Play & Learn
How To Travel to Japan With Your Kids
Traveling can be such a thrilling and wonderful experience, especially when you get to travel to new places. It becomes even more exciting when you get to travel with your friends and loved ones. However, the wonders of traveling also come with their fair share of stress and difficulties, and this is especially true when you have kids going on the trip with you. But, no mama can deny that trips are made even more special when kids are around and the same can be said about traveling to countries like Japan.
Now, it may be stressful and a little difficult, what with you having to know things like how to get a Japan Visa, the updated Japan visa tourist requirements, and other useful information like knowing the tip tourist spots in Japan. But, if you plan things out well and prepare for it, then you have a better chance of having a more stress-free and exciting time traveling to the land of the rising sun.
Planning a trip to Japan with kids has special difficulties, but fortunately, Japan is a kid-friendly and safe place. You may want to consider some factors to make your family's visit to Japan easier, more cost-efficient, and, of course, more fun and memorable. So, read on to find the tips and tricks we’ve gathered when it comes to traveling to Japan with kids that we at edamama believe to be the most practical and doable.
1. Make Sure Your Passports Are Valid
If you or your little ones don’t already have a passport, you may want to apply for one before you go about planning for your Japan trip as it may take a while before you get your hands on your passport. However, if you do have a passport on hand already, you should check to see if your passports are still valid. This means it has not expired yet and that your travel date is still within at least six months before the expiration date.
On the other hand, if your passport has less than six months of validity before it expires, then you need to renew your passport before you plan your trip. This rule applies to any foreign country you plan to travel to, not just Japan.
2. Get A Visa
If you hold a Philippine passport, you will have to get a Japan Visa as the Philippines is not among the 68 countries that are listed as visa-exempt countries. For your application for Japan visa, you will have to consider which type of visa you will need:
- Single Entry Visa
- Multiple Visa for Nationals of the Republic of the Philippines for Business Purposes, and Cultural or Intellectual Figures
- Multiple Entry Visas (for other kind of Short-Term Stay)
- Filipino parents of Japanese-Filipino Children (JFC) who are traveling to Japan with the children
After you determine which Japan visa Philippines type you need to apply and make sure that you have the other requirements needed to get a Japan visa. These requirements include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Basic Requirements
- Original passport & photocopy
- Completed Japan visa application
- 3 copies of your colored passport photo
- Undertaking for Visa Applicant
- Self-addressed 520 Letterpack
- Proof of Financial Capacity
- Proof of Occupation
- Proof of Living Accommodation Arrangements
- Notarized Letter of Support and Guarantee (if applicable)
The processing period for a Japan Tourist Visa application may take several months as each application will be reviewed thoroughly by the Japanese embassy or consulate-general of Japan. In some cases, it may take roughly a week, though this process may take longer if you need to provide additional documentation. You can check out all the other requirements you may need for your visa on the Tokyo-Philippine embassy site.
3. Check Other Travel Restrictions & Requirements
Once you have your visas sorted out, you may want to start checking for other Japan visa tourist requirements as this may be checked once you check in at the airport or when you reach immigration in Japan. Other such restrictions and requirements may include the following:
- Card at least 3 days before departure
- Appropriate entry visa
- Proof of Vaccination (of at least 3 shots)
- If not vaccinated or only partially vaccinated, you will need to provide a negative RT-PCR test result taken 24 hours before the travel date.
- Valid return tickets
4. Have A Schedule
Going to a country you’ve never visited before means being able to explore every part, experience all the new experiences, and take part in all the cultural practices the country has to offer. However, with all of these activities, it can get a little daunting or overwhelming, especially when you have little ones in tow.
That’s why having a schedule is crucial - not only does having an itinerary (even a general one) let you plan out your days, but it also allows you to do so while following your budget and current restrictions or restraints. Children need a lot of rest and some may require something that’s more laid back. By having a schedule or an itinerary you can follow, you can at least ensure that you and your entire family can go to all the tourist spots in Japan that you want to go to and try out as many things as you can while you’re there.
