Foreign Fatherhood in Japan

Today is father’s day in Japan,
so let’s talk about being a dad here.

Japan is an amazing country for parents, particularly parents with younger children.

Let me explain, with the nation’s aging population, there are many amenities that parents and grandparents share; elevators and bathrooms. The country’s extensive public transit system rivals New York City with nearly every train station in Japan having an elevator. And you can almost always find a public restroom out and about with a changing table in the vicinity. That’s important too.

I bring this up because I once found myself at
Pizza del Camp, Italy, changing my kid’s diaper outside in the town square.

I’ve done a lot of traveling with my kid and I’ll tell you right now, parent’s need bathrooms. Not because we’re modest and require a private room to change our children. We need a sink and running water to wash our hands and their ass to carry on with our adventures.

Wherever I go in Japan, I know I can probably take a stroller and find a bathroom if I need one.
Vending machines everywhere are a plus.

I’ll say it right now.
Japan has the best public parks I’ve ever seen.

I’ll even provide a list of some awesome parks to take your kids to in the Kanagawa area. Aside from a parking fee, these parks are totally free.

  1. Umikaze Park
    1. In Yokosuka, click for Google maps location.
  2. Kanazawa Natural Park
    1. In Yokohama, click for Google maps location.
  3. Kurihama Flower Park
    1. Godzilla Park, click for Google maps location.
    2. Other Park there, click for Google maps location.
  4. Le Soleil Park
    1. A little further south, click for Google maps location.

Depending on where I go, I can take the train or drive and find free parking. Japan has these awesome nature parks that force children to explore their physical capabilities while providing a sense of danger for them. Danger that teach them to exercise proper caution.

With that being said, I rarely take my child up to Tokyo. Honestly, I feel the closer to the capital we go, the less child friendly Japan becomes. While you can still enjoy the same amenities as anywhere else in Japan, Tokyo is just too crowded for my taste. Unless we’re going to Tokyo Disney, I have no justifiable reason to take my kid that way.
But that’s the sacrifice of being a parent.

My life is no longer exclusively about me. Everything I do, and don’t do, requires forethought with my family in mind. When configuring family trips, I have to keep in mind that the chosen destination must be accommodating to a toddler.
Boring shrines and museums are a big no-go for me and my little one.

Our first Japanese family trip was to Nara, Japan. Its known for the wild deer that walk about the streets in public.

Of course, they’re intimidating to small children. Helping my kid overcome that intimidation to feed a deer was another small victory in parenthood.

In Kyoto, we climbed to the top of Mt. Inari

I got my little one to walk on her own with the promise of ice cream at the top.

We had delicious ramen and ice cream at one of the rest stops near the top of the mountain.

But for every good story, I have an equal and opposite companion. The classics any parent has to offer. Tantrums in public. Forgetting to bring enough diapers or change of clothes.

What I’m sayings is, being a dad is tough.

Even in amazing places like Japan. When we first moved here, I had terrible anxiety as a parent. Anyone who’s ever ridden the train here knows it’s incredibly quiet on board, especially on the more local lines. My daughter is not quiet. She loves singing. I’d find myself on these trains, quiet as can be, worried that we were disturbing other passengers.

And you know what?

I don’t care anymore.

My daughter can sing songs to you in two different languages, and that’s a blessing.

I can always spot non-parents. they show it in their body language. They’re the ones annoyed at babies crying in public, thinking that there’s some magical remedy we (parents) don’t know that would undoubtedly quiet our children.
It’s funny. I used to be one of those people.

Father’s day is an important day of reflection for me, but it’s not about me. It’s about my kid. The pride I feel when she’s at the park or at school playing with her friends. Being a kid. Doing kid stuff. Nowadays she goes on field trips with her friends from day care.

They (older parents) don’t ever tell you how fast kids grow.
Sometimes I wish I could just freeze time.

Okay. That’s enough ranting for this evening.

Happy father’s day, gents.

5 thoughts on “Foreign Fatherhood in Japan

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