Advice for catching the train, Pram / stroller, Train travel in Japan, Traveling with a baby

Traveling in Japan with a baby: Pros & Cons of using a stroller in Tokyo

When parents travel with their baby, it is often a dilemma about whether to take the pram with them or not.

This is especially so for destinations such as Japan where it is hard to visualise what it will be like.

Here is a video which will hopefully help parents making that decision!

I have outlined some of the pros and cons of traveling with a baby in a pram in Tokyo.

For myself, the pros outweigh the cons and I use my Bugaboo Bee pram everyday. I couldn’t live without it!

However I know many of my friends prefer to travel with a baby carrier such as an Ergo or Baby Bjorn.

I hope this helps you to visualise what it is like and helps with your own plans for traveling around Tokyo with your baby:-)!

Here is my list of pros and cons of using a pram in Tokyo.

Pros:

  1. Baby can relax in familiar environment.
  2. You baby can sleep – particularly in a pram where the backrest can be reclined.
  3. Baby can escape bright lights and noise – use a wrap to cover the pram as a shield.
  4. Protection – pram provides an oasis for baby on crowded trains and protects from being squashed.
  5. Nappy change table – if you can’t find a baby change table, which often happens in Japan particularly outside Tokyo, you can use your pram to change your baby’s nappy. This is very convenient and provides a much cleaner surface than the floor. Alternatively, plan your day around places which have good nappy-changing facilities and nursing rooms – see reviews of baby rooms, and also the map of baby change rooms and nursing facilities.
  6. Feeding – pram can be used as a high-chair.
  7. Luggage carrier – take your baby out, and your pram can be used to carry heavy bags or shopping.
  8. Easy to get around Tokyo – most stations have elevators, but not all! See cons for more.

Cons:

  1. Escalators

Many people recommended me against mentioning escalators on this blog due to the serious dangers associated with them.

I decided to talk about them though as it is a reality of traveling in Japan, as elevators are not always available in train stations.

However note that if you do take the escalator with your pram you are doing so at your own risk.

Escalators actually have signs which say prams are prohibited from riding the escalators.

Despite this I often see people using the escalators with their prams, as sometimes there is no other option.

If there is no elevator and you do decide to take the escalator, make sure you take every precaution you can such as strapping your baby securely in the pram with the safety belt, and ensuring all limbs and objects/toys are secured safely inside the pram.

Make sure you research this on the internet before you make your decision. And take note that if you do decide to ride the escalator with your pram, you do so entirely at your own risk.

Of course, if you have someone with you, one person can hold the baby while the other can focus on the pram. Alternatively you can take the stairs, as explained below.

2.Stairs

Sometimes neither elevators nor escalators are available, so there is no choice but to take the stairs.

It helps if you have a pram that is light enough that you can carry it yourself with the baby in it.

Again, take every precaution to ensure your baby is safe, such as always making sure your baby is strapped firmly in the pram with the safety seatbelt, and ensuring all objects and toys are secured safely inside the pram.

Stairs can often be crowded in Tokyo, so if you do decide to take the stairs, make sure you walk to one side and walk slowly, taking one step at a time.

Again, as above, if you decide to walk down the stairs with your pram, you do so entirely at your own risk.

Of course, if you have someone with you, one person can carry the baby while the other can carry the pram.

There is another option to ask the train station staff for help – see my previous post about How to ask station staff for help with pram up the stairs.

3.Crowded trains

It is impossible to get on a train in Tokyo during the peak commuting times, so if you are traveling with a baby in a pram, you will need to plan your days around these peak times.

Peak commuting times depend on the train line and direction you are traveling, but in general I would recommend avoiding trying to catch a train in the weekday morning rush between 7-9am.

4.Cafes/restaurants

Some cafes and restaurants will not allow prams inside unless they are folded down and stowed at the entrance.

This is not very convenient if your baby is sound asleep or if you have a newborn and would prefer to keep your baby in the pram.

Most places will allow prams though if they have space. See reviews of baby-friendly cafes, and also the map of baby-friendly cafes and change rooms.

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6 thoughts on “Traveling in Japan with a baby: Pros & Cons of using a stroller in Tokyo

  1. Hina says:

    Hi Kate,
    Just found your blog a couple weeks ago and it’s been very helpful in preparing me for a trip to Japan with my toddler in the fall. The link to the baby change room map is not working. Any chance you can fix it and repost?

    Thanks!

    1. Kate says:

      Hi Hina, the map is now available in my Tokyo Guide. Please buy my guide here: http://www.tubtokyoguide.com Thanks! Kate

  2. May says:

    I was wondering which version of the Bugaboo Bee you have, or if you could tell us the width. I’m moving to Japan & shopping around for travel strollers, I want to make sure it’ll fit thru Japan subway turnstiles. Thanks!

    1. May says:

      To add to my question, I know the Babyzen Yoyo stroller is very popular in Japan, and that stroller is 17″ wide and costs $500 USD. But I was hoping instead to get the Mountain Buggy Nano stroller which is 22″ wide and costs $250. I want to make sure it’ll fit through Japan train/subway turnstiles. Thanks! May

      1. Kate says:

        Hi May, the some of the train station regular ticket gates in Tokyo have been widened to 59cm, so in this case the Mountain Buggy will fit. But even if your Mountain Buggy doesn’t fit through the old-style regular ticket gates, there is always the wide ticket gate on the side which you can pass easily. So either way, both of the strollers you are considering will be fine. It just depends on your preference. xoxo

    2. Membersonly says:

      Hi May, the width of the automatic ticket gate in the stations in Japan of normal size is 55 cm. There are also special size automatic ticket gates for wheelchairs which are 90 cm. Bugaboo Bee width is 53cm (please double check this on the Bugaboo website as it may change with new models). Hope this helps!

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