Japan June 2016

June 23, 2016 - July 7, 2016
Thursday, June 23Flight Bilbao, Spain - Frankfurt, Germany - Tokyo, Japan
Friday, June 24TOKYO - KYOTO
Arrival in Tokyo, Train Tokyo - Kyoto
Saturday, June 25CENTRAL KYOTO
Nishiki Market, Ponto-cho, Outside of Nishi Hongan-ji Temple
Tenryuji Temple, Bamboo Groves, Togetsukyo Bridge, Iwatayama Park (Monkey Park), Fushimi Inari Shrine
Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Ninen-zaka street, Ishibei-koji street, Maruyama-koen Park, Gion, Nanzen-ji Temple, Tetsugaku-No-Michi Trail / Philosopher's Path, Outside of Honen-in Temple
Tuesday, June 28NARA
Nara Park, Todaiji Temple
Wednesday, June 29NORTHERN KYOTO
Kinkakuji, Kodomo Miraikan Indoor Playground, Outside of Imperial Palace
Kyoto Tower, Daitoku-ji, Ginkaku-ji, Tetsugaku-No-Michi Trail / Philosopher's Path, Honen-in Temple, Nishi Hongan-ji Temple
Friday, July 1KYOTO - TOKYO
Train Kyoto - Tokyo, Ginza
Saturday, July 2CENTRAL TOKYO
Tsukiji Fish Market, Imperial Palace East Gardens, Ueno Park
Kaminarimon, Sensoji Temple, Nakamise Dori, Asakusa, Shibuya, Indoor playarea Ebisu Garden Place
Monday, July 4DISNEYLAND
Tokyo Disneyland
Tuesday, July 5WESTERN TOKYO
Meiji Shrine, Takeshita Dori, Shibuya
Wednesday, July 6ODAIBA
Odaiba, Aneby Trimpark Play Center
Thursday, July 7Flight Tokyo, Japan - Munich, Germany - Bilbao, Spain

Resting on the steps outside of Honen-in Temple This was an incredible, wonderful, amazing and unforgettable trip!!! I don't know if it's because Japan is so beautiful or if it's because I haven't done a trip like this in a while (I think it's both), but I had the best time.

Japan is a very beautiful and surprising country. It's always been a place that I've wanted to visit, and was a little worried that with my expectations I would be let down once there. Well, that didn't happen...the people are polite and extremely helpful, the landscapes are breath-taking and the food is delicious.

Our first adventure...getting to our Kyoto apartment
1st night outIt was quite the adventure to get to our apartment the first night. We flew into Tokyo and from there took the train to Kyoto. We'd planned on taking the fast train to Kyoto, which was only going to take 2hrs 40min. But, we were in such a daze and not thinking after our long, sleepless flight that we got on the first train to Kyoto that we saw. Big mistake!!! We got on a train that took 4hrs to get to Kyoto. With being exhausted and our 2 tired and antsy kids it was a VERY long train ride.

When we finally got to Kyoto Central Station, we then had the task of finding the office where we needed to pick up our keys. Since our train arrived at 6:11pm and the office closed at 6pm, we had to find the office mailbox where the keys would be left. Even with the help of Google maps, for the life of us we could not find the office. We asked people for help, walked around looking for street maps and addresses, but the train stations are so big, and there are so many exits that we ended up walking around for an hour and 45 minutes looking for the building where the mailbox was. And, literally, the building was a 2 minute walk from the main exit of Central Station.

Once we found the mailbox and got the keys, we needed to find the apartment. With the map that was left with the keys the apartment building was supposed to be across the street from where we were. But, it was dark and the buildings are so close together and don't have clear signs, that it took us another 15 minutes to find the building (with the help of a girl who walked us to the building).

When we went up to the apartment and put the key in the door, guess what...it didn't open. The keys did not work. They had given us a map with the wrong apartment number. Luckily during this whole adventure, the girls had fallen asleep in the strollers, so they didn't even realize that we were having troubles finding the apartment (and we didn't have to deal with cranky kids as well as being frustrated because we just wanted to find the apartment and be done with the "getting there" part). I felt so helpless and lost...Satcha was convinced that we were going to have to find a hotel for the night!!!

After finally getting things worked out, we got to the apartment (which was very nice, by the way), dropped our stuff off and went to get some dinner. During our walk around the Kyoto streets we saw a McDonald's close by, and since it was already 8:30pm, we were all tired, the girls had been through a very long trip (flight, train, and finding the apartment), Satcha and I decided that it would be best to get some chicken nuggets and french fries and have a happy and relaxing dinner. As we were eating our McDonald's dinner, we looked at each other and laughed...we'd come all the way to Japan to eat at McDonalds!!!! But, tomorrow was another day to start fresh and start our Japan experience!!!!

Fushimi Inari ShrineIn Kyoto we did temple visits, we went to the Nishiki Market, Ponto-cho area, Nara, Kyoto Tower, Bamboo Groves, Iwatayama Park (Monkey Park) and Fushimi Inari Shrine. All of the temples we visited were beautiful. The Bamboo Groves were so pretty, we walked along the path that ran through the middle of all of the bamboo trees. Fushimi Inari Shrine was my favorite of all of the sights we saw in Kyoto. All of the red posts lined up are so pretty and beautiful to walk through.

