We recently journeyed from our happy home in NYC (with our 3 kids under the age of 5, including twin toddlers) to Japan for 10 days to visit my husband's family in the rural valley of Yamaguchi-cho Nishinomiya (about an hour from Osaka). We lived (barely) to tell the tale!
In case you missed it, I'm embedding our 4 ten-minute long YouTube videos below for your viewing pleasure! (Links at very bottom to products and other things mentioned / recommended in the videos!)
Featuring our 30-hour travel day to Japan via 3 flights (2 of which got rescheduled during our travel!) and the beginning of a horrible stomach bug (i.e. me being puked on for 4 hours of our 2nd flight, yippee!)
Featuring our first few days in Japan (with no clothes, thanks to our flights being rescheduled our luggage didn't catch us for 3 days!!), a tour of a 7-11 convenience store (I LOVE Japanese "Combini"), the beautiful scenery of mountains and rice fields near my husband's home, and a typical experience at a "kaiten" (conveyor belt) sushi restaurant! (The nasty stomach bug that hit our youngest on the flight returned to hit 3 more of us the night after our sushi adventure, and 3 more family members in the next couple of days...)
Featuring our adventures after recovering from the stomach bug, including a fun afternoon at the Anpanman Children's Museum in Kobe (Anpanpan is a Japanese superhero just about EVERY Japanese toddler is OBSESSED with, including all 3 of my kids), a nature walk near my husband's home (we found frogs, kiwi, tomatoes, pumpkin, a praying mantis, and more!), shopping at the mall (always a tricky endeavor with toddler twins!!!), library and children's play center, and how amazing a typical Japanese public toilet is (with electric bidet toilet and child seat on the wall to contain your little one while you do your business!)
Featuring our visit to neighboring natural hot spring town of Arima Onsen, a big family and friends BBQ at my husband's home (and my first odd and exciting experience with "Nagashi Somen" / "flowing somen noodles" / "water noodles"!!), a tour of the amazing bathrooms and nursing rooms at Kansai International Airport, and our 24-hour door-to-door travel home back to NYC, including our sweet ride with the kid-friendly car service Kidmoto that provides top of the line car seats and drivers TRAINED to install them properly (get $20 off all rides using code "USJAPANFAM"!!)
So, the stomach bug put a major damper on our time, taking us out of commission for a good 2-3 days. On the bright side, it kept us more local and relaxed, giving us more chance for good quality family time rather than running around trying to jam in as much touristy stuff as possible! We plan to take the kids every 2-3 years, and eventually they may start going and spending summers over there, even going to local public schools for a month or so! That's the plan, anyway... we'll see how things pan out!!
So, what do you think? Did you enjoy following along with us!? What's the furthest you've traveled with your kids? Any hilarious horror stories, or fabulous tips to share?? Leave a comment below!!!
In case you're new to the blog, I should preface this post with the fact that my husband is from Japan. As in, I met him clubbing in Tokyo one night while I was teaching English in Japan for 2 years! We did a year and a half of long distance, then I moved back over there, we lived together in Yokohama for 3 years together, got engaged, married in Hawaii, moved to good ol' NYC, popped out 3 kids, and the rest is history!
Suffice it to say, raising our kids to know Japanese language and culture is extremely important to both of us. Also important is taking a family trip back to Japan every other year (we would go more often if budget wasn't an issue...one ticket costs about $1500!!)
We had decided this summer my husband would take our 4 year old son alone, and I would stay behind with the girls because we just couldn't fathom the difficulty of the 24 hour door to door journey and a week of jet lag in each direction with TWO toddlers! It was a nightmare when we took Kenzo in 2014 when he was 20 months old. Multiply that times TWO??? Ugh.... But, when hubby broke the news to his parents, apparently they weren't too thrilled, so we have decided we will suck it up and all 5 of us will be making the trek this coming summer (just before the twins turn 2, so they can get cheap lap child tickets, which cost 10% of the regular fare!!).
So, as I embark on planning this epic journey with three children, I realized I never did a blog post or video recapping our last family vacation to Japan in 2014!! So, without further ado, check out our short and sweet video montage!!
I'll be coming back and posting more articles about what to do in the various cities, tips for traveling to Japan with kids, and much more. So, stay tuned!!
