Monday, May 27, 2013

Trips and Tips for Tripping: Japan Day Three

My birthday day! 
Big plans! 
We were heading to Disneyland! 
Then this:
A forecast of rain for the whole day.
We made a quick change of plans and tried a few local spots.
Takeshita-Dori is a pedestrian only shopping street full of fad shops, boutique clothing and unusual dressing!  It's crazy cool Japan at it's best (though the weather made it was fairly quiet when we were there)
Elara and India were fascinated by a 'Harajuku girl', wearing fluorescent yellow platform shoes, spotty and stripey rainbow tights, a milkmaid dress, bleached and oversize bowed hair and long blue eyelashes!
We took a walk through the back streets, enjoying the clever architecture of modern Japanese homes as we walked, and came out at Meiji Jingu, Tokyo's grandest shrine. 
It was beautiful to walk through the park with the mist and quiet rain. 

Home to dry off, and then out for wonton noodle soup, and a browse through a Japanese toy store.

Travel tip for making plans:
I did less planning than I would have liked for this trip: a little research; a few online sites bookmarked; a lot of particulars left until we arrived. We did have each day decided, and a vague idea of how to get there and travel between stops and I hoped we could use online maps for details when we were in Japan. 

In the end we couldn't get internet except in the hotel lobby, and even then it wasn't reliable.
In the end, the weather changed the plans that we did have. 
In the end, the amount of walking, the food available, the avoiding peak-hour travel, and the general necessity to be flexible with children, changed our plans. Every single day! 

My advice would be to have a good general knowledge of the how-to's: what train line you and the places you want to go are on; how to catch a taxi; where to find a atm machine in english; where to get reliable internet (and print out a map if needed); and a few ideas about where you can eat or find toilets. Then I would have a list of must-sees and a list of other things you'd like to do, sorted into days if you want, but not tethered to them. Drop those that are presenting a challenge and find something else adventurous to do instead. One of our best days stemmed from a last-minute decision to cancel a full-on-planned day and do something local instead! Finally, if at all possible, travel with someone who says things like, 'it's fine, we're doing ok, we'll work it out'. They are invaluable to the stresshead/lose-it-when-things-go-pear-shaped person (Thanks Tim)!

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