Hello everyone!! We are back from our travels from Japan! The Bub and the Man did a super long vacay of nearly 1 month in Japan while I travelled up and joined them for about 12 days where we took on 5 different cities with a toddler. Man, didn’t quite imagine us cramping so many places in one trip but we did with the many luggages that we lugged across the platforms of trains.
Some have asked about our itinerary which the Man took liberty of planning so thought I’d share it in this post with a more in-depth post on the different cities after I’ve sorted out the photos!
Day 1: Travel to Tokyo – Haneda (PM Flight)
By the time I got into Tokyo and to our Air BNB apartment, it was nearly 11pm. Nothing much to do but to shower and then head to bed. My choice of bags for this trip is the Minibe as well as the Celine Trio which I discovered was a fab Mom sling bag that not only housed my wallet but also 2 lippies, 2 mobile phones, a power bank and tissue. Not bad in terms of size!
Day 2: Tokyo DisneySEA > Dinner at Sushizanmai
We started the day at DisneySea about 9am odd and it took us about 1 hour to get to Disney Sea. The Bub was all psyched up of course. We stayed there till about 4pm before heading back to the apartment as the Man had a dinner appointment leaving me to spend quality time with Bubba over dinner at Sushizanmai which was a 3 minute walk from our apartment.
Day 3: Shopping at Isetan Shinjuku > Dinner at Ropponggi Hills Club
Travelling in between seasons can be challenging and judging by the calendar, late September should ideally be Fall season which meant light knits, cardigans and a bomber jacket to say the very least. But no way, when we were there, the temperatures were actually pretty pleasant when it was not pouring. It actually felt like summer! I only wished I had packed in some lightweight dresses or shorts. That said, the change of the seasons meant one thing! Torrential rain! Tokyo was hit by a typhoon when we were there, thankfully, it changed its course and only rained overnight but the day that we were supposed to head to Disneyland, it was raining cats and dogs with no signs of stopping at mid-day.
So we decided to cancel our plans to Disney for it would be pretty miserable attempting to take any of the rides in the heavy rain. What more with a squirming toddler? Even harder! The Man purchased open tickets for Disney from JTB Singapore previously so thankfully they are valid till Feb next year and transferable. Managed to sell this to a friend.
Since we had the rest of the day free, we decided to take it light and easy with some shopping at Isetan Shinjuku and a Teppanyaki dinner after drinks at the Ropponggi Hills Club to admire the rain from atop.
Even though we promised her Mickey Mouse, guess who didn’t quite minded the change in programme since she already had her ice-cream?
Day 4: Shinkansen to Kyoto > Dinner at Kichi Kichi > DOWNTOwn kyoto
We took a 12 odd pm train from Tokyo and arrived into Kyoto at about 3 odd pm. We managed to send some of our bulky luggages via Takkyubin to Kyoto and pushed our mid-sized luggage to Almont Hotel Kyoto (a 5- 10 minute walk from Kyoto Train Station).
I’ve made dinner reservations at Kichi Kichi restaurant after seeing the posts from Missus Chewy and Mama Libby. Boy, were we glad to have scored seats (despite it being early). Actually with a toddler, it’s best to eat early and thereafter, we spent the rest of the evening exploring downtown Kyoto which I realised changed alot since I last visited 10 years ago. More on our dining experience to come.
Day 5: Day Trip to Arashiyama > Nishiki Market > DOWNtown kyoto (Again)
I’ve really wanted to go visit the Bamboo Forest and the Kimono Forest so we decided to take a train to Arashiyama for a day trip. Spent a good part of the day there before heading back to Kyoto at about 3pm and zipped into Nishiki Market for a quite bite while the Bub was still sleeping. Didn’t quite make plans for dinner so just headed back into town, walked a little and settled dinner at a restaurant in Takashimaya which served a decent Tonkatsu kid’s meal.
Day 6: Fushimi inari-taisha shrine > shinkansen to Osaka > Kuromon Market > tombori river cruise > lucky Owl Cafe > Kushiage Dinner
Braved the weekend crowds and headed to check out Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine (which was pretty close to our hotel) before zipping off to the train station to catch our mid-morning Shinkansen train to Osaka.
Arrived into Osaka at about 1pm odd and after leaving our luggages at ANA Hotel where we stayed for about 3 nights, we decided to check out Kuromon Market which came highly recommended for some grilled seafood. Perhaps the timing that we were there was not the optimum time to purchase the food for most of the seafood on display and for ordering didn’t quite look that appetizing. So we just walked around for a little and roamed the streets before arriving into the famed Dontobori street where we took a leisure river cruise to rest our feet.
Enroute to our dinner at the one Michelin starred Rokukakutei which serves Kushiage (deep-fried meat and vegetables skewers), we passed by Lucky Owl Cafe and since we were early, we decided to let the Bub get up-close-and-personal with these feathery creatures.
