Kyoto with a Toddler (Toei Kyoto Studio Park)

On our third day, we decided to go to Toei Kyoto Studio Park. It is a place where they shoot japanese (Edo) period dramas. It is a fun place to spend an afternoon. You can play dress up (all ages!) and pretend to be ninjas/samurais.

If you noticed, we spend just half a day outside the previous days. I don’t think I could do multiple locations in one day that would involve navigating ourselves plus the regular stuff (like feeding, changing diapers and scheduling naptimes). That’s right! I can’t navigate and do other things! If you can just hear the conversations I’ve had with the hotel receptionists. I specifically ask where I should take the bus, what stops, how many minutes, where to find the next bus.  Directions have to be as specific as possible!

And no, I can’t read maps. Google or otherwise.

So, I was told that I can take the tram to the Toei Kyoto Studio Park. Tram? I didn’t know Kyoto had trams! How fun!

IMG_0953This is the Randen station – Shijo Omiya stop. A 10 minute walk from the hotel.IMG_0954

This tram actually takes you to most of the sites!

Unfortunately, the receptionist forgot to tell me that I could buy a Toei Kyoto Studio Park ticket plus a round trip pass for the randen. I could’ve saved me some 300yen! Teehee!

As a side note though, you can buy an all day pass for the tram and use it to go to different stops. It goes all the way to Arashiyama where you can see the Bamboo Grove, ride the Romance car, go to the zen temple, etc. But, like I said, one location per day.

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Insides. Just one coach for the tram.

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The Studio is a short walk from the randen station (Uzumasa Koryuji). They play a song that is distinctly edo drama music so you know it’s your stop!IMG_0961

2,200 yen ticket

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 We got there close to lunch time so we decided we would eat first before exploring the park.IMG_0966

Themed menu

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Is that a famous character?

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You can explore and take photos all you want!IMG_0978

We decided to go inside the Trick Art museum (extra fee) but I had fun. Little A was a bit scared!IMG_0994

Giant and dwares

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They had shows almost every hour.IMG_1023

In this theater

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And outdoors

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Street performer of the olden timesIMG_1052

Location shoot preparationIMG_1058

Props!

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I saw these two guys earlier in the day wearing modern clothes. The next time I saw them, they were wearing these cool costumes.

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I asked if they wanted me to take a photo of them in their glorious outfits.IMG_1064

I took several photos using their camera. Then, I asked if I could take one on my camera. They obliged and posed for three!

There are many other attractions and shows in the Studio Park. There are samurai lessons, ninja lessons, behind the scenes talk, ninja shows, haunted house!, a mystery house, costume rental including hair and make up, a theater and multiple museums on wood prints, animes and Japanese super heroes (Voltes V and Shaider!)

The park is stroller friendly! You can even borrow a cart if you didn’t bring one. Baby changing rooms and nursing rooms are also available.IMG_1080

It was a very interesting afternoon for Little A and I. I just wish DrG was there with us! We probably would have much more fun.

Website here

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Kyoto with a Toddler (Kinkakuji Temple aka Golden Pavilion and Ryoanji Temple aka Zen Rock Garden)

Day 2 was sunny although a bit colder than the first day.

We took a 30 minute bus ride to Kinkakuji as instructed by the very friendly receptionist. Since it wasn’t forecasted to rain, I brought along the baby car. It was easy enough to lift the car in and out of the bus. But, when it got a little bit crowded, I had to protect Little A from getting crushed by bags (also wished nobody would fart while standing near her– my worst fear!)

Since I will be riding the bus thrice that day, I bought an all day pass from the bus driver. 500 yen. All you can ride within the specific areas listed on the map. It’s great for tourists hitting many locations each day. The standard fee per ride is 230 yen.

The bus stops just across the Kinkakuji’s gate which was great!

After paying for the ticket though, someone approached me to inform me that there are several areas that have stairs and it would be difficult to maneuver the cart on my own.  I only wanted to show Little A the main temple anyway so it was fine by me.

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It is so pretty there!

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Heavier Snow Fall

After enjoying the Golden Pavilion, we headed towards Ryoanji Temple. It is just a bus ride away and it is pretty near by. When we got there, I was advised (once again!) that the temple isn’t wheelchair friendly. Uh-oh. I was told that I can’t leave the stroller anywhere, too. So, that meant carrying Little A and dealing with the baby car! Double uh-oh.

