Adventure, baby!

Japan

Why You Should Visit Universal Studios Japan

Universal Studios Japan

As I was heading off to Japan this week a friend commented to me that they’d never thought of visiting Universal Studios outside of Hollywood, as this is the original studio and why wouldn’t you visit any but the original?

It was an interesting question, and I have the answer! It turns out that each Universal Studios has unique elements that are special to that location only, so visiting each park you are able to experience attractions or meet characters that you are only able to in that specific location. If you’re wondering why you should visit Universal Studio Japan, even if you’ve been to both Universal parks in Hollywood and Orlando, here is your answer.

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

Minion Park
The world’s largest Minion-themed attraction opened in March 2017. Take a spin on the incredible Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem ride, try Minion-themed snacks, watch the crazy Minions street show and meet the characters afterwards. It’s all Minions, all the time! More info on the amazing Minions Park here.

Universal Studios Japan

Cool Japan
The attractions in the Cool Japan section of the park are all based on iconic anime, video game, music, and manga titles produced in Japan. They change seasonally so there is always something new to see. The attractions are based on games and movies such as Resident Evil, Godzilla and, when I visited, Dragon Quest.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

Black Lake in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
While you can visit Hogwarts and Hogsmeade elsewhere, Universal Studios Japan is the only place where you can see Hogwarts overlooking the majestic Black Lake. Honestly, the view from here is incredible and watching the evening show with fireworks reflected on the lake is just amazing. More info on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter here.

Sesame Street
This is the place to go to meet all your favourite Sesame Street characters and take a spin on some similarly themed rides. The Count, Elmo, Cookie Monster and Abby Cadabby are all ready to meet guests with hugs. Universal Studios Japan is also home to Moppy, the adorable pink Japanese Sesame Street character.

Hello Kitty
It’s no surprise to find Hello Kitty here! She is everywhere in the park, from a life-size character you can meet and take photos with, to shops, merchandise and a design studio.

Snoopy and Friends
All the Peanuts characters are here, plus a Snoopy-themed cafe and ride for littlies. Charlie Brown, Snoopy and Lucy were all around for photo ops when we visited.

Universal Studios Japan Tickets
A studio pass grants you admission to the park and a Universal Express® Pass will shorten the waiting time for attractions. The admission ticket includes park entrance and use of all attractions in the park. You can buy tickets in advance from these travel agencies or on the day at the park. Ticket Booths are open from one hour before the park opens for business.

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

Where to stay
I stayed at the offical Universal Studios Hotel, Hotel Universal Port, which is just a short walk from the park and about 10-15 min train ride from Osaka CBD. It has fantastic Minions theming in the lobby and a few of the rooms.

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

There are plenty of food options outside the park as well as restaurants inside the hotels if you stay onsite. You could easily spend two days at Universal Studios Japan and if you do, it’s a good idea to stay at a nearby hotel to make the commute easier.

Get more info on my stay at Hotel Universal Port.

Universal Studios Japan
Japan, 〒554-0031 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, Konohana Ward, Sakurajima, 2 Chome−1−33. Universal Studios Japan Online

How to get there:
Take the subway to Universal City station (JR Yumesaki line). Universal Studios Japan is about a 5-minute walk from there.

For more information on on Osaka and Universal Studios Japan, head to gdayjapan.com.au

Planning a trip to Japan? Get fantastic ideas for your Japan itinerary from Sher She Goes.

I visited as a guest of Universal Studios Japan and the Japanese National Tourism Organization. I genuinely loved the experience and all opinions are my own. Additional images courtesy of Universal Studios Japan.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

The Hotel Universal Port is the perfect place to stay for a visit to Universal Studios. Located a short stroll from the entrance to the park, it’s an easy place to stay for quick access and a fast homecoming – perfect for when you’ve had a long day at the park and just want to get back to your room and rest.

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

Theming is something Universal Studios does particularly well, and the Hotel Universal Port is no exception. The outside has fantastic Jurassic Park theming, while the inside has a T-Rex-themed cafe plus the new Minions all over the main foyer.

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

Minions statues, plushes and images are displayed all over the lobby, as well as playing the movies on a TV screen near a small soft play area for small children.

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

If you are particularly mad about Minions you can stay in a Minions-themed room as well.

The regular rooms, which is where I stayed, are standard hotel rooms. Mine had two twin beds, but there are larger rooms available that suit families in size. Each room has a standard bathroom, free Wifi, a TV, fridge and tea making facilities.

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

I found the room to be comfortable and contain everything I needed for a short stay. I also enjoyed the excellent view of the park out of the window! It put me right into the mood for visiting the park.

