The U.S. > Japan was our longest flight. 14 hours. It was rough. But it could’ve been worse. Garrett had Dorothy in the middle of four seats near the back. Dorothy was a champ! She played with her princesses, play dough, watched movies and even ordered food while Garrett was asleep. My seat with Manilla in my lap was on the aisle of three seats on the side. There was NO way I could’ve survived a 14 hour flight with Manilla on my lap. This SUPER kind man had a row of 4 to himself. Before the flight, he asked me if we’d like to join him. I jumped at the offer! It was so incredibly kind of him to share a row he could’ve had all to himself with a crazy toddler. It saved us. And I’m forever grateful for that man!
I was really looking forward to our stop in Japan since most of our destinations had been around the water. I was excited for the change of pace. We arrived in Japan in once piece and were so excited to be in a exciting, new HUGE city!
We stayed at the Ritz Carlton, Tokyo. Our room was on the 43rd floor and had an incredible view. We were starving and were able to enjoy a nice meal at the Towers Restaurant where Dorothy fell in love with udon noodles and chopsticks! Our first night, they set up a tent in our room for a night campout in the room. There were treats, activities, lanterns and even a star projector. The kids loved the set-up and Dorothy and I had a slumber party in the tent.
All was incredible, until jet lag rocked us and we were up at 3:00am. Luckily, the kids slept in and I was able to get a ton of work done for the next few hours. :)
We decided the best way to force us to stay awake was to do Disney, day 1. So we did! We ventured on the Tokyo subway and made our way to DisneySea. We wanted to do the unique activities to Disney Sea which meant spending the majority of the day in Littler Mermaid land. There was a very large section dedicated to Ariel and her under the sea family. And Dorothy was in heaven riding all the rides and playing mermaids in the indoor park. She now says that Disney Tokyo is her favorite place in the whole world. Which is way better than Chucky Cheese! lol
One of our favorite things at Disney Tokyo was all of the Japanese would would match their Disney buddies. Whether that’s a friend, boyfriend or a large group of your best gal pals, they’d match!!
We did our best to make it through the day, but it was a hot day, a crowded park and we ended up leaving around 3pm. We subway-ed home, grabbed a bite of food to eat at the hotel but when we arrived, we passed out before we could eat it! We intended to rest for just a few minutes, but were confused when Manilla woke up crying because he was still in the stroller.
I wanted to mention that we were not as well prepared for Japan as we should have been. We traveled completely by train and they have a great deal for visitors to buy a JR Pass to get all around. It’s a few hundred bucks a person, but if you’re traveling from one city to the other, you pretty much end up spending that much anyway. I was going to buy our JR Pass the day before we left. EH, WRONG! They need to mail it to you to your house outside of Japan. So yea, the ship had sailed and we didn’t haveone. I think in the end we would’ve broke even, so it wasn’t that bad of a mistake. But for future travelers to Japan: BUY YOUR JR PASS AT LEAST A WEEK IN ADVANCE!
One afternoon we set out on the train to go to the famous Harajuku street. It was such an iconic, exciting place to go. The shopping was incredible. And the food… ah the food. Every where you turn is yummy food. We loved seeing crepes sold on every corner where you order through a vending machine. We ran into a couple that recognized us from our vlog. They were traveling in Japan with their 3 young kids. We were so excited to have friends that were even from our home state of Utah! We ended up playing with them the whole next day as we ran around the city, ate out at a restaurant and found a fun local park.
Japan is so high-tech in every way of life. Whether its the vending machines, the restaurants, the transportation system and even the toilets! There are so many buttons on the toilets!
We barely scratched the surface in Tokyo. It was pretty rough with jet lag, so we didn’t get to as much as we had hopped when we had to hop on our train to go to Kyoto.
The bullet trains are FAST! The whole Japan rail system is very prompt and pretty easy to navigate. I was really surprised to see how built out everything was. I thought I’d see a bunch of rice fields once we got out of the city, but there was just town after town. Our train was supposed to be over 3 hours. After about 2 hr 10 mins, I look over at one of the stops and a large building says KYOTO. We asked the man next to us… we were IN Kyoto. Well, the trains stop for about 42 seconds, so there was no way we could’ve gotten off. So we had to ride another 25 minutes down the line in Osaka get off with the kids and all our luggage and then hop back on another train. It wasn’t that big of a deal, but stress was high that day and it was pretty annoying.
We taxied from the train station to the Ritz Carlton Kyoto. The property sits along the Kamo River and is gorgeous. It’s quite and peaceful which was very different than Tokyo. At Ritz Carlton they have something called Ritz Kids. In each location, they have a different experience for the children. Our checkin was so fun. They gave the kids safari backpacks and hats and took their pictures for their ID cards. They gave them bracelets that afforded them free ice-cream at any time! That was a huge hit!
Our room was fantastic. An adorable teepee was set up in the room and it was filled with toys. The kids don’t have many toys as we travel, so any opportunity to play with new toys is very exciting. Each day they would drop off a treat for the kids. Sometimes it was a tasty treat, other times it was some books for bedtime stories.
Our favorite part about the Ritz Carlton Kyoto was the incredible staff. Dorothy became BFFs with one of the members of their team, Joanna. Joanna was always there to greet Dorothy and wanted to play with her. She would leave Dorothy the cutest little notes.
We were so very grateful to the Ritz Tokyo for sharing with us things that our children are often lacking in our travels - books, toys, and friends!
Our favorite thing to do was to rent bikes from the hotel that had baby seats on them and cruise around town. The city is pretty small and biking was an incredible way to see it. We biked to a few of the shrines and to the Nashiki Market. The Nashiki Market quickly became one of my favorite places ever. The shopping was INCREDIBLE. So much food to try out. I could’ve spent hours walking around.
One day we went over to the Fushimi Inari shrine. The taxi dropped us off at the bottom of the hill where there was a street full of vendors. We slowly walked up about a half mile to the base of the shrine as we tried out some foods. But that day was HOT. So HOT. And both our kids didn’t want to walk. So we carried the kids through the first section of gates. We wanted so badly to hike around the entire thing. But the kids were not having it. So, we walked back.
Another incredible nearby stop was the bamboo forest. Sadly, we arrived right at 5pm and barely missed the monkeys. But the forest was beautiful. This was a hard day because both our kids were in horrible modes. We just wanted to enjoy the quiet peacefulness of the bamboo forest, instead we had cranky babies.
We are both dying to go back to Japan already. There was so much we didn’t get to experience to the fullest or experience at all, so we need to go back! I think jet lag was pretty hard on the kids this stop. Even though they slept pretty well and kept up with all the activities, their moods were pretty rough. It is clear to see how easy it would be to spend weeks exploring Japan. If you are looking for a safe, clean and new cultural experience, Japan is a GREAT CHOICE! Arigato!