12 Travel Tips for Parents when visiting Japan

After returning from our second holiday in Japan (now affectionately known as our “Japanniversary”), I have some handy tips for all of you parents out there to save you time, energy, frustration or embarrassment for your visit to Japan. On this visit we were able to spend time again in Osaka and Kyoto, as well as Nara. Next trip we’re hoping to head to Kobe, up to Sapporo, and most probably to visit our pen pals in Osaka again.


Points for Parents;

  1. Stay hydrated! Since we spent most of our days walking with our eyes wide open and concentrating on the sights and our senses were occupied, we didn’t drink enough and this may effect the little ones more than you. Just a word though, the tap Water is chlorinated, within “safe” levels.
  2. Everything regarding the public transport is so efficient – don’t stuff it up by standing on the left or boarding before others leave the train/bus.
  3. Nishiki Markets in Kyoto are a must do as well but if you have more than 2 small children consider giving it a miss if they can’t handle squashy crowds. Samples and demonstrations are plenty and the food range is awesome.
  4. Proteins & fats are hard to come by  in restaurants and more expensive in supermarkets – considering that weight training and daily movement are part of our family lifestyle, we generally do well on consuming more protein and fats. However, staples for the Japanese are predominantly carbohydrates so bear this in mind. We took along some hydrolysed collagen to help out. Super greens won’t hurt either if you’re used to eating a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables and won’t have access to your own kitchen.
  5. If you’re a coffee snob like myself, consider taking along an aeropress and your own ground coffee if you’ll have access to a kettle. ‘%’ coffee in Arashiyama is excellent, but be prepared to wait atleast 30 minutes as the line often twists out the door & around the corner. ‘LILO Coffee’ in Amerikamura (Osaka) is also a must for coffee lovers.
  6. Teach your children manners – it is normal for people in Japan to be respectful and display manners and courtesy at all times. If you show and teach your children what is acceptable, you’ll find the experience all the more pleasant.
  7. If you’re heading to Osaka an absolute MUST is to take your children to the Kids Plaza Osaka! Perfect on rainy days it’s a 3 level discovery & play Centre you could probably spend 3 days in if they wanted to experience each activity to its fullest. Ages 3 & up is best I think, however there are stations for babies/toddlers which are lovely too. Nature, Science, Culture, Technology, Imagination… everything is physically and mentally engaging. Perfect. The ticket price is more than worth it and well within budget! The link is here; http://www.kidsplaza.or.jp/en/
  8. Another few awesome attractions are the Arashiyama Monkey Park (Arashiyama is approx 25/35minute bus ride from Kyoto) a 160m climb with a mountain top park which protects Japanese Macaques, and Nara Park (5 minutes walk from Nara train station) which is filled with temples, museums, historical buildings, and wild deer roaming free. A word of warning – please please please pay attention to the signage with instruction on how to treat the animals – we witnessed a number of close calls simply because people ignored warnings. They are still wild animals. Make sure you and your children respect them, please. Then there’s the Osaka Castle and citizens park – so much to see in the grounds & surrounds as well as the brilliance of the castle itself.
  9. Be aware of smoking & non smoking in restaurants – if this is an issue for you please keep an eye out for the ash trays on tables, especially if you’re not confident with your pronounciation of “can we have non-smoking please”, or don’t recognize the characters. A positive note though, in public areas and all playgrounds there are designated “Manners Stations” where smokers must smoke – I love these as it’s easy to move your children from those areas when smokers arrive.
  10. Kimonos versus Yukatas – so both are traditional dress however the Kimono is more formal and the Yukata more casual. For both males & females of all ages. But be aware, Kimonos can be worn incorrectly which may offend, so if you’re hiring one please have the attendant dress you or help you. Kimonos are also considerably more expensive and custom made to order according to your social status. The Yukata is much more affordable (and easier to put on) as a souvenir if you’re wanting to purchase something like that. Prices range from $45aud and up where as Kimonos start in the 100’s and 1000’s. 

    The Yukata is more casual

  11. Dining – everywhere is good. Haha! Some better than others but if you’ve never been to a “real” automated sushi train please do – the kids will love using the screen/tablet to order and the speed at which the made-to-order dishes come along the track.
  12. Take a phrase book or app – as with most countries, an attempt to speak the language is welcomed and often you’ll be able to get by piece by piece even if the person you’re speaking to doesn’t know any English.

I highly recommend Japan as a destination so please go and please enjoy! 

Xx C

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Family Holiday Winner: New Zealand

I’m a little behind on this post, and I can’t find most of the pictures that go with it since my computer died last week 😦 Actually, the four of us went last year in April of 2015 to Auckland (North Island), and before that when we were a little family of three it was 2012, not too long after the earthquakes when we visited the South Island. Before that it was the first leg of our 12 month honeymoon 10 years ago so the adventures were slightly different 😉 And yet we still haven’t been during snow season!! Lol


Being from Australia, there isn’t too much of a language problem, but as far as traveling with children goes, the Maori homeland, place names and signage as well as heavy cultural art infusion into every day life is exciting!

To make it easier I’ll blurb on about Auckland and then Christchurch. Each holiday was 10-14 days as that was our availability at the time, but being so close (3-ish hours flying from Australia) it’s a nice getaway with cultural and scenic inspiration, which is what we look for when traveling as a family.


