JahBella’s Tokyo Adventure (Jul 2015) – Tsukiji Market and Hakkuhinkan Toy Park with Kids

When I told people that we were intending to holiday in Tokyo with the kids for 11 days, most were surprised and then skeptical. After all what was there to do in Tokyo with 2 kids under 4, besides the whole Disney thing and that definitely does not take 11 days. For those who are wondering or who are even considering Tokyo as a holiday destination with kids, I can assure you that we found some absolutely kid friendly stuff to do and were able to adapt some adult stuff to suit the kids. In fact we found a lot more kid friendly stuff than we eventually attempted.

Our first morning (after a full day flight and a good night’s rest) brought us to Tsukiji Market. Yes Tsukiji Market! 🙂 Joel and I really wanted to visit the fish market but were unsure if the kids could cope in that bustling, wet and chaotic environment. We decided that we did not need the ‘full experience’ of a fish market early morning auction but just really wanted to take in the touristy ‘retail’ market part of it.

We travelled relatively light with only a backpack that contained our raincoats, 2 toddler carriers as well as the spare clothes, diapers, pee bags and wipes needed by the kids.

We headed out pretty early and reached the Tsukiji Station at about 9am, from there it was a slow 5 to 10 minutes’ walk to the market. We actually took the longer route that morning because the rain threw us off and I couldn’t get my bearings despite having my Google Map in hand. I was too busy adjusting our raincoats and ensuring that everyone was as dry as they could be. However we did managed to take the shorter route when we came back a week later. 🙂

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We chanced upon a ‘fast food’ joint near Tsukiji Market and stopped for a very early brunch during our 2nd Tsukiji Market visit

Simple kiddy sets and curry rice for Bella who discovered her love for curry rice in Japan

Simple kiddy sets for Bella who discovered her love for curry rice in Japan

Running out of cash on our 2nd last day and was saved by the Suica card (similar to our EZ-link card)

Running out of cash on our 2nd last day and was saved by the Suica card (similar to our EZ-link card)

We finally got to Tsukiji Market and what is known as the Outer Market which is where all the retail touristy stuff take place. I was quite surprised that Jah and Bella were quite adventurous and were willing to try out random food that we passed.

Not so chaotic right?

Not so chaotic right?

Now what about this? :p

Now what about this? :p

Mummy!! They sell jelly beans at the fish market! Can we buy?

Mummy!! They sell jelly beans at the fish market! Can we buy?

Ice cream!!!!

Ice cream!!!!

Perfect for a hot day! Yes the 2nd trip to Tsukiji Market was blazing hot!

Perfect for a hot day! Yes the 2nd trip to Tsukiji Market was blazing hot!

We taste tested Tamagos (egg) from random stalls (these stalls are a dime a dozen) and we were so intrigued by an old couple grilling huge scallops that we had to stop to try. It helped that the stall was well-sheltered and we could take our time to finish our piping hot scallops. Jah loved it so much that he slurped every bit of it including the ‘sauce’. In fact, he loved this new found taste and food so much that we had to later stop at another shop to order a second round. This time round, we had scallops in butter as well as large oysters that were super cheap. This shop was connected to a restaurant so we were able to order drinks and beer to go with our food and we stood around a huge barrels which acted as tables. Quite the experience for the little ones! In fact the reason that we came back a second time (aside from the fact that Joel and I wanted more yummy scallops), was because Jah and Bella loved it so much that they wanted to come back too! Who would have thought right?

Bella and her tamago

Bella and her tamago

Aunty adding uni to our scallops! There were crab claws in there too!

Aunty adding uni to our scallops! There were crab claws in there too!

Time to cook it!! Yummy!

Time to cook it!! Yummy!

Mummy can I eat it already?

Mummy can I eat it already?

Scallops! Oysters! Beer!

Scallops! Oysters! Beer!

Savouring his scallops...we lost count of how many he had but we know he had most of our share

Savouring his scallops…we lost count of how many he had but we know he had most of our share

We proceeded to a random restaurant for lunch after, even though we were already quite full from all that snacking. This is supposed to be Sushi/ Sashimi restaurant paradise so I wasn’t leaving until I had my sashimi lunch. However our random lunch turned out to be really disappointing and expensive so I guess nothing to rave about here.

