Hungry for travel – a family holiday to Japan

13 Oct

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The Hungry Family recently returned from a trip to Tokyo, Kyoto and Tokyo Disney. It is fair to say that we are all smitten with this amazing country. The food was incredible and fresh and inexpensive, the people were friendly and polite, and everything was spotless – even the toilets at train stations were immaculate. And the shopping. Oh.The.Shopping. Our suitcases were bulging at the seams on our return with Japanese lollies (candy), various spicy sauces, whisky, clothes and Disney everything! IMG_8727

We were lucky when we bought our Yen that the Australian dollar was just under parity so we didn’t have to worry about conversions too much.

We stayed at the Keio Plaza Hotel in Shinjuku which I would highly recommend. We had a 4 bed family room complete with two bathrooms and a sitting area. I was warned that Japanese hotel rooms were tiny but this was very spacious. It was a fab location – close to the action and directly across the road from the impressive Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. This building has a free observation deck which I would highly recommend visiting at night – the views across Tokyo go on forever.

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Department stores in Japan have basement levels that are full of the most incredible, perfect looking food you can imagine. Grapes are the size of plums, sushi is laid out like art and often prepared by the house sushi chef, and cakes are intricate and beautiful. Towards the end of the night all these goods are marked down and it is bedlam – locals jostling for bargains, workers sprucing their wares, people everywhere desperate to get the last tuna belly or bento box. Thinking Boxing Day sales, only with infinitely more people.

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I thought I was prepared for the crowds in Tokyo but I really wasn’t. No matter where we went, at what time of day, there were squillions of people. All polite, and no-one pushing, but just people and people and people in every direction. Coming from big Australia, that was a shock.

After a few days in Tokyo it was the shinkasen to Kyoto. Ahhh, bullet trains – bring them to Australia and will sell my car and catch trains everywhere. What an easy, safe, clean way to travel. 250km an hour, with zero deaths in the 50 years they’ve been running, and punctual to within less than 60 seconds of their timetable. How do they do it?!

Kyoto was stunning but again – crowded. The Golden Temple – crowded. The Nishiki Markets – crowded. The  Fushimi Inari Temple – crowded. And this wasn’t even cherry blossom season.

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A few days later back to our fav shinkasen to Tokyo where we changed to a commuter train for Disney!

I’ll talk about Disney more in another post. For now, here are some photos of things we brought back with us…IMG_9816 IMG_9817 IMG_9818 IMG_9819 IMG_9820 IMG_9828 IMG_9830 IMG_9831

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53 Responses to “Hungry for travel – a family holiday to Japan”

  1. cheergerm October 13, 2014 at 5:30 am #

    Excellent Mrs Hungry, sounds like a fab holiday. I remember feeling like a tad overwhelmed by the crowds in Hong Kong a few times as well. I hope there is some food left in Japan after a visit from the whole Hungry family! 😁

    • thehungrymum October 13, 2014 at 8:09 am #

      Hehehe – we may have left a few scraps but certainly not much! The sushi! The soba! The tempura! It was all soooo good 😐

  2. craftysorcha October 13, 2014 at 7:05 am #

    Wow, looks like a great holiday!
    Japan is on my bucket-list of places to go, it looks fascinating. The crowds are a bit scary though!

    • thehungrymum October 19, 2014 at 7:31 am #

      I can’t recommend Japan enough – we are sooo keen to return. The crowds… yep, they are huge!

  3. Martina October 13, 2014 at 8:10 am #

    Sounds like a wonderful holiday. I loved Tokyo when I visited 2 years ago but you’re absolutely right – THE CROWDS! 😉

    • thehungrymum October 19, 2014 at 7:33 am #

      Isn’t Tokyo amazing? So much energy. So many people!

  4. Frugal Hausfrau October 13, 2014 at 9:56 am #

    How fun for you, and thanks for sharing your experiences and photos! Somehow, I can always relate through food, and it sounds like you do, too!

  5. ladyredspecs October 13, 2014 at 10:40 am #

    We’ve had amazing Japanese food tonight in Brissy. Looks like a fab holiday Mrs H! One day soon……..

    • thehungrymum October 19, 2014 at 7:34 am #

      Yum! I could happily exist purely on Japanese food!