Please feel free to leave a comment below with any questions about where we went, places or things you are curious about in the video, recommendations for places you've been in Japan, etc!!
Each year we spend a good chunk of time and money going to my hometown to visit our family. My sister's family comes in from Montreal and mine from NYC. All of us are avid travelers and wanderlusters, so we sat down last year and unanimously agreed that we would start taking trips somewhere new rather than just going home, as much as budget allows.
This year marked our first attempt and it was, in a word, A-MAY-ZING!!! As word spread of our exciting plans, extended family jumped in and we ended up with a group of 19 adults and children joining from USA, Canada, and Japan!! And the location? Puerto Vallarta, Mexico!
Our requirements were:
Meeting all of our requirements was the Crown Paradise Club Puerto Vallarta. For my family of 5 (granted the 2 babies were free), one week including flights, hotel, all food and drinks, was $3,000. Awesomely budget-friendly!!
For us, 2 best things about the Crown Paradise were:
1) Their pirate-ship themed kids' pool, featuring a bunch of water slides (9?), which was SOOOOOO much fun for the kids and adults!
2) Their kids' programs. They have a "Baby Paradise" where you can drop off kids ages 18 months - 4 years, for free!! Unfortunately our son lasted all of 5 minutes in there before our pager went off and we had to run back to pick up our sobbing child. Ugh. Apparently another child wanted to share, and ours did not... But he did love the little ride-in car we got to borrow from them. He was riding in style around the resort!! They also have a "Kids Paradise" for kids ages 4-12, and this was great. During the day the leaders would walk around the pools collecting kids for games and contests, and in the evenings they had "parties" the kids could attend while parents went off to have romantic child-free dinners.
Also amazing was the food. Their buffet was great, TONS to choose from and even a kids' buffet corner. They had 3 a la carte restaurants which were great (Italian, Asian, and French), but a bit annoying because you have to call a day ahead, from your room, to make a reservation.
The beach was beautiful, though I'm not much of an ocean girl. Some of our party did the free kayaking, and my hubby and his family paid extra for parasailing!! It was really exciting to watch, maybe I'll get the guts to actually do it next time!
The rooms were nothing special, but they were clean and ours had a nice balcony with views of 2 pools and the beach. I enjoyed nursing my babies out there while people watching!! We got 2 complimentary pack 'n plays for our girls, and there was plenty of room to fit them, but they were very dingy and disappointing. Our babies are only 5 months so clean sheets fitted over the mat was fine, but if they had been older and standing and chewing on the rail of the beds, yikes, I would have been really upset... So, if this sounds like your situation you may want to consider bringing along your own baby bed (like a blow up Dock a Tot perhaps).
The free nightly entertainment was also a bit disappointing. First off because it was not quite the level of professionalism and excitement as I was expecting, but also because it was so late. Most shows didn't start til 9, and after bringing all the kids to 2 shows I quickly realized it wasn't worth it. For the rest of the week we all went back to the room after dinner, nursed the babies, and were in bed by 9pm.
The only other negative thing at all I have to say about the resort was that several underwater steps in the kids' multi-level water park were no longer marked. I tripped going up and down steps that I didn't see, and I witnessed several children unexpectedly going under water because they missed steps down. We had water wings on our toddler and he was never out of reach, but this seemed a bit dangerous. Also, there were no life guards. So, long story short, please keep a close eye (or hand) on your kids if they're not very good in the water.
If you start getting antsy to get out on some adventures, there are TONS of excursions you can book right from the hotel (and if you have the time to sit through time share spiels, you can free excursions or other goodies). We did a full-day city/tequileria/jungle tour which was pretty cool, but I would have been 100% fine with just staying on the resort property for the full week! With all of our family with us, they were so helpful with watching the babies while we swam or ate, it was so relaxing and one of the most amazing vacations of my life... so far!! I really hope we can visit the Cancun location of Crown Paradise sometime soon!!!
Here's a video montage of our stay in Puerto Vallarta, enjoy! We sure did!!!
I'm a NYC metro area mom blogger living in NJ with my Japanese husband & our 3 kids (twins plus 1), focusing on fun and honest product and travel reviews, saving moms time finding the best for their families! Find what you need in the menu bar or search section above!