You don’t have to do everything in one go, but you may want to try the best tourist spots in Japan such as Tokyo Disneyland, Nara Park, the Tsukiji Market, and the countless beautiful shrines they have around.
5. Try Not To Overpack
Whether you’re traveling with kids or not, it can always be challenging to pack light (or under-pack). It becomes extra difficult when you have children along as you will need to pack everything they need as well as emergency items such as a first aid kit, medications, extra clothes, toys, and everything else they would need to have a comfortable stay. However, as all airlines have a weight limit, you will have to make sure that you not only pack the essentials, but you will also have to try and make sure that you pack smart. After all, you might need extra room for the souvenirs you buy and want to bring home with you.
One helpful tip to note is that you should make the time to research the weather and the different activities you want to do with your family. That way, you’ll know what you need to wear for such occasions and you know how much to pack as well!
6. Take Note of Transportation Options
Getting around in Japan is actually not as difficult as it sounds, and that’s all thanks to the countless trains and bus options available as well as the taxis and car rental services that you can find. It’s easier to plan our transportation once you have a finalized schedule as this makes it easier to see which kind of transportation you will need to take.
Children of foreign tourists are typically categorized according to their age for the purposes of fares and admission fees in Japan: Children who are 12 or older frequently pay adult prices, while those who are 11 or younger are eligible for discounts. Preschool is frequently free for children under the age of 6.
Pregnant women and people with young children can sometimes get preferential seats on local trains. Most trains carry at least one car with a toilet, with the exception of some urban trains. It’s important to note, though, that while paper towels are typically not offered, you can rest easy knowing that toilet paper is at least provided.
Similar rules apply to child discounts for local buses as they do for railways. However, discount fares aren't always offered on highway buses. If they are, their availability is typically less than 50%. Infants typically travel for free, especially if they don't have their own seats.
On local or highway buses, car seats or booster seats are not necessary and, in some cases, are even outlawed. For instance, infants cannot sit in their own seats on highway buses even if they are in an infant carrier; they must be carried by an adult.
If you get a chance to rent a car during your stay in Japan, you should note that children under the age of six must be placed in a child seat in the back seat of the vehicle. If you don’t have a car seat with you, you don’t have to worry as some locations offer car seats for rent.
7. Get to the Airport Early
Time is of the essence when it comes to traveling, and it’s especially true when you’re traveling with your little ones. After all, they are your priority. That’s why it’s extremely helpful to give yourself lots of time to do everything, be it checking in your bags at the airport, to finding a cab, or getting ready for your trip and activities in general.
In Manila, it generally takes an hour or two to check in and get past security. These days, on any given day, you can expect all the terminals to be full of people and the lines for security to be quite long. So, you’d be doing yourself and your family a favor by getting there a little earlier than planned. Doing so means you can have more time relaxing (at the terminal) than stressing out over your bags or your kids needs.
8. Research Family-friendly Accommodations
It’s understandable that you’d want to check in to something fancy or comfortable that’s within your budget and near enough to some of the tourist spots in Japan. However, while this may sound good, they aren’t always practical or kid-friendly. If you’re traveling with babies or little ones who are picky eaters, you may want to find accommodations that have a kitchen so you can easily whip something up or heat something if needed. If you’re traveling with bigger kids, you may want to find something that’s closer to the attractions but spacious enough to hold the entire family.
Japanese hotels with a western aesthetic typically charge per room, but they have occupancy restrictions. Co-sleeping with a parent or another kid is typically permitted for children under the age of 12. While triple and quadruple rooms are uncommon, many hotels offer extra beds and cots for an additional cost.
Traditional Japanese inns, on the other hand (such as Ryokan and Minshuku), typically include meals in the cost of lodging and have several simple ways that determine children's rates based on the kid's age and the type of meal they want.
Even with meticulous planning and packing, traveling with your child or children may not always go as planned. In fact, you should probably anticipate a few hiccups. However, you should bear in mind that these missteps are all a part of the adventure and excitement of traveling, so try to accept them and take pleasure in the experience! Have any other tips and tricks, mamas? Let us know!