Living with intent, social engagement, learning, growing, giving
Just 3 months after returning from our 5 week adventure through Malaysia and Indonesia we have strapped our backpacks on again and this time we are spending time in Japan. Our children are now 5 and 7 and travelled well on the overnight flight. A friendly steward was concerned that we didn’t have any cash with us so I explained that I’m used to travelling everywhere by the seat of my pants and haven’t yet had any problems but then reflected that when travelling with children it’s best to be prepared! Fortunately at Tokyo airport we withdrew cash from an international ATM which are rare in Japan. We also bought fresh and lovely sushi for breakfast from a convenience store and exchanged our Japan Rail vouchers that I bought online for JR passes that allow us unlimited travel throughout Japan for the next two weeks.
At the airport station we were stuck behind some bewildered tourists and likely to miss our train if we didn’t get help so I approached a guard who looked a bit perplexed then manually opened the ticket gate to let us through. Thankfully the JR network is signposted in English as well as Japanese and we are able to negotiate our way onto 3 different trains to cross the city to our apartment. Using Air b n b I had booked us a cheap apartment on the Shinjuku side of town. We followed the instructions an eventually found the apartment. We enjoyed wandering through narrow lane ways, looking at the cramped but very clean and neat living quarters.
After squeezing our meager (cabin only) luggage into our cupboard, I mean tiny apartment, we headed back onto the JR network to explore historic Ueno. Most of the cherry blossoms (sakura) have faded but some were still blooming and Interestingly the main walkway was still lined with alcohol fueled hanami (picnics) despite the lack of blooms.
We enjoyed wandering through the food stalls on the little peninsula in the lake towards Benten shrine and sampling many lovely dishes although the prices were certainly inflated I enjoyed the festival atmosphere. We watched as traditional cooks prepared squid, fish, sweet potatoes, corn and other treats for wandering hanami revelers, weekenders, and tourists. Next we wandered through the market stalls and enjoyed sampling 5 lovely and different types of sake.
Fading fast as the difficulties of overnight travel with children engulfed us we soldiered on to explore the National Museum of Japan. The exhibition halls are lovely and the collections of Asian art are impressive. We were particularly seeking samurai armour to show our son and I was delighted to view the ancient textiles and giant painted silk scrolls. Finally we staggered our weary bodies back to our neighborhood and had a cheap and delicious meal of different Japanese dishes in a cheerful and noisy restaurant that tolerated our over tired and troublesome children.