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Flashback Friday – Best Worst Trip – Tokyo 2006

We all know about Throwback Thursday (TBT) and Flashback Friday (FBF), so I thought it would be fun to do a FBF on trips or places that we did waaaaay back in the day.  This particular FBF is inspired by my cousin. She and her hubs recently took their adorable girls (ages 2 and itty bitty) to Disneyland for said 2-year old’s second birthday. While they had a great time, she mentioned that her 2-year old was rather “salty” at times. It got me thinking back to some of our “salty” adventures. Vacations can be great–full of fun, excitement and shiny, happy people. But every once in a while, you’ll draw the short straw and it becomes *THAT* trip. The one that made you want to laugh hysterically and ugly cry all at the same time. The one that you realize you should have just forgone the money and ditched over water. The one that you will refer to as your “Best Worst Trip”. For us, our best worst trip (so far) happened over Thanksgiving 2006.

Seriously. Just *barely* on the map here.
Seriously. Just *barely* on the map here.

Background: Husband’s job had located us to Okinawa, Japan. We had been there for almost 3 years and had yet to go to the “mainland” of Japan. Okinawa is fairly isolated. It’s one of the southernmost islands in the country and is actually closer to Taiwan than it is to the main island of Honshu, where most of the excitement and cool-kid cities are. Husband was gearing up for a 9-month long work assignment, so we knew our time was limited. We decided we couldn’t leave Japan without seeing Tokyo. Boy Child was 3 1/2 and Girl Child was 9 months. Obviously, the best choice would be to hit up Tokyo Disney. I mean, every 9 month old surely remembers a trip to their first Disney park, right?!  We found a tour that included airfare, hotel, two days at Disney, guide to the Tokyo metro and just all around awesomeness. Done!

Two nights before our trip, Boy Child ended up getting sick. I’d like to say it was just a case of the sniffles, but I’d be lying to you. It was Linda Blair-head-spinning-what-has-possessed-this-child’s-stomach sick. We couldn’t back out of the trip–we didn’t have travel insurance and we had spent a pretty good chunk of change. Our kids have always been the type of kids that puke and rally. They puke and then not even 10 minutes later, it’s like nothing happened. Surely, this was just one of those times…right? Keep reading, friends.

Day One: Traveled from Okinawa to Tokyo, relatively uneventful. Boy Child was holding down liquids, so we figured we were totally in the clear. We got our crash course on the Tokyo metro and took it over to Ueno Park. If you’re ever in Tokyo, please, please PLEASE go visit this park. It’s beautiful. I have yet to go to Central Park in New York City, but I’ve heard that it’s comparable. The leaves were leaching out their last bits of Fall colors and they were falling all around us like snow. It overlooks the city, but it’s so peaceful that it’s easy to forget you’re in a huge and bustling place. There are pagodas and shrines throughout the park.

Pagoda in the Park
             Kiyomizu Kannon Temple
...aaaand right across from that pagoda..
…aaaand right across from that temple..

As we were walking, I started to feel really bad. Stomach churning and hot flashes. By the time we got back to the hotel, I came to the realization that whatever Boy Child had, it wasn’t a puke and rally kind of thing. Husband made an emergency trip down to the store for Gatorade, Pepto and Dramamine. It. Was. Awful. Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

Day Two: Disney Day One: Magic Kingdom: When Boy Child and I woke up the next morning, we felt better, so off we went to Tokyo Disneyland. We had early hour passes, so we took full advantage. Since it was a work week and the Japanese don’t celebrate Thanksgiving like Americans do, there’s no way that it would be super crowded, right? Wrong. We walked past the entrance and stopped dead in our tracks. It was packed. Like wall-to-wall, sea of people packed. We ran walked to the Fast Pass kiosk, thinking we’d be okay. 0 for 2. Fast Pass return for Pirates of the Caribbean was for the last ride of the day. Lines were already snaking around for rides. As a desperate last-ditch effort to salvage the park, we decided to check out Toon Town. It turned out to be pretty much the only good decision of the day. Boy Child could run around and there were a couple of rides he could go on with a minimal wait.  Note to self: Remember that Thanksgiving = mad house at Disney.

Obligatory Disney Fam Pic
Obligatory Disney Fam Pic. Boy Child is totes happy.
That's as close as we got to this ride.
That’s as close as we got to this ride.
Let's hope he doesn't get used to life behind bars...
Let’s hope he doesn’t get used to life behind bars.

That evening we headed down to the Shibuya area. Shibuya looks a lot like Times Square. A lot of people moving all at the same time. I’ll admit it…being American in this place had at least one perk. I never once lost sight of Husband. We would get separated due to people pushing their way past us, but all I had to do was look at the horizon and there he was. One of our favorite movies is “Lost in Translation” and they filmed a lot in this area. Just a few metro stops from Shibuya is the Roppongi District. Roppongi was a lot of fun to walk around. Lots of nightlife, clubs, bars and just Japanese quirkiness in spades. It was the one time that I was glad that Boy Child was still illiterate (disclaimer: don’t worry…he’s totally literate now).

