Tokyo, Japan :
Tokyo, Japan: The Ultimate Guide with Kids
Getting to Tokyo:
The easiest way to get to Tokyo is by plane. Narita airport used to be a two hour trek into the city, but now it is a convenient 36 minutes to the big Ueno station or an hour on local trains. Do not attempt to take a taxi into the center as it will cost you the price of your airfare (thereabouts)! You can find many resources for how to get to Tokyo and general Tokyo travel information on the web.
Hotel Cerulean - Pretty Good!
As we were tagging along on my husband's business trip, we stayed at the Cerulean Hotel in Shibuya which is primarily a business hotel. That being said, they gave us a solid wood crib with beautiful sheets, so typical of the Japanese need for perfection. Room service was a nightmare as I was unable to communicate that I wanted plain rice, and was fortunate to have brought my Only Organics jars with me. If you are lucky enough to find an English-speaking staff member as I did on my penultimate day(!!), things can get much easier (try the concierge or reception, as they usually interface with tourists the most). The other plus is that there is a convenience store (Seven Eleven) in the hotel itself, which means that milk and other necessities are always accessible. Finally, Shibuya is ridiculously centrally located, so can walk to many stores and side streets, and to the Shibuya station which connects to most places (but is a bit rough with a pram -baby bjorn for this one!). There is a walkway from the upper lobby that enables you to cross the crazy busy road and make your way to the station.
Best Baby Shopping
Like most places in Tokyo, Roppongi Hills is a bit of a maze, but once you locate a map (thankfully, there are many in English), you will find real treasures in terms of shopping for your baby. In keeping with the Japanese obsession with the French, the mall is filled with quaint french styles for nurseries, and funky toys and wearables!
Harajuku is one of Tokyo's most fun shopping neighborhoods and the best news is that its train station is totally baby-friendly (can't say the same about Shibuya and this note DOES NOT apply to rush hour during which all sane human beings should be safely ensconced in their hotel or nearest karaoke bar!). The pavements on the main street are wide and even the side streets are walkable with prams. As all over Tokyo, however, meals will be a problem so best to pack your own or stock up on Only Organics jars, as I did!
Tokyo's upscale areas like Ginza and Daikanyama are teeming with haute couture at obscenely Tokyo prices, but don't offer much for the kids. Still, worth a jaunt if the baby is cooperating.
Japan - General Travel Tips
1) Due to the language barrier, it was hard for me to identify products I was familiar with, so I was glad to have brought it all along. We did jar food for ten days which I wasn't kicked about but since Karam was only 9 months old, I didn't want to experiment with anything even as basic as rice because I wasn't sure about the ingredients such as fish stock they was going into it. (We are not vegetarian, I am just a little paranoid about seafood when traveling). For the food alone, I would rather stay in a service apartment than a hotel.
2) Shopping for kids is great, with many American and European brands although beware: Japan is very expensive.
3) For short distances, I would take a taxi. There are no laws regarding car seats and it's much more convenient than taking the train, especially at rush hour. There are also no street signs so getting lost is ridiculously easy.
4) Narita airport is a good two hours from the city. You can take the train if your destination is on or close to a train line, or you can take a bus, which often takes longer due to traffic. Plan accordingly, especially on your return. And, as always, pack many snacks.
5) The Japanese are insanely polite and very fond of children. If you are stuck, gesture madly and ask for help - someone is sure to give you a hand!
6) Karaoke is baby-friendly!
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