I found out that there are many steps before you could get to the Rock Garden, hence the warning. Lots of people asked if I wanted help which I think is great! I refused as I was pushing the cart slowly anyway and didn’t want to bother other tourists. But, still I was thankful that there are still friendly people (at least in Kyoto!).

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Meditating. Nah, just making sure her slippers won’t fall off her feet

On the way back down, you can choose to exit the same way you came or go through the scenic route via the pagoda but still…stairs! Anyway, it is only a problem if you’re on your own with a kid and you brought a stroller with you 😉

Afterwards, we took the bus back. A quick Takashimaya depachika tour for the hungry tummies were in order and someone promptly fell asleep soon after. Luckily, we found our way back to the hotel before snow fell again.

Kyoto with a Toddler (Hotel Unizo)

We had an opportunity to go to Kyoto for several days! How exciting to explore a new place.

DrG found a newish hotel at Shijokarasuma (四条) which is a very nice starting point to all the places we wanted to visit.

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Gion was a bus ride away. The hotel was also walking distance to Nishiki Market and the long strip of shops and restaurants in Shijo. Nearby are the tram and the subway stations. There were also convenience store and a small supermarket off the corner. Small restaurants and cafes are scattered here and there, too!

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The lobby staff spoke excellent English and are very helpful with information.

Housekeeping kept our room clean and well stocked. Wifi is available.

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Except for the broken bathroom door handle and busted light, everything else was peachy. They tried their best to provide for the extra blanket and pillows we asked for. They gave us…..extra *futon* and pillow. Worked out ok because the double bed sometimes only had room for one adult and Little A. Someone else was delegated to sleep on the futon…on the floor…(mostly DrG!)

The hotel has a Tully’s on the ground floor. We had breakfast and snacks there on several occasions.

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Tomato Pasta

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Hotel Unizo website

Kyoto with a Toddler (Tips for the Shinkansen Ride)

Going to Kyoto from Tokyo station via Shinkansen isn’t as daunting as it sounds.
I’m no expert but here are some tips on riding the shinkansen with a toddler.

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1 Bring a stroller and a carrier
You never know when you’ll need one or the other. Don’t be lazy! Hahaha! Bring both!

The stations are very stroller friendly. They have elevators and escalators everywhere.

Compact strollers fit in front of the seats (2 paying seats). Little A was sleeping on the cart during the ride so we just positioned her in front of our seats. You could also fold the stroller and keep them at the back (near the doors) or put it on the overhead luggage compartment.

2 Food and drinks.
You can make your own bento or buy from the station.  The options are numerous. If you have time to spend, there are also lots of restaurants available inside. We took the earliest available train so we only bought food just in case we get hungry (we always are!)

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Bento Box Artwork

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Anago

They also sell food inside the train but your choices will be limited. On the upside though, they sell ice cream if you’re craving for one.

Drinks are available, too!

3 Entertainment
The train ride took less than 3 hours but some sort of entertainment might be required to keep your little one occupied.

Two little girls and one baby boy, who were seated beside us, provided Little A onboard entertainment. They were eating, giggling, whining, playing, and crying. Little A was amused by them all.

Books, pencils, toys. Anything that could make those tiny hands and curious minds busy.

4 Be early
The trains leave on time. You lose your reserved seats if you don’t go on the correct time.

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Babies don’t read time, do they? Elevators might be farther than where your coach is, so that’s extra walking or in our case, sprinting time required.

5 Consider sending your luggages ahead
Kuroneko has takyubin services where you can send your luggage ahead of time so you’re not lugging your…uhmmm…luggages. You already have your hands full with your baby.

6 Watch for Mount Fuji
You can see Fuji on the right side (seats c and d) some time past Shin Yokohama. About 50 to 60 minutes into the ride.

7 Prepare your things (and baby) when the music chimes
The trainstop is really jusy short enough to offload passengers and load new passengers. If you are anything like us, you’ll have tons of things to put back (jackets, unfinished bento boxes, water bottles, toys). So, prepare ahead of time. Also, see number 5 to make things easier for you!

8 Don’t be rude
Return your seats to the upright position. While you’re at it, make sure you didn’t leave any trash. If you turned the chairs to face your companions, be sure to return the chairs front facing.

Remember the 3 kids? The mom brought a trash bag with her to stuff all the bento boxes and bottles they used! Brilliant!

If you have other tips, feel free to leave a comment!

Follow our adventures in Kyoto (and later, Osaka)!