Day 7: Nara Park > Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan > shopping along dontobori > Dinner at Matsuzakagyu Yakiniku M
Took a day trip to Nara Park to catch a glimpse of the famed deers and to feed them. Figured that the Bub would enjoy running around the park and attempting to feed them. She did have a blast and she was actually pretty picky about which deer she wanted to feed. Had a quick Udon lunch and decided to squeeze in a short visit to the famed Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan. According to the Man who have visited about 4 aquariums during his stay in Japan, he felt that this one in Osaka was by far the best one that he has visited with Bubba.
The Bub decided to take a late afternoon nap at about 4.30pm leaving us some time to roam around the streets of Dontobori before stumbling into Matszakagyu Yakiniku M for some melt-in-your-mouth Wagyu beef.
Day 8: Universal Studios japan > dinner at Izakaya
We had plans to stay at Universal Studios Japan the entire day and revel in the park’s night-time entertainment which was a spooky affair given that Halloween was just round the corner. But the Bub looked physically scared after seeing dinosaurs run loose at Jurassic Park (a show to mark the park’s 15th anniversary) so we decided to head back to the hotel, pack our luggage and then a simple dinner around the hotel.
Day 9: Shinkansen to Gero > Hiking around the town > Onsenji Temple >kaiseki dinner
We decided to take it a little slow and easy and checked ourselves into Gero – an onsen town located between Nagoya and Takayama. It was drizzling slightly when we arrived but cleared up shortly, so we took a walk around the town, strapped the Bub in her Tula and hiked up 100+ flight of stairs to check out Onsenji Temple. The surroundings were all very quaint and it felt very zen being there.
Dinner was an outstanding over 10-course Kaiseki affair at Gero Onsen Yukyunohana. If you are looking for a ryokan experience, we would highly recommend staying at Yukyunohana. The service was great and I really appreciated the little touches put in by the staff there for Bubba to make our stay a little more memorable.
Day 10 : Gero Onsen Gasshomura > Foot bath at Yuamiya > Dinner
Weather forecast was heavy rain throughout the day and we were initially crest-fallen but we decided to head out still and check out the beautiful traditional village (a 15 minute walk from our onsen hotel). Thankfully, the skies cleared up and the sun came out. After spending a couple of hours there, we headed back to town for a light lunch and soaked our feet into the complimentary foot-bath at Yuamiya before heading back to our hotel to rest and have our sumptuous dinner.
Day 11 : Shinkansen to Nagoya > Downtown Nagoya > Dinner at The Strings
This was the final stretch of our trip and a little challenging as we had to bring along our 2 bulky luggages, Bubba’s trunki and stroller along with us. The Man had initially planned on sending all our stuff to Nagoya Airport using the courier service but we were afraid that it may not reach the airport in time for our trip back home, so we decided to bring everything along with us. With Bubba strapped inside the Tula, it left our hands free to take on the luggages. Kudos to the Man who did most of the heavy lifting.
The Man snagged a decent deal via Booking.com for a night’s stay at The Strings Hotel. I loved how different the hotel stood out from normal Japanese hotels for it had a boutique hotel vibe to it. Location-wise, it may not be very central but downtown Nagoya is actually pretty compact so we didn’t mind the location since we were passing through for the day.
We didn’t plan on doing much in Nagoya so we did a spot of window-shopping before a simple dinner back at the hotel.
Day 12: Home sweet home
Well, guess that basically summed our holiday in a nutshell. Will follow-up with other blog-posts on specific parts of the trip with more photos to share. I still can’t quite believe that we managed to cover quite a lot of places with a young toddler but we did it! Would we do it again? Perhaps? This time round, I will make sure I pack more efficiently. I have to say, I was thrown a little off-guard with the weather situation! Hmph!
Here are some survival/ useful tips that we have learned during our trip that I thought would be nice to share:
We’ve started baby-wearing Bubba since she was about 4 months small and have loved the Tula. But as she started to become mobile, she didn’t quite like to be put inside a Tula. For this trip, I did insist on bringing it along as I thought it may come in handy for times where we really need our hands to carry other stuff. Turned out, the Tula was such a handy tool to have (even surpassed the stroller). It rekindled our love for baby-wearing. Bubba enjoyed being inside for it meant that she could be close to us and also managed to take epic naps in it.
meal times (eating on the go)
The Bub took to Japanese food really well. We usually feed her with Udon, Soba, Edamame, Chawamushi, Ikura or Tempura when we have our meals outside. She has also grown a lot more independent during the course of the trip, preferring to self-feed. Oh boy, why do these babies grow up so quickly?!
Of course, wifi is now a need when we travel. When we stayed at our Air BNB, our host provided us with a complimentary portable wifi which we relied heavily on to surf, what’s app, play Pokemon Go as well as to check on our social media. For the second leg of our trip, I simply booked the portable wifi device on eConnect Japan. I’ve used them several times now and found that their pricing is rather reasonable. I’m sure that there are other service providers out there so if you do know of others that we should check out, do let us know.