  6. Deblet October 13, 2014 at 6:55 pm #

    Wow what an amazing experience.We have Kitkat in South Africa and the dark chocolate one has just recently become available

    • thehungrymum October 19, 2014 at 7:35 am #

      We have Kit Kats in Australia too but not some of the crazy flavours they have in Japan! I don’t have a sweet tooth but I couldn’t resist 🙂

  7. tokyo5 October 13, 2014 at 11:58 pm #

    Nice photos. Looks like you had a nice time in Japan. I live in Tokyo…please visit my blog:
    http://tokyo5.wordpress.com

    By the way, in the fifth photo up from the bottom of the post, it says “The smallest confetti-candy in all of Japan.”
    🙂

    • thehungrymum October 19, 2014 at 7:47 am #

      Thanks for the translation of the candy! I had *no* idea what it said. Your blog is great – wish I had discovered it before we visited Japan 🙂

      • tokyo5 October 19, 2014 at 9:28 am #

        Thank you. Feel free to comment on my blog anytime.

  8. Amanda@ChewTown October 14, 2014 at 12:38 am #

    Yay! I’m planning a trip for next year… we must get together with Bellyrumbles for a Japanese chat and catch up. x

    • thehungrymum October 19, 2014 at 7:36 am #

      oooh, lucky duck! Def up for a catch up w/ Bellyrumbles – at a Japanese eatery, of course 🙂

  9. love in the kitchen October 14, 2014 at 1:48 am #

    What a great post – love the photographs and share your delight in travelling in Japan. I absolutely love it! Keep dreaming of doing a sabbatical there. Your Tokyo hotel recommendation sounds wonderful. I was wondering if you’d say where you stayed in Kyoto. We stayed in the Hotel Granvia – right in the Kyoto train station – and it was WONDERFUL. One of my favourite places is Narita – where the Tokyo airport is located. Most people don’t see it but there is the most fabulous OLD downtown and a huge park/shrine there – which you could easily spend a day wandering through.
    You’ve inspired me!

    • thehungrymum October 19, 2014 at 7:39 am #

      How amazing is Kyoto station?! We ate there most days. We stayed at the Ringha Royal, just around the corner. I’m surprised about Narita, had never heard that it was so amazing! Next time [and how I hope there will be a next time!]

  10. Liz October 14, 2014 at 3:21 am #

    what fun 🙂 Your pictures made me smile. Thanks for sharing all! And agreed that the ethnic food–even (or maybe especially) the crazy candies–are always the best part of travel.

    • thehungrymum October 19, 2014 at 7:43 am #

      Thanks Liz! Whenever we travel I drag my family into every supermarket we pass. I think it reveals much about a place 🙂

  11. ChgoJohn October 14, 2014 at 5:59 am #

    Wow! That was one heckuva family vacation! Sounds like you all had a fantastic time. Good for you!

    • thehungrymum October 19, 2014 at 7:41 am #

      Thanks 🙂 It was just incredible! My gals loved being exposed to a completely different culture and language.

    • thehungrymum October 24, 2014 at 4:21 am #

      Thanks! Such an incredible place, just wish I could go back 🙂

  12. Edible Reflections October 14, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

    Great pictures. How did you do with the language? Is English widely spoken or did you have an interpreter?

    • thehungrymum October 24, 2014 at 4:20 am #

      Thanks! English is sort of widely spoken in that we got by. We managed to buy medicine for my sore throat with a mix of pantomime and basic words! I recommend an app called Learn Japanese – it got me out of a pickle a few times 🙂

  13. marymtf October 15, 2014 at 3:57 am #

    Love Japanese food. We have sushi places near us and a Japanese grocery shop. Have to check out if they have the lollies. 🙂

    • thehungrymum October 16, 2014 at 5:19 am #

      I could quite happily eat Japanese food most days. So clean. So healthy. So delish 🙂

  14. Kathryn Barton October 15, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

    Ah, the Japanese do seem to LOVE their packaging, Belle! Must upload a vid of 6ft 4″ Mr B trying to open his lunch the other day (@ home, love, nowhere exotic). Took an excruciatingly long time for him to get through the ear-splitting, crackly casing … then I get: “Love, do you think you could open my ginger?”. Mike’s been to Tokyo and gets all misty eyed when he recalls the kindness of strangers there. Great blog, my sweet.

    • thehungrymum October 16, 2014 at 5:52 am #

      Oh, KB – you have such a way with words – I can almost hear the fight with the plastic packaging! I hope life is being kind to you, you beautiful woman x

  15. thehungryartist October 16, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

    Sounds so great! I so wish I could bring my family there. I lived there for three years in the early 90s and haven’t gone back since!

    • thehungrymum October 19, 2014 at 7:44 am #

      You lived there?! Wow – how amazing! I hope you get back there with your family one day.

