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Japan with baby (2.5 year old)

Japan with baby (2.5 year old)

Old Dec 20, 19, 8:33 pm
  #1  
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Japan with baby (2.5 year old)

Hey all! Was hoping for help planning our trip to Japan w/ our 2.5 year old son. FT has helped me plan all my trips with excellent success, so I thank you ahead of time.

We have about 14 days. The itinerary I came up with give me 2 extra days unaccounted for. Was thinking of doing 2 days Taipei (Flying into Taipei and out of Tokyo or vise versa). Could also use those 2 days for something else in Japan. Would love any and all help!

Day 1 Saturday: Tokyo –arrival day
Day 2 Sunday: Tokyo (harajuku, akihabara, fish market)
Day 3 Monday: Tokyo (Team Lab)
Day 4 Tuesday: Tokyo - Day trip to Niko
Day 5 Wednesday: Night around MtFuji
Day 6 Thursday: Kyoto
Day 7 Friday: Kyoto
Day 8 Saturday: Kyoto
Day 9 Sunday: Day trip to Osaka
Day 10 Monday: Day trip to Nara
Day 11 Tuesday: Night in Miyajima
Day 12 Wednesday: ?????

Day 13 Thursday: ?????
Day 14 Friday: Flying out of Tokyo (or Taipei or wherever FT family will recommend).
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Old Dec 20, 19, 10:23 pm
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I think you'll probably need to scale back expectations with the itinerary - The three days starting with Day trip to Nikko (4+ hours round trip and high intensity day if you want to see more than a couple of sights), Night around Mt. Fuji (2+ hours travel and a change of hotels), Travel to Kyoto (2.5+ hours travel and a change of hotels) seems like a lot of movement and disruption. Your jet-lagged two-year old might not handle this very well. I don't know your two-year old but the two-year olds that I do know would be altogether more amenable to a slower pace - so perhaps you could keep the same list of places to visit but stretch things out..
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Old Dec 21, 19, 1:15 am
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When is this itinerary for? Winter, Summer, Spring?

With a 2.5year old I agree about a “slower” pace, not to make the visit actually slower but to ensure play time, play time and more play time.

My number one recommendation when visiting with a kid that age is Akebono Kodomo No Mori on the outskirts of Tokyo. Free to enter. Pick up your own picnic lunch en route as food isn’t sold there. (Cafe Puisto with organic food and an integrated playroom allowing parents to drink coffee in peace opened recently, looks delightful!) Leave the Ghibli Museum for when the kid is older.
Other toddler highlights are:
The Nihon Minka En (just having the space to play peacefully with sticks and stones and discover nooks and corners in this environment is magical.)
Showa Kinen Koen - a Park as fabulous for adults as it is for children
The Benzaiten cave shrine in Hase Dera Temple (as an adult, you’ll need a good strong back for this, the ceiling is extremely low)

Both children and adults’ expectations for these children differ as wildly as with anything else. My own was exceptionally active and, let’s say, “unpassive”. She rarely slept during the day. Her surprising appetite for good sushi at 2 and a half (her Japanese grandfather was doting and generous in this regard) is still remembered as family legend and chuckled about, to this day she remains hugely fond of ikura-salmon eggs.
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Last edited by LapLap; Jan 21, 20 at 11:59 pm
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Old Dec 21, 19, 2:47 am
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Wanted to share a treasured highlight from when LapGirl was 2.5. It was at the Tokyo Edo Open Air Architectural Museum. LapToddler boarded a Tram and made a friend there. The driver controls became a cafe kitchen churning out dango and ichigo daifuku for their grateful customers. They played together for about an hour and it could have been anywhere, but what really made it possible was time, not being in a rush.
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Old Dec 21, 19, 10:13 am
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Originally Posted by jib71 View Post
I think you'll probably need to scale back expectations with the itinerary - The three days starting with Day trip to Nikko (4+ hours round trip and high intensity day if you want to see more than a couple of sights), Night around Mt. Fuji (2+ hours travel and a change of hotels), Travel to Kyoto (2.5+ hours travel and a change of hotels) seems like a lot of movement and disruption. Your jet-lagged two-year old might not handle this very well. I don't know your two-year old but the two-year olds that I do know would be altogether more amenable to a slower pace - so perhaps you could keep the same list of places to visit but stretch things out..
our son is a pretty seasoned traveler. Went all around Belgium/Netherlands 7 months ago and loved trains. But I agree, terrible 2 might be tough. How do you recommend stretching it out?
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Old Dec 21, 19, 10:14 am
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Originally Posted by jib71 View Post
I think you'll probably need to scale back expectations with the itinerary - The three days starting with Day trip to Nikko (4+ hours round trip and high intensity day if you want to see more than a couple of sights), Night around Mt. Fuji (2+ hours travel and a change of hotels), Travel to Kyoto (2.5+ hours travel and a change of hotels) seems like a lot of movement and disruption. Your jet-lagged two-year old might not handle this very well. I don't know your two-year old but the two-year olds that I do know would be altogether more amenable to a slower pace - so perhaps you could keep the same list of places to visit but stretch things out..
Originally Posted by LapLap View Post
When is this itinerary for? Winter, Summer, Spring?