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

Breakfast was included in the package and was a highlight each morning. The breakfast buffet served up around 90 dishes, all of which were traditionally Japanese as the hotel caters mostly to local tourists. A map available at the entrance explains the layout in both Japanese and English so it’s easy to understand where everything is, and each dish is labelled both with a name and ingredients in both languages too. A word of warning – the labels are not 100% accurate so approach items like dumplings with caution if you have dietary restrictions.

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

The hotel has a casual cafe in the lobby area that serves traditional Japanese food such as udon noodles and so forth, which is great to grab dinner from after a long day at the park. They also serve amazing looking cakes if you’ve got a sweet tooth like me.

Hotel Universal Port
Japan, 〒554-0031 Osaka Prefecture, 大阪市此花区Konohana Ward, Sakurajima, 1 Chome−1−111
http://www.hoteluniversalport.jp/en

I stayed at the hotel as a guest of Universal Studios Japan. All opinions are my own. 

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

The magical world of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan is a must-visit for fans of the books and movies. Inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the village of Hogsmeade and Hogwarts have been faithfully recreated for fans to immerse themselves inside the story.

From the entrance to the world, it’s clear that this is a distinctly seperate part of the park from the other attractions. Harry Potter theme music plays as you walk up the path, lined by trees and featuring the famous Flying Ford Anglia from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It flashes its lights and honks as it lies crashed into a tree – a sign that you’re about to embark on a magical adventure through the world of Harry Potter.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

Inside the entrance to Hogsmeade lies the Hogwarts Express steam train. You can take a photo next to the train and with its conductor, or if you walk around the corner you can have your photo taken inside a replica of one of the train’s carriages.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

Nearby, Butterbeer, in various varieties, is available for sale, as are plenty of other Harry Potter-themed food, clothing, and, of course, wands. Hogsmeade village is lined with shops each selling various items.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

Visit Honeydukes sweetshop to buy your own Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans™ and Chocolate Frogs™, and Ollivanders™ for your very own wand. A small alleyway next to Ollivanders is where you can line up to see a wand choosing a wizard.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

The main restaurant in this part of the park is Three Broomsticks™, a tavern-themed eatery where you can buy Butterbeer in a collectable take-home mug and traditional British dishes such as fish and chips and shepherd’s pie.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

Outside, the dining area has the best view of Hogwarts castle in the park, overlooking the Black Lake – a feature that is unique to Universal Studios Japan. The dining area is a great place to watch the evening light show from as there are minimal crowds.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

A brand new feature of the park when I visited was “Wand Magic”. After buying a special magic wand from Ollivanders, visitors are able to cast their own spells in the village.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

At various points around Hogsmeade such as a window, stone wall and in a back alley, muggles wishing to be magicians can chant special spells, wave their wands and, if they’re performed the words and actions correctly, watch magic happen before their eyes.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

There are two rides in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Flight of the Hippogriff™, which is a small, family-friendly rollercoaster, and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™ in 4K3D, which is the main attraction.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

To enter this ride, one must walk through Hogwarts™ School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, which as been recreated with extraordinary attention to detail. Pass through Dumbledore’s office, the Gryffindor™ common room and the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom before embarking on a thrilling journey on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™. The ride is incredible, and completely immerses riders in a magical journey.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

A new evening light show is also on offer for guests. The show plays twice and I would strongly recommend arriving early to mind a place at the front where you can see the action.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

The show takes place above eye line however, with projections on the castle, so even if you’re not right at the front you’ll be able to see the magical experience very well.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

The light show is a perfect way to end a day at Universal Studios Japan – it’s exciting, awe inspiring and extravagant, and leaves guests on a high as they make their way to the exit.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

Note: On weekends and busy days, guests must collect a free, timed entry ticket for entrance into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ at a designated time.

Universal Studios Japan Tickets
A studio pass grants you admission to the park and a Universal Express® Pass will shorten the waiting time for attractions. The admission ticket includes park entrance and use of all attractions in the park. You can buy tickets in advance from these travel agencies or on the day at the park. Ticket Booths are open from one hour before the park
opens for business.

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

Where to stay
I stayed at the offical Universal Studios Hotel, Hotel Universal Port, which is just a short walk from the park and about 10-15 min train ride from Osaka CBD. There are plenty of food options outside the park as well as restaurants inside the hotels if you stay onsite. You could easily spend two days at Universal Studios Japan and if you do, it’s a good idea to stay at a nearby hotel to make the commute easier.

Get more info on my stay at Hotel Universal Port.

