We loved trying all the various street foods. The “patat-tornado” was one of the favourites.Dragon, cherry tree and temple all in one photo. Heian Shrine. Looks very peaceful in this photo. But there were about 10,000 people next to me taking pictures and admiring the view.Girls purchased Made in Kyoto purses. Amazing how a new purse can put a little hop in your step.Every morning the kids walked over to the local playground to mingle with the local children. They drew together, played football and exchanged chewing gum. It was a highlight of their day.Preserved veggies in the Nishiki Market in Kyoto. They look like they’re buried in sand but one man told me it was a sort of rice flour.Kids favorite snack in Japan. Pickled cucumber on a stick.Babies love Tom. This one spent half an hour showing him places on the map.These flowers smelled heavenly.Cherry blossom blizzard.Now back to Italy. We’ll miss Japan and the lovely people who live there.
On bike ride around Kyoto. Many temples/shrines were visited, many kilometres were cycled. And there was only one small accident involving Chloe (surprise) and a pile of garbage bags.At the entrance to Fushimi Inari Shrine. The colours were so vibrant.Four kilometer walk up the mountain under thousands of red gates (at Fushimi Inari). On the way back down the path.Cherry blossom bee.Very old door at Nijo Castle.A visit to the world famous Zen Garden of Ryonji.
Luckily for once I was actually looking in front of me while biking. This could have had a painful ending.
We have made it to Kyoto and the cherry blossoms are about a day or two away from peak blossom. We have rented a little traditional Japanese house in the center of the city and are enjoying the tatami rooms, futons and kotatsu (low japanese table with heater underneath). MANY photos of cherry blossoms to come!
The famous Japanese “fish cake” (bento box lunch in the Shinkansen train).Most delicious breakfast made by dear friend Kumi. Mini pickled fish, rice balls with seaweed, seafood salad, fresh fruit and her favorite fruit cake recipe from Anne of Green Gables.Hike up mountain in Kakogawa. Walking sticks are offered at beginning of path.Mini matcha tea ceremony at top of mountain.Beautiful views, great friends and delicious Japanese sweets. Perfect day.Rest time (note to self…talk to kids about posture).
Japanese train station fast food. I think they’re onto something.Meeting little daughter of friend. They didn’t speak a common language but ended up communicating through the art of origami! Hundreds of paper cranes, balls, frogs, pianos and ninja stars were made.
Vending machine culture. Everywhere
Off to Mount Fuji.
Best tofu ever. And this from a girl who is not so keen on tofu.Eating “Japanese Pizza” with our dear friend Masako.Trying on a traditional kimono.So tight.
Mount Fuji and kimonos. We saw Fuji from just about every angle and it was absolutely stunning.
Visit to the Edo-Tokyo Museum. Luckily we met a friend of a friend there and she guided us around the entire museum and made the visit so interesting for both us and the kids.
Walking to the train station after a delicious soba noodle lunch (in typhoon winds and rain).
Fell in love with this shop.
Visited exhibit by South Korean artist Lee Bull at the Mori Art Museum. Pretty amazing.
Greetings from Tokyo! We made it safe and sound and have even experienced our first earthquake.We visited the Meiji Jingu Temple located in Yoyogi Park. Nico decided to write a prayer for the prayer wall. I don’t know what he wrote but he did ask me how to spell dream and mother. The prayer wall. Most people wrote wishes for loved ones or world peace.Other people were a bit more specific.Barrels of sake offerings for the enshrined deities.Our first kimono sighting in the Harajuku district.Visit to the 45th floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Tower. Great panoramic views of the city and even Mount Fuji in the distance.
In a few days we are leaving for a family vacation to Japan. Yes…Japan! Every time I say that to someone there are one of two reactions. First one being “Are you nuts! It’s full of radiation and earthquakes over there!”. The second being ” Wow you guys must be rich”.
As for going to a place that is laden with dangers such as earthquakes, tsunamis and radioactive veggies, I’m pretty sure we’ll be fine. At the moment there is no official warning against traveling to Japan and we figure if Japan is okay for 127 million people to live in then it’s okay for us to visit for two weeks. Plus, the Japanese tourist economy needs all the help it can get at the moment.
As for the second reaction that we get when we tell people that we are traveling to Japan, we’re not rich. We’re very fortunate but we work hard to be able to do these sorts of trips with our family. And as everyone knows, Japan is known to be one of the most expensive places to travel in the entire world.
Luckily we got some really great prices on our flights (because nobody seems to want to go there since the tsunami). It literally cost us half of what we pay to visit family in Canada every year. We booked these tickets in September and paid for them right away. That’s our whole theory on organising these big trips. Pay everything slowly over time. Here’s a break down of how we organised our Japan trip.
September: book and pay for flights to Tokyo
December: book and pay for train passes (which unfortunately cost the same as the flights!)
February: book and pay for some of the hotels (if possible)
So by the time we actually leave for our trip most of the big expenses are paid off and we don’t have to even think about it.
The other thing that is a big help is to slowly save spending money over the same amount of time. This time we used a lovely little red Piggy Bank that we had bought at a Frida Kahlo exhibit in Milan years ago. I wanted a place to collect money that we couldn’t touch after it was put in (you know…to pay the water guy or the plumber when I accidentely have an empty wallet).
So over the months we would put in 5 euro here, 20 euro there. A few times we put in bigger amounts as well (Christmas gifts from family etc). The kids even put in the odd euro coin when they had it as well. In the end that pig became a small part of our daily routine..get home from busy day, put down purse, dump any extra change or bills into pig.
And it worked my friends! Over the months we saved up enough to pretty much pay for our spending money for the two weeks that we’ll be in Japan.
Last week we made the whole smashing of the Piggy Bank into a family event. We all gathered around a table with the pig and a wooden mallet. We were all feeling pretty bad to have to smash such a lovely piggy bank but we were all curious enough to see what was inside that in the end we even had fun doing it.
Japan has always been a country that has intrigued me on so many levels. The cuisine, the history, the culture, the art, the religion. I’m really looking forward to experiencing it all and feel so fortunate to have quite a few Japanese friends who will be showing us around. Many photos and travel stories to come!