Cat cafe for kids in Tokyo (MOCHA Takeshita Street)

Pet cafes such as owl, hedgehogs and even cat cafes are apparently a plenty in Japan but not every cafe allow kids under a certain age. While planning for our family trip to Tokyo, I did want to bring the little one to visit a cat cafe since she has always loved cats.

I went online in search of a few of these cafes that would allow kids of 5 and above in and thankfully, we managed to find one conveniently located in Harajuku. The girl was beyond excited and I think it must have marked one of her highlights of our family holiday. We visited the cafe on a public holiday so there was a short queue that formed when we arrived. Thankfully, it moved pretty fast for the girl not to whine about the situation.

We had to sanitise our hands as well as leave our shoes behind before entering the premises of the cat cafe. When the doors to the cat land opened, the girl went wild! She was beyond thrilled to see so many cats under one roof and wasted no time in asking me to fork out some money for cat treats for her to entice the cats to come to her.  FYI, cat treats start from 500 yen.

She had such a fun time chasing after the cats and then pouting when none of them would sit next to her to let her pat them.  It was priceless watching her interact with the cats and then being so gentle with them.

The Man and I aren’t particularly big on the feline creatures but I have to say that there are several breeds of cats that are found in this cat cafe and they were fun to look like. We probably spent an hour in this cafe prancing up and down while the girl wanders off to find a new feline pal to play with.

As a family, I’m glad we did this for the kiddo. Look at her beam from ear to ear! So if your kid is a cat lover just as much as ours, do bring them to the Cat Cafe in Japan. It will make for a fun and memorable experience.

Cat Cafe Mocha

AddressJapan, 〒150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Jingumae, 1 Chome−19−9 プライム原宿 2F

Those who are between 3 and 12 years old can only enter this shop accompanied by a guardian.

Price: ¥200/ 10 minutes- Maximum Charge
– General ¥2,400
– Junior High/High School Students ¥1,200 *Weekdays onlySeparately ¥350 is charged required fees for All-you-can-drink.* All listed prices are excluding tax.

Review of Club Med Tomamu

Finally found the time/ energy to blog about our winter holiday to Hokkaido. It’s been probably 2 years since I last went on a ski/ snowboard holiday. Not that I am a hardcore sports enthusiast but the Man did remark that it’s been ages since we went on a winter trip. Largely because we also thought that the little one would like to have a change in scenery when it comes to family holidays so we decided to bring her to a country where it would actually be snowing. Guess where’s the closest country that came to mind? Why, Japan of course!

Club Med Tomamu located in Hokkaido was newly opened and we did have a good experience with Club Med years ago, so we decided to give it a try. One of the reasons why we decided on Club Med was also because they have a child-minding service where we paid for a fee to put the little one in while we hit the powder in the day. As Club Med offers a full-board service, we didn’t have to worry about our meals for it was provided for throughout the day, including alcohol.

The little one did seem to enjoy being in the Petit Club but only for a day or two. After the third day where she pretty much figured out that we were going to leave her there after her ski lesson, she was a little sad. So on Day 4, I decided to take a break from snow-boarding to keep her company. Petit Club pretty much ran like a day centre for kids. There were minders that will tend to the little one’s needs and also feed them during meals. They also planned several activities to keep the little ones busy and occupied. Best part? Naps are also part of the routine so it was reassuring to know that the little one clocked in sufficient snooze time even on holiday.

If your kids are above 4, then they can be placed in the Mini Club where they can opt to take ski or snowboarding lessons in a group. Because the kiddo is not 4 yet and we were eager to get her started on skiing, we signed her up for private ski lessons for an hour for three days. Her first lesson was with Coach Mitch who she absolutely adored. The skies were also so blue and made for the perfect backdrop for her to play around in the snow with. The second day, he was busy so we signed up with Coach Sam which we realised she didn’t take an immediate liking to. I guess this girl clearly like male teachers so on the third day, we asked Coach Mitch if he was free to take her on as a student. He was really quite sweet as it was his off day and he still took her on.

