This time 2 years ago (March/April 2015), the family embarked on a trip to the land of the rising sun during one of the most beautiful times of the year – yes Spring time in Japan. Cherry blossoms in full bloom. Our trip over 3 weeks involved traveling to the southern city of Hiroshima and then making our way back to Tokyo. Traveling around Japan was not an easy feat with 2 little munchkins (4, 1) at the time but we made it work and we created memories that the family will cherish for a lifetime. Little pockets of memories (treasures) that we will cherish.
I will fill this post with helpful tips and where to visit and what activities to do.
Our trip started with a flight from Sydney, Australia to Narita Airport aboard QANTAS.
Tip No 1: If flying long distances, definitely try and book a full service airline. I don’t think we would have survived the 10 hr flight without the in flight entertainment for the kids. If booking budget – bring entertainment along – be it an ipad or activities because it is a long flight and it is more bearable if the kids are well entertained.
Tip No 2: Pack the lightest stroller that you own, Japan whilst very modern still has a lot of stairs.
Tip No 3: Purchase a JR rail pass before you leave your country. We got a 14 day pass from a Japanese travel agency before departure. Plan your trip to ensure that you maximise use of this pass, as when you activate the pass, it is only valid for the number of days you have purchased it for. That being said we traveled to Hiroshima first up and made our way back to Tokyo to maximise use of it. Children under 5 years travel free but don’t get seats if the train is full.
3 tips and we haven’t even arrived in Japan.
After a 10 hour flight, we arrive at Narita Airport and proceed to collect baggage and clear customs. Their are 3 forms to complete on arrival and each person is photograph and finger printed on arrival at Narita. Upon exiting we join the queue to exchange our JR passes as they are valid on all JR services (with a few exceptions). Upon exchange we also book our tickets and reserve our seats for the ride to Hiroshima to begin our Japan journey.
We have to change trains at Toyko Station after getting off the Narita Express for a train bound for Hiroshima. The bullet train journey was smooth and amazing.
Tip 4: If you want to see Mt Fuji on the train ride book seats on the right side of the train if you can.
Tip 5: Try and reserve seats for the long bullet train journeys. Just go to the ticket office and they will reserve seats for you. This will get you in a reserve seating carriage and you wont have to battle the crowds in the unreserved carriages. We didn’t reserve tickets for one of our train journeys and whilst we got a seat it was not the most comfortable ride.
Tip 6: Minimise luggage for your bullet train ride – there is luggage space behind the back rows in each carriage but sometimes these are full – i think for one of our journeys we had luggage at our feet.
Following our train journey we arrive in Hiroshima – a city that was devastated by that atomic bomb. The city has re-built itself now and there are lots of memorials and landmarks that tell the story of that day.