Japan Travel Diary | Tokyo & Kyoto

Konichiwa a whole 8 months later! We spent Christmas and the New Year in Japan last winter; it was one of my favorite trips to date and our first Asian trip as a family. Iya was 6 months old at the time (cutest, fattest age!!!), and I was really nervous about such a long-haul with an infant. Certain aspects were easier than expected but of course managing did not come without its challenges. Iya isn’t the type of baby that can just fall asleep on the go so I was hoping our trip would train her a bit lol. Wishful thinking but we managed. Babywearing and our Babyzen Yoyo+ stroller with the additional footmuff were our lifesavers! The footmuff kept her cozy in the unfamiliar winter weather (she’s a California girl, remember?!) and bundled her nice and tight for naps on the go. The stroller itself is so lightweight and compact it was a dream for navigating Tokyo’s chaos and subway system. We always kept a carrier with us as well – my husband’s preference is our Cybex 2.go carrier, I loved carrying her in my Wild Bird slings. If she wouldn’t settle in her stroller or just needed some extra closeness we’d wear her so she could rest comfortably. It worked out really well!

In Tokyo we stayed at Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel, its conveniently located right across from Shibuya Station and was a really comfortable stay! Our first night we had a hard time getting there because we literally couldn’t figure out how to cross the street but moving forward it was so convenient. Being near Shibuya Station was so great since we were traveling with an infant. We didn’t want to lug our carseat all the way to Japan so we got by just fine walking and taking the subway. Traveling with a baby, its all about managing expectations and I’m sure that’ll remain for any family vacation moving forward baby or big kid. We’ve always done this but what we found most helpful was prioritizing everything we wanted to see or do as must haves and nice to haves. Each day we started with a must have and would squeeze in nice to haves afterwards if we and Iya were up for it. By prioritizing like this we never felt disappointed or jipped. Some great places we visited in Tokyo were:

  • Genki Sushi — Yummy conveyer belt sushi a close walk from our hotel
  • Meiji Shrine
  • Shibuya Crossing — the famous “scramble” crossing and the definition of organized chaos! Sometimes up to 2,500 people cross here at the same time. There are a bunch of shops and restaurants here with great views of the intersection; we hung out at Starbucks early our last morning!
  • Tokyu Plaza — shopping in Tokyo is really great everywhere but this mall has such a cool mirrored entrance when you come up the escalator!
  • Harajuku — The center for Tokyo youth culture and fashion. It was honestly so crowded shoulder to shoulder that I found it overwhelming but I would have loved to take it in on a less busy day. So many yummy and CUTE treats here though!
  • Tokyo Camii — this was such a cool find! Such a beautiful mosque and Turkish cultural center. We went for Friday prayer before leaving for Kyoto

We took the bullet train (Shinkansen) from Tokyo to Kyoto and it was so clean, comfortable, and efficient! It was a really cool experience getting there.

Something about Kyoto was so magical. There was such an air of calm and peace there I wish we had a couple more days to soak it up. We didn’t do anything specific outside of Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine and Arashiyama Bamboo Forest but we loved just walking around, eating fresh noodles & sipping matcha espressos. We headed to the Ritz Carlton Kyoto for dinner on New Years Eve and it was such a gorgeous property! I wanted to stay there when we were planning our trip but literally everything in Kyoto was at full occupancy over New Years. We stayed at Hotel Hokke Kyoto, it wasn’t anything fancy but it was comfortable and the location was amazing right across from Kyoto Station!