Konichiwa: The Fambam Goes to Japan!
It’s been a dream of ours to travel as a family outside the country. We have included that in our Faith Goals for this year and we have prayed fervently and saved earnestly for our first ever out-of-the-country family vacation. Our initial plan was to go to Hongkong so we can bring our little one to Disneyland. We changed our minds and chose Japan instead. It was like hitting two birds with one stone because we still get to see Mickey Mouse, since there is Disneyland in Tokyo, plus we can visit my husband’s brothers at the same time! We got excited for every step that we have accomplished in preparing for this trip. From applying for Louiji’s passport to booking our flights and from obtaining Japanese visas and packing our bags, going over these tasks just makes us closer to the reality of our dream vacation.
The flight from Manila to Narita is four hours. We left PH at 5:25AM and landed in JP at 10:25AM. There is a one hour time difference between these countries. I couldn’t sleep during that flight but it’s a good thing that our little man fell asleep just before take off. I breastfed him as soon as we got settled in our seats not only to put him to sleep but also to save his ears from aching due to the change in air pressure. It’s a life-saving advice that I got from my fellow mom bloggers who traveled with their babies. We also did that when we were about to land. Here’s the view from my window. I enjoy looking at the clouds as well as the terrain and bodies of water below and I can’t help but marvel at God’s creations!
At about an hour before we landed, Louiji woke up and was very active. For a while, my husband and I were able to entertain him with the snacks that we brought with us and our trusty iPad that has all of his favorite apps. Here he was playing with his all-time-favorite Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Road Rally. Notice that the seat beside my husband is vacant. The old Japanese man who was sitting beside him was kind enough to give up his seat and move to the row behind us. My husband actually asked if he could move a little so we can pass and transfer to the last row. It’s a good thing that we didn’t have to do that. There are indeed kind and very considerate passengers for those who are traveling with babies.
But, because it was really that time of the day when our son is very much awake and excited to play, he became fussy. He got frustrated because there’s not much space for him to move around. We tried to pacify him by giving him other stuff that he can play with (such as the empty water bottle and plastic cup) and by breastfeeding him. After a while, he would get bored and become fussy again. It’s a good thing that we landed not long after. We deplaned after most of the passengers have left. Our little boy was so happy to have walked again! He happily trotted on the aisles of the plane and he was tugging his Daddy’s hand while we were waiting for his stroller at the plane’s exit because he just couldn’t wait to explore the wide and open spaces of this new place.
There’s not much people in the arrival area which enabled us to take a quick snap of our first family photo in The Land of the Rising Sun. We looked tired and deprived of sleep but we were really happy to have finally made our dream come true!
We made a pit stop to the restroom to freshen up and for Louiji’s nappy change. I just couldn’t help but take pictures of the restroom. It is very mommy-and-baby-friendly. It is also very convenient for people with disabilities (PWD). It is squeaky clean and it smells good. Just look at the collage below. I just hope to we have restrooms like that in the Philippines that the public can use for free.
It’s a good thing that the Narita airport is equipped with walkalators. We were able to let our toddler walk on his own, which he has been doing since he learned to walk steadily, without worrying that he might wander off. He actually enjoyed
walking running in that entire stretch.
From Narita, we have to take an hour and a half train ride going to Yokohama, where my brother-in-law resides. Because not all Japanese can speak English, the instructions that we have received from the person manning the platform were unclear. We boarded the train that stopped in front of us. We settled on our seats with our baby in his stroller and our luggage in tow. I was giggling with excitement but my husband felt uneasy and he kept on looking around. It turns out that we boarded the wrong train! He told us to get ready because we are getting off on the next stop. I don’t know how we did it but we have managed to get off quickly, with our baby in the stroller and our heavy bags in tow, and were able to catch the right train that will take us to our destination.
Finally, we have reached Yokohama safe and sound. Our baby was able to take a nap during our train ride which put him in a good mood. My husband and I were able to survive on energy bars and candies that I packed so we could munch on something when we can’t have a decent meal just yet. Yokohama is a busy station with lots of people going to and from different directions. It is very clean and organized and there’s a tourist information center which is very helpful for first-time visitors like us and offers free wi-fi cards for foreigners. That station, actually all train stations in Japan, is very convenient for parents with kids on strollers and for PWDs. Just look at the buttons of their elevator. Below each Nihongo inscription are embossed clusters of dots which are designed for people with visual impairment. Even the floors and platforms in train stations are embossed to assist the blind as well.
When we got to my BIL’s place, we rested a bit then proceeded to Maruetsu, a grocery store within the area, to buy water and some of our food supplies. It was a big store and you can get everything that you need for the home. They even have a small stationery section. I have noticed that they have a system that is very different from what we have here in the Philippines. After customers have paid for their groceries at the cashier, they will be given plastic bags which are just enough to pack what they have bought. After which, they would need to move to another section where there are rolls of smaller plastic bags for when you need to pack goods separately.
We had a full day indeed and our family adventure was just about to begin. We were in Japan for 9 days and I still have a lot of stories and more pictures to share. That is why I decided to segment our Japan vacay story into several posts. If you are planning to or are going to Japan, I hope that you find this post helpful. Feel free to ask questions about our trip in the comments below 🙂