Universal Studios Japan
Japan, 〒554-0031 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, Konohana Ward, Sakurajima, 2 Chome−1−33
Universal Studios Japan Online

How to get there:
Take the subway to Universal City station (JR Yumesaki line). Universal Studios Japan is about a 5-minute walk from there.

For more information on on Osaka and Universal Studios Japan, head to gdayjapan.com.au

Thinking of heading to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando? Get tips on saving money, time and hassle here via the Barefoot Nomad, and here for an excellent overview of visiting with kids via the Kid Bucket List.

I visited as a guest of Universal Studios Japan and the Japanese National Tourism Organization. I genuinely loved the experience and all opinions are my own. Additional images courtesy of Universal Studios Japan.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Minion Park at Universal Studios Japan

Minion Park, Universal Studios, Osaka, Japan

The mischief-loving Minions have a new home at Universal Studios Japan.

“Minion Park” has recently opened inside Universal Studios, and is proudly the largest Minions-themed attraction in the world.

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

Inside the plaza, the mayhem of Minions reigns supreme. Try a Minion-themed snack, pose for a photo, watch a Minions show and jump on the brand new Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride.

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

The plaza is so full of Minions that it’s difficult to know what to look at first. Do you pose for a photo with a Minion?

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

Or do you try a snack? I absolutely loved these Minion-inspired cookies from the Delicious Me store. They have a biscuit base and a choice of fillings. I selected the cream with fruit and the cookie tasted like a delicious fruit tart.

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

Other Minion-themed snacks include a fluffy pork bun, banana and caramel-flavoured popcorn in the cutest collectable carrier, and Minions-themed hamburger at The Happiness Cafe.

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

The Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride is the centerpiece of the plaza. It’s an incredible ride featuring hyper-realistic projections that takes you whirling through the chaotic world of Minions. It’s a heart-stopping, thrilling ride that is fun, fantastical and you’ll absolutely want to jump straight back on and ride it all over again.

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

Dotted around the plaza are Minion-themed shops and statues that are incredibly fun to shop for Minions goodies and get a great selfie with.

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

Stop by Sweet Surrender for unique Minions plushies, food, clothing and toys. They’re incredibly cute and make for great souvenirs to take home.

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

A Minions street show completes the new attraction. The show is performed multiple times a day and is filled with chaos, fun and mayhem, just what you would expect from the Minions!

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

After the show you can get a photo with the Minions if you feel like braving the crowds. I would advise seeing if you can find out what times the Minions appear in the plaza for photo opportunities throughout the day instead of lining up after a show.

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

Tips for visiting Minions Plaza
Be early! The Minions area is incredibly popular and was busier when we visited than the Harry Potter section of the park. I would recommend heading there as soon as the park gates open.

Get into the spirit! Wear anything Minions-themed that you own and you will fit in well with the crowd.

Try a bit of everything! The snacks are all quirky and fun. I loved the biscuit and popcorn as I have a sweet tooth.

Get to the show early. It’s super popular too with people sitting on the ground in preparation well in advance of the show time.

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

Universal Studios Japan Tickets
A studio pass grants you admission to the park and a Universal Express® Pass will shorten the waiting time for attractions. The admission ticket includes park entrance and use of all attractions in the park. You can buy tickets in advance from these travel agencies or on the day at the park. Ticket Booths are open from one hour before the park opens for business.

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

Where to stay
I stayed at the offical Universal Studios Hotel, Hotel Universal Port, which is just a short walk from the park and about 10-15 min train ride from Osaka CBD. It has fantastic Minions theming in the lobby and a few of the rooms.

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

There are plenty of food options outside the park as well as restaurants inside the hotels if you stay onsite. You could easily spend two days at Universal Studios Japan and if you do, it’s a good idea to stay at a nearby hotel to make the commute easier.

Get more info on my stay at Hotel Universal Port.

Universal Studios Japan
Japan, 〒554-0031 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, Konohana Ward, Sakurajima, 2 Chome−1−33. Universal Studios Japan Online

How to get there:
Take the subway to Universal City station (JR Yumesaki line). Universal Studios Japan is about a 5-minute walk from there.

For more information on on Osaka and Universal Studios Japan, head to gdayjapan.com.au.

I visited as a guest of Universal Studios Japan and the Japanese National Tourism Organization. I genuinely loved the experience and all opinions are my own. Additional images courtesy of Universal Studios Japan.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

8 Things To Do In Neisko, Japan, With Kids

8 Things To Do In Niseko With Kids via christineknight.me

Japan is one of my absolute favourite countries to visit. The culture is exquisite, the people welcoming and the cities and scenery spectacular. Like I said, already a huge, raving fan. I last visited Japan when I was footloose and fancy free, way before little Cheese came along. I can’t wait to take her back to experience this beautiful country, particularly a city called Niseko, in the Hokkaido precinct.

