Murat Telek, his wife Yelda and their daughter Yasmina (5).
Overall cost was around USD 3,000. Air travel was USD 1,400 (RMB 3,500 per person roundtrip) and hotel accomodation was USD 900 (USD 150 per night). Other costs for food and transportationwere roughly USD 700.
This was the Telek family’s second vacation in Japan. This time they wanted to visit Tokyo during the Cherry Blossom Festival and spend a day at Tokyo Disneyland.
The family organized the trip on their own. They flew with Air China to Tokyo and stayed in the Japanese capital for six days. Before bookinga hotel online through Ctrip, they made sure to read the reviews on TripAdvisor.com. They decided on the Best Western Shinjiku Astina Hotel Tokyo (www.bw-shinjuku.com). Children under the age of 6 stay for free. The hotel is conveniently located and rooms are clean, but very small. The room price did not include breakfast, but the buffet breakfast was worth the extra cost and included both Western and Japanese dishes.
With the help of their Japanese friend Meizi, the family traveled around the city with ease. A guide was especially helpful when navigating Tokyo’s expansive and complicated metro system. The family got to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom, with Sakura trees dotted throughout almost all of Tokyo’s parks. The Tokyo Imperial Garden put on a particularly beautiful blossom display. Another park worth visitingis the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. The park is home to more than 1,000 cherry trees, of over a dozen varieties. The restaurant in the park serves good food if you need somewhere to stop for lunch. Alternatively, families can visit the Imperial Palace East Gardens, which has a castle tower positioned high on a hill – it’s also a great spot for a picnic. A Japanese-style garden sits at foot of the hill, adding a traditional touch to your picnic experience.
If heading to the Asakusa district is Sensoji, make a stop by the Buddhisttemple dedicated to the bodhisattva Kannon, otherwise known as the Goddess of Mercy. As Tokyo’s oldest temple, it remains popular among locals and tourists alike. Taking a photo at Kaminarimon gate is a must for travelers.
They Telek family loved the 1,000-year-old shrine, Omiya Hachimangu (www.ohmiya-hachimangu.or.jp), located a short 10-minute walk from Nishi-eifuku Station. The family donned traditional robes and participated alongside monks in a special ceremony. The shrine is good luck for families, specifically relationships, safe deliveriesand children.
The family spent a rainy day at Tokyo Disneyland. The rain didn’t lower their spirits, as the weather deterred large crowds and long lines, giving the family first place in line for the best rides. A highlight for Yasmina was meeting Cinderella.
The Science Museum (www.jsf.or.jp) has many hands-on experimentsfor kids and is definitely worth a visit. A robot receptionist welcomes visitors to the museum, which is a hit with both adults and little ones. The Teleks watched a science show featuring a "nutty professor" who conducted interesting experiments with help from the kids.
Shopping for Kids
The family did some shopping at Ginza, Tokyo’s famous shopping district. Hakuhinkan Toy Park in Ginza (www.hakuhinkan.co.jp/guide_en.html) was a treat for Yasmina. She also liked racing at the Racing Park on the fourth floor. The Hello Kitty shop called Shinjiku Gift Gate (1/F, Korakuen Building, 3-15-11 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku) is great for kids, with a giant Hello Kitty there to meet you on your way in.
The Worst Part
The room in the hotel was extremely small and the family inched around their half-meter hallway. The beds were also quite small.
Most Unexpected Event
Their Japanese friend and her family took them to Chaya Macrobiotic Restaurant (Isetan Department Store, 7/F Main Building, 3-14-1 Shinjuku,Shinjuku-ku, 03-3357-0014). This fancy vegetarian restaurant serves vegan-friendly delicacies, with most dishes containing no meat, eggs or dairy. For those who are craving something other than vegetables, they also serve seafood.
Japanese food is generally healthy and kid-friendly. Small noodle restaurants located inside subway stations or on the street are worth the money and are delicious for a quick lunch. The family enjoyed udon noodles as well as the local snacks that can be found along the Nakamise shopping street. There are a lot of department stores and most of them have huge food courts in their basements. Tasty pastries, sandwiches, sushi and fresh fruit are easy to find and a lot of the food comes in nice boxes, making them convenient to take away.
Japanese people are extremely polite and helpful. In the subway stations, visitors can ask a friendly attendant for directions. If you bring currency with you, it is better to have US dollars as the Euro is not commonly accepted. Tokyo is expensive, so be well prepared with cash and a credit card. If visiting Tokyo Disneyland, parents can rent a baby stroller at the gate.
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