Hokkaido for CNY 2018

This Lunar New Year has been quite a muted affair for us as we decided to make a trip out of it instead of staying in for the festivities. Partially because the Man has been on the road quite a fair bit and family holidays are probably the best time we see each other every waking moment so late last year, he decided to book us three for a winter vacation.

The challenge we did find was where? Okay, so #firstworldproblems. But the highlight of the trip was for me to eventually head back to the slopes and for the little one to eventually learn skiing. The Man did some research and found out that because Bub was under 4, many of the ski resorts would not allow her to join in the group classes (we later found out it was because of insurance undertaken by many of the schools). So the only way that we could possibly let her learn skiing was through private lessons.

So the nearest place that offered skiing/ snowboarding with child-minding services would be Club Med in Hokkaido. We last visited Club Med Sahoro nearly 12 years ago and had quite a fun time learning how to snowboard then. We knew that the premises would be slightly dated given that it has yet to undergo a major renovation. That said, we weren’t highly impressed with the rooms then and I don’t think it would impress us 12-13 years on.

That’s when the Man (through more planning) discovered Club Med Tomamu, a newly opened sister resort also opened in Hokkaido. The place looks spanking new and huge! So he decided to book it for our #limfambamvacay! I will share more about our Club Med experience in the next blog post but for now, I really do want to share about how traveling to Hokkaido (that looks relatively near) is actually quite a “pain”.

Apparently, we have been told that ANA and Singapore Airlines operate direct flights to Hokkaido during the winter season. When the Man tried to book our flights via Singapore Airlines, it turned out to be crazy expensive. Since we were already going to splurge on the all-inclusive stay at Club Med Tomamu for our trip, we decided to take JAL Premium Economy for the holiday which suited our family budget.

It took us almost a good 14 – 16 hours to get from Singapore to Hokkaido. Our flights from Singapore to Tokyo was about 8plus in the morning and by the time (inclusive of transit time and traveling time on the road) we arrived at our hotel in Sapporo, it was nearly 12 midnight. The Bub was really tired and I had to carry the child in the cold while the Man juggled with our 2 large suitcases and 2 snowboards.

Our trip was all of 9 days but we broke it up and stayed in Sapporo for 3 nights and another 5 nights at Club Med Tomamu. The break was quite good as we took it slow and easy in the city before heading out to the mountainous area. The train ride from Sapporo Central Station took us about 2 hours and there was a shuttle from the resort that brought us to the door-step.

For our return, we left Club Med Tomamu at about 9am in the morning on Sunday and only arrived back in Singapore at 1am, Monday morning. The journey felt incredibly long probably because of the transit time again and also partly because the Bub fell sick on the way back with a sore throat and a high fever. That said, we made it back home in one piece even though we are really quite tired.

Also, last we checked, Scoot also offers direct flights to Hokkaido. But there are pros and cons in taking low-cost carrier flights so do weigh your options. 🙂

Will be summarising our little trip to Hokkaido and Club Med Tomamu real soon (where the Bub learned skiing) on the blog but for more current updates, do follow us on our Instagram Account: Sophie_x_mama.j0.

That’s it for now, nights!

Taking on Universal Studios Japan

img_8066We almost did not make it to Universal Studios Japan because while sending our luggage across the different cities, the Man accidentally packed the tickets into the luggage and it was nearly sent to Gero. Thankfully, we managed to get the luggage routed to our hotel in Osaka and shifted our theme park experience a day later.  So yes, that calls for a HOORAY <fist bump> shot!

