Tokyo is an amazing place to visit with kids. There is so much to see and do in Tokyo, 3 days wasn’t really enough in terms of checking things off my wish list but it was a good amount for my bank account. It is rather expensive compared to life in Vancouver (which is also expensive) but it is so interesting, friendly and safe.
We stayed in a great area of town near Ninchyocho station, it was very close to Ginza and the Imperial Palace. There were plenty of great shops and restaurants within walking distance. It took a few days for us to figure out the small etiquettes of daily life like walking on the left side of the sidewalk, queuing in single file and smiling and bowing to people along the way.
Our hotel room was so small which I thought would be a great Tokyo experience (and I was trying to save money even though it was still super expensive). The 2 double beds were pushed together so it was like we had 1 bed for the 4 of us. There was just enough room to walk side ways on either side of the bed. We couldn’t open all of our suitcases at the same time and there was not 1 drawer in the place that we could unpack anything. Plus, the room was full of little Japanese gifts for us – 10 pairs of slippers, 4 full pairs of pajamas, cotton swabs, hair bands, tooth brushes and toothpaste, razors, tea, coffee and so on – all displayed on the counters. For a person that has clutter issues, it could have been challenging but I was so excited to be there that none of that mattered.
Our small room got even smaller when at 3am we were all wide awake because of jetlag. Trying to keep an 8 year old boy in bed for 3 hours is not possible so we got up and went for a walk at 5am. As we left the hotel I asked the man at the desk if it was safe for me and the kids to go for a walk. He looked at me like I was crazy and said “This is Tokyo, it is safe”.
So out we went, into the clean, dark, narrow, quiet streets. We passed a few business people, many unlocked parked bikes, several glowing vending machines, and we caught a few pokemon on our way. Then we found an open 7-11 on the corner of our block. We bought a few snacks, Blake LOVED the rice, seaweed, veggie roll we found, it was like fast food sushi.
Our days quickly filled with exploring some of the more famous tourist spots like the scramble intersection at Shibuya, shopping (rather browsing shops) on Ginza, Hamarikyu gardens, Disneyland and my favourite – people watching along Takeshita Street.
The kids were great, they didn’t care where we went because most of the adventure was in getting to our location. They loved riding the subway, we sometimes had to squish into a train full of people in what seemed like matching suits, many with face masks minding their own business. Nobody seemed to notice our casual outfits (running shoes and jeans) except for us – we felt under dressed everywhere we went. The people were extremely polite, respectful and quiet.
One day we stumbled upon a Kenko Komichi structure at Hamacho Park in Tokyo. Kenko Komichi is a type of path that you walk on with different types of rocks that are designed to massage the 26 pressure points of your feet. This type of reflexology health looks simple, you take of your shoes and walk the circular path. We watched an older man circle the promenade 10 times. When he was finished we took off our shoes and tried it. Our moans and squeals seemed to be funny for him, he even got out his camera and took our picture. He made it look so easy but it was way more painful than I thought it would be.
Food was a bit of an issue for us, the kids did not want to have salad, miso soup, rice and fish for breakfast so we ended up buying togo American waffles and fruit to have in our fridge for the mornings. Ordering in restaurants proved to be difficult as well, most places had a limited English menu and it was very hard to tell from the outside of the restaurant if there would be anything the kids would like to eat. And surprisingly, not much English is spoken in Tokyo.
The best restaurant we ate at was a conveyor belt sushi restaurant. We sat at our table and ordered our food from an ipad. When the food was ready, our ipad made noise and spoke to us in Japanese that our food was being delivered. Then a train appeared from the kitchen to our table with our food. We also had the option to take any of the sushi that was randomly traveling around on a different conveyor belt if it looked tasty for us. We got to make our own green tea – each table had cups, a container of matcha, a matcha scoop and a little hot water tap. So cute! I give a huge thumbs up to conveyor belt sushi.
Unfortunately we had to go to the McDonalds next door afterwards for Jaida because she doesn’t really like sushi!