The title of this post comes from a board book I grabbed for Maggie on clearance at a yuppie toy shop in Cambridge (Massachusetts, not England) this summer. My family all but slapped their knees and stomped their feet in laughter and rolled their eyes, but I maintained Maggie would need to know the contents therein. After all, we eat sushi all the time. It’d be nice for her to know what everyone’s eating.
Turns out, I was right, although not for the reason I thought.
We’re going on a vacation to Japan.
I’m back. I fainted, but I’m better now. Ever since I went to the Japan section of Epcot’s World Showcase as a kid, this has been on my top 5 places to visit. And we’re going to do it up right: late autumn, Tokyo down to Kyoto-Kansai via a meandering trip through the Japanese Alps at foliage season. We have good friends who lived in Tokyo for a while en route to Okinawa who have helped us with an itinerary and basic tips for getting around (I just emailed them a message in which I asked the question “What do I do in an onsen?!”) and I am so. freaking. excited.
The biggest drawback that I can see is that Maggie is going to turn eight or nine and be like “You visited all these cool places while I was too young to remember or enjoy them! Jerks!” and welp, yeah. Sorry kid. But you’re still pretty portable so we have to get this trip in while we can and before you’re too heavy to strap to Daddy’s back. Other minor drawbacks include the massive language barrier, which I think we can pantomime and half-ass our way through, and the thrill of navigating a menu. Maggie is a pretty enthusiastic eater (we’re waiting for the day when she decides to reject all offers of food in favor of the Toddler Air Diet) so I’m sure she’ll eat just about anything…as long as we supplement with a lot of rice. I mean, she’s had pork cheeks, so she’s doing better than a lot of adults I know.
[Overheard at a local Hawaiian sushi joint: "Well, I guess I can try the fried fish." *facepalm* Just go to Kua'aina Burger, dude.]
Maggie is also doing her part to plan the itinerary, enthusiastically shouting when she sees a particularly pretty or colorful photo in the guidebook. That’s why we’re not using e-guides on an iPad (also because my iPad fund keeps getting eaten up by necessities, dammit); Maggie loves the photos and pages of the real book. Tom is taking up the rest of the slack, drafting multipage itineraries and comparison-shopping ryokan in the areas where we can’t take advantage of our hotel points. I’m doing what I do best, which is coming up with four or five ideas for Tom to research and running with it. So far I found a free guide service and that there is a yearly geisha performance in Kyoto while we’ll be there, so I did my part.
One destination we decided against was Hiroshima. Historically Tom and I are both fascinated by the area, but we have a toddler (…a toddler. When did that happen?!) and they are not known for their reverence. I don’t like taking her to other such grounds for the same reason: a kid just being a kid isn’t always appropriate for every venue. Someone observing a very solemn moment (like when we went to Pearl Harbor and there were WWII vets on our ferry to the USS Arizona Memorial) doesn’t want to hear my kid being herself. I don’t think limiting ourselves like this is really detrimental to our travel dreams, but just a necessary part of having kids: know where you can take them, and know when even if you can, you probably shouldn’t. At any rate, this is going to be a super-packed 12 days.
This is major, guys. This is a huge check off the life-list. I am so, so, so excited.