betweenrootsandwings betweenrootsandwings

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Between Roots and Wings Blog  An American in Sydney🇺🇸🇦🇺, mom to 2 littles 👨‍👩‍👧‍👧, and blogger. Also @artsplorers_au

We tried out a new playground last week. The equipment literally still had “that new playground” smell. 😅 Market Garden Park in Willoughby is a really sweet playground, tucked in next to a butterfly garden and a large open field. There are picnic tables and an adult exercise area, as well. (Downsides - no public toilets or coffee nearby.) It has a great feel to it - very happy with our find!

I did not tell her to pose like that! 😂😎
High on my Tokyo must-do list was to take a wander through the Harajuku neighbourhood. It’s best known for being the home of “kawaii” (cute), and while that aesthetic doesn’t completely appeal to me, I really wanted to see a place so bright, colourful, and immersed in nothing but joy. We found busy lanes bursting with kitschy shops, crazy dessert kiosks, and cat cafes. A step over to Harajuku Street was a bit more adult with vintage stores, art boutiques, restaurants, and street art. Definitely worth seeing at least once - and, bring your sweet tooth.

Our final stop of our Yokohama day was the Harry Hedgehog Cafe, where you get to hold and feed hedgehogs for an hour. 🦔 The admission was more or less highway robbery (and, we had to argue with the manager to get out of paying for CJ, who is 16 months old, and was tucked in the baby carrier 🙄), and if we’re honest, hedgehogs aren’t actually the world’s most cuddly animal... But, the space itself is nice enough and the animals seem to be well looked after ... and they *are* very cute. There’s also a meerkat, a ferret, and some lizards. I probably wouldn’t have done this without kids, but if you ask Hushpuppy what her favorite part of our entire Japan trip was, she’ll tell you it was the 🦔🦔🦔.

Our second stop in Yokohama, after the Cup Noodle Museum was the eye-poppingly beautiful Sankeien Gardens. They were somehow both wild and perfectly manicured- the Japanese garden of my imagination. We didn’t have time to see nearly all of the property, but we managed a good ramble, and Hushpuppy loved feeding the koi, turtles, and ducks.

I love so much that I have friends who have found themselves all over the world. One day on our Tokyo trip, we caught the train to Yokohama to see my college friend @kimimp and her daughters. We haven’t seen each other in years, but I’ve noticed that there’s a sort of shared experience understanding with all of my old friends who are also expats - a few years makes no difference.
Yokohama is about an hour from Tokyo, and it hardly felt further than anywhere we traveled on each of our days in the city. Kimi showed us the most fantastic day, and I’m going to need separate posts to show you the things we got up to.
First stop was the Cup Noodles Museum @cupnoodle_jp . Here you have the chance to make your own Cup Noodles, from decorating your cup, to choosing your ingredients, to watching it get shrink wrapped, and then gift wrapping it yourself. It was so much fun for the kids and adults. 🍜 Hushpuppy had never had Cup Noodles before, and she could not wait to eat hers, suggesting we surely could find some hot water in a bathroom tap to eat it right then and there! 😂
Also at the museum was an awesome play experience where the kids got to “be a noodle” (also a big hit for HP who came out and told me she was “one tired noodle.”) And, a full floor is interactive activities that were very cool. 👍👍 Two noodley thumbs up from us for the Cup Noodle Museum.

I’ve tried a few times in the past to make okonomiyaki at home, and it’s always turned into such a mess. A delicious mess, but still... So, we jumped at the idea of going to a make your own okonomiyaki restaurant where you cook the cabbage/egg/veg/meat “pancakes” on a skillet on your table. It was so much fun, especially because Sakura-tei in Harajuku had the best graffiti decor. We also ate the pickled veg (so darn good) and dumplings, which you steam on the hot grill.
Now that we’ve had some help from a pro, I’m going to have to give okonomiyaki another attempt. It’s too good to not be eating on the regular.

Our Tokyo trip is almost over, and I have a lot of catching up to do on photos! We’ve done sacred sites and kawaii street cute; gorgeous gardens and 7-11 bentos; high art and total kitsch. Maybe that’s the coolest thing about Japan - it seems to meld mannered culture with modern fun, and there really is something for everyone.
🌹
For lunch today, we decided to embrace the kitsch and head to one of Tokyo’s Alice in Wonderland themed restaurants. There are several of them in a chain, all with a different twist. This one is at the bottom of a non-descript shopping mall in Shinjuku, and it’s not super fancy, but the prices for lunch were also very reasonable. Hushpuppy got quite the kick out of this place, and she was especially delighted with the character themed food - both were pasta dishes that were surprisingly tasty. It was a fun lunch, but I probably wouldn’t make a special trip, if you’re not in the neighborhood. #travelwithkids #tokyowithkids #tokyorestaurant #aliceinwonderland #familytravel

Before we went to Disney, Partner-in-Crime sussed out the most useful little trick. It’s called Ride Switch, and it was perfect for our family makeup. Basically, if you have a little one who can’t ride some of the Fast Pass height requirement rides, you can get a Fast Pass for both adults and the bigger kid, then when you arrive, you tell a cast member that you want a Ride Switch. They give you a card that entitles you to split up your group. So, basically, I got to ride with Hushpuppy, while Dad stayed outside with the baby. Then, he and Hushpuppy got escorted back on, and I watched the baby outside. Both adults had the chance to ride, and HP got two rides on Splash Mountain and Monsters Inc. There’s my one and only Disney trick!
#tokyodisneyland #travelwithkids #expatfamily #aussieparentingbloggers

My friends from the almost decade I lived in Florida may find it amusing that, after spending all that time rebuking offers of day trips to Disney, I finally found myself there ... in Tokyo. I was never anti-Disney, more indifferent. But, there’s nothing that makes a place the happiest on Earth more than seeing your kids have the best day of their lives.

Day 1 in Tokyo, and Partner in Crime had us making a beeline for the Edo Tokyo Museum. It’s in the most impressive building, and we learned a lot by asking for an English speaking guide. Apparently there are people who volunteer their time to do that - you just have to ask.
Truth be told, a lot of the Edo period historical stuff was a lot more interesting to PIC than me, but I started zoning back in when he showed us old style sushi, a carry along soba noodle booth, a Samurai costume, and - after as many theatre history classes as I’ve taken - of course everything about Kabuki theatre.
Tomorrow, just a bit of a change of pace - it’s off to Disney.

This was a big winner toddler airplane activity, and easy to pack. I cut a hole in the top of a water bottle for her to push popsicle sticks through. She ran through it at least 25 times during the flight.
I also packed a roll of masking tape to tape sticks to the tray for her to rescue. That was less of a hit, but then just pulling pieces of tap off the arm rest went over better. Toddlers. Ya never know!
#travelwithkids #toddleractivities #everydayplayhacks

See you soon 🇯🇵!
#travelwithkids #sydneymums #visitjapan

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