Halloween was about a month away but it was obviously celebrated in a huge way as Universal Studios Japan (USJ) was dressed in the Halloween festive colours of orange, purple and black. I only wished I knew for I would have totally dressed Bubba in a cute Halloween outfit as we saw many other kids all decked out in their cute costumes and holding a little bag to store the treats that were given out generously by the USJ staff.

img_1309On our way to Wonderland, we saw a crowd forming and out of curiosity decided to wait in line to see what characters would come out behind those gates. The Bub was really excited when she saw Hello Kitty walking out and I was too when I realised that it was actually a USJ Sweet Treats Parade. Little kids were given a little bag and could fill up their bags with the complimentary snacks and sweets given out by USJ. The Bub had no clue what to do and had to be guided by Hello Kitty herself to take a packet of cheese crackers. What a sweet start to our visit to USJ.

Wonderland

Next, we headed straight to Wonderland – possibly the only age-appropriate area that Bubba could be in.

For 1000 yen, we decided to participate in this game of skill plus luck where if the 3 balls are aligned diagonally or in a row, we will win a Sesame Street plushie. I thought it would be quite cool for the Man to win it for Bubba who enthusiastically cheered her Daddy the whole time. We were this close to winning but maybe it was a blessing in disguise that we didn’t win else we would have problems trying to stuff the toy in our bulging suitcases.

Stepping inside Sesame Street Fun World is like stepping inside a giant candy store filled with oversized Sesame Street characters. We spent nearly an hour here with Bubba zipping in and out the different play-zones.

She especially loved the Cookie Monster slide playground and we lost count the number of times that she ran up on to the top of the slide on her own. Thankfully the lovely staff from USJ paid special attention to her given that she was relatively tiny still.

I had grand plans of Bubba enjoying Moppy’s Lucky Dance Party which she did as she took the stage and boogied away before Moppy actually made its appearance. She got bored after and didn’t want to follow the dance instructions thereafter.

We decided to call it a day at the Sesame Street Fun World and headed back outside to explore the rest of Wonderland. There were rides that I had hoped that Bubba would be able to take but she still could not meet the minimum height requirement so in the end, we only managed to take the Big Bird’s Big Top Circus and Hello Kitty’s Cupcake Dream ride.

The waiting time for the two rides were not long as well and Bubba enjoyed the spinning cupcakes ride for she got to choose the colour of the cupcake for us to sit in.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

After we were done with Wonderland, we decided that the next other attraction that we had wanted to check off our list was the Harry Potter World. That was more of a highlight for both the Man and myself rather than the Bub so she ended up being dragged along with her parents.

I honestly thought the research that I had done on USJ was sufficient enough to tide us through the day but I was proven wrong. When we reached the heavily gated Harry Potter World, we were told that we need to go somewhere else to get timed tickets in order to enter the attraction. So do keep your entrance ticket close to you, because that’s the only way that you can access the machine to print your timed tickets. I misplaced my entrance ticket and almost cried when I dug through my pockets and bag and could not find that slip of paper that proved that I paid for my entry into USJ. I ended up begging the USJ staff for help and after some deliberation, they decided to issue me the timed ticket entry. Phew! Imagine my relief when I had that timed entry in my hands.

img_1401I have to admit as we walked down the tree-lined path to Hogsmeade with the mysterious tinkling music of the Harry Potter theme song playing in the background, there was a feeling of excitement that was in the end. It really felt like we stepped inside the scene of the movie with everything looking so much like what we read in the book and subsequently the movie. The Bub was not amused at all but we dragged her along to take cheesy shots with us at the Hogswart Express.

img_0158First order for the day? Quenching our thirst with Butterbeer! The queue for those were long and we decided to split up. The Man queued for the beer while I and the Bub grabbed ourselves a wand over at Ollivanders shop. Well, we can’t quite lurk around the streets of Diagon Alley without a wand right? But what we are to do with the wand now is another question… Haha.. It was interesting purchasing the wand at Ollivanders, it was like the scene of the movie, a group of us entered the shop and Mr Ollivanders was on hand to reenact the scene where Harry Potter was in his store. The Bub was startled by the sound and light effects and wanted to get out of the darkened room. I had to calm her down in front of a slightly large crowd and reassure her that there is nothing to be afraid of. She only calmed down after we were let out of the room.