Niseko is renowned among ski and snowboarders for having the best ski terrain in Japan. Set amongst snow-capped mountains, and close to hot spring resorts (AKA onsen), this is a town that is majestic to visit any time of year.

8 Things To Do In Niseko With Kids via christineknight.me

While Niseko is known for its snow, it’s actually an ideal holiday location for all seasons – particularly for active families like mine. If you’re thinking of visiting Japan this year with your kids, consider adding Niseko to your itinerary, and enjoy some of these eight family-friendly activities. If you want even more ideas on planning your trip, you can check out Vacation Niseko.

8 Things To Do In Niseko With Kids via christineknight.me

Snow sports
Winter is peak season in Niseko for a very good reason. If you’re a snow bunny, this is the time for your family to visit and enjoy sports such as snow tubing and sledding. Families with kids aged three and over can enjoy these exhilarating winter sports at Hanazono Adventure Park, located at Hanazono 308, accessed from Hirafu village via frequent, free Hanazono shuttle buses.

8 Things To Do In Niseko With Kids via christineknight.me

Local cuisine
You can’t visit Japan without enjoying their regional dishes. Take kids to visit Hokkaido’s famous dairy, Milk Kobo, serving locally made ice cream, yogurt and milk, plus vegetarian dishes. They have cute souvenir shops, too. Milk Kobo can be accessed via the Niseko United Shuttle bus and is open year-round except Dec. 31st and Jan. 1st.

8 Things To Do In Niseko With Kids via christineknight.me

Summer water sports
Niseko sits on the twisting and turning Shiribetsu river, which means summer is filled with exhilarating water sports. Get on the river in a 2-person inflatable kayak for a Ducky Tour, or enjoy a relaxing rafting tour. Older kids can try SUP – stand up paddleboarding. It’s very easy to learn and a fun way to explore the river.

8 Things To Do In Niseko With Kids via christineknight.me

PURE Nature Activity Centre
When you’re staying in the mountains, there’s going to be a lot of nature to be had. If you want to really get out and enjoy the scenery, visit the PURE centre at Niseko Village for a wide range of family-friendly activities, including mountain biking, ziplining, horseback riding and hot-air ballooning. Tree Trekking particular looks amazing – kids can walk among the trees on a network of ziplines, nets and ropeways.

8 Things To Do In Niseko With Kids via christineknight.me

Indoor Rock-climbing
When you want a break from the great outdoors, indoor rock climbing will keep the kids busy for hours. A great activity that the whole family can enjoy, or you can sit back and enjoy a coffee from JoJo’s Cafe while the kids scrabble up the rock faces on their own at the Niseko Adventure Centre.

8 Things To Do In Niseko With Kids via christineknight.me
Zipline
The whole family can clip on a harness and fly on a 200 metre zipline, 10 metres above the mountain. The zipline runs year-round at Hanazono Adventure Park, located at Hanazono 308. It is accessed from Hirafu village via frequent, free Hanazono shuttle buses. Participants must be over 100 cm and below 100 kg. The zipline experience lasts roughly 30 minutes.

8 Things To Do In Niseko With Kids via christineknight.me

Ski school
The perfect opportunity for your kids to learn how to ski from expert instructors. Vacation Niseko will arrange it all for you, and ensure your child is booked into the correct class at NISS, their premier ski school. Kids aged 3-6 yrs can join the Tic-Tac Kids Club for a full-day program in Hanazono, a large area with three magic carpets and minimal hill traffic, making it a safe place for little ones to learn the basics. Classes are limited to 6 kids. Older kids can join the Yuki full-day program (7-14 yrs), where they will explore the slopes around Hanazono and Niseko with their instructor. Yuki groups are separated into skiers and boarders, and are limited to 8 participants.

Doumu Glass Gallery
A cultural experience I would love to explore is glassblowing, which the Shiribeshi region is renowned for. Glassblowing artist Kazuo Ikeda is known for his elegant and simple glass work, with his shop located near Hirafu in Higashiyama. At the Doumo Glass Gallery you can attend a sandblasting workshop and create your own Japanese-style glass or beer mug.The Doumo Glass Gallery is close to Milk Kobo, making them a great pair of activities to do together. Both are easily accessed via the Niseko United Shuttle bus.