  16. gourmetgetaway October 16, 2014 at 8:22 pm #

    We love Japan!!! Your story has made me want to return again!! I love that even the supermarkets sell massive trays of sushi, sashimi, rice balls etc! So jealous!
    Thanks for sharing
    Julie
    Gourmet Getaways

    • thehungrymum October 17, 2014 at 4:18 am #

      Thanks Julie- I too want to return & I’ve only just returned! Their fresh food is unlike anything I’ve ever seen – and at such reasonable prices 🙂

  17. Nine Cent Girl October 17, 2014 at 8:36 pm #

    Your photos brought me back to my short and wonderful visit to Japan over a decade ago. I was so grateful for the plastic food you could point out to order at the noodle shops! How wonderful to bring your family too!!

    • thehungrymum October 19, 2014 at 7:29 am #

      how great is that plastic food?! It saved us a few times – the kids loved knowing *exactly* what they would be getting when they ordered!

  18. Sara | Belly Rumbles (@bellyrumbles) October 19, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

    I have been watching all your adventures through social media. You all seem to have had an amazing time. So glad you guys loved Japan 🙂 And yes we need to do a post Japan degrag with Amanda (chew town) 🙂

    • thehungrymum October 20, 2014 at 1:49 am #

      will hit you guys up on twitter for a catchup date!

  19. Fran @ G'day Souffle' October 19, 2014 at 9:28 pm #

    Looks like the Japanese love a mixture of Sushi and Kit Kats- gotta love it!

    • thehungrymum October 20, 2014 at 1:27 am #

      they have the BEST food! Wanna go back!

  20. Choc Chip Uru October 20, 2014 at 10:24 am #

    Your stories, your photos, everything just made me want to jump straight onto a plane and head off to Japan 😀

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

    • thehungrymum October 21, 2014 at 6:21 am #

      DO IT! Well, finish your degree first, then DO IT! I just want to head back ASAP #mustWinLotto

  21. Chloe October 20, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

    Oh gosh, I’m so jealous! I’ve been wanting to go to Japan for absolutely ages! I’m glad you had a good time 🙂

    • thehungrymum October 21, 2014 at 6:20 am #

      Thanks! It was everything I hoped it would be – and more. Such an amazing place.

  22. MyKabulKitchen October 21, 2014 at 7:08 pm #

    Wow thank you for sharing your experience and pictures, looks like an amazing trip!

  23. Berny @ I Only Eat Desserts November 27, 2014 at 12:20 am #

    Absolutely love Japan and everyone is so nice and kind – if there’s a 2 hr line people won’t push in still D: Jealous of your kitkats (I have such an obsession) and dying to try out the baked ones haha 😛

    • thehungrymum November 27, 2014 at 1:12 am #

      Aren’t they the sweetest people? On trains they would insist we take their seat and they would stand, in restaurants they would move and give us their table to allow us more room. They would approach us in the street and ask if we needed help finding something. And we haven\t even opened the Kit Kats yet! #fail

  24. Natalie July 6, 2015 at 3:22 pm #

    Ah those Kit Kats! Im so curious to try these other flavours. We’ve never been to Japan but the kids are wanting to go (they learn Japanese at school) so definitely on our family bucket list!

    • thehungrymum July 11, 2015 at 2:54 am #

      I am desperate to get back – the lollies and chocolates are so fun 😉

  25. Aleney July 17, 2015 at 11:33 pm #

    We just returned from Japan and are equally smitten and equally addicted to all the yummy sweets treats. We also stayed at the Keio Plaza which was amazing for kids… though we stayed in a Hello Kitty Suite as a treat for our littlest. #wanderlustteam

    • thehungrymum July 19, 2015 at 11:45 pm #

      They have Hello Kitty suites?! Squee! I loved the location of the Keio, so central. Even I managed to not get lost whenever I wandered alone 😉

  26. Kirralee @ Escape With Kids July 19, 2015 at 11:01 am #

    You’re definitely selling me on Japan. Everytime I read about it, it moves up my travel wishlist. I so want to go on a bullet train. The crowds don’t sound so good, but the cleanliness and amazing food sound fab. Thank you for sharing. From #teamwanderlust

    • thehungrymum July 19, 2015 at 11:43 pm #

      Do it! It had never been high on my ‘must’ list either but the Hungry Dad, who had been several times, kept raving about it. So glad we went – now am itching to get back. The bullet train was an experience like no other.

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