Taking the Shinkansen or bullet train is a quintessential Japanese experience and a bucket list item for many. We were lucky enough to take the Shinkansen between Tokyo and Kyoto and back on our recent trip to Japan and can attest that it’s a pretty awesome way to travel. That being said, there are a few things we wish we had known before our journey.
Timing is everything
- Traveling with a baby in tow almost always spells delay but the Shinkansen always leaves on schedule so don’t plan to be on time, plan to be early.
- The Shinkansen only stops at the station for a minute or two so be prepared to load your luggage quickly, even if it means just temporarily dropping it right inside the door.
Limited luggage storage
- We all know traveling with a baby means that the amount of luggage you would normally schlep around will likely double. However, bullet trains don’t have the standard luggage storage areas you normally see on intercity trains. You will be limited to the space in front of your legs and the small luggage racks above your seat for all your stuff. We were impressed that the leg room on the bullet train was much greater than you would get on a normal train or airplane, but we were still pretty crammed in when you add in luggage.
- There is limited space behind the last row of seats in each carriage that can be used to store some extra luggage or baby equipment. If you want to use this space, talk to one of the train attendants and they will help you out.
- Japan knows how to treat a mama (or a papa). Shinkansen trains usually have a “multi-purpose room” equipped with baby change tables, diaper disposal and nursing areas. This room is often locked so you will have to get a train attendant to open it for you.