Full title: On travelling to strange places with young children, and a shit load of luggage.
We just came back from the holiday of a lifetime. Seriously. Amazing. When I was sick we decided that if there was any trip we wanted to do it was this; snow, Japan, with kids. It seemed like a ridiculous idea to take our kids there so young, and in many ways it still it was ridiculous! But I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Here’s the thing about taking little kids overseas. They need lots of stuff and you carry it. We packed one LARGE roll suit case, and one snow board bag, had a backpack each, and we still only had room for one “in snow” outfit and one casual outfit each. We packed a few spare under things, but that was it. The pressure to get every piece in that suitcase just right was pretty intense.
Now, take that packing conundrum, and add a baby. Our friends who joined us for the trip had the same amount of luggage, but Dan aka “the packing ninja”, managed to fit in nappies, a baby tent, food packages and, wait for it, a bumbo seat! You should see this man in action, and hear the packing tunes that accompany this feat.
So I guess that’s ridiculous point one (ichi) – there may be a bumbo in your luggage
Now let’s talk Tokyo subway for a second. It is a fast paced maze of platforms, competing train lines, constant announcements, and the odd elevator if you know where to look. I consider myself fairly comfortable with Japan’s subway, but this trip took it to another level. We shuttled children and luggage onto platforms with seconds to spare. We walked against the flow at pretty much every turn. And when we found an elevator, it was the most ridiculous game of sardines you’ve ever seen!
Ridiculous point two (Ni) – elevators may crush you
To combat the anxiety I knew I would feel doing the luggage subway shuffle on the way home from the snow, we joked that I should write “do not loose own shit” on my hand. I’m sorry to say that though I held it together fairly well through the bus ride, shinkasen and two subways (I think I counted 7 elevator crushes), enroute to dinner that evening my shit got lost.
You see, two weeks of holidays with kids means a lot of long days, dinners out, cuddles, tears and meltdowns. We did our best to plan rests for the kids every third day, but so many new things all the time just wears the little tackers out. So our strategy? Give them something familiar, like carrots, cucumber and a whole lot of Frozen. And for my lost shit, plum wine and sake came up trumps.
Ridiculous number 3 (San) – you may know all the words to Let it Go by the end of the trip
We had some hits and misses with entertaining the kids in Tokyo after a sleepless flight. Visiting the local temples didn’t keep them engaged long, but I believe a makeshit rock/climbing wall helped ease the boredom.
(New beanie, details below, me made scarf and coat, and far right pink beanie)
On the other hand, Lego land had them completely entertained but the parents crying for the escape route. Flashing lights and the constant chatter of announcements drove us all a bit mad. Except lego sumo. No one can diss lego sumo.
Perhaps next time we will have to try the rainbow ferris wheel. Or more enthusiastically search for inner city family havens where the balance is met for everyone.
All that got a whole lot easier when we got to the snow! The kids stuck out their tongues, made snow angels and threw snow balls in absolute amazement. Such precious moments seeing their eyes light up the first time they saw it snow. And watching them learn to ski over the following days was just heart breakingly cute.
Ridiculous part no 4 (yon): Snow is ridiculously fun.
We went to this beautiful village called Nozawa Onsen, that all the adults had visited in the time before children. The secret has got out about this place, and you no longer need Japanese to get by, but when you really engage with the town it is still very traditional. The town is lucky enough to have hot spring water accessible everywhere, so hot that if you leave eggs in the water for long enough they cook! We also soaked our bodies in the warm (sorry scalding water) for a number of seconds : P
Ridiculous number 5 (go): eating eggs cooked in the local bath house
When we weren’t bathing ourselves or playing in powder, we walked the village, ate lots of food, saw the local fire festival and chatted to our host. We were kept warm by a mix of woolly handmades and borrowed gear from friends. I may have possibly had a little freakout about the cold before we left and made 3 beanies, 2 sets of gloves, 3 merino tops, one pair of thermal pants and a wool skirt for me before we left.
Ridiculous Part 6 (roku) – you may need to create a winter wardrobe you never had!
Today I’ve got the details of the Fibershed little brown beanie my son in wearing in the pics and its twin in blue and yellow which is shown below.
Pattern: A Modern Natural Dyer Beanie
Fibres: Local Handspun Wool from Bilby Yarns and (blue and yellow) Rescued Wool
Needles: Size 5 and 4 circulars
Tidbits: These beanies were a nice easy project during the christmas rush. The blue and yellow beanie was originally dyed in tumeric and then overdyed in indigo over half the skein. I find it fascinating that none of it is green.
Score: 5/5 a lovely simple pattern to make beanies with on the run. And the dyeing advice is invaluable.
So here’s to doing ridiculous things!