img_8090I guess we are very boring people, we selected Harry Potter’s wand. Safe choice! In conjunction with Halloween, special wands with laser lights reveal magic when the right spell is cast can be purchased. I was so tempted to get those but they were also very fragile and when dropped could potentially break. In view of a toddler who may end up mishandling the wand, I got a simple sturdy one instead.

img_8087Getting ready to tour Hogswart! We would have loved to go on the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey Ride but with the Bub, it was going to be virtually not possible. So we put the Bub in our tula and decided to tour the castle instead. It still made for an interesting experience navigating the darkened passage ways and trying to remember what actually took place in each scene in the book and the movie.

img_1402And that’s a wrap for us at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I guess it was kinda successful, a sleeping Bub was the best part!

img_4456-1Now when the kid sleeps, the parents try to play. We took turns to take a ride of our choice individually with the other person keeping a look-out on the sleeping bub. The only upside to this is probably as single riders, the time spent queuing for rides get shortened quite dramatically. I spent max about 20 minutes in and out of the Jurassic Park ride. And this is how a parent gets to eat and drink with a toddler. Baby-wearing rocks in this case! Hehe..

img_0193After the Bub stirred from her nap, we explored the rest of USJ with an outdoor performance with the Sesame Street gang down at Hollywood. Bub really enjoyed grooving to the music and was invited up on stage with the other little kids to show off her moves.

img_2936I guess no visit to the theme park is complete without indulging in cheesy family shots. The Bub has not been exposed to Shrek so it took a while before she warmed up to his green appearance. Think whatever the father did to tease Shrek worked for Bubba relaxed after seeing how goofy her dad was.

img_0275We had grand plans to stay till the closing of the park thinking that we could indulge in the night activities given that USJ was commemorating Halloween and towards the evening, we saw loads more people dressed in various costumes complete with full-on ghoulish make-up.

img_0200The appearance of these dinosaurs signaled the end of our USJ for we thought the Bub would be intrigued when she saw these prehistoric creatures up close. They really look like they were real and to a child, I guess that will be scary. It did work in scaring her for she ended up wailing for a bit and eventually calmed down after we whisked her away from the dino zone.

Kid you not… these dinos are pretty lifelike and when it appeared, it had a couple of kids crying with one screaming for his mother. Thankfully, Bubba slept through it all.

img_8097

 All in all, we had a fab time in USJ! Pity Bubba still isn’t tall enough to take most of the rides but if we do go the next time, I’m almost certain she would be. 🙂

OUR 12DAY JAPAN ITINERARY INCLUDE:

Day 1: Travel to Tokyo – Haneda (PM Flight)
Day 2: Tokyo DisneySea > Dinner at Sushizanmai
Day 3: Shopping at Isetan Shinjuku > Dinner at Ropponggi Hills Club
Day 4: Shinkansen to Kyoto > Dinner at Kichi Kichi > Downtown Kyoto
Day 5: Day trip to Arashiyama > Nishiki Market > Downtown Kyoto (again)
Day 6: Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine > Shinkansen to Osaka > Kuromon Market > Tombori River Cruise > Lucky Owl Cafe > Kushiage Dinner
Day 7: Nara Park > Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan > Shopping along Dontobori > Dinner at Matsuzakagyu Yakiniku M
Day 8: Universal Studios Japan > Dinner at Izakaya
Day 9: Shinkansen to Gero > Sightseeing around the Town > Onsenji Temple > Kaiseki Dinner
Day 10: Gero Onsen Gasshumura > Foot bath at Yuamiya > Kaiseki Dinner
Day 11: Shinkansen to Nagoya > Downtown Nagoya > Dinner at the Strings Hotel
Day 12: Home Sweet Home

Wifi-to-go
We used pocket wifi from eConnect from Kyoto for the duration of our trip. Complimentary pocket wifi was provided by our host as part of the Air B&B service.

