Our travel route through Japan and how we spend the first days

Our challenging road by train, plane, boat and car through Japan: Tokyo (4 days) – Tsumago (3 days) – Nara (4 days) – Nagasaki (3 days) – Kagoshima (1 day)  – Yakushima (2 days) – Kagoshima (1 day) – Okinawa (9 days) – Tokyo (1 day). But let’s start with day one and why I explored Tokyo with our boys at 2am in the morning.

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Japan involved a bit more planning ahead of time as the other countries we have been to. You need to order and receive the vouchers for the Japan Rail Passes before you travel. And when you want to drive a car yourself, you need to order a translation of your driver license at the German Embassy in Tokyo beforehand as it takes up to seven days for processing. But then you can pick up the translated license when you arrive. Justus proudly accepted the translated driver license after our first “night” in Japan.

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Night in quotes, because it wasn’t really a night. I spent three hours on the wooden chair below and another hour at McDonalds… our walls in our apartment where so thin that it didn’t matter that we had two bedrooms. I had to put Juri in a Manduka at night and chill out in the bathroom, so that the kids didn’t wake each other up. After a couple of hours it got so hot in the bathroom that I had to go out and walk around Tokyo at night. Being hungry from the 12 hour fight I finally settled the first travel day with a jumbo four layer big mac – yak.

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The next day – for me kind of still the same day 🙂 – we did a first shopping tour in Tokyo to stock up on essentials and get a feel for the city with our kids. The shopping was fun and easy and we managed to get all the stuff we needed. The only thing we couldn’t find was “Apfelmus”.

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Unfortunately the playgrounds in Tokyo where mostly boring and not very creative. All painted in one color (white), no cool slides and no sand. We all agreed that we rather explore the city instead.

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For instance the Roppongi Hills Center was great for kids. They had an indoor play kitchen and wonderful views over Tokyo. Our kids spend at least 40 mins pointing out buildings in the city and enjoying the sunset.

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We also had to stop at the famous Shibuya Crossing and get a picture with the twins 🙂

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A story that touched our hearts while we were walking through the city was the famous dog statue of Hachikō. The dog came to the Shibuya Station every day at the same time to pick up his master. One day his master didn’t show up, because he died while lecturing at the university. The dog continued to show up every day at the same time for ten years to wait for his master 😦

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After four days, 30 kms of walking and 10kgs of Sushi we left Tokyo to go hiking. We wanted to explore an old mailing route and walk from the little village of Tsumago to the little village of Magome.

Leaving Tokyo by train with the Shinkasen was pretty cool and easy. At first it was quite challenging though to stow away all the luggage, but then we found a lot of space behind the first or last seats in each wagon.

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And in all trains they have these wonderful toilet seats for kids where I finally could enjoy being on the toilet again. Thank you Japan for this great innovation!! You made my day 🙂

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More problematic was the arrival in Nagiso. Two kids that cannot walk, 108kg of luggage and no elevator. It took us 15 minutes to move from one track to the other. With that hurdle we missed or shuttle bus from our Hotel Fuki no Mori.

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But hey, since we left Tokyo, we were rockstars in Japan. You couldn’t walk anywhere without being smiled at. The one hour wait for the next shuttle bus was spend with wonderful Japanese locals at the Nagiso train station. Thank you so much for being so kind and helpful 🙂

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A tip for Tokyo with kids: Get the guide from Kate (The Essential Guide to having a baby in Japan and baby-friendly places in Tokyo – it costs 2980 yen) – it has all indoor & outdoor playgrounds marked on a map and shows where you buy diapers and other essentials.

What you can read about in our next post: Exploring rural Japan and hiking from Tsmuago to Magome.

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