Kodomo Miraikan indoor playgroundWhile we were in Kyoto we also went to the Kodomo Miraikan indoor playground. It was a very rainy day, and it was the 5th day that we were in Japan. The girls were being so good, and putting up with the visits we'd been doing and sights we'd been seeing. So, Satcha and I decided that we'd go to this indoor playground and let Maya and Noa have a play day. This was so much fun. The smiles on both their faces and seeing them have so much fun running and playing was the best. This indoor playground had everything, an area for babies, a play kitchen, puzzle area, slides, rocking horses, a ball pit and so much more. And it was all wooden, which was really pretty. We all had such a fun day. And, it was also my birthday, so it was the best way to celebrate, watching my 2 girls have fun.

Birthday hugsAfter the day at the indoor playground we went back to the apartment where Satcha, Maya and Noa sang happy birthday to me and helped me blow out a candle. They gave me presents and big birthday hugs. When they went to bed, Satcha and I had a delicious sushi take out dinner!!!

After spending 6 full days in Kyoto we took the bullet train (this time the right one, only taking 2hrs 40min!!!) to Tokyo. The apartment owners picked us up from the train station and took us to the apartment, which was really nice of them after our apartment finding adventure in Kyoto!!! In Tokyo we walked around Ginza, Tsukiji fish market, Ueno Park, we visited temples, saw and walked the Shibuya crossing, went to Odaiba and went to Tokyo Disneyland.

GinzaTokyo reminded me a lot of New York City. It's a big city with skyscrapers, huge streets, the Ginza area which is like 5th Avenue, Shibuya which is like Times Square and huge green parks in the middle of the city. It's fun.

Picture with Mickey MouseWe spent one day at Tokyo Disneyland. How fun!!!! Maya LOVED it!!! She saw Minnie Mouse, she went into Goofy, Minnie and Mickey's house and Donald's boat, we took a picture with Mickey (which Noa did not like at all!!!) and had fun on the rides (Maya loved the Mad Tea Party ride and Noa loved the It's A Small World ride). We ended the day seeing the Electrical Lights Parade and, unfortunately for Maya, the fireworks. It was a very hot, humid, exiting and enjoyable day for everyone!

Sushi, Sushi, Sushi!!!During the entire trip I enjoyed the food. It was all so delicious. We had breakfasts in the apartment, (coffee, cereal, pastries, etc.) that we bought at the supermarkets and then we ate out for lunches and some dinners. It was hard eating out with Noa (She gets very anxious when she's hungry and it's time to eat and starts screaming, and she doesn't want to sit still for long. So, it was a little stressful going to restaurants with her), so we did most dinners at the apartments. We went food shopping and got fish, steak, chicken, etc. for the girls and cooked in the apartments. And then Satcha and I would get take-out. It was a lot less stressful and everyone enjoyed their dinners.

Everything we ate was so delicious. We had tempura, udon (noodles), rice bowls, grilled crab and squid on sticks, sushi and steak.

My two favorite meals were: in Tokyo, I ate the most delicious sushi that I've ever tasted. The apartment owner recommended a take-out sushi stand, Chiyoda Sushi, across from the Tsukiji fish market. 4 of the 6 nights that we were in Tokyo, we got sushi from this stand. YUMMY!!!! And in Odaiba we went to a shopping mall food court where I got tempura with udon and a soft boiled egg in a broth. DELICIOUS!!!

Travelling with kids
Todaiji TempleI thought this trip was going to be very tiring and difficult travelling with the 2 girls. But, it wasn't as difficult as I thought and it was so much fun going on this kind of trip with them. We did get up early, Noa would wake us at 6:30am-ish most mornings, but I got sleep at night, so it wasn't that tiring (The all-inclusive trip to Riviera Maya was much more tiring for me than this trip was...Noa was waking 2-3 times a night then, and on this trip she slept through the night).

Both girls were so wonderful and well behaved. Obviously we planned the days and sightseeing to be things that everyone could enjoy, and there were some things we couldn't do (like walk the entire loop of the Fushimi Inari Shrine due to the steepness and steps). But, it was fun seeing Japan through a kids eyes, too. We played red light/green light and hide-and-seek at temples, jumped off temple steps, used temples as stages and had lots of ice cream and treat breaks.

Playing in the rocks at the Nishi Hongan-ji TempleThis was the first trip where I saw that Maya knew she was in a different country. When people would talk she would ask what they were saying because she didn't understand. She learned some Japanese words (konnichiwa, arigato, kimono, sayonara). And she started bowing her head with her hands together in a praying position like she saw people doing at the temples.

For Noa it was a little more difficult. She's in a phase where she wants to move, crawling or walking with help, and since we had to do so much walking, we had her in the stroller a lot. But, I think she had fun, too. She liked going to the different indoor playgrounds and playing with the Japanese kids. And she loved looking at the trains.

I think this was a good experience for both girls and I'm so happy we decided to do this trip.

Bamboo GrovesI had the most wonderful time on this trip and it bums me out that it's over. I have such great memories that I can't wait for our next trip and adventure!!!

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