It was almost 11am by the time we were done with our early lunch and Jah was insisting that we  proceed to something that he wanted to do. :p A toy shop visit! So with my Google Map in hand, we made it back to the train station and headed to the Hakuhinkan Toy Park at Ginza.

Hello Little Red Riding Hood

Hello Little Red Riding Hood

Say fish!

Say fish!

Time for the Toy Store! Yay!

Time for the Toy Store! Yay!

Tsukiji Market Trip - Mission Accomplished

Tsukiji Market Trip – Mission Accomplished

Oh yes I have to share that we survived this trip by using the Google Map on my hand-phone. I used to print out hardcopy maps and pre-indicate the routes we would take. But the real-time GPS map came in very very handy! Of course you also need an internet connection which was no problem for us because we rented a wifi dongle from Changi Recommends. I love technology! :p

By the time we made it to Hakuhinkan Toy Park (It was a really long way *sweat*) It was almost 12pm and there were  levels and levels of toys at the Toy Park so needless to say the kids were occupied for quite abit. There was even a car race track that you could pay I think approximately $1 to $2 to play for about 15 minutes. The kids loved it and wanted to go many times over.

Oh wow..where do we begin?

Oh wow..where do we begin?

Choose a car..pay for your game and race away!

Choose a car..pay for your game and race away!

Bella could not resisit a few rounds too!

Bella could not resisit a few rounds too!

Jah having an absolutely tough time...

Jah having an absolutely tough time…

We eventually left Hakuhinkan Toy Park at about 2pm with our hands quite full and our pockets quite empty! :p So you have been warned! We also had to take a cab back to our hotel because there was no way I was going to struggle with cranky kids, tons of shopping bag and multiple changes at the train station. So yes if you decided to risk it and enter a toy shop like Hakuhinkan Toy Park, please be prepared to pay for a cab ride ‘home’. We paid about $60 for a 15 minutes ride from Ginza to our hotel (Hilton Tokyo Bay). We used one of those cab fare estimator website to prep ourselves so that we wouldn’t faint at the cab charges when we got to our destination. :p

More of our kid friendly Tokyo Adventure coming up soon…

In the meantime, you can read about…

JahBella’s Mummy

JahBella’s Flight to Tokyo (Our take on what flights work for toddlers/ kids)

We finally took our long waited holiday (planned almost a year in advance) to Tokyo with Jah and Bella. It was a holiday which we were very much looking forward to but at the same time really nervous about. After all it would be the first time we would be travelling as a family of 4 (with no help), travelling to a city we have never been to before (all our previous trips were to familiar places), taking our longest flight yet (8 hours compared to the previous 5 hours to Perth) and having the two kids nap and sleep in the same room for 11 days (we have never ever succeeded in having them nap in the same room EVER!!!!) Yes so alittle nervous would be an understatement..I wonder what ever propelled me to even attempt it. 😛

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All set!

All set!

So of course the first hurdle to cross would be enduring that 8 hour flight with 2 kids.! Honestly I wasn’t really worried about dealing with Jah, he is getting pretty good with this whole airplane thing and I was even contemplating doing without our CARES Harness for him. But Bella…oh Bella is a whole different deal…we don’t call her Miss Ants-in-her-pants for nothing.

Miss Ants-in-her-pants...thank goodness she was only annoying the people behind her...Jah and I!

Miss Ants-in-her-pants…thank goodness she was only annoying the people behind her…Jah and I!

Planning this trip a year in advance left us with a lot of time to second doubt our decisions. We went back and forth with our choice of airline as well as the aircraft configuration and flight timings. Yes lots of thought went into choosing the PERFECT flight and while I would say it definitely wasn’t perfect…we learnt quite abit from our choices.

AIRLINE

We had a choice between Singapore Airlines (SQ), All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines (JL). We eventually chose ANA because we wanted to experience their Dreamliners (supposed quieter cabins, ambient lighting and supposed better cabin pressure), coupled with the fact that their aircraft configuration was 2-4-2 which allowed us to take 2 seats each by the window. That benefit was eventually non-existent because ANA changed their configuration to 3-3-3 (packing in 1 more seat into their Dreamliners :/) Which meant that there was a high chance that we would be seated next to a stranger on an 8 hour flight 😦

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DCIM100GOPROGOPR0968.

Drealimer Economy Class

We were fortunate to snag a last row seat for Jah and I, which was a 2 seater and prayed very hard for Joel and Bella to have an empty seat next to them.

