Seeing the biggest city in the world in two days with a toddler is no easy challenge! Because we were short on time, and Sami was bed ridden with a sore knee, I decided we would make our Tokyo trip more for Nu rather than running around trying to see all the sites.
We stayed in a neighborhood called Roppongi, which is known for its clubs and bars, but is also a really family friendly place that’s packed with expats. Our apartment was in an old building but perfect for what we needed for a few days, and big by Japanese standards. You can check it out here. I love how no matter how small these apartments are they always have a bath. This bath was quite funny because we discovered that when empty Nu could lift it off the ground with one hand.
On our first day Nu and I went to explore our neighborhood. We went by the Snoppy Museum, saw Louise Bourgeois’ giant ‘Maman’ spider in Roppongi hills, and had some playtime at the Robot Park. This place was just packed with little ones from all over the world and Nu was in heaven. He was so tired by the time we left that he didn’t even have the energy to protest.
In the afternoon when Sami was feeling a little better we decided to visit Harajuku – the wild and wacky teen paradise of Japan. This place is full of stands selling sweet crepes, 100 yen shops and tons of stores with very eccentric clothing. There are also lots of dog clothing shops here, as there were all over Tokyo. People are obsessed with small dogs and you see them pushing them around the city in funny little dog strollers.
With the help of a few ibuprofen and an umbrella as a cane for Sami we were able to make our way over to Shibuya to see the world’s busiest crossing. Walking into this area we really felt like cattle being herded!
Just around the corner we found a 5 story Muji store that left us in awe. It had relaxation zones with calming music, beanbag chairs and aromatherapy machines, a children’s play area with a very Muji look to it, and the best part – a Muji cafe. It was like the Japanese equivalent of an IKEA outing!
The next day we visited the Fire Museum, where Nu got to go in a real helicopter and would happily have spent the entire day on the pretend fire engine. I guess we also learned a bit about fire safety in Japan!
We wandered through the streets in nearby Shinjuku, where the roads are only open to pedestrians. It felt surreal to be walking down these huge streets with the sun setting behind us and all the neon lights coming on.
I have to say that I never really liked the movie lost in translation. But now having come to Japan I can see that it’s a masterpiece and is easily one of my favourite movies.
We had mixed feelings about leaving Japan. It was cold and lonely in many ways but also so interesting and culturally rich. We loved the food, the futuristic toto toilets, the lights, and paradox of the eccentricities and traditions.
As we flew out of Japan we had one last amazing experience – we saw Mount Fuji from directly above on a perfectly clear day. It could not have been a better way to end our journey in Japan.