Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Kids-friendly Japan Trip - Kodomo no kuni (Kids world)

I can't recommend this place enough. Nico, my parents, Paul and I really enjoyed this theme park called Kodomo no kuni. But it's not like Disney Land where you have to spend heaps of money for the entry, food and souvenirs. This park was founded in commemoration of the Royal Marriage of Prince Akihito and Princess Michiko (the present Emperor) and focused on developing kids' sound mind and body.

They don't have a big roller coaster but they have a 110m-roller slide!

My favourite American-Japanese artist Isamu Noguchi was involved in the project of making this park and they have his "Octetra" and a special slide he designed too!

You can enjoy nature walk in this 250 acre park but they also have little trains going around the park. You can rent a bike too.

Mini steam locomotive

Farm (they are making soft serve there!)

Lots of play equipment

Lunch time..

I went to this place many times with my school and I still remember I had lots of fun there, but didn't realize that it's such a great and special place until I became an adult and went back there with my own kid.

It's not easy access from central Tokyo but I'm sure your kids will love this place! 

Kodomo no kuni

Open hours    9:30-16:30
Closed on Wednesday (NYE and New Year's Day)
Entry fee: Adults 600yen
                 School kids 200yen
                 0-2yo Free!

Monday, 25 July 2016

Kids-friendly Japan trip- Rainy day activities

(My Japan trip report is still going..I will try to finish it quickly but please be patient! )

This trip was focused on my parents, so I didn't really tell many of my friends that we were coming, but we couldn't miss a chance to catch up with my close friend Yuri. I did some research for the places where kids can enjoy themselves and picked this place called "Asobono".  It's an indoor play centre. The day we caught up was raining hard so it was good that we picked an indoor place to meet. However, because of the weather, Asobono was super busy with many kids and families. It was a weekday but we had to wait about 30mins to get in and we also couldn't get an all-day ticket, which was cheaper. (When it's busy, they limit the number of all day tickets to sell). 

many kids and parents

where is Nico?

They had many sections which we could enjoy - a huge ball pool, toy trains, wooden toys, kitchen toys and so on. Except for the ball pool section, it was a bit like bigger version of someone's home, where kids can play with toys that aren't theirs, so I wasn't quite sure if it's worth paying and waiting to get in this play centre. 

love father and son time;-)

this is Nico's favourite type of toy

little kids friendly space

If you're visiting from overseas though, it might be interesting to see Japanese toys. Especially their "pla rail' (plastic train set) collection, which was massive! The good thing is that both of Yuri's kids and Nico enjoyed it so much that they didn't want to leave. 

pla rail

For me, it was really really nice to see Nico and Yuri's kids were playing together and laughing together. When we were studying at uni together, I didn't really imagine this would happen. I'm also happy that our friendship has been lasting so long, even though we're in different countries.

Yuri and Me and kids

After the play centre, we went to a cafe which was specializing Japanese sweets. 

They became friends!

Match crepe cake!

It wasn't easy for us to walk in the heavy rain with kids from the station to the play centre (it was only about 150m) and the centre to the cafe (which was about 50m), but we had a really lovely day. Of course Nico slept in the train all the way back home:-) 

with love

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Our special birthday! Our day in St Kilda

July 18 was my husband Paul's birthday! He had to work on the day, so we decided to have a special birthday weekend last week. We thought about what we would do carefully and decided to go to our old favourite place, St Kilda. We asked Paul's parents if they wanted to come and Paul's mum joined us (dad had something to do..) so it became an extra special fun day.

We started our day in St Kilda East to get lunch. Last time we went there, we found a super nice burger shop called Ziggy's. We saw this shop on Broadsheet and it became our new favourite. Their Blue cheese burger is the best! We also didn't forget to get our old favourite bagles from famous Glick's (but not for lunch..)

 We took the burgers to the St Kilda botanic garden and had lunch there. It was lovely weather that day, so we had a wonderful time there. Nico also enjoyed playing with the play equipment.

lovely father and son

Lion King??

this is where we took our engagement photos 4 years ago!


 After lunch and play, we walked to the beach. We're not usually beach people, but we love walking alongside the beach - especially on a warm day in winter! We had hot drinks and walked on the pier while chatting. It was a really relaxing time.

 On the way home, we couldn't forget to get an ice cream tub from Messina in Windsor and a jar of salted caramel from B & P in South Yarra.

 This is a kind of our perfect day for us. Paul's mum really enjoyed it too! Don't have any plans for the weekend? Try this route and you will definitely love every part!

with love,


Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Kids-friendly Japan trip - Tokyo toy exhibition for a big kid!

While I was doing some research for our Japan trip, I found some information about the "Tokyo toy exhibition" held during our stay. I talked about it to Paul and he was so excited. Some of you might already know, he loves toys! When we got married and he moved into my little apartment in St Kilda East, he was allowed to bring only 3 toys with him and he struggled;-)

It was open to the public just on 11 and 12 of June, and our option was just the 11th, which was the next day after our Hakone trip. I thought it might be difficult for Nico, but we decided to go there. Personally I wanted to see Paul's happy face:-)

Going to central Tokyo with a toddler is quite tiring. My parents live about 30km away from central Tokyo. To get to Shinjuku, which is one of the biggest stations in Tokyo, it takes about 30 mins by train, and to get Tokyo station or Tokyo Bay Area where the exhibition was held, it takes more than 1 hour.

