Sunday, August 30, 2009

Taking the kids to Tokyo

Ok, so I had experienced the trains and visited Tokyo already, so I am ready to take the kids, right?
I was really pumped about taking the kids to see Tokyo. While in Harajuku, I saw a toy store called Kiddyland. I looked up places to take kids in Tokyo and that was a suggestion. I also saw there was a Pokemon Center, but that looked it involved taking taking the Subway, not that brave!
So we walk to the front gate, at this point I do not have a driver's license yet. We could take a bus to the train station, but then I would need exact change and I am not altogether sure of that so we walk. It is hot and humid, and the walk seems very long with a little girl who is already complaining. I really should have just turned around and went back right there.
We get to the train station- and we are already hot and sweaty. At the trains you can either buy individual tickets or you can buy what is called a PASMO card. On the PASMO card you deposit money on it and then the train terminals deduct your fare. The children's fares are 1/2 price, so I have to get someone to help me with the PASMO machine so I can set them up with children's PASMO cards. There are several machines next to each other and not a lot of room to goof around. I wish the children understood that. Sister wants to see what I am doing, which would be fine but I can't reach the machine with her standing in my way and the poor Train Station employee is waiting on me. So that is the first argument and fit she throws.
When you are the only Americans around you really feel the pressure to represent your country. Plus you know they are all looking at you, no kidding.
We get the cards, find something to drink at the vending machine. Sister again holds up the line trying to make up her mind. Some poor lady gave up and had to leave to catch her train. Oh dear.
The train is crowded and Sister has to stand, she does not like that. And she has already started to fight with her brother. It is way too crowded to be fighting on the train. Once again we have made a spectacle of ourselves. Maybe the locals understand as their children can be unruly as well, but I am embarrassed nevertheless.
We finally are able to sit down and I am straining my ears to listen for our stop- Shinjuku Station. I know how it is spelled in Kanji so I am watching the sign in the train as well that announces the next stop. All of the trains are different. If there is a conductor on the train that speaks English, then they will announce the train station in English in addition to Japanese. And sometimes the sign will be in English too, but a lot of times they are not- like on this train. I hear Shinjuku somewhere in the announcement and get the kids up so we can get off. When we get off it does not look familiar- and I see no sign for the train line we need to switch too. The kids are both talking to me a mile a minute and not paying attention to all of the people coming from every direction. So not only am I trying to figure out where the heck I am- as I realized that I got off at the wrong stop, but I am trying to not lose my children and to keep them from getting run over and/or from blocking traffic.


I find a vacant spot to the side and stop to look at my train map. A nice Japanese sees me and asks me in English if he can help me. I ask him where are we, which station? It turns out we weren't even half way there! So back to the platform we just left. Sister freaks out and says we are at the wrong train platform. Seriously she won't believe me when I tell her we are ok. Ugg
We make it to Shinjuku and decide to look around the train station. It is attached to a big shopping mall of sorts, and the air conditioning is on at full blast. I tell you air conditioning is nectar from the gods. I want to go see Times Square, but Brother gets bent out of shape since that wasn't the original plan. I should know better- he doesn't like to deviate. So we find the line to take us to Harajuku. We head straight for Kiddyland. It is a very cool store. There are several floors, each being a different store. The first has Pokemon, Lego's and all kinds of cool girl toys. There are these really cute dolls- kind of like Barbies that I want to get Sister (I told them they could each spend 2500 Yen- roughly about $25). For a little doll that is smaller than a Barbie, it cost about 4200 Yen. Yikes! Sister picked out instead a little chihuahua that barks and walks. That is so Sister. My favorite floor was the Hello Kitty floor- they had other things besides Hello Kitty, but that is what you see when you first walk in. It is all so very cute, I am want to buy everything. I do find a very cute mug and cell phone charm for my Hello Kitty enthusiast friend back in the States.

Outside the store we find Monchichi! The kids do not know who the Monchichis are but I remember them from my childhood. So Sister gets her picture taken with Monchichi, the store employees actually take the picture for you with your camera. I suppose that is more efficient then having the parents stand there for days taking several poses.

Posing with Monchichi outside of Kiddyland in Harajuku

I really want to find some food, so we turn down a side street to see what we can find. I was told that the food on the side streets is good and usually less expensive than on the main drag. Well we didn't find any food but we did see some interesting stores and interesting signs. One sign hanging down from what looked like a club said "Home honey, I'm Hi!". My favorite store was called "Freak's Store".

So we head back towards the train station, still have not eaten anything. We find someone selling ice cream so we sit down to eat some. Here is it not customary to see people walking around with food or drink. Normally we would have gone walking with our ice cream cones, but not here.

Back on the train, we are heading home. When we get off in Shinjuku I cannot find the train line we need. By this time the kids are hot, tired and still hungry. Looking back I realize I should have just bought food at the first place we saw. I don't know what I was looking for? We find our train line and finally catch the correct train home. The kids are still fighting, I am so tired and frustrated at this point. I tell them I will never take them on the train by myself again, and I mean it. I know I was being childish, but it was seriously a very difficult task taking them on the train when they refused to behave.
Three trains later and we are at our final stop. Huh, problem is we got off on the wrong side of the train station. I cannot find a way around, so we go back through the gate to try and retrace our steps. We can see where we need to go, but how the heck do we get there?? We finally see the exit, but our PASMO cards will not let us through. Well it is because we went through without taking a train. So we have to go through the office next to the exit and I explain that we went through without taking a train.
We are out, on the right side! I think about getting some food now, but I want to go home more. I find a taxi and I know enough Japanese to tell him where we need to go. The Japanese taxis are cool that they have automatic doors, you don't have to open or close them. So we are off, we are not walking and the taxi feels nice and cool. It is the kids' first taxi ride too. I think they enjoyed the taxi more than anything else (except maybe the toys). 700 yen later we are at the front gate. I tell you, that is the best $7 I have ever spent!
I am now traumatized and am not sure if I will ever go anywhere with my children again. I am sure I will get over and the kids will be become more adjusted. But for now I will just wait until their dad gets back...

1 comment:

  1. I am exhausted. Seriously. I love travelling and love adventure, but crowds and bustle terrify me. Brave woman.


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