Family Travel

Destination:  Tokyo – A Forty Up Guide

February 15, 2015

Last December my little family & I boarded our Air Asia flight from Perth bound for Tokyo.  Twenty four hours, numerous bad meals, two pretty well behaved kids, not much sleep, but much excitement later – we arrived!We spent nearly 4 weeks in Japan in total & it was wonderful.  The people of Japan proved themselves to be kind & patient, amazingly organised & respectful.  The streets of Tokyo are incredible for people watching, eating & strolling.  At no time in Tokyo did I feel unsafe or unwelcome.

Where did I go? 

Tokyo, Japan

How did I get there?

We flew Air Asia from Perth via Kuala Lumpur approx. $2200 for family of 4

Highlights:

Japanese toilets, they play music, they are heated, they do things that you don’t expect them to do – they offered a world of entertainment!!

The food, obviously!  It’s everywhere, there’s something for everyone & it’s cheap!!  I worried that my kids wouldn’t eat anything but chicken teriyaki & rice for 3 weeks, however they really enjoyed most of the Japanese cuisine & restaurants really cater to kids with their own bowl & cutlery in most places.  Interactive dining like teppanyaki, sushi trains & okonomiyaki is really great for the kids too.  Japanese sweets are everywhere too, they love crazy looking lollies & pastries, they are amazing if you are game enough to try!!

Public transport is clean & fast & efficient.  There was always someone to help us out if we became confused or lost, which I won’t deny, happened daily!

We were lucky to be in Tokyo for New Year’s day.  The public holiday is a considered a very lucky day in Japan & is spent relaxing & stress free.  It is also tradition to visit a shrine or temple on New Year’s Day.  We enjoyed joining the throngs at the temple local to our accommodation & also to see Tokyo’s Meiji Shrine which attracts several million people over the three day period.  It was crazy & needless to say we didn’t stick around!!

Where Did I Stay?

Hotel Edoya which we loved.  We stayed in a traditional Japanese style tatami mat room, all four of us on the floor.  Our bathroom was traditional too, complete with a Japanese cedar bathtub!  (Edoya also offers western style guestrooms, but not half as much fun!).  The location is great with many places to eat & supermarkets close by.  It’s also a short walk to Ueno Station which will get you everywhere you want to go!  Can’t believe I didn’t take more photos of our accommodation, it was such an important part of our Tokyo stay!!

Places to go? 

Akihabara was a great afternoon spent wandering down the main street ducking into gaming arcades, shops brimming with gadgets & people watching.  We also ate a lot here, there are tons of interesting take away options to choose from.

Akihabara is nicknamed Electric Town due to it being the major shopping venue for electrical household goods post war.  Now it’s full of video games, anime, manga & all things geeky!  There are loads of crazy maid cafes here too.  Girls dress in Hello Kitty type maid outfits try & welcome you into their café.  We didn’t venture in, but we did get a kick out the seeing the “maids” out on the street!

Tokyo Disneyland, unfortunately we visited on New Year’s Day so it was super busy!  But how can you have a terrible time at the happiest place on Earth?  Young or old, it doesn’t matter – it’s a blast!

Harajuku is famous for it’s Harajuku Girls, shopping & fashion.  Takeshita Dori is the street where the cool kids go to shop & also houses the biggest 200Yen shop in Japan (equivalent to our $2 shops, but so much bigger & jam packed with Japanese craziness!!!) which of course we visited so the kids could spend their yen/pocket money!!  This shopping area was created due to the influx of American families post War living at the Barracks created in this area & has never looked back – interesting!

Harajuku is also home to the Meiji Shrine, which is pretty special if you can tear yourself away from the shops….

If you want to see the Harajuku kids dressed up in all their cosplay finery, you’ll need to go on the weekend.  Plan to spend A LOT of time shopping, people watching & eating here – it’s very cool!

Tokyo Station, if you’re travelling from anywhere in or out of Tokyo or even just within it, you’ll spend a bit of time staring up at the timetables in some sort of stunned amazement here.  I could have spent a lot of time just wandering around the station, it’s amazing, packed with people of all walks of life & shops offering all sorts of amazing food options.  When all else fails there is always somewhere great to eat downstairs at Tokyo Station!!  And if you get stuck, it’s very likely some nice local will come up & ask if you need help!  The ticket operators always speak enough English to help you out too.

We had a quick trip to Ginza too, did a bit of shopping in GAP & Uniqlo, as you do when it’s Japan’s flagship store.  Twelve floors people!!  Picked up really cheap thermals for the kids there.  Ginza is Tokyo’s most upmarket shopping & dining destination with big brands like Mikimoto, Gucci, Tiffany & Co & Sony.

While on the topic of shopping, the New Year’s sales were on while we were there & they use a really cute technique to get rid of last season sale stock.  I can’t remember the Japanese word for it, but they are basically “goodie” bags, filled with stock, sealed up & a price whacked on it.  The upside, it’s bound to be a bargain, down side, you might not actually want anything that’s in there – colour or size wise!  Best to stick to a product or store you know, like The Body Shop for example, where you know the majority of the products inside the bag will be something you can use.

Have you been to Tokyo – what did you love/hate about it?  Any stories you’d like to share?

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