Subways & Taxis in Tokyo with a Toddler
Other blog entries about Tokyo: Flight and New Sanno Hotel
Japan drives on the left, and WALKS to the left. It took us a day or two to get this down without thinking! When walking towards someone keep to the left!
I'll admit it, I like convenience, especially when traveling with a toddler. Before we left I planned out different activities we might like to do on our trip. For a complete run down on our prep check out the blog entry, preparing for a trip to Tokyo. If getting from our first activity to our second was easier by cab we usually just took one even though Tokyo cab fair is expensive (Almost $6 just to get in!). If you want to find exactly how much getting from point A to B is going to cost you check out the website Taxi Fare Finder Japan. The silver lining, we got to experience both forms of travel and now I get to share my experiences with you!
On our first day we got over excited about heading out and completely forgot to pull local currency out before we headed. Thinking it was a major city we were hoping our credit card would work in the subway ticketing machine. Unfortunately we were wrong. We tried ATMs in the local convenience stores with no luck.
Considering there was no way to walk to our first location we decided to hop in a cab. All the cabs we rode in accepted foreign credit cards with no problem. Tipping is not expected or desired in Japan so paying by credit card was easy.
We packed an inexpensive umbrella stroller that opened and closed with ease.
The trick seemed to be allowing SCS Daddy to hail the cab while the rest of the family kept somewhat out of sight. Then when the cabs stopped, we just came over and asked to pop the trunk. Otherwise we found that very similar to NYC, cabs "didn't see us." All the cabs were equipped with automatic doors and plenty of trunk space. Most cab drivers were happy to step out and attempt to help up load the stroller in the trunk.
Once we were able to get cash from a Citibank international ATM we were all set to venture into the Tokyo subway.
The ticket machine has an English option and is fairly easy to navigate. You have to know where you are going before buying a ticket. If you end up at your destination and didn't pay enough there are top-up machines next to the exits.
For a complete step by step explanation of how to ride the Tokyo subway check out the Tokyo Metro website.
All the signs had romanizations of all the Japanese names so they were easy to locate and read.
Although there were many handicap/stroller accessible points there were many times we had to carry the stroller and Sam up and down the stairs. Thankfully before we left I sewed a strap onto our stroller and I never travel without our Ergo so we were all set. SCS Daddy threw the stroller on his back while I held Sam in and out of the subway.
Perks of riding the subway, free-wifi and interesting subway art!
If you need a nursing room or a baby changing station while in the subway stop by the subway information desk. There are pamphlets that outline the facilities at each stop. I was only able to find the pamphlet in Japanese but the color coded lines and the baby signs were enough to figure it out. I noticed them at almost every stop we were at. A lot more frequent than I was accustomed to in Seoul.
As soon as we were at our exit stop we started to look for maps. Throughout our travels we have learned that taking 5-10 minutes to read all the local maps tends to be well worth our time even when we are sure we know where we're headed. Tokyo had plenty of opportunities to do just that. Maps were easily visible inside the subway stations as well as outside the exits.
If possible, the easiest way for us to get from one point to another was walking. We discovered walking a block next to the main tourist areas gave us plenty of sidewalk space to allow Sam out of the stroller. She even got to meet a giant Japanese panda on the street.
She was able to enjoy walking and we got to discover hidden little gems along the way, such as a fabric store for Mom and a guitar shop for Dad.