Archive for category Return to Japan
On our previous trip to Japan in 2017, we went to the newly opened Legoland Japan theme park. Even though we only saw part of the park last time, Tiny Dog enjoyed his visit so much that he wanted to return. It also helped that Ryan from Ryan’s Toy Review had gone to Legoland Japan, and as every parent of a 3-8 year old knows, if Ryan does it, your kid wants to do it too.
On our last visit, the Lego Hotel was still under construction. It was finished in 2018 and we were able to get first anniversary deals on our trip: 1 night in hotel, 2 days of passes to Legoland and the Sea Life aquarium next to the hotel, and free breakfast. It was still expensive, but much less expensive than attempting any of those things separately.
We took the shinkansen from Mishima to Nagoya, then switched to local trains to get to Kinjo Futo station. We arrived just before noon, checked in at the hotel, left our bags, and then had a pizza lunch at one of the nearby restaurants. After lunch, we entered the park and did a few hours of sightseeing and rides. Everything in the park was the same as the previous visit, however our now 5 year old son got a lot more out of the experience than he did on our previous visit when he was 3.
Before dinner we checked out our room. All of the rooms at the Lego Hotel have themes: we chose Pirates over Ninjago, Kingdom, Adventure, and Lego Friends. The room was decorated from floor to ceiling with Lego pirates – even the shower curtain was piratey. Tiny Dog was immediately entertained by the treasure hunt – there was a combination safe in the room, and to unlock the combination you had to answer some questions about the room (how many pirates in the bathroom, etc). The numbers from the answers unlocked the safe to reveal, as you may have already guessed, Lego.
My favourite part of the room was the layout. Our room was a suite containing a kids area right off the entrance, a long hallway with a bathroom, then the parents area. The kids area had a bunk bed, a TV playing Lego movies, and plenty of Lego blocks for building. The parents area had a large bed, a bigger TV, and most importantly, a hallway to separate it from the kids area. In a country short on privacy, this was the best we were going to get for a while.
The Legoland Hotel features a buffet style restaurant and a lounge which offered 2 hours of all you can drink for 2000 yen (about $25 CAD). Tiny Dog wanted to eat at the hotel restaurant, but I was craving curry from one of the nearby restaurants. We compromised – I got to choose dinner and we let him play at the giant indoor play area next to the hotel restaurant before dinner. I was very interested in the all you can drink, but after a full day of travel and theme park I would have probably fallen asleep after the first beer!
If you’re going to visit Legoland Japan, I highly recommend staying in the Legoland Hotel, especially if you are coming from out of town. The hotel is perfect for families, and there is literally nothing closer to Legoland or the Sea Life aquarium. If we return, we will be staying at the hotel again!
Next up: a full day of Legoland!
The bags are packed, I’m checked in for the flight, and my taxi to the airport has been booked. I’m going to be awake in about 5 hours for a flight to Calgary and then on to Tokyo!
The Penpal, Tiny Dog and I are off for a 2 week escape from Canada. Highlights to include a stay at the Lego Hotel in Nagoya, beer and karaoke with Azeroth, me trying to remember Japanese, and all of us hoping that our 5 year old adjusts to the time change.
More posts to come!
Tonight was our last night in Japan on this visit. I ate dinner with the family, and after Tiny Dog went to sleep I went off to have a beer with my old roommate Azeroth.
Unlike a few days ago, we decided not to hit the town. Instead we had a night in, similar to many we had while we shared an apartment together. We picked up a variety of beer and snacks from the nearby 7-11, and watched episodes of Drawn Together, Rick and Morty, and Archer while laughing our asses off.
One sign of a good friend is when you can go for a few years without seeing each other and then pick exactly where you left off when you get a chance to meet. My life has changed a lot in the 11 years since I moved back to Canada: I got married, started a career, got a professional designation, and became a father. Even with all of those changes, hanging out while drinking beer and eating mysterious snacks still felt like home.
Happy Canada Day! I hope that I’m not going to be hungover tomorrow for my flight home!
Today is our last day in Japan. We have some family coming to visit in the afternoon, but I wanted to get Tiny Dog out for some fun during the day. The Penpal’s father dropped off TD and I at a nearby playground.
The playground was near a large park, and had a big fun play structure that was full of kids. TD had been here before, and quickly started climbing and playing among the other kids. He kept trying to talk to the other kids in English, so I had to keep reminding him to speak Japanese.
At the playground there was one little girl who kept staring at me every time she walked by. Eventually her curiosity got the better of her, and she asked her father loudly in Japanese “Daddy, why is there a foreigner at the playground?”. Her father, embarrassed, tried to shush the little girl as I tried not to laugh. A few minutes later after I said something in Japanese to TD, she went back to her father and excitedly told him “Daddy! The foreigner is speaking Japanese!”, again followed by her father trying to get her to be quiet.