Auckland (North Island)

As I said before, we stuck around each of the main cities simply because we only had a short visit. But mind you, most adventures are never far away. The things I like about Auckland were; museums and art centers – always with a children’s exhibit or interactive experience. The Maritime museum was particularly good! Next was food – cafe and fine dining, if within your budget were also impressive, but aside from those the market eats are also hearty, fresh, and unique. The scenery is breathtaking, boat/ferry rides, hillside farms coated in morning dew, street art, kayaking, protected reef tours, magnificent beaches. NewZealand  has a lot to offer and apart from some of the extreme adventure sports the kids can join in pretty much everything with you.

The day to day expenses are pretty much on par with Australia (no surprise there) but like in Oz you can save by selecting self catering accommodation options. We tend to stay with friends, use Air BnB, or go for simple hotels. 


Christchurch (South Island)

We had a blast here – tailoring a lot of activities to “family outdoorsy” stuff. We hired a car and hopped between the main city, the Rare Breeds Farm Stay, and an organic small farm bnb where we slept in a yurt. 

It was such a contrast to see the city half up, and half in ruins after the earthquakes. Heartbreaking to feel the low energy of some of the people trying to rebuild what was lost, but still the same famous smiles, service and hospitality of the friendly Kiwis. 

We enjoyed the botanic gardens immensely, and simple dining while in town. However the real treats were the Rare Breed Farm Stay and the Organic Family Farm. 

Imagine sleeping cosy in a converted barn in the middle of a farm with fields of Alpacas, Llamas, goats, chickens, rabbits, furry pigs, and more. An absolute treat for kids! You get a tour, the opportunity to feed the animals and learn, and genuine smiles from the hosts Chris and Elaine. Some of the breeds are so rare and some so unusual they were even used in the Lord of the Rings films. Just Google ‘Warwickz Farm Stay New Zealand’ 😉

During our stay at the organic farm we went sight seeing to the bays (and funnily enough could really notice the French influence) but also were able to dig up fresh potatoes, cook in the outdoor kitchen, and relax in the funky but fabulous yurt. We could enjoy the shared space (think drums, books, mats, music, guitars) and My family also loved the outdoor shower with a fantastic view – so much fun – and extra breezy!

Another hit with tourists is also the natural hot springs although we didn’t get there.

So whether you’re tripping around or just hitting the snow I highly recommend NZ for a family holiday! Friendly, beautiful, numerous family friendly activities, unique arts, crafts and fashion shopping, prominent culture offerings, and adventure activities. Win win win 😉

Sorry I have zero photos because as I said, dead computer and yes, I’m crying inside.
Happy holidays! The next review on the list will be Brisbane, Australia.

Xx

This was me for 5 years – alone.

The Mum without the village, or support network to raise a child. This was me for 5 whole years.

Read this perfectly put piece by Mom.me about when you’re the Mom with no “Village”. http://mom.me/baby/31807-moms-without-village/

It was hard. The traveling was mind blowing and I think during that time I did a damn fine job of raising our children without a support network (hubby did help where he could ) but boy did I find out what I was missing once I grew one! A support network that is 😉

I might add though that my first born had certain sensitivities which meant she only wanted me and didn’t trust (for want of a better term) anyone else. My world changed once she was happy with other safe adults!

Click through and have a read xx

Family Holiday Winner: Osaka, Japan

  We recently enjoyed our 10 year wedding anniversary trip to Osaka, Japan. The brilliant part of it was that we took our two twinkle tots along with us! 

Thankfully, one of the Australian airlines was having a “return for free” flight sale and we’ve been waiting some time to go to Japan but it never suited our situation. However, when I stumbled upon the flight sale we thought “Why not?!”.

Initially I was reserved because my youngest child had never been to a country where English wasn’t the first language, and coupled with that, she’s one of those “free spirited” (read: runs climbs and jumps everywhere while selectively being deaf to the word ‘no’) types of toddlers. Yes my first born travelled a lot at that age but she was a different little person altogether and I knew I was up for a challenge with my second. 

It turns out I needn’t have worried! It was incredibly safe!

We spent the majority of our time based in Osaka, with two days in Kyoto. We moved along nicely at child pace and enjoyed the amazing foods, scenery, city, and peoples of Japan.

   
    
 
If you’re looking for a family friendly destination with a culture change, do visit Japan. The people were unbelievably friendly, helpful, respectful, and beautiful. The food was fantastic even at the “cheaper” market stalls, you’re never far from something beautiful; castles, mountains, food, fashion, architecture… One of my favorite places to travel! The transport is remarkably punctual, neat, clean and reliable – a bonus when traveling with children!

   
    
   
I could add thousands of pictures but then this page would never load!

Before you go, remember to spend some time practicing your Japanese phrases and learning common courtesy. The local children will love to practice their English with you and it’s certainly nice to practice Japanese with bright smiley children! Encourage your children to do the same – it will really make your trip more rewarding! 

And another awesome thing – there are playgrounds in the airport so the children can use up their energy before the long flight! Bliss!

I’m planning to add a few more destinations to my Family Holiday Winner list so keep an eye out for those!

Until next time – happy travels!!