Hi guys, so as promised, I’ve decided to put a stop to my unintentional blog hiatus and start on my Tokyo trip before I return to my New Zealand posts (oh my goodness, it’s been four months!)
This trip was a pretty exciting one for us – the last time K and I were in Tokyo was for our honeymoon five whole years ago, and this time we were headed back there again to celebrate Sophie’s 2nd birthday this Spring.
We had actually wanted to return far earlier but when she was younger, we faced objection from family and friends who had the usual radiation concerns, and of course we were actively trying for Number Two, so for peace of mind, we waited.
Fast forward to 2016, no number two yet, and after lots of research we decided that we were going to go anyway! I’d already been to Europe twice last year and at least once every year previously, the States was just too far to attempt with a two year old – and there we had it, tickets spontaneously booked in 2 hours!
I’m going to try to answer as many questions as possible that I’ve been asked across various social media platforms, but if you can’t find a response to your questions, please drop a comment instead 🙂
The flight there was a very comfortable just-over-six-hour journey. From our experience, we always prefer flying at night or during Sophie’s bedtime, mostly so we could catch some rest and wouldn’t have to deal with a cranky claustrophobic toddler. Unfortunately for us, Sophie-doll is still at the age where she is uninterested in the entertainment systems so until she can be kept otherwise occupied, we’re sticking to night flights!
Sophie-doll is generally a beaut at flying, we took about half an hour to settle her to sleep and she was out like a light until we arrived in Narita. Our flight back was pretty much the same, also a night flight and she also slept through most of it allowing K and I to catch a few movies, eat a full dinner and get some sleep before landing.
We also like to fly back on Fridays so we have some time to rest over the weekend and settle her back in before Monday and school comes around. We’ve made the mistake of flying back on Sundays before and its always a mad rush and very disorienting for everyone to make a immediate switch to “regular” life. 🙂
Pram or Tula?
K and I only brought along a Tula for this trip.
- Sophie will not sit in a pram unless she’s asleep. If not she will be fighting every second to get out of it.
- From our experience,the train stations in Japan don’t have very well located elevators and a few don’t have escalators (especially in the more rural areas). After dragging our Baby Zen Yoyo up and down stairs when we were in Paris until our arms ached, we were not prepared to do this again, especially when it was just the two of us.
- Again, we were travelling as just three this time so I needed to be hands-free to help with our luggage. The Tula proved to be completely invaluable for when we were dragging our luggage from train stations to our accommodation, etc. and I had peace of mind knowing exactly where she was.
- Most Japanese restaurants have little room for prams beyond the entrance.
- Most Japanese departmental stores and all the theme parks we went to provide free stroller rental
So that’s that, I guess, unless we are traveling to the States or maybe Scandinavia, I doubt we will be bringing along a pram for our travels anymore. It really is simply overwhelmingly convenient to babywear instead (not to mention, it keeps both of you toasty warm in the cold, what with all that body heat).
Narita Airport is really world class, so don’t worry! Unlike Europe, luggage trolleys are abundant, free and well-maintained. Everything is sparkling clean, including the toilets, which all have baby friendly changing facilities or a family room where you can breastfeed, prepare milk or change diapers in comfort.
We landed in Narita in the early morning exactly on Sophie Rose’s birthday so we decided to celebrate with a birthday breakfast – fluffy pancakes with custard cream. She gobbled down the entire lot. >.< It was delicious, light and sweet and paired with greek yogurt and berries. That was her first taste of Japanese produce and a sign of her crazy appetite in the days to come.
Most of the shopping and dining is on 4F – there are family-friendly restaurants, cafes, lots of shops with the usual Japanese brands (Uniqlo, Muji, etc) and a pharmacy as well as a ABC shoes Mart.
We bought all our shampoos, shower gels and milk powder at the pharmacy instead of lugging them from Singapore. I love Japanese personal care products so it was a natural and practical choice and since Mama J let us try out Meiji Cube Milk we were sold on its convenience and price point!
This is Meiji Cube Milk:
Each little hard cube of milk can make 40 ml of milk. Its so super convenient not to have an extra milk capsule taking up space in our already overflowing diaper bag. It dissolves pretty easily and Sophie-doll likes the taste well enough (we usually give her Bellamy’s in Singapore).
I would recommend this for travelling, we bought back quite a few boxes to hoard for our next trip 🙂 You can find it at almost all pharmacies in the baby section, or at Don Quijote.
Where we stayed
Apartments or serviced apartments are really the only option for us now that we travel with Sophie. We need to have a washing machine and dryer because her clothes need to be washed regularly, and a small, well equipped kitchenette to prepare simple meals as well as a fridge to store produce. It really makes so much more sense than to cram into a tiny hotel room with no amenities and extra charges for laundry 🙂
We decided to stay in Naka-meguro for our first Tokyo leg thanks to M, my sister’s friend and it was a great decision. The area is quiet, very safe and mostly local Japanese families with young children. There was a huge Don Quijote where you can get all your groceries, sundries and more within walking distance of our apartment. While it was quite a long walk (10 minutes) to the nearest metro (which leads immediately to all the main stations), it was a gorgeous walk past the scenic Meguro River, schools and parks.
The area also has many quirky shops selling curated local items as well as organic, seasonal restaurants. In fact, we decided to have dinner on Sophie’s birthday at Mother Esta (pictured), which I’ll share more about in my next post!