Tokyo with Toddlers: 5 Public Transportation Tips

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Traveling to the world’s largest city with toddlers in tow may sound daunting but I’m happy to report that getting around is surprisingly easy! After almost a year of navigating public transportation with a little one, I’ve picked up a few tips that will help you commandeer the city like a local or at least an expat.

For starters, avoid looking at route maps, especially before your trip. The maps are impressive but also intimidating. I much prefer using Google Maps, it is far less daunting and much more straight forward. Google Maps will easily show you which station to depart from, which train line to get on (including platform number), and which station to arrive at. All train information at the station is also presented in English and most have free wi-fi service as well. On top of all that greatness, the trains are also clean, comfortable, timely and affordable. The same is true of city buses. A few tips before you hop aboard:

  1. Bookmark and save this link: http://www.japan-accessible.com/transport/metro/tokyo.htm It offers a quick reference of each station and if it is accessible via elevator, you can also click on any station for a full map which will show you which (numbered) entrance/exit to use. For stations without elevators, generally escalators are present but not always. Assume you may need to carry your stroller and or child(ren) up multiple flights of stairs and pack for the day accordingly.
  2. At the platform, look for the stroller friendly cars of the train denoted by a stroller symbol. These cars have designated space for strollers and wheelchairs and passengers will generally stay clear of the area. Of course, you can get on any train car but, you’ll appreciate the extra space these cars afford.
  3. Always, always avoid taking the train and bus during rush hour times. The trains are very crowded with commuters and there really isn’t space for strollers and if you do get on, you won’t be riding in comfort. Typically this is Monday – Friday in the mornings from 8 AM – 10 AM and in the evenings from 5 PM – 7 PM.
  4. If traveling by bus, you can hop on in the middle which allows more room for strollers and simply pay at the front after boarding. I do feel my stroller is always in the way when we ride the bus so typically I’ll fold it up before getting on.
  5. Lastly, opt for the smallest, lightest stroller for your trip. My toddler naps like a champ in our Uppababy G luxe and it has served us well here, but I do sometimes wish we had something a tad bit smaller.  If you have a carrier, absolutely bring it along.

Now that you’re armed with these key public transportation survival tips, you can sit back, relax and enjoy the ride!


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