8 Things To Do In Niseko With Kids via christineknight.me

Where to stay:
Choose from a range of accommodation from apartments to townhouses, depending on your budget. The most expensive time to visit is winter. In the off season, accommodation is a fraction of the cost, making it a fantastic option for a summer, autumn or spring holiday. Check out your options at Vacation Niseko.

Getting there:
Niseko is a two-to-three hour drive from New Chitose Airport, just outside of Sapporo. While it is an international airport, most international visitors will need to fly into Tokyo or Narita and catch a flight from there.

This post was produced in conjunction with Vacation Niseko.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Last Day in Tokyo

So sad that our last day came so quickly. We spend the morning visiting the Tokyo Google office and Alec’s Sysop friends. We had a great time and had some of the Japanese mysteries explained to us. No-one could explain what the mystery slime that kept appearing on our food was however.

We then caught the monorail to Odabia, a man-made island that is an entertainment district. We didn’t have much time so we only went to one place, Miraikan, the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation. Alec in particular really enjoyed the museum, particularly because of the robots.

The airport was our next stop and then finally home the next morning.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Tokyo – Christine’s Day Out

Today was my turn. We started the day in Harajuku, which is where all the trendy boutiques are. It’s kind of like Newtown. I found an awesome little shop where I bought a few very pretty vintage lace things. Maternity-style lace dresses are all the rage here. While it looks awesome on tiny skinny girls, it looks stupid on a tall medium white girl.

After Harajuku we stopped in Shibuya to see the statue of Hachiko, a famous dog, and to see the also famous Shibuya crossing – a five-way crossing streaming with hip teenagers.

Next stop was the Tokyo metropolitan Museum of Photography where they had three exhibitions: Surrealism and Photography: Beauty Convulsed; Mariogiacomelli; Secrets Unveiled Images from the Forbidden City. All very cool, particularly the first two.

After our cultural stop we caught the subway to Roppongi Hills and rode up 52 floors to the Tokyo City View – a 360 degree view of Tokyo. The weather turned bad unfortunately, so it was really cloudy with poor visibility, but we still waited for the sun to go down and watched all of the lights turn on. Beautiful!

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Tokyo – Alec’s Day Out

We decided to take turns in a manner of speaking, at deciding what to do each day. Today was Alec’s day, so we went to the Imperial Gardens, where they had beautiful flowers in the castle ruins. We then focussed on electronics.

We started at the Sony building – seven of so floors of Sony electronics – for Alec to try on their super-wizz-bang headphones, and then to the Apple store, where they had five floors of Apple wonderfulness.

Next was the electronics district where Alec found some games and gaming insanity all around, and ended it all up with going to our new favourite store, Bic Camera, for seven floors of electronics mayhem, which is where we bought a speaker set for our iPods/iPhones. Cool! MUCH shopping!

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Snow Monkeys to Tokyo

We woke up to a brilliant blue sky and took off for Jigokudani, the area where the wild snow monkeys live. A nature reserve was set up in 1964 for this family of monkeys and they come every year, around 200 of them, to bathe in the hot springs during the cold months. They are technically wild – you definitely wouldn’t want to try and touch one – and run free, but the people who work there occasionally give them fruit to entice them to the area.

The snow monkeys – Japanese macaques – are amazing. Really cute little critters with red faces. They were completely fearless and ran around with no regard for any people there, playing, pulling each others hair, rolling all over the ground with each other, but you definitely wouldn’t want to try and touch one of these critters. The warnings all over the park said “We are not loveable monkeys. We bite.”. We say one lady go to pat one then freeze with her hand extended as the monkey she was going to pat opened up its mouth in response and bared its teeth ready to bite … The monkeys were fascinated by the camera phones that all of the Japanese people there had to take photos with. The phones were so shiny and all had dangly bling on them – just the kind of thing that attracts a monkey! We wondered how many people had lost their mobile phones to monkeys …

After the amazing monkey experience Alec and I travelled to Tokyo by bullet train. We arrived in the early arvo, just in time to drop our stuff off at the hotel and go shopping. We found the Sanrio building after a few false starts, where I went completely bonkers buying Hello Kitty stuff.

Tokyo first impressions are great. Amazing vibe to the city, and with the awesome weather finally back, we can really enjoy it.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Trains, Trains and More Trains

Another long day in transit. What we thought would take us around four hours actually took eight. We travelled today from Takayama to Yudanaka, which is an hour out of Nagano.

We stayed in a cute little ryokan / hotel with the sweetest staff. Their English was terrible but they were amazingly friendly and were trying so hard to make sure we had a pleasant stay, including walking us to the door of a restaurant they recommended to us and speaking with the owner inside.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.