During the summer, my family went on a two week vacation to Tokyo and Hawaii. We were heading to Hawaii for my cousin's wedding, but my husband thought 13 days might be too long in one place so he suggested we go to Tokyo for the first week. It's pretty crazy to think about all the hours we would be spending on a plane, with a toddler at that, but YOLO. Delta was having a great sale for Hawaii flights so we booked our tickets from FLL to HNL for $617 per person before we decided on Tokyo. We booked roundtrip tickets to Tokyo from Honolulu on Korean Air. We would spend 22 hours in Honolulu before flying out to Tokyo and returning on the 13th.
Before an overseas trip, my husband and I like to research places to stay and places to go. Apparently, as Trip Advisor members point out, Japan is very strict about how many people can stay in a room. We didn't want to do anything we weren't supposed to do and I was having a hard time finding a concise answer to whether a family of four (with children being 9 and 2) could stay in one room together. We decided on the Cerulean Tower Hotel in Shibuya because the location was great and Shibuya Station was a 5 minute walk (thank you to this youtube video). I corresponded with them via email regarding which rooms would be available for our family. They were very responsive and helpful! We chose to stay in a sky view king bedroom with a rollaway bed added. Most hotels in Tokyo are tiny (think 100 sq.ft.) but Cerulean is more in line with western hotels and our room was over 300 sq.ft. The service is impeccable here and wifi is free! There's even a 7-11 on the 2nd floor.
My cousin recommended that we exchange our USD to JPY while in Hawaii for a better rate. We went to Pacific Money Exchange in Waikiki. They were kind enough to give us the kama'aina rate (local rate) because we have family in town, $1 to 124 JPY (versus the regular rate of 123 JPY).
Tokyo is a beautiful city, but it is not a completely stroller friendly city and we have a 2 year old. Elevators are so hard to find and you may find yourself having to carry your stroller up and down a flight of stairs. Luckily, our stroller is compact. My husband either carried it with Olivia in it or we folded it up and held her.
Tsukiji, all the small ramen and yakitori spots, and cool, little boutiques are a no-go with a toddler.
Forklifts zoom everywhere at Tsukiji so we thought it best that my husband and Bubba do that on their own. They missed the auction but were able to try Sushi Dai. My husband prefers Sushi Deli in our neck of the woods. If you don't know, now you know. We love that place.
If we wanted to eat anywhere, it had to be family friendly. All the spots people recommended to us were not that. We ended up mostly at food halls in department stores.
Because of all the stairs everywhere, I spent quite a bit of time with Olivia waiting outside while my husband checked out some local boutiques. We went through Ginza, Roppongi Hills, Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Harajuku. As for Japanese brands, such as, CDG Play and Bape Kids.. Yep, it's way cheaper.
The walk through Meiji Shrine was gorgeous! The grounds and the foliage.. so tranquil and majestic. We were lucky enough to catch a wedding happening. I didn't get a photo of that because too many people were already taking photos.
We were hoping to take Olivia to Harajuku on a Sunday because I spruced up a little outfit for her inspired by Gwen Stefani. Unfortunately, she decided it was nap time instead. We were running on Hawaii time the entire time in Tokyo. Woke up at 3am and slept at 7pm. She slept through Meiji Shrine prior to Takeshita Dori as well.
One of the highlights for Bubba was Joypolis. It's an indoor amusement park. Whenever you win something from the claw machines, all of the employees surround you to congratulate you while shaking their tambourines. It's a high energy place full of things to do for older children. There wasn't much for Olivia there, but there are malls connected to Joypolis. There's a vintage arcade nearby and if you walk to the mall next to the Joypolis mall (connected by a walkway), there's a toddler friendly play place.
After Joypolis, we walked to Miraikin, the science museum. We stopped by the huge Gundam statue on the way there. The museum was busy! If you have toddlers, plan ahead so you can get tickets to the play area in the museum. We missed it, but it looked amazingly fun! Right when we were about to leave, we noticed people sitting down waiting for a show. We decided to wait it out and I'm so glad we did! They kids got to see a walking, talking, jumping robot in action!
We also checked out the Ueno Zoo. It had been really hot in Tokyo, so we decided to go right at opening. While the zoo features a pagoda and a Claude Monet-ish lily pond, I couldn't help but think the housing for the animals was so tiny.
If ever we return to Japan, I think we'd wait until the kids are a lot older. I, honestly, could not wait to be back in Hawaii.
Hawaii. It's a home away from home. I spent a chunk of my childhood there and grew up around my mom's side of the family, which included a lot of cousins. We spent a lot of time hanging with the family and visiting our favorite spots. And my cousin got married!
Favs in Hawaii:
-North Shore.. You can go snorkeling at Shark's Cove and stop at Romy's for garlic butter prawns. Macky's and Giovanni's are some family favorites as well.
-Valley of the Temple. The grounds are beautiful and the temple is fun to explore.
-Shimazu Shave Ice on School Street.
-Sweet Home Cafe. The best hot pot in town!
-Bishop Museum. It's across from my old elementary school!