With a 2.5year old I agree about a “slower” pace, not to make the visit actually slower but to ensure play time, play time and more play time.

My number one recommendation when visiting with a kid that age is Akebono Kodomo No Mori on the outskirts of Tokyo. Free to enter. Pick up your own picnic lunch en route as food isn’t sold there. Leave the Ghibli Museum for when the kid is older.
Other toddler highlights are:
The Nihon Minka En (just having the space to play peacefully with sticks and stones and discover nooks and corners in this environment is magical.)
Showa Kinen Koen - a Park as fabulous for adults as it is for children
The Benzaiten cave shrine in Hase Dera Temple (as an adult, you’ll need a good strong back for this, the ceiling is extremely low)

Both children and adults’ expectations for these children differ as wildly as with anything else. My own was exceptionally active and, let’s say, “unpassive”. She rarely slept during the day. Her surprising appetite for good sushi at 2 and a half (her Japanese grandfather was doting and generous in this regard) is still remembered as family legend and chuckled about, to this day she remains hugely fond of ikura-salmon eggs.
Originally Posted by LapLap View Post
Wanted to share a treasured highlight from when LapGirl was 2.5. It was at the Tokyo Edo Open Air Architectural Museum. LapToddler boarded a Tram and made a friend there. The driver controls became a cafe kitchen churning out dango and ichigo daifuku for their grateful customers. They played together for about an hour and it could have been anywhere, but what really made it possible was time, not being in a rush.
The two days we have, do you guys recommend Taipei? Is it doible or you recommend stretching japan itinerary?
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Old Dec 21, 19, 10:36 am
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When my kid was that age we arrived March 12 and left April 2nd. About 3 Weeks. We went to Matsushima for a couple of days but that’s because we have family there. Frankly, there is SO much to do in the Tokyo area with a toddler that we had little interest in touring the country with her, that interest developed later when she showed how capable she is of hiking long distances in natural terrain (tireless with earth under her feet, not so much in paved urban settings). Anyway, even with those 3 weeks we only touched upon what Tokyo has to offer, it’s taken us several years to feel we have fully enjoyed some of the possibilities - still plenty of boxes we have yet to tick (and only a couple of years of half price childhood travel left).

I’ve enjoyed stopovers in Beijing and Shanghai with my kid. In April we will have just under 24 hours in Chengdu, but we haven’t managed Taipei yet. That’s something we hope to arrange in the near future, if we’d had the opportunity we would have been.

You still haven’t said when you are travelling. February or August?
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Old Dec 21, 19, 10:23 pm
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Originally Posted by TravelDoorsOut View Post
How do you recommend stretching it out?
Do Nikko as an overnight trip. Skip the night by Fuji altogether. Go directly from Nikko to Kyoto. Give yourselves two nights on Miyajima to allow yourselves to see Hiroshima city the day before your first night, then a full day relaxing on the island. After Miyajima you could head further west to Fukuoka. Get a flight from Fukuoka via Tokyo or Seoul back to the USA.

BTW - Could you stop copying and pasting the entirety of every comment that has been posted upthread?
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Old Dec 22, 19, 12:52 am
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Really depends on your child's disposition and the time of the year you're traveling.
Agree with getting rid of night near Mt.Fuji.
I'd spend the first 5 nights in Tokyo. I think a day trip to Nikko is fine, as long as you're taking one of the limited express trains with reserved seating to/from.
Harajuku, Akihabara, fish market... seems like a lot of activities in one day. I've not been to the new fish market in Toyosu and don't know how that works but, if that involves having to get there at the crack of dawn, then your kid's probably going to hate it (I would hate it, too).
If you decide to go to Hiroshima, if it were me I wouldn't take my 2.5yo child to that Peace Museum which has a lot of depressing exhibits.
Miyajima is wonderful. I think a trip up Mt.Misen on gondola is almost a must if it's a clear day, and then you can further climb up to the very top. That climb is very easy but still probably a bit much with a 2.5yo in tow, though.

