have Japan Rail Passes and want to know where to go.
Location: Shinjuku Station, New South Exit (GoogleMap»)
Hours: 8:00–19:00, daily
For those who need tourism information that specifically addresses accessibility, Accessible Japan website offers great information.
We hope you find some of these useful to help you get the most out of your stay. Have fun and see you in Japan!