|Sakura and Breastfeeding|
This disclaimer applies to everything I ever write, really, but I'm going to make a special point of restating it here~ these are my experiences, and do not necessarily reflect the situation for others or in other parts of Japan. With breastfeeding in particular, I think my experiences in a rural area with a relatively high birthrate may be very different to the situation a tourist may encounter in Tokyo, for example.
Cricket is fast approaching three months old. In that time I have nursed him on a train, in several parks, in an onsen, in a PTA meeting and during a Buddhist service in a 450 year old temple. Not only have I had no problems whatsoever, if he gets the least bit restless when I am out with him I can guarantee that within a few seconds an old lady will appear with one hand squeezing my breast and telling me to hurry up and get it into the baby quick-snap! Everyone I have encountered has had a very positive attitude towards breastfeeding, and the facilities available just about everywhere are fantastic:
|One of several small "private" feeding rooms in a department store. The pillow is provided.|
|A nursing lounge in the same department store. This one has room for a pram and picture books for older children to read while waiting for their younger sibling to finish nursing. There are twice-weekly lactation classes offered here for free.|
Although the best baby care facilities seem to be on the kids' stuff floor of department stores, all major shops or government offices have them. Even the garage where we had our brakes done recently had a big comfy nursing lounge. The other thing I am really loving about the baby care facilities in Japan is that they are offered to men, as well. Men's toilets come with changing tables, there is always a gender free toilet with a changing table too, and some large department stores have "daddy care" and "mummy care" rooms. In the mummy rooms you can breastfeed freely, while I guess the advantage of the daddy care rooms is that guys don't need to feel as self-conscious (on one occasion when I met a dad by himself in a baby care room he was quickly mobbed by curious mums who wanted to check out his diaper changing technique and tell him how great he was, which I am guessing would get old very quickly).
|Lovely clean changing tables and nappy vending machines|
|Feeding chairs for toddlers, hot water and microwave, and pamphlets on various services for young families|