stroller in japan

Is Japan Stroller-Friendly? To Bring, Rent, or Buy

Last Updated: May 13, 2024

I frequently get asked whether Japan is stroller-friendly.

Having raised my daughter here from birth and used a stroller for almost three years, I will say… kind of?

stroller in japan

It really depends on where you’re traveling, so in this article, I’ll share scenarios where a stroller might not be the best idea. I’ll also cover the pros as well as reasons to consider renting or buying a stroller in Japan.

I highly suggest bringing a baby carrier if possible, but if you need to bring a stroller, consider a compact, light, and easily foldable stroller, such as the Bugaboo Butterfly Stroller. Avoid wide strollers as many passageways, stores, and some elevators in Japan are narrow and you might not be able to get through.

Strollers on Rush Hour Trains in Japan

I would not recommend taking a stroller onto a train during rush hour in cities like Tokyo or Osaka. Strollers are also not great for buses in cities like Kyoto.

Sometimes trains also have large gaps between them and the platform, which can make getting a stroller onto a train challenging. As my daughter grew older (and heavier), I found it became harder to lift the front wheels of the stroller to get onto the train.

baby in a stroller at a station in Japan

If you have to bring a stroller onto a crowded train and find there’s hardly any space, fold it up and carry your child. Look for the priority seats to sit in if they’re available.

priority seats in japan for pregnant people

Strollers and Elevators in Japan

It can be hard to get a stroller onto an elevator during rush hour as well, so you may need to wait a while.

Once a friend told me that she had to wait almost half an hour to get onto an elevator at a mall in Tokyo! However, I can thankfully say that this hasn’t happened to me.

I remember feeling very frustrated as a new parent in Tokyo waiting for an elevator because so many (seemingly) able-bodied people lined up for it, so I had to wait for several minutes and missed connections.

Now, you could use an escalator and I’ve seen some people do this but it is very dangerous and not recommended. So please do not do this.

Strollers and Stairs at Stations, Temples, and Shrines in Japan

Tokyo is great when it comes to escalators and elevators, but it can be hard to find these in other cities. I was surprised by the number of stairs I encountered when I moved to Osaka! So sometimes you’ll need to carry strollers up and down a flight of stairs, which is easier said than done!

Once a station in Tokyo was repairing their elevator, so I had to carry my then-six-month-old and the stroller down the stairs by myself! It was an awful experience but there was no other route to the platform (trust me, I asked the station attendant while almost in tears).

A number of temples and shrines in Japan also have stairs, such as Fushimi Inari in Kyoto (in fact, I have an entire section in my Kyoto with kids article about avoiding strollers). It would be quite difficult to bring a stroller to these places, although you could leave it at the entrance and put your child in a baby carrier.

However, I did find that smaller shrines in the city were very accessible when it came to strollers, so this is also something to keep in mind. Exploring off the beaten path can help you find some hidden gems! Just open Google Maps, type in “shrine” or “temple” and see where that takes you.

baby in a stroller at a shrine in Japan

Strollers at Restaurants in Japan

I’ve found that many restaurants in Japan either do not allow you to bring a stroller inside or have stairs leading up (or both!). However, you can leave the stroller outside without having to worry about it getting stolen since this is quite a safe country.

Snowy Areas in Japan and Strollers

If you’re traveling to somewhere snowy in winter like Hokkaido, I would not recommend bringing a stroller. Pushing it through the snow and ice might be more trouble than it’s worth.

Pros of Using a Stroller in Japan

I’ve listed many cons so you’re prepared, but there are pros when it comes to using a stroller in Japan.

Strollers are great for storing bags and other items. It’s also a great place for kids to take a nap. Kids can be heavy, too, especially when they’re toddlers so carrying them all day can be exhausting for a parent.

In the summer, using a baby carrier will likely lead to both the parent and child feeling hot and sweaty. With a stroller, you can even attach a nice fan to cool off your child, which you can buy from any major children’s store.

stroller fan in Japan

(Psst, for tips on how to keep your child cool during summer in Japan, read this article!)

If you are traveling on your own and have more than one child, a stroller might also be a necessity.

It’s also hard for little legs to walk long distances, so if you’re planning on doing a lot of walking in an area, it might be worth using a stroller.

Consider Rental Strollers in Japan

I recommend using a stroller rental service like babycal, which is run by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Bureau of Transportation and has locations throughout Japan. You can rent strollers for one hour up to a week. They have locations throughout Japan, mainly in train stations. One caveat is that the stroller must be returned to the original pick-up location.

StrollerTrip, run by Combi, a popular children’s brand in Japan, offers rental strollers as well, and they’ll even drop the stroller off at your desired location.

You can also rent strollers at certain places like Universal Studios Japan and Tokyo Disneyland. Some hotels also offer rental strollers.

Tokyo Disneyland with toddler stroller

Malls and stations sometimes have rental strollers, too, and at the very least, shopping malls like LaLaport and AEON Mall have little buggies that toddlers can be pushed around in.

buggy at AEON mall in Japan

You might also want to consider looking into an electric bicycle. There are rental shops in Tokyo (although I don’t think central Tokyo is the most bike-friendly) and Kyoto.

Consider Buying a Stroller in Japan

If you really want, you can also buy a stroller from children’s stores in Japan. These are made specifically for Japan, meaning that they’re just the right size and style for cruising in the country. This way, you don’t have to worry about whether your stroller might be too big or heavy, or bringing your stroller on the flight to Japan. It makes an interesting souvenir as well!

If you want an idea of what kind of strollers are popular in Japan, read this article for newborn babies and this one for toddlers.

However, keep in mind that buying a stroller takes time out of your trip, so it might not be worth the effort. Strollers can be expensive as well unless you get it from a second-hand store.

Wrap-up: Using Strollers in Japan

If you’re traveling to Japan, using a stroller is possible but be aware of the challenges that come with it. I recommend bringing a compact stroller that’s light and easy to fold so you can carry it up a flight of stairs if needed. Make sure to also bring a baby carrier.

I’m going to be completely honest with you, I was so happy to get rid of my daughter’s stroller before she turned three. For me, the hassle wasn’t worth it and I preferred using a baby carrier. When my daughter was three and too big for me to carry in a baby carrier, she became pretty good at walking on her own. We had to take breaks sometimes and I had to carry her when she was tired but she was able to last an entire day in places like Arashiyama in Kyoto. She loved running around and exploring!

Now that she’s four, I never have to carry her. She can spend an entire day at Universal Studios Japan on her feet (with an hour nap at a restaurant) or explore other places in Osaka or Kyoto and be completely fine.

However, I believe everyone’s situation is different. So bring the stroller, bring a baby carrier, and then see what works for you and your family. The worst-case scenario is that you decide you don’t want to use a stroller after all and just leave it at your hotel.

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Hi! I'm Kay

I’m a long-term Japan resident and parent who loves writing and traveling. My goal is to help parents from around the world navigate living and traveling with kids in Japan.

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