We made it! It looked a bit hairy there for a minute, but we’re all here: all the luggage, most of our sanity, both children.
We took the Union Pearson Express train from Union Station to Pearson Airport, where we made it through a very rigorous security clearance on our way to our layover in Chicago.
Our plane was two seats on either side of the aisle and Jon got Caleb, thinking he’d be the easier one. Turns out the timing meant Naomi napped the whole ride over and Jon got one and a half hours of questions around plane riding and physics and aerodynamics and how planes go up into the air and what’s that sound and when are we going to get there.
So we made it to Chicago. The O’Hare airport is as intense and busy as it’s reputed to be, and our four hour layover was extended an extra hour due to a delay on our flight to Japan.
We packed lots of snacks and toys, and the layover portion wasn’t too bad because for the most part we ate and wandered around. We’re at a fairly good stage with the kids—while Naomi is right at the beginning stages of potty training, she’s still in diapers, so it’s just a matter of changing them; Caleb is 100% potty trained, of course, so it’s just a matter of bringing him to the washroom. Two years ago when I traveled solo with Caleb to San Francisco he was potty trained enough to be generally diaper free, but sort of just at the beginning stages, so there was always the danger lurking.
And then the plane! This was the long haul flight, with surprisingly terrible food. I mean, I know airplane food is suppose to be bad, but actually in many of the flights I’ve been on in my life, it hasn’t been so bad at all. All of the meals on this flight were terrible. The kids are generally pretty adventurous eaters, and they’ll willingly try most new food, including trying all of the different pieces of the airplane meals, but even I had to give it up on these ones.
It was a long flight. Caleb watched videos (certainly a real treat for him so it kept him quite occupied), we read some books, we doodled, and everyone tried to nap. Caleb slept on the floor across our four seats fairly well and Naomi napped on two seats until an attendant woke us up saying Caleb needed to be in his seat.
But in any case, we made it! We arrived in the evening in Tokyo, but we were all so exhausted from our plane ride that we went right to sleep at 10 pm Tokyo time at our hotel, so we woke up the next morning with our cycles mostly reset.
Our first hotel is by the water, near the massive trade show featuring stationery items that’s up first (unfortunately no photos allowed, a theme that might not be too infrequent). Then onwards with our itinerary (moving hotels, visiting a few shops, and then right into a few visits). It’s the summer here, and the heat and humidity are an adjustment—Toronto was just beginning to warm up from a cool, dry spring.
As I speak, Jon has taken the kids off to pick up some morning coffee, so I’m sitting here in our hotel room, surrounded by kids books and towels and grapes and half-opened luggage bags and a broken 100 yen fan that we got at Daiso for the kids.
This is our first big visit to Japan, and we’re mostly just looking to take it all in, or at least as much as possible. A learning curve for sure: how to travel with kids, Japanese culture, getting around the city, how to buy groceries and train tickets. What it is to be in another part of the world.
Currently reading: Spring Snow by Yukio Mishima
Currently drinking: hotel provided green tea
Currently not looking forward to: fitting everything back into our luggage for moving to our next hotel
Best travel tip for traveling with kids: disposable diaper wipes
Currently excited to visit next: the big Itoya
Currently enjoying: Japanese vending machine cold drinks
Latest heard from the Chan family: [following a hiccup with our travel plans]
Liz: Jon don’t be in such a bad mood, we’re in Japan.
Jon: This is just my normal mood.