Taking on Kyoto

We are missing our travels to Japan terribly! So decided to kick the blues by putting together our quick guide with highlights on what we did in Kyoto with a 2 year old toddler over 3 days and 2 nights

We’ve visited Kyoto almost 10 years ago when the Man was living in Japan. It also was a day trip made to visit the famed Kinaku-ji (Golden Pagoda) Temple. My memories of Kyoto were rather faint as it felt like we zipped in and out rather quickly given that the train ride from Tokyo to Kyoto took us nearly 3 hours alone. So this time round, we decided to spend a couple of days there instead of just a touch-and-go experience.

A half-day trip to Arashiyama

It takes about 50 minutes via train from Kyoto to Arashiyama. From the train station, it’s easy to navigate around Arashiyama as there are walking guides with directional signs peppered around the quaint town. Continue reading

Taking on Tokyo DisneySea

Man, feels like a long time since I last blogged. Sorry for the silence but it’s been a little crazy here trying to manage home and work. But blogging has always been an outlet for me to share my thoughts so it’s nice to head back here putting my thoughts into words.

img_9648Tokyo Disneysea! We did it and following this post where I shared the list of potential rides that we wanted to take, how did we fare?

img_0692Our trip to Tokyo was late September and although it was supposed to be Autumn season, it was strangely hot and very wet. Weather forecast for the 3 days that I was in Tokyo was supposed to be raining so you can imagine my happiness when I saw a clear sky with a hint of grey clouds at the background on the day that we headed for Tokyo DisneySea.

Journey took us about 1 hour from our apartment to Maihama station and we dressed Bubba up in Rapunzel from Tangled. She doesn’t quite know the name of Rapunzel yet but I was surprised when she could identify the different characters such as Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto and Chip and Dale.

img_0693Upon arrival into DisneySea at about 10am, I spotted the different characters from afar and told the Man that we should definitely try to stand in line to grab a picture with them. The Bub was really excited when she saw the life-sized cartoon characters and ran towards them to give them a big hug. The crowd surrounding Minnie Mouse was obviously the largest and even though there wasn’t  a formal queue (yup, the Japanese are orderly in that manner), the Bub squeezed her way through the crowds and posed with Minnie for a photo opp.

Alright more photo spam on the different characters that Bubba managed to snap a picture with. 🙂

img_9649With Goofy

img_9615With Chip

img_9656With Dale (or is it Chip again?)

img_9599Not sure what’s the name of this little cat so if anyone knows, please share!

img_9654With Goofy

I guess it’s also obvious in the pictures that I am having a better time than the Bub hunting the characters down and carrying her (perhaps as an excuse) for the photos.

img_4388What’s worth knowing is that the characters actually do make an appearance at designated spots at Disney Sea during the day so instead of running all over the park to look for them. It’s possible to hunt them down all in one place namely the MIckey & Friends’ Greeting Trails.

You won’t get your usual run-of-the-mill popcorn at Tokyo Disney Sea as they do have really interesting flavoured popcorn.

Like I said previously, we or rather I could not resist the Duffy Popcorn Bucket so I grabbed that in front of the popcorn stand in front of Cape Cook-off. The Milk Chocolate popcorn tasted surprisingly yummy – a tinge of sweetness from the milk chocolate coupled together with slight salty popcorn was a good combi of sweet and savory. Needless to say, the Bub loved it and could not stop stuffing her face with the Milk Chocolate popcorn. I guess it did make for a good way to distract her while waiting in line for rides.

img_0694How did we fare on rides and attractions? Well, we did the theatre experience for Turtle Theatre which on hindsight, best to skip as the voice-over is Japanese so unless you understand the language, it might not be that fun for your active toddler. The Aquatopia ride was pretty cool and the wait was less than 30 minutes so it was manageable. Like I said, stuff your kiddo with snacks if he/she gets bored of waiting. By the time we got the front, the Bub was all pysched up for the ride and we had a great time twirling around the simple water-ride.

