Lexi and I celebrated our eighth anniversary and, through coincidence rather than good planning, we marked the occasion by wandering around Tokyo, stuffing our faces with ramen, and enjoying the 16 degree temperature differential between Melbourne and this part of Japan.
We’ve been staying in the neighbourhood near the Gotanda Station which is a nice little zone. It’s a little quieter than the madness of Shibuya, but only a few stops away on the Yamanote line.
I’d forgotten that each station in Japan has its own little jingle to remind you to get off. I’ve had the Gotanda one stuck in my head for days now.
It’s our first overseas holiday since the kid showed up and we weren’t quite prepared for how hard it would be with a boundary-testing one year-old. We choose Japan as our destination partly because it eliminated a whole host of baby-related worries: clean water, same time zone, good infrastructure, and it’s pretty much the safest place on earth if you don’t count natural disasters.
Japan suffers in other ways though. It’s pretty hard to find safe spaces for him to just run around and trash shit (which he seems to need to do for 8–10 hours a day), party because there are people everywhere. We’ve spent a fair bit of time finding kid-friendly zones and the best spots so far have been Muji in Shibuya where there’s a little enclosed playground, the gardens of the Imperial Palace (where the kid was mobbed by photo-taking gawkers), and the toy section of the Takashimaya Department store in the centre of Tokyo. We also paid a visit to the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre which was a big hit, but pretty pricey.
Our Airbnb is also a single room apartment, about a quarter of the size of the house he’s used to destroying. Safe to say the iPad we filled with apps before we left has been worth its weight in gold. And, in a city where space is at a premium, it’s a little hard to find cafes and restaurants that can squeeze in a stroller, never mind one inhabited by an approaching bedtime toddler.
My advice to new parents would be to take as many holidays as possible while they’re still in the immobile-blob phase. Thankfully we’re now holed up in the 100 year-old Fujiya Hotel in Hakone which has giant Overlook-esque halls that he can roam safely without getting run over by rush-hour bike traffic.
What a pity we didn’t go to Europe. It looks like the Katla volcano might erupt, which would likely have stranded us there for a month or more.
Juno is really starting to show us what Jupiter is really made of. The first fly-by over the planet’s poles seem to show “like nothing we have seen or imagined before”.