As one of our last adventures here in SE Asia, we decided we wanted to go and visit Japan. You see a lot of neon on the TV, but we had also heard that the country side was beautiful and the temples were pretty amazing, so we thought about week should be good. We also wanted to take the bullet train, so we ended up getting flights to Osaka, train to Tokyo and then flying home.
Due to time zones and cost we decided to take the Red eye… leaving BKK late at night, and arriving into Osaka around 7am… We figured we would either be geniuses with the kids, or we would not be…. we’re not geniuses! We flew on an A380 and it was really just like a normal plane.
It was fed by 3 jet bridges, so it was massive, but we were sitting on the ground floor and it looked like a normal plane. It’s cool though that we got to fly on one. We had flown on the 787 earlier in the year, so now we have checked on the box on all the big planes!
We landed in Osaka on 17 October and immediately got on the train to Kyoto. D and R did ok. The red eye wasn’t so red eye. They kept the lights on for about 1 hour after take off and then turned them back on about 1.5 hours before we landed. So that leaves only 4 hours of lights out. Not quite enough.
We found our hotel and then went sight seeing… first on the list was Kiyomizu-dera, just a little east of town. A pretty amazing place and we were a little above Kyoto so we could see quite far. It was built somewhere around 1633. It was fun, there were a bunch of Japanese school children there who wanted to ask us questions, and take photos with the tourists. They especially loved Reed. After one tourist sight, we were done for the day! The next challenge and it continued to be a challenge was food. We finally found some Italian place and dinner it was.
The following day (18 October) we took the longest bus ride… the guide book suggested the bus, so we tried it… luckily Reed slept or it would have been brutal. I actually wanted to
take the train, but couldn’t figure out where it stopped… so we took the bus. The taxi’s were very nice but a little pricey. We did take a taxi home! My recommendation is to ask someone on the trains! But back to the temples… we saw the Tenryu-ji tepmple first. Then zen garden is truly zen and one of the originals. From there it was on to the Bamboo forest. Very cool as well, and finally it was the Golden Palace. It’s been fun, since we got home I have seen a bunch of commercials for Japan and all of the places they flash up, I can say, been there and done that!
On the 19th we went to the Fushimi-Inari Taisha… this was by far my favorite. Very cool. They have these orange and black torii. There are thousands of the them. Robin, Som and the kids were absolute troopers as we made it up the whole 4km to the top. And the view at the top, was nothing less than disappointing. There was no look-out. Just another ho hum shrine, but it was still my favorite and very cool! The hike was all we could handle that day, so we were done. We had some ice cream on the way down and all was well! The path was fairly smooth, but lots of steps. So we ended up carrying the stroller and carrying Reed on and off for the whole thing. For whatever reason many Japanese will come into Kyoto and dress in kimonos. and some were even hiking up the trail.
The next day we took the high speed train from Kyoto to Tokyo. it was pretty neat. 3-2 seating, lots of leg room and very smooth. We traveled through some very pretty parts of Japan, parts you would never guess were there. Mountains, valleys, etc… very pretty. We travelled on the Nozomi train which is currently the fastest of the fast bullet trains, and fewer stops. Japan has an amazing train system. complicated and large at times, but very amazing and efficient. And then we got into the big city! We just spent the first night close to the train station because the next day was all about Disney!
Disney in Japan was pretty fun… I’ve been to Disney now in Hong Kong and in Japan, so I feel like I have “checked” the box. However, Robin tells me I am mistaken! So I am sure we will head to Disney Europe at some point… I mean who needs to go to Disney in the US?
It was kind of raining when we got to Disney world, but we were tough! Well not really, but we told ourselves that. At some point we bought everyone rain jackets… Reed had a great time on the Tea Cups and we did get to see a bunch of characters… Even the Star Wars Storm Troopers were there, so that was quite fun. And of course we went and saw the Disney castle there…. Douglas and Reed were playing pretty well together and so they shared an elephant ride too. And at night we saw the lit up castle and then the parade. One frustrating part however was the character signatures. Douglas went up to two characters in a row, looking for their autographs, we had bought him a little book, and two in a row said sorry they had to go. I have never seen a child so crushed before. It rips your heart out for the little guy. Just super deflated and didn’t understand why the person in front of him got a signature buy not him. (The next day was better, but the system or just mobbing the character was no good!)
The next day we went to Disney Sea…. basically right next to Disney Land, but with some different rides. Had a good time there as well, but it got super rainy and cold. We even bought a rain cover for the stroller so Reed could hang out in it and stay dry and warm. Douglas had a great time with the characters and got just a bunch of autographs. I think that was the highlight for him… We put some stickers in the book later on and when we got back from break he took the book to school for show and tell. Definitely a highlight when you get the autographs. We wanted to stay longer, but it was just too cold and rainy… so I got one last photo of Douglas near the world and then it was off to Tokyo.
The next day we took a day trip to Mt. Fuji and Lake Hakone. and it was really neat. we were quite concerned as the first leg of the trip was a bus trip. And since both kids were under 5, they did not get seat assignments, (meaning they were lap children) but we lucked out and we had two open seats in front of us. The bus ride out of town was very pretty, and we saw parts of Tokyo and then the Japan country side that we would not have seen otherwise. Unfortunately for us however, the storm that had brought all the rain the day before was still lingering around and so the top of Mt. Fuji was all blocked in. So if you can use your imagination, you can see how awesome my photos are. The first two photos are at the 5th station… this is the place where all the hikers set off to the top. It’s apparently a hike most able body people can make… so if you are in somewhat decent shape and are prepared for the weather, you should go for it.
After Mt. Fuji we took a boat ride on Lake Hakone, again, it was really pretty and not what I expected at all. And to go home we boarded another bullet train… The train is the only way to travel in Japan. so convenient, and so on time.
The next day we set out just to wander around Tokyo, we found ourselves getting a really cool chef’s knife for Robin and then we found some authentic Japanese Sushi for Som and I. I actually couldn’t eat everything, but I tried most and put on a brave face for the kids!
That night we went to Shibuya Crossing. It is the world famous crossing you see in lots of movies… tons and tons of people and lots of neon. We were there early and it was already a crazy pedestrian area.
The next day we had to come back home. In the bad news category, our flight was cancelled and Thai airways conveniently forgot to tell us, but the good news was is that there is a flight 1 hour earlier, good thing mr super planner got us to the airport 2 hours ahead of departure time. So we made it no problem. And we got to see Mt. Fuji! It was crazy clear out and the little white fuzz just beyond the wing is Mf. Fuji. How cool would that have been to have been there when it was that clear. I guess we will have to come back!
Japan was great, food was tough for us with the kids, and it was definitely expensive, but well worth the effort. We stayed for 8 days or so. I would love to see more of southern Japan and i’d have to try and see Mt. Fuji again!