Japan with a baby

So Thea has been on her very first long haul holiday. Chuck and I took her to Tokyo!

12 hours in Virgin Atlantic economy with a 4 and a half month old baby might sound horrific but Thea was in incredible. She slept quite a lot and smiled and coo-ed the rest of the time.

We were given bulk head seats and a bassinet thing which strapped to the shelf in front of us. I had detached the cocoon from the Bugaboo Bee before it was loaded onto the aeroplane and slipped it into the bassinet so Thea was all cosy surrounded by her own smells. I think it helped.

Unfortunately our luck ran out when we arrived in Japan. She had an epic melt down on the bus to our hotel. Ten minutes of full on wailing and she wouldn’t even be comforted by the boob. I eventually got her calm by locking ourselves in the loo and rocking and humming to her like we do in Hartbeeps baby class.

For the first part of our trip we stayed in the Family Inn Saiko near Ikebukuro. It’s a traditional raiken (basically a Japanese bed and breakfast) where your room has tatami mats and futons.
Plus it had a traditional Japanese bath which was great as we probably couldn’t have tried that with Thea anywhere else.

Thea was going to sleep in with us but there was another futon folded up in the cupboard so she slept in there instead. The room had sliding paper doors at the windows but they didn’t block out much light so the cupboard was the perfect way to ensure she had some darkness to help her stay asleep.

I should mention that the futons in the hotel are just the mattress part without the chair bit we’re used to in the UK. So you sleep with mattress directly on the floor.

I loved the hotel. It was delightful. The staff were lovely and we even had our own Kimonos for lounging about in. It was beautifully kept and absolutely spotless. Can’t fault it really.

It was a bit of a schlep from the nearest tube – a ten minute walk maybe – but it’s in real Tokyo so it’s quite nice to see some off the beaten track stuff too.

We used a bee a bit but more often we’d just carry Thea in the sling. We took her to Harajuku, Yoyogi Park, Shibuya, Omotesando and all over.

We ate in some amazing places too. Thea was welcomed everywhere. People in Japan love babies and they’re so thoughtful so we were able to enjoy ourselves and eat wherever we liked.

My favourite was a tiny ramen place where you used a vending machine to order followed by a questionnaire on how you wanted it prepared and then you were served in individual booths to enjoy the noodles undistracted. I ate with Thea strapped to me in the sling – a muslin draped over her head to stop my slurped up noodles spattering on her.

After five days Chuck had to go to work so I was left to explore Tokyo alone with Thea. My first day I barely made it out of the hotel – I still had jet lag even though Thea had settled back into her routine and was sleeping through again!

We had moved hotels and were now staying at The Capitol Hotel – a 5 star palace over looking the Imperial Palace and Diet Building. Our spectacular room was on the 27th floor and had views of the sun setting over Mount Fiji in the distance beyond Tokyo’s towers and lights. It was incredible!

The second day I felt more adventurous so I took their version of the DLR – an unmanned train – over the Rainbow bridge to Tokyo Bay. It was a gorgeous ride. The Tokyo Bay is a man made island with architectural oddities, a Statue of Liberty, a mini beach and large amusement malls that are a paradise for babies and children.

We spent half an hour in cat land playing with kittens, shopped in the multitude of baby and toy shops, got some “pukira” photos in a photo booth and walked in the sunshine admiring the view of Tokyo from across the estuary.

The following day we went to the Tokyo Baby Cafe – it was quite expensive but delightful to play with Thea in the soft play area and to be able to drink tea and read while she napped in the rocking chair.

We trekked about Omotesando and Shibuya too. It was a lovely day.

One of the best things about Tokyo is that every department store, mall and big shop has baby rooms where you can feed your little one in comfort. You usually get your own booth with a comfy seat and a footstool and there’s every facility you might need for changing or bottle feeding or spoon feeding. And all the loos have these drop down high chair things to slot your baby into while you go! Genius.

Travelling alone with a baby is actually easier than you might think. I would get take away sushi each evening and after a bath and the final feed, I’d put Thea to bed and indulge in some Discovery Channel (it was either that or the news) or my book while I munched delicious sushi and yummy Japanese desserts.

On the way home I had to do the journey alone as Chuck went on to Hong Kong for more work stuff.

This went really well too. There were eight other babies on the flight (7 of them mixed race like Thea) and I think out of all of them Thea was the most angelic. I just kept the routine going adapting it slowly so she was almost in the swing of it when we got to Heathrow. It is a lot easier coming back as we didn’t have the whole day to get through.

My mum and dad collected us from the airport. I had Thea strapped to me in the sling and my huge backpack balanced on the buggy.

I felt well intrepid when I returned unscathed from my Japanese experience and first solo mission with Thea 🙂

I’m not sure I’d want to travel long haul with a toddler but with a per-walking baby it’s great!

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