Jah and I had our last row 2 seater

Jah and I had our last row 2 seater

3-3-3 Config..fortunately Bella and Joel had a free seat next to them on this flight..

3-3-3 Config..fortunately Bella and Joel had a free seat next to them on this flight..not so lucky on the way back!

So how did our flight on ANA go? Joel and I had pretty different takes on it. He was really impressed by the service on ANA. He felt that it was personal without being intrusive and that the cabin crew were very ‘sincere’ and understanding when it came to their little passengers. However the food left much to be desired and I would have to agree with that.

Kids Meal

Kids Meal

Adult's Meal

Adult’s Meal

I was perhaps a little pickier than him and felt that the meal service was rather messy. I was pretty used to having the kids served first on planes so that the parents can feed them and then attend to themselves later when the kids are fed and happy to continue with their activity. However there was no such thing on ANA and we were all served at the same time. Seems like a small deal but trust me it makes a big difference to a mother trying to multi-task her kid, his food, her food, turbulence, the inflight entertainment system, blankets, pillows and seatbelts. :p That being said, the flight was relatively comfortable and all the complaints I read online about the seats being really uncomfortable because they were shell-scheme seats, well didn’t bother us. I have to say I love the ambient lighting and the fact that you can fade out the window (this meant Jah could still look out the window but we didn’t have to put up with the glare). The big spacious toilets with baby facilities were also fantastic and very well-equipped and comfortable for cleaning up the toddlers and even little kids. The window in the toilets also served as a distraction for them. :p

FLIGHT TIMINGS

So what flight timing works for toddlers and little kids you ask? Well it really depends on your kids. I know of some people who swear by red eye flights so that they get in bright and early and don’t waste a day or have to cope with wide awake kids on the flight.

We tried both types (the full day flight and the red eye flight) on this trip, for reasons that we thought were perfect. The full day flight got us into Tokyo at 7pm, in time for a nice shower and a good night’s rest before we start the day fresh. I can tell you now that the choice of a full day flight at the start of our holiday was the right one for us! We departed Singapore at 10am which meant we only had to deal with the kids for about 2 to 3 hours before they were due for their nap. We were very fortunate that they napped! Both of them! (I have a distant memory of my kids going mad on their Perth flight because they refused to nap and were high and over-stimulated from the lack of sleep..oh that distant memory….)

Awesome! 1 napping kid!

Awesome! 1 napping kid!

2nd kid napping!! This was after I successfully transferred her from my carrier to the plane seat..

2nd kid napping!! This was after I successfully transferred her from my carrier to the plane seat..

They finally woke at about 4 to 5pm (yes they slept for 3 hours!!!! I couldn’t believe it myself!!) and this meant we only had to deal with them for another 2 hours before it was time to land! So yes awesome flight choice!

Remember to bring lots of activities to keep them occupied!

Remember to bring lots of activities to keep them occupied!

We contemplated having a full day flight for our return flight but that would mean being at the airport by 9am. Perfectly do-able if we were coming from home but just too stressful a task coming off a holiday so we decided to take the red-eye flight. This gave us a full day in Tokyo with enough time for a good dinner and kids who are showered and ready for ‘bed’ on the flight. Perfect in theory for us but not so perfect in execution. We definitely appreciated the full day in Tokyo but because our flight only departed at midnight. The kids had to be up and about in the airport till that time. Bella fell asleep in her carrier from 10pm to 12 midnight and then was wide awake once we were onboard the flight. OMG! I was fortunate that at least 1 child slept (Jah slept from 1230am to 5am) and only woke because the lights came on for breakfast. We struggled with Bella and only got her to sleep momentarily. The upside to having the red eye on the return is the fact that at least we were on homeground, with two zombie-fied parents dealing with a cranky toddler and a super re-charged kid.

VERDICT

If you asked us whether we would attempt such a trip again? The answer would be yes yes yes!!! The frustrations and crankiness all become a distant memory soon enough and you know what they say..what doesn’t break you, only makes you stronger! We will probably just avoid any red eye flight options for now. :p

Stay Tuned for more posts on what we did on our Tokyo Trip with JahBella!

Stay tuned for more Tokyo Adventures!

Stay tuned for more Tokyo Adventures!

JahBella’s Mummy