Friday, 14 October 2016

Japan Family Travel Blog by Jaz!

Our wonderful Jaz, currently on maternity leave did a family trip to Japan prior to the current baby.  Below is her story on their fabulous trip.

Japan? At this time of year? With a 1 and 3 year old? Are you crazy? My husband and I thrive off adventure, so the challenge of travelling on a 9 ½ hour flight with our two babies in to Japans chilly winter seemed very appealing. Japan has always intrigued me……. The people, the culture, the shrines, Temples, gardens, busy cities and delicious food. We spent 12 amazing days in Japan and it never failed to impress.

The biggest challenge when travelling with young children is finding the perfect balance between what makes them happy and what makes you happy! Number one priority is ensuring they were comfortable for our long days out most being from 8am to 6pm. We purchased a very basic small double stroller which was a godsend, we also bought the children their own special blankets each from home that they used daily in their strollers for comfort and sleeps when required.

Japan train stations are quite easy to manoeuvre through once you have the handle of it, 95% have lifts (those which do not there are endless people wanting to help carry the pram up the stairs with you). 

Pedestrian space is large and Japanese are very welcoming to families. Even over the New Years holidays, deemed the most busy time in Tokyo, we were able to navigate our way through the crowds seamlessly with our double stroller. 

The only recommendation I have moving forward is ensure your children are awake at lunch time, our dream of having a quiet lunch whilst they slept in the pram was crushed on day one when we realised that seldom can you find a restaurant that can accommodate a pram with sleeping children! Best you wait till they are awake and fold it up at the door!

The second is research into activities for the children. 

Each day we chose one special thing for them to do such as feeding the monkeys outside of Kyoto. This involved a 45 minute uphill hike for mum and dad with children in ergos on our backs to get them to their monkeys! But the smiles on their faces were worth the pain and the views were spectacular! 

Seeing the snow for the first time in Nagoya, hiring a toboggan for a few hours and building their first snow man. Investigating local festivals……..

We were fortunate enough to be a part of a community festival to make sticky rice, the children loved it. It is amazing to watch your children interact with other children when they both speak different languages. The language barrier does not hinder like it does adults, my three year old spent the day playing with children who all spoke Japanese to her and she loved every moment of it, at the end of the day they are all children and if they are playing and smiling…….. they are happy!

Letting them walk and explore food markets, tasting new and unusual food…………. A quick stop at Tokyo's best toy shop to let them play…….. a morning at the zoo, aquarium, tallest building in Tokyo….. all these things give them something to look forward to and they enjoy it! My husband and I want our children to fall in love with travelling so we have found the best way is to find a balance. 

We wandered through museums and shrines when they are asleep (as best we can!) Plan one very special kids day, ours was Disneyland which was absolutely fabulous!!!!

Accommodation can be tricky in Japan to accommodate children. 

There are endless children friendly hotel but some of them have quite a high price tag on them. We opted for privately owned apartments where we had the convenience of a fridge and microwave for our one year olds bottles. 

We also stayed in home stays which was a very unique experience. Staying with a Japanese family gives you the chance to really experience Japanese culture. We slept as one big happy family on a large floor futon, which is very common in Japan.

We ate meals on the floor at a traditional style Japanese dining table. We shared storeys back and forward about how life in Japan is so different to Australia. 

My children played with their children. It was a lovely way to travel for those who don’t need their own space and want to meet new people. 

The biggest benefit over a hotel room was being able to put the children to bed in the room, then head downstairs to adult company. Something which you are unable to do in a hotel room. Parents would know the world of tiptoeing and whispering around small children once you get them to sleep in a small hotel room, does not make for a very nice evening time for mummies and daddies!

Are we exhausted after our 12 days?…….. Yes!........ Would we do it all again?..... Yes!

Letting your children run free in a new country, asking questions about why this is like this, why do they wear that and what are they doing……….. is exciting! 

My three year old was constantly excited about the heated toilet seats…… she was not too happy when she zapped her bottom with a thick stream of water from hitting the bidet button when I was not watching! 

Receiving gifts and attention where ever they went by warm and welcoming people. 

Catching endless metros, trains, busses, escalators only added to the adventure! It was my one year olds 3rd country and my 3 year olds 5th country. 

They may not remember everything they have experienced, but I do believe it is shaping the adults they will become. I can only hope they continue in life to be adaptable, worldly and full of adventure! 

If anyone would like help in planning an amazing, life changing family holiday to Japan or any other fabulous country I would be more than happy to assist! I pride myself on being able to cater to the needs to the individual and deliver once in a lifetime holidays.