|Street of Lights in Roppongi Hills|
The best part about traveling are the sights, the shopping, the interesting people you meet, the awesome things you’ll learn, and the food… And Tokyo has them all! For a person like me who wants to experience the world, I would also like my child to experience them. After all, experience is the best education.
Prior to leaving for our trip, we made a list of everything we wanted to do, see, and eat. We plotted them out into the days we could deviate from the rest of the family’s plans. We did as much as we can do and just enjoyed ourselves. No rush, no stressing ourselves to cram everything in a day’s work.
|Sleeping toddler, no elevator|
This was the hard part! Transportation is probably one of the most expensive things you can spend for in Japan. Thankfully, taking the train or the bus is very convenient… without a two year old. It’s a marvel how the older generations of Japanese manage to get around by train because many stations have no elevators. The major stations like Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ebisu, and Roppongi would sometimes have elevators that are easy to spot. Otherwise, it was escalators (if there are) and stairs all the way.
For a family like ours traveling with a two year old, carrying our little girl around the city was not an option because she has reached the point where she is still light enough to carry for a cuddle, yet too heavy to carry while walking long distances, and she isn’t old enough to walk the streets for a long time. So when a station presented us with no elevators, we resorted to taking her out of her stroller and carry her, while my husband and yaya (nanny) would carry the stoller and her bag up the stairs (or escalator).
|Enjoying the cold|
Cabs were a last resort. The flag down rate for a taxi is 410 yen for the first 1.052 km, plus an additional 80 yen for every 237 km. We usually took a cab when we had a lot of shopping to carry and the distance was not very long.
Minus the restaurants where you have to eat while standing, I found Tokyo restaurants to be quite baby friendly. Even those with small spaces are able to provide you with a baby high chair, a bowl or plate and utensils for a child to use, and a small cup for their drink. They even provide you with hooks or baskets under the tables for you to put your bags, coats, and other things that may get in the way of your eating.
|My picks at Tsukiji Tama Sushi:|
Salmon, Scallop & Otoro
We paid a visit to the original Butagumi restaurant in Roppongi. They specialise in Tonkatsu, except they make you choose from the different kinds of cuts that really make your mouth water. The restaurant is very quaint and small, sort of like a traditional Japanese house, and yet they were able to make it baby friendly for us. Great food, great service!
For parents who want their sushi fix without having to go to Tsukiji Market, I highly recommend Tsukiji Tama Sushi. It’s the closest you can get to the freshness of Tsukiji Market. They have branches in Shinjuku and Shibuya and are baby friendly. Aside from a baby chair, they have non-sushi dishes for the little ones too.
|Top: Ghibli Museum|
Bottom: Snoopy Museum
In truth, we took our daughter everywhere. We took her to museums, on our shopping trips, parks, restaurants, everywhere! We held back from taking her to Disneyland. We figured we would take her there when she is a little bit older and easier to take around.
My sister, cousin, and I are die-hard Studio Ghibli fans, so I had booked our tickets for the Ghibli Museum online* at the first hour they were being sold. I had been there back in 2010 and absolutely loved it. I wanted to share my love for it with my husband and our daughter who loves Totoro. Unfortunately, my little girl came down with a fever on that day so she missed it. Otherwise, it’s an awesome place for both adults and children alike to appreciate the cartoons, characters, and art of Studio Ghibli. (The Ghibli Museum is located in Mitaka, Tokyo, and can be accessed by train.)
We did take her to the Snoopy Museum in Roppongi. Prior to our trip, we had introduced out little girl to Snoopy and the Peanuts gang and she loved it. While the content of the exhibit is geared towards an older audience, the short film they show and the characters on display had our little girl in awe of this place. Tickets for the Snoopy Museum are much easier to acquire. They can be purchased online or on site on the day itself.
There are also many other sights for a little one to enjoy around the city. There’s the Hachiko memorial statue in Shibuya Station that’s a must for a photo-op.
|Meiji Jinggu Gaien in Aoyama Itchome|
There’s also Meiji Jinggu Gaien in Aoyama Itchome, which is a haven for gingko trees. These are prettiest in autumn as they turn yellow. And if you’re lucky, you can catch the leaves actually fall. Not minding the hundreds of people who are also there to see this beauty, it’s a really pretty spot for family photos and clean place to let kids experiencing playing with fallen leaves.
At night, there’s a street of lights overlooking Tokyo Tower on Roppongi Hills that my little girl particularly enjoyed. If you’re lucky, you may catch the lights change from orange to blue and back. Another great spot for a family photo.
|At Hakuhinkan Toy Store|
There are so many interesting shops to enter all over the city. So many stores, so little time. But we wanted to take our daughter for a treat after spending two sick days at the hotel, so we took our her to Hakuhinkan Toy Store in Ginza. She fell in love with it at first sight. Like the Kiddyland in Omotesando, Hakuhinkan offers four floors of toys, novelties, and more toys. It had all her favorites like Hello Kitty, Totoro, Snoopy, My Little Pony, Care Bears and Moncchichi, and many others. I rarely buy toys for my little girl, but when we are traveling my husband and I (we are both toy collectors as well) are inclined to get her what she wants so we let her go crazy.
Then of course, there are mega stores that carry goods (novelties, clothes and food) for both parents and kids like Tokyu Hands, Yodobashi Akiba, BicQlo (Bic Camera and Uniqlo in one building), Don Quijote and Flying Tiger. to name a few. Thankfully, all these multi-story mega stores have elevators to take the stroller on.
Overall, Tokyo with the family is a really enjoyable place for a vacation. While getting around is difficult with a toddler in tow, the care and love of family around makes it worth while. It also gave my little girl, and myself, time to bond with people we love.
For recommendations or questions on where to go, eat, etc. please feel free to leave a message in the comments section or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be happy to share my thoughts and experiences with you. :)
*Tickets for your desired date go on sale at the 10th of the month prior, at 10:00 am Japan time, and are sold out within the first 2 or 3 hours.