Sunday, June 23, 2013

Trips and Tips for Tripping: Japan Day Five

Our twenty-four hour trip to Kyoto and 'Old Japan'.
What would be a 6 hour drive, takes 2.5 hours on the Shinkansen bullet train. Too much looking out the window makes me dizzy, but it is fascinating to watch rural Japan wizz by: small villages; rice fields; shrines and rivers.
We arrive and trade our everything-we-need-hotel in Tokyo for a simple, traditional Ryokan. Grass mats, paper screens, futons, green tea, and yukatas (Japanese robes) add to the adventure.

Off we walk and head out in search of Gion corner and maybe a Maiko (Geisha apprentice) sighting, but we miss the entrance and explore Yasaka Shine instead. It is a beautiful and peaceful place and I could roam in the moonlight for longer, but the children have sore, tired legs at this stage in our trip. We head back to our ryokan, disappointed that we missed the night-life of Gion corner, but hopeful that Tim and I would come back to explore more someday.
Finally we enjoy Japanese curry and noodles around the table for dinner and then sweet dreams about exploring Japanese castles the next day!
Travel tip on food for kids:
Western food is common in Japan. We took the easy route and had one Western style meal a day. Pancakes, bakery goods and McDonalds meant that our kids ate at least one full (though not necessarily healthy) meal. And they surprised us with their willingness to eat the Japanese food too. Plain noodles and rice, spring rolls, salad, dumplings, cucumber sushi, and mild curries were all enjoyed without complaint. We didn't expect them to try anything unrecognisable or raw, and we only had one major meltdown about food during the trip. 
My advice would be to remember that you are on holidays and that might mean a break from the healthy or fresh foods you would normally serve. Let go of the food triangle for the entire trip and just plan to resume good eating when you get home. As long as my children were getting a taste of the culture they were in, enough energy for the busy days, and enough fibre to keep their bowels moving, that was enough for me.

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