Me and the Girl Child.
Me and Girl Child.
I'm glad Boy Child couldn't read. Less explaining.
I’m glad Boy Child couldn’t read. Less explaining.
FYI: I wasn't standing on my tip-toes.
FYI: I wasn’t standing on my tip-toes.

Day Three: Disney Day Two: Tokyo Disney Sea & the Metro Incident: After another long night (my turn again), we again woke up and didn’t feel quite as bad. Maybe, just maybe we’re finally beating this thing? Girl Child and Husband have been miraculously spared from whatever evil has been partying in our stomachs. We headed over to the secondary park to Tokyo Disney–Tokyo Disney Sea. After the previous day’s shenanigans, we expected the worst, but were pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t nearly as crowded and the sun gods decided to shine their grace on us. It was warm and the lines were minimal. We actually enjoyed this park a lot more than Magic Kingdom. Boy Child was holding some food down pretty well, so we bought him some fruit…you know to be the healthy parents. Note to self again: Fruit and whatever stomach evil might be going on does not mix well.

Like I said, quirky.
Like I said, quirky.
That apple. That blessed, blessed apple...
That apple. That blessed, blessed apple…

We decided to head on back to the hotel around the late afternoon. The temperature was rapidly dropping, and we only had hoodies to keep us somewhat warm. We got on the subway, only to realize that it was rush hour. In Tokyo. Standing room only. We aren’t really winning at this point. I was holding Boy Child when all of a sudden his eyes glazed over, he heaved and there was that healthy-parent fruit saying hello again. It’s the one time I was somewhat okay with being puked on…better on me than on some poor, unsuspecting Japanese commuter. Thankfully, we had just reached a metro stop, so we were able to get off the train and clean up. Dear Metro Gutter Janitor: Our apologies. You earned massive karma/kudo points and a special place in heaven that evening.

It was at this stop. I'm sorry janitor dude.
It was at this stop. I’m so sorry janitor dude.

Day Four: Parks, Temples and Tokyo Tower: Really, stomachs, really?!? ANOTHER day?!?!? At this point, we broke down and gave Boy Child a 1/4 tablet of Dramamine. Note to self: In order to knock your kids out, Dramamine will trump Benadryl every time. After Boy Child finally woke up from his Dramamine induced nap, we walked around the neighborhoods by the hotel, if nothing else than to get fresh air. We discovered a beautiful little park right smack dab in the middle of the city. It was tranquil and serene. There was a small creek that went through it and a small playground for the kids to play on. Girl Child got her swing action on and Boy Child was able to play a little bit.

In the middle of downtown Tokoy.
In the middle of downtown Tokyo

We walked a little further and discovered a stunning temple. It was the Zojoji Temple. Even just the gate was mesmerizing. As we walked into the temple, we noticed small statues of children. This was the garden dedicated to unborn children. It was very moving to see when you realize the gravity of it. The temple itself is regal and majestic. Just knowing the amount of history that has taken place in that very spot is amazing. You can get a feel just by walking around the grounds. We were lucky enough to have just kind of stumbled upon it.  If you find yourself in Tokyo, again–I highly recommend it.

Garden of the Unborn Children. Kind of sobering.
Garden of the Unborn Children. Kind of sobering.
Part of the Zojoji Temple Grounds.
Part of the Zojoji Temple Grounds.
I think Husband is more than ready to go.
I think Husband is more than ready to go.

We took a slight little siesta and then decided to go walk around. We walked to the Tokyo Tower. At the time, Tokyo was bidding for the 2016 Olympics (pretty sure the IOC is regretting the Rio choice right about now), so the tower was lit up with 2016 in the Olympic colors. We paid the nominal fee for the elevator ride to the top and had an amazing view of Tokyo at night. I haven’t been to Paris, but I imagine the view from the Eiffel Tower is very similar. The lights of the city were twinkling like little stars. It was a clear and cold night, so the view was unobstructed and unmatched.

Dear IOC: I bet you wish you had picked these guys, huh?
Dear IOC: I bet you wish you had picked these guys, huh?
From the top of the tower.
From the top of the tower.
Another one from the top.
Another one from the top.

Day Five: It’s time to go home. Boy Child seems to still have a touch of whatever he had, so we gave him another bit of Dramamine to get him through the flight. It worked, however, trying to get him off the plane was awesome. He was sound asleep and dead weight, so Husband basically hoisted him over his shoulder like a bag of rice. I don’t think we had been so happy to be home.

We quickly came to the realization that we just spent four days in Tokyo and really didn’t get to see or do all of the things that we wished we had. Obviously, there is so much more to see and experience. However, we were able to see and do a lot in spite of being horribly sick for the first couple of days. I can tell you right now that I don’t regret that trip at all, especially since it takes our top spot of the best worst trip, thus far.

What about you, friends? Do you have a best worst trip?

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