Monday, August 4, 2014

Back to Tokyo, then Home

We took three different trains from Beppu to Tokyo, arriving in mid afternoon on Saturday. We said goodbyes to my sister and her family, as they are staying in Tokyo an additional three days on their own.

Then, the rest of us took two local trains to my wife’s parents’ house for one more day before we would catch our flight home.

There are always fireworks displays going on somewhere in Tokyo on Saturday nights and we were able to see several different ones in all directions from the deck of my in-laws’ apartment building.

That night, we all got a great night’s sleep. I hadn’t realized just how tired I was. We had been able to go full blast for two weeks, but now that the vacation was winding down, our exhaustion finally caught up with us.

The next day, we relaxed and enjoyed the time together. We debated going out for a short walk, but one step into the sweltering heat and humidity reminded us just how comfortable we were in the apartment.

Kai was happy to hang out with his grandparents, and have unlimited access to wifi while watching Japanese television and having Domino’s Pizza for lunch.

And then it was time to leave for the airport to head home.

It had been quite a journey. Before we started the vacation, I was stressing out about all that could go wrong. There were tough moments no doubt. But overall things went very well.

My wife had spent a lot of time beforehand thinking about the places we all could go that would be interesting, not just for Kai, but also for everyone, especially for my nephews who were making their first visit to Japan. She researched hotels, restaurants, and venues, and made reservations at a variety of restaurants, and planned out the itinerary for each day. During the trip she was our personal tour guide and interpreter, taking responsibility for trying to give everyone the best experience of her home country as possible. I think it all turned out as well as we could have hoped.

Kai did amazingly well overall. His obsession with the wifi apps on his iPad drove me crazy at times – not only did he require online time, but he was constantly talking about his dragons from the Dragonvale app. But I think it was partly a coping mechanism for him; he often would relate things he saw on the trip to his app. For instance, he chatted on about evil dragons that destroyed Hiroshima. When he was chattering away in public places, I was kind of glad that we were in a foreign country where people may not have understood what he was saying.

But aside from that, he handled the heat and schedule very well. He seemed to enjoy going out and seeing most of the sights. And I know that he loved hanging out with his grandparents and uncle and aunt and cousins.

He already had a very strong bond with his grandfather, but he built on that even further as they often shared a hotel room while we toured the country. Many hotels in Japan cannot accommodate four people in a room together, so my wife and I often had one room while Kai and his grandfather shared another. By the end of the trip, Kai could be heard calling out, “C’mon Jeej” (short for Jiji, which is short for ojiichan, which means grandfather in Japanese). It was really cute to see their bond, despite neither really speaking the other’s language very well.

The flight home felt long. After traveling around Japan on the shinkansen (bullet train), the coach seats on our 12-hour flight were particularly uncomfortable.

My wife was able to sleep on the plane, I slept a little bit, and Kai hardly at all. And yet, when we arrived home last night, he seemed like he had enough energy to stay up for another 24 hours.

We are home, tired from our adventure, a little let down that it is over, but still glowing about our experience. It will be a lasting feeling, I am sure.


  1. Your wife did a very good job in her planning. Japan is just not the same without a knowledgeable guide.

    I think it would have been the heat and the humidity which would have really wiped me out. I suffer so much under those conditions.

    I am sure you are so glad that Kai had the iPad :)

    That is a nice apartment. They have nice views.

    I know what it is to get home after a long vacation. Good memories...better remembered from the comforts of home.

    1. For anyone who has flexibility in the time of year when they can travel, I would recommend going to Japan in April or October, not July or August. The heat and humidity was really oppressive, though we were able to make the best of it.

      I have a love/hate relationship with Kai's iPad. I don't like that he is so obsessed with it, but I think this trip would have been much more difficult without it. Now that we're home, we can try to put more limits on it again.

  2. Sound SO wonderful
    I have made peace with the iPAD
    The Japanese are AMAZING - I love Narita airport - we often fly through it while on our way to India

    1. I'm still working on making peace with the iPad. :)

      Narita is nice - great shops, clean, and not busy like O'Hare. You should plan to spend a few days in Tokyo the next time you are flying through!

  3. Well, I enjoyed your trip vicariously. ha. Glad you're home safe with happy memories!

    1. I enjoyed writing about the trip. Glad you came along, vicariously, at least! :)


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