I’ve always been a fan of Ariel from The Little Mermaid so my fave place at Tokyo Disney Sea is actually the Mermaid Lagoon where I had hoped that Bubba would spend most of her time at. But unfortunately, it was way past her nap-time, she was buzzed from the excitement, exhausted and the darkness kinda scared her, so we didn’t really spend a lot of time in there. We ended up putting her in our Tula where she promptly fell asleep not long after.

img_4384Which in return gave us some time to explore the park. Since we didn’t have the Fast Pass, we pretty much just walked around and took pics at random spots. The weather was cool with a sight drizzle at some point but we didn’t quite minded. We had intended to try our luck at the bazaar where the odds to win a stuffed Stitch toy was pretty high but we figured that it probably might give us a headache as to how we should bring the toy back to Singapore, so we decided to cop out.

img_4384 img_9638We had plans to head back to the apartment at about 4pm so as to avoid the after-office crowd so with about 2 hours left in Tokyo Disneysea and with the Bub nicely strapped inside the Tula fast asleep, we decided to try queueing at one of the more popular rides, namely the Toy Story Ride. The estimated wait was 90 minutes and we figured it couldn’t be that bad except we didn’t expect the ride to break down when we were nearing the front of the ride.  I simply could not believe our luck! Sheesh! But thankfully, the staff were pretty cool about it and everyone who waited in line before the ride broke down scored a complimentary Fast Pass each. That’s like scoring a Golden Ticket to Willy Wonka’s Factory which I’m certainly not complaining! Hehe.. However, if this same situation happened in Singapore, I’m almost sure that people will be throwing stuff at the staff and demanding for compensation.

img_9646And we decided to call it a day at close to  5pm with more photo-taking around the Park. We were half-deciding if we should stay on for the water parade that’s to take place at about 5.30pm and then rush back to the city, but felt that it might be too rushed in terms of timing so with the magical memories that we have created for the day as a family, we went home with a hop and skip in our step belting out Disney tunes on the ride home.

Our 12day Japan itinerary include:

Day 1: Travel to Tokyo – Haneda (PM Flight)
Day 2: Tokyo DisneySea > Dinner at Sushizanmai
Day 3: Shopping at Isetan Shinjuku > Dinner at Ropponggi Hills Club
Day 4: Shinkansen to Kyoto > Dinner at Kichi Kichi > Downtown Kyoto
Day 5: Day trip to Arashiyama > Nishiki Market > Downtown Kyoto (again)
Day 6: Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine > Shinkansen to Osaka > Kuruomon Market > Tombori River Cruise > Lucky Owl Cafe > Kushiage Dinner
Day 7: Nara Park > Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan > Shopping along Dontobori > Dinner at Matsuzakagyu Yakiniku M
Day 8: Universal Studios Japan > Dinner at Izakaya
Day 9: Shinkansen to Gero > Sightseeing around the Town > Onsenji Temple > Kaiseki Dinner
Day 10: Gero Onsen Gasshumura > Foot bath at Yuamiya > Kaiseki Dinner
Day 11: Shinkansen to Nagoya > Downtown Nagoya > Dinner at the Strings Hotel
Day 12: Home Sweet Home

Wifi-to-go
We used pocket wifi from eConnect from Kyoto for the duration of our trip. Complimentary pocket wifi was provided by our host as part of the Air B&B service.

Taking on Tokyo > Kyoto > Osaka > Gero > Nagoya in 12 days

img_0583

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!

img_9564Day 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!

img_9646Day 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.

img_9757Day 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.

img_0052Day 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.

img_8097Day 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.

img_0512Day 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.

img_7886Day 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.

img_0579Day 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:

img_0722Baby-wearing

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.

img_9279meal 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?!

Portable Wifi

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.