This is not my first trip to Japan, but it is the first time that I'm here while in contact with expectant mothers. I often find myself discussing the challenges and benefits of raising kids in the world's biggest city.
Here are three interesting things about young families in Tokyo that I've noticed so far:
1. Families feel safe. Young children run ahead of their parents on the street and ride on the subway alone. They play together at the neighborhood playgrounds without any adults watching. As an American, this strikes me as so idyllic that it often feels surreal!
2. Everyone wears their babies. Because there's no car culture to speak of in Tokyo, mothers wear their babies in carriers everywhere, even on their bikes! I sometimes see mothers peddling through the neighborhood with two toddlers on bike seats and an infant in the Ergo carrier strapped to their belly.
3. It's women's work. Last week, I saw a man pushing a baby carriage, and he was without his wife. I did a double take! When he got closer, I saw that he had a dog, not a baby, in the stroller, and then it all made sense. Believe it or not, I feel like it's more common to encounter a dog in a baby carriage than a father out with his children alone in Tokyo.