Thursday, April 30, 2015

Six Days in Honshu

1 May 2015, Home.

Despite all our good intentions, we didn’t manage to write a single blog during this trip. Why? We were simply having way too much FUN!

With the exception of two specific ‘kid attractions’ and a visit to Mt Fuji, this trip was largely one of revisiting places we had been to before. The FUN element was totally down to our granddaughter, Abby. From the moment she jumped into her seat on the plane, to our early morning return, she was full-on.

Visits to Tokyo DisneySea and Kidzania were, of course, her favourites, but she was more than happy to explore the city, the trains, shrines and temples as well.

We wish we had been able to capture her expression when we arrived at Shinagawa station at around 10:00pm on the first night of our trip. Sheer terror would probably sum it up. The station was extremely crowded with streams of dark-suited business people rushing in all directions. Her next shock was the size of our apartment which was  just a 2 minute walk from the station. She had been warned that it was small, but the fact that Paul could almost touch both walls with his out stretched arms, left her gasping. 

Coolangatta Airport


'Joycity Apartment 704' Shinagawa

By the next morning we had settled in well, managing not to step on each other during the night.
We had pre-paid our tickets to DisneySea which meant we were in no rush, which was a good thing because we had to negotiate several line changes to get there. Abby adjusted quickly to the train system, even dealing with the incredible push of people in the stations. By the time we got to the Disney Resort she was jumping about like her little brother, 'jumping' Jack. Very ‘un-cool!’

Pluto and Friends
Two 'Incredibles'
Rides and attractions were very crowded, with over an hour’s wait being common. However, there was plenty to do in between rides with shops galore and characters, both the Disney ones and the Japanese visitors, roaming about. Japanese of all ages love to dress up and a visit to Disneyland seems to provide the ideal opportunity to go all out! Groups of friends and families don often bizarre outfits and run about giggling like 6 year olds. The worst of all are 20 something girls!
Abby finished the day with her own special Disney outfit!

Mini Abby
 Our plans for the next four days revolved around the JR Kanto Pass. This three day pass allowed us to travel throughout the central Honshu area on the JR East network. At $83 for adults and $42 for children, the Kanto Pass was fantastic value. One day trip to Nikko on the shinkansen would have cost us $120 return each, half price for Abby.

We split our time between two days in Tokyo and two day trips, one to Mt Fuji and one to the temples of Nikko, using one of our three Kanto Pass days for free travel around Tokyo on JR lines. For the metro trains we used the Suica pre-paid card.

Abby & Mama, Tori Gate, Meiji Shrine
 On our Tokyo days we hit the usual tourist sites, Asakusa , Harijuku, the Ginza (by night), Akihabara, the Imperial Palace, the Museum of Technology and Innovation and our personal favourite, The Big Poo, which is actually the company logo of the Asahi Brewing Company.

Ginza by night
Abby driving the Swan paddle boat
Mt Fuji
Abby Mt Fuji
Abby & Grandpa waiting for a train (again!)
The keen photographer
Eating out, Shinagawa

Handstand at the Imperial Palace

Abby driving the Swan paddle boat

Abby & Mama, Nikko
Shinkansen Fan
Stone lanterns, Nikko

Abby and the Big Poo, Asakusa
Abby, the seasoned commuter
Temple, Nikko
On our last day we visited Kidzania, an attraction that Abby had found on the internet. Kidzania is a kid sized city where children sign up for jobs that they would like to try out. They earn money which can later be spent at the Kidzania Store. The day we visited was supposed to be a day when activities were provided in English. As it turned out, most of the activities Abby had chosen weren’t in English. She adjusted quickly and managed to experience work in a hospital, a veterinary surgery, a photo studio and a TV studio.
Photographer, Kidzania
Making an advertisement, Kidzania
Nursery Nurse, Kidzania

This is the first time we have travelled with children since we took our own kids around Europe in a campervan in 1987-88. Like her father, uncle and aunt, Abby was a great travelling companion. We had a great time and we know she did!

The 'frequent flyer'

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Ready to GO!

This will be our fourth trip to Japan. This time we are taking our ten year old grand-daughter Abby on her first trip to Tokyo.
We have all spent many months working on a 'kid friendly' itinerary and we think we will have enough of a balance between what Abby wants to do and what we would like her to do!
For starters, we have rented an apartment in Shinagawa, just a stone's throw from the station. As with most Tokyo lodgings, it looks extremely small! But it has two beds, a bathroom, small kitchen and a washing machine. To top it off there is a 7 Eleven under the building, so all will be fine.
Japanese Rail (JR) has a 3 day rail ticket for the Kanto Region around Tokyo, so we'll grab one of those each when we arrive in Narita to give us the opportunity to see some of central Honshu. The rest of the time we plan to spend in Tokyo to take in Tokyo Disney Sea, Kidzania and a few other kid friendly attractions.
Abby is a keen (read fanitical) gymanist, so expect to see her doing handstands all over Tokyo and central Honshu!