So you have booked your tickets and are making your plans on what and how you want to move about Japan. Here are some tips from our experience with travelling in Japan with our kids!
Eep, so the price of Rail Passes in Japan has gone up so significantly that it makes us wonder whether to travel by ala carte train tickets or via the Rail Passes due to the unlimited train travel (although within the limited time frame. Perhaps these would give you an idea of what kind of costs you can cut back on if you are planning to travel to Japan!
Rail Pass tickets are categorised into Ordinary or Green Car tickets (kinda like first class train tickets). The Ordinary tickets gets you the following types of seats, Reserved and Unreserved. Reserved seats are great if you want to secure a seat during a peak hour or want to book luggage storage – usually last seat with extra space at the back for luggage, so you get a lot of extra legroom. These seats can be booked a few days in advance via a ticketing machine or over the counter.
Kids below the 6 years of age travel for free on Shinkansens. If your child is 6yo and have not entered primary school (elementary school), they can travel for free too. The catch is that they are only entitled to a seat in the Unreserved seat carriage. If you are in a Reserved seating carriage, your child will have to sit on your lap (or can sit on a seat until someone claims their seat). A child’s (6yo to 11yo) train ticket is half the price of an adult ticket. So there can be some savings involved! The Shinkansen seats are quite generous (depending if you booked the luggage storage or you have a luggage in front of you).
TIP: we recommend writing all passport numbers and expiry dates on a little piece of paper you can keep in your wallet so that you don’t have to keep taking all passports out to refer. Reservations require a passport number as the Rail Pass tickets are tied to passport numbers.
TIP: You can send your luggage to the airport ahead of your departure using such transport companies so you handle lesser luggages!
You can get some shopping done duty free if you spend 5000yen and above at selected stores. And if you have been looking to grab deals at your nearest Uniqlo outlet, I’ll be glad to inform you that Uniqlo is one of the stores that offers duty free shopping!
If time is tight, you can create an account on the Uniqlo JP website (you will need a Japanese address and mobile – +81 80 xxxx xxxx. I just fill the x with the number ‘1’) and place an order to have it picked up. However it also means you will not be entitled to a duty free purchase.
TIP: when to buy? We ordered our stuff 2 days before our trip. It will take about 2-3 days to arrive at the store, and they will then send you another email to inform you it is ready for collection.
Our favorite has to be Seria! Everything is 100yen in the store (it will be 109yen after taxes). From stationery, to homeware to toys, to footwear. The kids love shopping there cos of the wide variety and the prices (10SGD gets them a lot of stuff and the quality is amazing!). Get the kids to start saving up for their shopping at 100yen stores! My big tip is to think about all the potential containers you need at home (alot of planning hahahah) and then buy.
TIP: You will definitely need a huge recyclable bag! Highly recommending a Shupatto type reusable bag to fit all the goodies in.
Engaging a private driver
Wakuwaku Tours is our choice for getting around in Japan! We tend to avoid the more touristy areas (4 kids is just insane) and head towards the outskirts. Wakuwaku Tours is able to offer pick up and drop off services, take you on a fully customizable itinerary at your own pace and comfort. We loved the private space we got in the car, not worrying about losing a kid amidst crowds and being able to head up to the mountains without worrying about lugging the luggage around. And yes, we definitely got car seats for our kids too!
For our trip in Sept’23, Wakuwaku was able to recommend us a Disney Music & Fireworks show close to us just because we happened to be there at the right time! It is one of those activities that you wouldn’t have come across unless you are a local. The kids enjoyed the fireworks and music so much!
Follow them on Instagram : @wakuwaku.tours
There are outdoor playgrounds a plenty too. It is good to give the kids a break, let loose after sightseeing or shopping. Us parents get to take a break too!
What are your favorite stores to shop at?