To avoid the rush hour we left my parents' home around 10am and aimed to come back before 5pm. It actually worked very well for us, because Nico had a morning sleep all the way to our destination in his pram and had an afternoon sleep all the way back home. We didn't have to struggle with a noisy kid in a quiet train - Japanese trains are really quiet!

 We arrived at Toyosu Station, which we had transit around 11.30am, so we decided to have lunch at Toyosu shopping centre. We wanted to go to a Chinese restaurant, but the restaurant was very small and we couldn't go in without folding our pram - Nico was still sleeping - so we decided to go to a bakery and have lunch outside. It was actually very good choice and we really enjoyed it!

Nico slept really well so we could actually enjoy shopping there too.
look at this shop name;-)

 After lunch and shopping, we got on the Yurikamome Line. I always thought this was a monorail but when I actually read about it, I found it's different. It runs on an elevated path all the way so there's no traffic lights, crossings or jams and with the special techniques they use, there's no vibration or sound and it's very quiet. It's all automated so there's no conductors or drivers too! It's a bit like a future train:-) If your kids love trains, they will love the Yurikamome line!

the view from Yurikamome

 When we arrived at Tokyo Big Sight, there were many families and toy-loving adults. The queue looked long but the venue was massive so we could enter smoothly. (It was free event so we didn't have to queue to buy tickets!)

 There were so many booths with the newest toys. Nico and Paul were excited trying all the different toys, but it was really hard for us to take him to the next booth - he didn't want to leave the toys he was playing with! Small companies were selling toys at the booths with special exhibition price but big companies like TOMY were just showing the newest ones coming in September. We didn't buy any toys there -which was very good for us;-) - but got some ideas for Nico's birthday and Christmas.

It was quite tiring with the massive venue and crowds, but we all had a wonderful time. I really loved seeing Paul and Nico's happy faces.

At Tokyo Big Sight, they have interesting exhibitions all the time, so if you're going to Tokyo, it worth checking what's on there. Even if there's nothing, traveling around this Tokyo Bay Area is quite interesting. The big fish market will move to this area (Toyosu) in November too. You will see a futuristic side of Tokyo there:-)

With love,

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Kids-friendly Japan Trip -Hakone trip 2

June is the rainy season in Japan, so we thought we could do some indoor activities if it was raining in Hakone.  "Yunessan" is an indoor spa theme park where kids with nappies can also enjoy themselves - most of the Japanese water theme park usually don't accept babies - so we thought it's an good option. But the night before we went to Hakone, Nico had a high temperature, so we changed our plan and decided to go to Choukokunomori Museum.

 We arrived in Hakone around 10.30am. The ryokan check-in time was 2pm so we left our bags in a locker at Hakone Yumoto station. From the station, we got on the "Hakone tozan railway". This is a special train I really love. You know my love of trams. It's a little bit similar to a tram experience!

 This is the only mountain railway in Japan using a "switchback system". The driver and the conductor change shifts and the train switches to reverse travel directions halfway up the line. The view from the train is really wonderful. In June you can enjoy colorful hydrangeas both sides of the railway and it's really beautiful too.

 When we arrived at the museum, it wasn't raining but quite foggy. This was my first time to visit Chokokunomori (means forest of sculpture) museum and I was really impressed.

Most of the artworks were outdoors and you can walk around the lovely gardens while you see great sculptures collected from all over the world. Unlike other art galleries, you don't have to worry about your kids running around or making loud noises.

footbath in the museum!!!


they have very good Picasso collection

our boy enjoyed this museum too!

 We enjoyed a pleasant morning there and had a buffet lunch and then after lunch Nico had a little playtime at the museum kids space where he enjoyed Isamu Noguchi's (my favourite artist!) "Octetra".

 After that, we went back to Hakone Yumoto and went to our ryokan and had a lovely evening there.

On the second day, we had breakie at the ryokan and checked out at 10am, then left our bags in a locker at Hakone Yumoto station again. We caught a bus to Tougendai where you can get on a gondola and see lovely views of the mountains, Mt Fuji if the weather's good, and Lake Ashi.

 When we went there, a part of the gondola line was closed due to the active volcano. Usually you can get on Hakone tozan railway to Goura and get on a cable car from there and then get on a gondola to Togendai. This is the most popular route, but we couldn't do that, so we decided to get on a gondola from Togendai and see Owakudani, where you can see smoky mountains from the window and go back to Togendai. The weather was good, but we couldn't see Mt Fuji unfortunately.

Owakudani-smoky mountains

We saw Mt Fuji at Owakudani in 2012 (we were a bit younger..)

 At Togendai, we bought some take-away lunch and got on a pirate ship ( ! ) to cross Lake Ashi. I really like that we can enjoy all sorts of transport like gondolas, ships, cable cars and the views in Hakone.

This photo is from 2012 with Mt Fuji and younger Paul

 After that, we went to Yasuragi no mori which was a little bit of an odd choice for us. It's a national park and you can go for a bush walk. I thought there would be some kids play area (obviously I didn't do good research) so when we arrived and found nothing much there, I was a bit disappointed, but in the end we enjoyed the nature and the walk:-)

 After this, we went back to Hakone Yumoto Station and got some souvenirs from shops around the station and then caught the Romance car home.

sleeping in the Romance car

 It was just a one night trip, but Hakone take you to a completely different world in Japan. I know people enjoy the mixture of traditional and new things in Tokyo but if you feel a bit tired of walking around the busy crowds, this is a great escape from the hustle and bustle ;-)

With love,