Kyoto was a brand new city for both of us and we had a great time exploring all this city had to offer. For us, Kyoto offered the perfect mix of history and modernity. Whether it was eating our way through the Nishiki Market or wandering the streets of the Gion District, we fell in love with Kyoto and can’t wait to get back. Until then, here are our favourite Kyoto experiences with a baby.
1. Hiking up, down and through the bright red Torii Gates at Fushimi Inari Shrine was one of the highlights of our visit to Kyoto. In a country full of temples and shrines, this one offers something a little different and is definitely worth checking out.
Hiking through all the Torii Gates as they wind up to the top of Mount Inari and back will likely take you 1-2 hours, but you have the option to turn back at any time. If you are traveling with a baby like we were, we’d recommend wearing your baby for this outing. Its totally doable with a stroller (we did it) but there are many steps as you go up the mountain and it would have been much easier if we had brought our baby carrier!
2. Exploring Kyoto’s famous Bamboo Groves was something that we had been dreaming of doing for years. The Bamboo Groves are located in Arashiyama, a touristy suburb of Kyoto, and are absolutely beautiful. A must do on any Kyoto itinerary! Even better, the wide relatively flat pathway is perfect for walking with the stroller.
After you have soaked in all the beauty of the Bamboo Groves, there are also lots of temples and shrines to check out and endless food options in Arashiyama. We even treated ourselves to some matcha soft serve ice cream despite the chilly February weather.
3. Discovering Kyoto-style Okonomyaki at Nishiki Warai was definitely a highlight of our time in Kyoto. Okonomyaki is a savoury Japanese pancake and is absolutely delicious (even the little lady couldn’t take her eyes off it!). You should definitely check this place out – huge portions, affordable and lots of space for the stroller!
4. Discovering Japanese culture through food with JD Kai Food Tours was not only one of our favourite Kyoto activities but probably one of the highlights of our trip. We were reluctant to sign up for a food tour with a baby but after emailing back and forth with Jason, the tour operator, all our worries melted away. He assured us our baby was welcome and all stops would be stroller friendly. Not to mention all the shop owners LOVE babies and were super sweet with our daughter.
This tour was also ridiculously affordable compared to other food tours (only 5000 yen per person) and features all local family-owned and operated shops in the Fushimi area of Kyoto. Jason is incredibly knowledgeable about all things Japan and will teach you all about food, tea and Japanese culture in real life Kyoto. Our only regret is not having done this tour earlier in our trip because it opened our eyes up to a bunch of foods we hadn’t heard of before!
TIPS FOR PARENTS
- It is well known that Japanese people love babies and we found this sentiment was even more magnified in Kyoto. We were inundated with requests to take pictures of and/or with our daughter and people asking questions about her. It was a little overwhelming at times, but we do believe it came from a genuine interest in our little one and so we just went with it. In the end, we think this only enriched our time in Kyoto as it meant we got to interact with so many local people we might not have, had we not been traveling with our baby.
- As always in Japan, check room size when booking your accommodations – many hotel rooms have barely enough room for your luggage let alone a travel cot. We stayed at Resi Stay Higashiyama Sanjo during our time in Kyoto. This studio-style hotel is great for families – it was affordable, was spacious, well located (5 minute walk from Sanjo Station), and included kitchen and laundry in the room.