More Kyoto + Baby Travel Tips

by Tokyo Terrace on April 27, 2012

It just so happens that traveling with an infant is not super easy in Kyoto. Unlike Tokyo, Kyoto is lacking in public restrooms with changing tables or convenient places to nurse. Tokyo is so baby-friendly that we didn’t really think twice about it being anything but a breeze in Kyoto. Let’s just say we learned a few lessons on this trip. Some of these tips are Japan-specific while others are applicable no matter where you are traveling.

  • Be ready to be a MacGyver diaper changer! Bring a changing pad that you can easily unfold and use anywhere, even outdoors or on a bathroom floor. Trust me on this. Also, bring some antibacterial wipes to wipe off the side of the pad that touches the floor. I’m sure it doesn’t clean it completely, but it helps!
  • Be armed and ready! A little more about changing- make sure to be armed with plenty of diaper cream since you never know how long it will be before you can find a good changing location. This will help keep baby more comfortable and calm until you can find a good spot.
  • Eat on the floor. The tatami floor, that is. Look for non-smoking restaurants with tatami rooms. That way, you can set baby down on the floor where they can play/nap while you eat. We did this twice on the trip and it was wonderful. Just make sure to ask for a table for 3 so you have the extra space.
  • Take a load off. Bring at least 2 baby carriers (NOT a stroller if you can help it- they are not convenient on the train and Kyoto is not exactly a stroller friendly city when you’re site seeing). We only brought one (Baby Bjorn) and by the end of the trip it made both of our backs sore- we could have used one that distributed weight a bit differently to give other muscles a break. I would have liked to have the Moby Wrap in addition to the Bjorn because it takes up very little space. Also, if your baby is old enough, have him face out in the carrier if possible for some of the time. Riley LOVED looking around at the sights and people on the trip. This kept him happy and entertained.
  • Sleep, my child. Sleep. Stick to the normal bedtime routine. Riley has been going to sleep around 7pm and we stayed with that in Kyoto. We made sure to be back at the hotel by 6:30pm at the latest so we were ready to read a story and do one last feeding before 7pm. He was out like a light every night. We usually got some sort of take-out and ate in the room. With the iPhone fireplace app. And we whispered until we were ready to go to bed. It was really wonderful, actually…
  • Wait, is that a famous baby? Plan for random “fans” stopping you every 5 minutes if you have a baby that does not look Japanese. Some will want to take a photo of your baby, others will actually want to hold him/her. So be ready!

  • No, you do not need 5 pairs of shoes. Pack everything your baby needs first. With whatever room you have left, pack what you need. Keep your packing as light as possible. I stuck with black leggings paired with cotton/knit tops that were easy and light to pack, plus 2 pairs of shoes: boots for walking and boots for rain. I kept the colors consistent- mostly black and white- and accented with a bright scarf. Easy and definitely not pajamas. Which is what I tend to wear as a stay at home mom.

  • Prepare for the worst. One evening, we went out and managed to forget a change of clothes for Riley. Of course he would make the biggest mess of his life when that happened. Yep, whatever you’re imagining it probably happened. NEVER forget these things: extra clothes, diapers, wipes, pacifier, a toy or two for entertainment, tissues, and hand disinfectant. Everything else you can survive without. But these things are crucial.
  • Relax. Remember that sometimes you won’t have control over a situation. There will be crying at inopportune times and many other mishaps that you could not foresee. Do what you need to do to take care of your little one and don’t worry about the rest.

Despite some difficulties, we had a wonderful time and Riley did a fantastic job. He was perfectly happy hanging out and taking in the sights and sounds. We were able to see the bamboo forest in Arashiyama, the Iwatayama Monkey Park, Fushimi Inari Shrine, and Nishiki Market. Pretty decent, I’d say! We got some great photos and made some wonderful memories as a new family of 3.

The most difficult place we went was Fushimi Inari Shrine. It is just a short train ride from Kyoto Station, but we didn’t realize that there was very little else as far as restaurants/places to change and feed Riley. I ended up finding a sunny bench to sit and feed him, which worked just fine. There was a bathroom in the train station where we were able to change him, but we had already wandered around for at least 20 minutes before that searching for anything. Even a non-smoking restaurant where we could sit and order something and perhaps do a McGyver change. That was both a wonderful and very stressful visit…

But we got to eat these glorious handmade inarizushi while we sat on our bench:

Are there any baby travel tips you would add to the list? I’m always looking for more!

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  • Melody Fury

    Kyoto was probably our favourite part of our honeymoon.  As much as we adored the hustle of Toyko, we got to unwind in Kyoto. Needless to say, the food was remarkable too.  Adorable photos, love! xo

  • El

    I cant believe how big Riley is getting.It’s hilarious that people stop you for photos but the baby is so cute, I can see why. Looks like you survived Kyoto. Glad it all worked out and you had some fun. 

  • Jon @ vodkitchen

    Funny! We will keep these in mind… planning to have a baby in the next year or two, and definitely going to be coming back to Japan, too!

  • Josephine Minerva

    Really really helpful tips….thanks for all the heads up! we are excited to go back to kyoto next month with a 15month old toddler girl :)

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