In many sense, traveling with a child gets a lot easier beyond ~2yo when you're not using the stroller anymore. But most 2yo's aren't going to be able to walk too far or sit too long (limited express trains are fine, since your child can lie across your/spouse's laps, walk around, etc), and some still need nap time. I think you have to take all of that into account in your planning.
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Old Dec 22, 19, 3:35 am
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The Mount Misen summit path should be doable with plenty of effort and stamina.
My father-in-law (in his 70s) and I took LapChild up to the summit of Takao San.
Wouldn’t earnestly recommend it at that age but it was doable... just. Have included a picture for proof as I’m still patting myself on the back in congratulation. It was tough. Saying that, had MrLapLap been with us it would have been less of a challenge.

Since LapChild turned 4 mountain and gorge hiking became much, much easier. We go up Takao San every year and very rarely take the cable car.
Mt Misen on Itsukushima (Miyajima) has very developed main paths that are similar in scale and difficulty to those on Takao San, thus the comparison.
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Old Dec 22, 19, 9:51 pm
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Originally Posted by LapLap View Post
When my kid was that age we arrived March 12 and left April 2nd. About 3 Weeks. We went to Matsushima for a couple of days but that’s because we have family there. Frankly, there is SO much to do in the Tokyo area with a toddler that we had little interest in touring the country with her, that interest developed later when she showed how capable she is of hiking long distances in natural terrain (tireless with earth under her feet, not so much in paved urban settings). Anyway, even with those 3 weeks we only touched upon what Tokyo has to offer, it’s taken us several years to feel we have fully enjoyed some of the possibilities - still plenty of boxes we have yet to tick (and only a couple of years of half price childhood travel left).

I’ve enjoyed stopovers in Beijing and Shanghai with my kid. In April we will have just under 24 hours in Chengdu, but we haven’t managed Taipei yet. That’s something we hope to arrange in the near future, if we’d had the opportunity we would have been.

You still haven’t said when you are travelling. February or August?
March, first 2 weeks.
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Old Dec 22, 19, 9:58 pm
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Originally Posted by TravelDoorsOut View Post
March, first 2 weeks.
I think March is a pretty good time to go to Jpn. For checking out the crux of Jpn (Tokyo, Kansai, Hiroshima), May~Oct can bring different challenges (heat, humidity, rain, typhoon). Otherwise everything that's been said thus far is still valid.
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Old Dec 23, 19, 1:16 am
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Snow may well feature as part of your trip, I would actively expect it in Nikko and perhaps rural areas such as around Fuji San. As well as that, you’ll need apparel that can accommodate very cold mornings/evenings and potentially warm days.

Biggest challenge first half of March is the struggle to travel “light” whilst being prepared for 4C to 16C (40F to 60F) temperatures that can feel colder (ice/sleet) and warmer (skin blistering sun) than what is being announced by the thermometer.
A child may need less volume in clothing than an adult, but not less actual pieces. They rack up. Alarmingly.

When I packed for 2.5yo LapToddler for those first three weeks in March I failed miserably to keep any semblance of order, and that was without much travelling - we had a base in Tokyo where we could keep everything. I vowed never to get so overwhelmed again and became a fully indoctrinated convert to the packing cube cult. Packing cubes are outstandingly effective with keeping tiny clothes organised.
If you do forget something, Uniqlo have a very affordable range of clothing for kids. But bear in mind that general children’s clothing stores and departments will have their Spring Summer range out. Winter gear, outside of a rogue bargain bin, can be rather harder to find.
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Old Dec 24, 19, 7:06 pm
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Thanks guys! Would love specific recommendations in Tokyo/Kyoto/Osaka/Miyajima/Niko/Nara. I know may seem like a loaded question, but would love the "hidden gems not found online". Also, besides those cities, any other recommendations? Any recommendations for Mt Fuji?
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Old Dec 24, 19, 10:49 pm
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Fuji as a destination has never called to me, the Hakone area is the closest I've been.

We went to Goshikinuma in the Mt Bandai area when LapChild was 4.5yo. This was in April as the snow was thawing, some serious thought into footwear would be needed for March.

You already have my best recommendations for Tokyo/Kanto, there's been no feedback so lack data to suggest anything else.
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