I find that in Japan, TD does a pretty good job of blending in with Japanese people. He has some Asian features to his face, although his hair is brown instead of black. When he speaks Japanese he sounds like almost any other 3 year old speaking Japanese. He doesn’t look completely Japanese, but he looks much more Japanese than I do. I have wavy blond hair, a large nose, a goatee (not common in Japan), and am usually wearing at least one item of clothing with Canadian flags on it. I am easy to notice in a crowd of Japanese people.
In my 3 years of teaching English in Japan, I got used to people staring at me because I was different. Adults would try to sneak a look, but kids, having no filters at all, would be happy to stare or say something to friends or family. This happens much more often the further you get away from major cities and into the smaller towns where it’s less common to see gaijins.
The whole experience was a funny reminder of my previous time in Japan. I’m curious to see how people react to TD and I as he grows up!
Managing supplies of clean clothes can be a challenge on vacation. My mother in law has been trying her best to take care of everyone’s laundry*, but she is having trouble keeping up with 3 additional people’s clothes in the tiny laundry machine they have in the house. My in-laws, like many Japanese people, don’t own a dryer, so clothes can only be dried by hanging them up outside. With yet another rainy day and packing to return home coming soon, we were developing a laundry crisis.
*Yes, I am more than capable of washing my own clothes. But trying to do household chores at my in-laws house would end up causing more problems than it solved. I once got yelled at by my father in law when he found out that I helped wash dishes in Canada, but that’s a different story.
I suggested that instead of waiting for the rain to stop, that I would be happy to take our laundry to a nearby coin laundry, which would also buy me some quiet time outside of the house. My in-laws agreed and dropped me off, promising to pick me up later.
I expected they would take me to a place where I would largely be left alone, similar to the coin laundry I used to use in my teaching days. This one had a very attentive owner who my mother in-law referred to as “mama-san”. I have only ever heard this term before used in reference to the manager of a small bar or hostess pub, so it was interesting for me to hear it in this situation.
Mama-san looked at my pile of clothing, assessed my needs, and directed me to one of the machines. She explained in rapid fire Japanese how to use the machine while my brain tried to translate as fast as possible. I did catch all of the key points like where to put my clothes and money, which was fairly obvious in retrospect. The machine that mama-san recommended provided its own soap and would both wash and dry my clothes, proving once again that Japanese technology is cool.
I sat quietly on my own for most of the time, taking advantage of the free wifi from nearby 7-11. My mother in-law came in later after finishing grocery shopping, and I showed her some of the pictures from our trip to Nagoya while we waited for my laundry. When the clothes were done, my mother in-law started talking to Mama-san about our visit.
As a proud parent and proud Canadian I took this opportunity to show off pictures of Tiny Dog from Japan and Canada while trying to maintain a conversation in Japanese. My mother in-law seemed proud of the attention her daughter and grandson were getting.
Although doing laundry is not likely to be anyone’s vacation highlight, this was a good chance to see some of the differences between Japan and Canada. Experiencing another culture can involve temples and museums, but it can also be as simple as going to the grocery store or trying to get your clothes clean. I love vacation!
Legoland Japan is amazing!
This morning The Penpal, Tiny Dog, and I checked out of our hotel and set off for Legoland Japan. We boarded Aonami line from near our hotel on a train packed with salarymen. The journey to Legoland took us through some of the extensive port areas in Nagoya, passing by rows and rows of new cars ready to be loaded onto a boat for overseas shipping.
After 25 minutes of ports and industry, we arrived at Kinjofuto station, located on a small island which is home to a conference center, restaurants, railway museum, and most importantly, Legoland.
Legoland is a theme park designed for ages 2-12. I could probably write a few thousand words about how amazing Legoland was, and we didn’t even see all of it. Some of the highlights include:
- Large models of famous Japanese landmarks made from 10.5 million Lego bricks. Even better, there were lots of moving parts that could be activated by pushing buttons
- A live Ninjago puppet show!
- A pirate area where people in boats engage in a water battle with people on shore
- An area where kids could drive Lego cars
- A motherfreaking Lego submarine with views of real and Lego fish
- Three different playgrounds
- So many rides, and none of them too scary for little kids
- A huge indoor Lego construction area
The one thing that Legoland didn’t have was protection from the insane humidity. By the end of our Lego day we were tired and drenched in sweat. TD managed to fall asleep on the train and not even the noise and activity of Nagoya station, one of the busiest stations in the WORLD could wake him up.
I’m already excited about our next trip to Japan and a return to Legoland.