Our first Japan trip

2024 so far filled with lots of travels, which I didn’t expect. After baby C born in August last year, I was thinking I will mostly be adapting to this new norm. However, he’s been a really easy baby so far. Even typing “easy” and “baby” feels weird because I always expected that being a new parent would be so tough. Well, it is, tough, for sure. But with “easy”, I was referring more to his growth. He constantly stays in the 97 percentile, and keeps nailing at milestones that are expected for his age, early on. Ofc, all babies are unique and it’s completely normal to hit milestones differently. But in my case, his constant growth reduces a lot of my worry and makes me a bit more confident as a new parent.

Plus, family has been very supportive with child care. They’ve been a huge help and that made me confident to left my baby for a couple of times for business travel ever since he was as little as 6-month.

And that made us even more confident to bring him along with us for a vacation trip to Japan in late March — early April this year, while he’s still 8-month old. I’ve been wanting to visit Japan to see cherry blossom, so we booked the flights from last year to travel around Sakura season this year. And it was loads of fun!

Ofc, travelling as a family with an 8-month baby is very different from solo travel (which I have more experience). And we had ups and down. But at the end of the day, I’m glad we were able to create memories together for 14 days in Japan.


We decided to stay in Chiba for the first few days. We arrived at peak season and we booked the hotels pretty late, so we decided to stay in Chiba compared to staying in Tokyo to save our budget.

We scoured Tokyo from Chiba for the first 2 days to look for Sakura and we found our first in Kinshi park even though they haven’t fully bloomed. But we then got to see more Sakura around the area where we stayed in Chiba (ironically).


After 4 days in Chiba, we then moved to Ise in Mie prefecture. Husband chose this city and I was skeptical at first. But then we had an impromptu trip to Toba, which was only 40 mins from where we stayed, and it was the highlight of our travel for me personally. The city was close to the sea, so got to treat ourselves with abalone. We also got to picnic under Sakura trees (hanami) by ourselves in a park that’s quite huge. I could imagine we won’t be able to get this type of experience if we only stayed in big cities.

Also, we got to stay in a traditional house in Ise, which allowed me to reminisce on my childhood because it reminded me of Doraemon’s house. ha!


I picked this one, and that’s because I wanted to stay near lake Biwa. This one is probably my second favorite from our whole trip. We got to travel to Kyoto (which is only 2 stations away) and Nara from the time we stayed there. I especially loved our trip to Enryaku-ji temple because we got to ride a local train (with only 2 cars) full of students, which made me feel like a local commuter. The temple was on a mountain, so we even got a chance to ride a cable car too, which was interesting. I also love the hotel where we stayed in Otsu the most from all the others. We got a view of lake Biwa every morning, and the room was so big (which was so different from the other hotels that we stayed during this trip), so baby C can have more space to explore while he’s learning to crawl.


Tokyo is probably my least favorite part of our trip. Probably because we’ve been tired already. But also, there were just too many people! But ofc, it’s Tokyo, so I should’ve expected it.

But hey, at least I got a chance to visit Ghibli’s official store and take a picture with a gigantic Totoro. (:

A few personal notes about travelling to Japan:

  • We got a JR pass for a week out of the 14 days we were there. Unless you’re planning to move between cities a lot, I wouldn’t recommend getting a JR pass. In our case, we think a lot about making the most of our pass, and that has limited our ability to explore other options. Also, sometimes when the line is out of service for unexpected reasons, you may have to resort to another train services which most probably not JR, so you have to pay again since it’s not covered by your pass.
  • Kyoto food market is overrated. I got shouted at by a seller in Nishiki market, and it ruined my whole Kyoto experience. Not to mention that the food price at the market is pretty expensive too.
  • If you enjoy slow travel (meaning you’re not the type who cramp many destinations in one day), definitely visit the less touristy part of Japan. They may have fewer attractions, but you get to enjoy it at your pace.

A few personal notes about travelling with a baby:

  • Check in earlyyy! Normally, I’m the online check-in type of person so I can use a different lane when checking my baggage at the airport. But it turns out, you can’t do online check-in if you have a baby travelling with you (at least, if you fly ANA). If your baby is still under 10 kg, you may be able to request a bassinet to put your baby during the flight if you’re sitting in a specific row. That’s why you may want to check in early.
  • Fly red eye! We got to fly red eye on our way back, and baby C was almost sleeping the entire 7-hour flight (except for when I left him to the lavatory, but he got back to sleep pretty quick). So proud of him!
  • We decided not to take our stroller because we didn’t want to bring more baggage on top of our 2 suitcases we got. Also, we read online that shinkanshen baggage storage is pretty limited. It was true, but you can actually pay for extra storage. So choose your fighter.
  • We were worried about whether we needed to bring a baby food processor or not (we decided not). It turns out you can easily find baby food in Japan in a drug store (our fav one was Matsumoto kiyoshi). “Toys R Us” is another option, but if you’re not staying in a big city, then a drug store is your best bet.