Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Our First Visitors to Japan (Warning: Picture Overload!)

After living in Japan for 10 months, we finally welcomed our first visitors! My dad and his fiance took time off of work to travel to Japan and spend 10 days with us. I think 10 months is the longest my husband and I have gone without seeing any family members. Of course, in the day and age of Facetime, we "see" our family all the time. But to see them standing in front of you and being able to wrap your arms around them is a whole other blessing. 

So glad to see their grandfather.
 I will spare you the gazillion pictures we took while my dad was here, as well as all the little details of what we did each day. Instead, I will try to highlight some of the best moments during the visit and give you a general idea of where we went and what we did. We had something planned for every single day during my dad's visit, and about half-way in, we realized we were crazy and took a day off. We could have powered through, but my kids were becoming exhausted! I will need to remember to tone it down a notch when my mom comes to visit for 19 days next month....

Zushi beach

Hase-Dera Temple in Kamakura

Entrance to Hachimangu Shrine in Kamakura

The steps up to the shrine

The Great Buddha in Kamakura
My dad's fiance is Buddhist and belongs to a sect of Buddhism with roots in Japan. So part of our trip involved traveling a couple of hours towards Fuji to the head temple. It was our first experience staying in a Japanese hotel - and what an experience it was! We had a tiny room with no furniture but a small Japanese-style dining table and a small stand for a tv (we tried, but couldn't get any channels) and our bathrooms were down the hall! Our women's bathroom had 2 sinks, 1 western toilet and 2 squat toilets. If you wanted to shower, you had to go downstairs to the first floor where the bathhouse was located. I did not attempt it, but there were just a few short moveable showerheads (with a stool to sit on and wash yourself) where you cleansed yourself before sitting in the soaking tub. We were only there one night, so I waited to shower until we came back home....

The girls loved the kid-size slippers.

The also loved the super-uncomfortable futons.

Taisekiji temple gate.

Our first traditional Japanese breakfast. We ate it... and then quickly hit up the 7-11 for some donuts.


The lunch menu at a small rural restaurant.

Can't go wrong with Katsudon - an egg, fried pork, and rice bowl.

The day after we returned from Taisekiji, we spent the next day doing absolutely nothing. We lounged around, we ate American food, and we slept. :) It was sorely needed because the next day, we were heading to Disney....

It's my birthday! And we're going to Disney! We're all excited!!

 We stayed at the Hilton Tokyo Bay and we got pretty good deals on the rooms considering it was an official Disney hotel and was in Tokyo (where everything is more expensive!). We stayed in two "Happy Magic Rooms," - themed rooms for the kids. The hotel also had a great little play area directly across from the check-in counter.

Wasting some time at the Disney store - IN THE HOTEL - while we wait for our room.

My husband's knee-jerk reaction to pictures is to scowl. Ha.

How fun is our floor?

Another perk of our hotel - a free shuttle to the Disney Monorail.

Seeing the Disney castle for the first time.
 After checking into our rooms, we headed to Ikspiari, a big shopping/dining area right outside the Disney gate. My husband asked where I wanted to go for my birthday dinner, and after glancing through the list, I picked the Rainforest Cafe - the only one located in Japan. My husband thought I want to go someplace more upscale, but going to the Rainforest Cafe turned out to be a fabulous choice. It wasn't crowded at all, and the adults got to talk uninterrupted while the kids walked around looking at all the animals and fish tanks. They were entertained the whole time! Parenting win!

We were up bright and early the next morning, and couldn't have been more excited to visit Disney Sea! Tokyo's Disney Sea is the only one in the world, and we'd heard it's better suited for young kids like ours. 

Mermaid Lagoon - we could have spent hours in this area. The girls LOVED it.

Underground at the Mermaid Lagoon.

Thing 1yelled out, "We're toy-size!!"

One of the best rides in the park! You're whisked around to different 3D screens where you shoot at targets.

Lovin' on Daddy.

You know you've done something right when they won't wake for pizza.

I can't believe how quickly my dad's visit came and went. It was only 10 days, but we packed a LOT in there. On the way home from dropping him off at the airport, we were falling asleep in the car. And honestly, we felt exhausted for a couple of days! I'm so lucky to have family willing to make the long trip here and I loved sharing our life in Japan with my dad and Reina.

Next up, my mom's visit!

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