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I lived in Japan for four years and have travelled there many many times over the last 7 years since living back in the UK, but this was the first time to travel as a family – Me (James), Vanessa and little Max. We decided to travel to New Zealand to see family and thought we would break up the journey by stopping in my ‘second home’ of Tokyo for 5 days.
We were slightly worried about the prospect of a one year old on longhaul flights, but the 11 hour flight to Tokyo went extremely well which was a relief. Max slept well for the flight and there was the added bonus of seeing the spectacular northern lights somewhere over north east Europe!
We arrived into Narita Airport and made the easy transfer into Tokyo and painless trip to our hotel in Shiodome. The November sun was shining, it was about 23C and little Max was loving the train. He also loved the glass-sided elevator up to the 25th floor reception (Vanessa wasn’t so keen) and the room which was on the 33rd floor. The stunning view over Tokyo soon warmed Vanessa to life on the 33rd floor.
Once we had finished gawping at the view, we ventured out for some food in one of the areas many eateries. After spending about 1000yen on lunch for us all (not as cheap as it use to be, but still approx £10) we were refuelled for a day in the Metropolis.
It was slightly different travelling around with a kid as it took longer to go anywhere…mainly because everywhere we went, we were stopped by people saying ‘kawaiiiii’ (cute) with the odd one or two people taking photos. Luckily Max is pretty sociable and loves the attention.
The beautiful Hamarikyu gardens were next to our hotel which seemed to be the perfect place to relax. Where as most people tend to appreciate the gardens for their tranquillity, Max found ducks to quack at, pigeons to chase, trees to swing around, rocks to jump off and other children to play with – When they barely speak any language at all, there is no communication barrier. One of the great things about Japan for little kids is that it is such a clean place. There are no concerns about picking up something that they shouldn’t or treading in something messy as there is none of that which makes life a lot easier.
As the city began to light up, one of the most stunning images of the holiday was provided in the hotel. The city lights glowed as far as the eye could see and the Tokyo Tower shone in the foreground reminding us where we were every time that we looked out the window.It was also a great image to wake up to in the morning especially in the sunny month of November.
There is so much to see in Tokyo and literally everything is new, different and exciting, especially if you are a toddler. However, we did take a day trip out of the city to head to the seaside and the temple town of Kamakura (one hour from Tokyo). Another beautifully warm sunny day allowed us to get away from the hustle of the capital and enjoy the more relaxed atmosphere of this historic town.
We strolled around shops, ate our convenience store bentos (filling, delicious and cheap) by the lake at Hachimangu shrine before enjoying a green tea ice cream in the gaze of the giant Buddha. Although Max was not of age or smart enough, there were plenty of kids to talk to as there were many 3, 5 and 7 year olds dressed in kimono for the Shicho-go-san festival blessings – very cute indeed.
After a play on the beach, we jumped back on the train back to Tokyo for a well earned rest and another look at the Tokyo Tower – “ooooh. Bright” quote Max Mundy.
I was hoping to fit everything into one blog piece, but Tokyo is always full of surprises and worthy of another blog piece. More to come soon!