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Back in 2015, Courtney and Michael Adamo did what many dream of; they sold their belongings to travel the world. But this was no gap year – the Adamo’s also had four children at the time (a fifth has come along since), making this journey to five continents an adventure indeed.
Who were your travel companions in Japan?
We have 5 kids, but a mere 4 when we were in Japan; their ages were 10, 9, 7 and 4 at the time.
We spent just under three weeks in Japan, beginning with a week in Tokyo to explore the city and see friends. We then made our way to Hakone on the shinkansen (bullet train) to see a bit of the Japanese countryside, experience a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) with onsen (hot spring bath) and see Mount Fuji. From there we went to Kyoto for five days and then back to Tokyo for our final two days.
Our kids just loved the sights and sounds of Japan, and how culturally different it was to anything they’d experienced before. They shared the Japanese fascination with cute, wide eyed characters (we spent many hours in sticker shops, pouring over all the designs) and they found the gacha gacha machines irresistible. They also loved the food; much matcha ice cream and ramen was consumed.
We slightly preferred the size and pace of Kyoto to Tokyo, but both have their charms.
We just enjoyed strolling around Tokyo’s endless streets. There was, literally, something new and unusual (for us) around every corner. We spent a lot of time in the Tsutaya Bookstore in Daikanyama as it was such an interesting place to explore. We were there for the tail end of the cherry blossom season, so we enjoyed looking for trees still in bloom, and the varied food experiences Tokyo has to offer.
Our kids loved the Iwatayama Monkey Park and the Arishayama Bamboo Forest Walk.
We found the Japanese to be very friendly. They were warm and welcoming to our kids and always polite and accommodating to us.
The matcha ice cream and matcha sweets were probably the biggest hit with our kids. They are all adventurous eaters, so enjoyed trying anything new or different to them. I think the traditional Japanese breakfast at the ryokan, with its many morsels from the sea, may have pushed the boundaries, but they were game for all of it.
Top tip: Go for pizza at the Savoy in Tokyo where the Japanese chefs have mastered the Neapolitan style of pizza. It was truly delicious, and fascinating to watch it prepared by people so dedicated to the craft.
We’d love to explore more of the country, maybe even try out some of its surf breaks. We think it will be even more interesting for our kids as they become older and have a better understanding of different cultures.
Taking the shinkansen bullet trains was something we wanted to experience, but rolling six suitcases through busy train stations with kids in tow was more stressful than we expected. Though we packed lightly, especially considering we were on a year+ long journey, we could have done with half the luggage. The next time we attempt this, all of the kids will need to be old enough to be responsible for their own luggage, or we’re bringing backpacks only…
Read more about the Adamo family’s adventures over on their blog: Somewhere Slower.
All photos © Michael Adamo.
Contact our (child-) friendly team to plan your perfect family holiday to Japan.