This week we left Europe behind and headed to Japan to explore the city of Tokyo. I’ve only been to Tokyo once, but I loved my time there. It was safe and clean and familiar in so many ways, yet completely foreign and exotic in so many others. This is one reason why I think Japan would be an excellent travel destination for families. There’s none of the grit and hassle that comes with travelling in some other exotic locales, yet your idea of what’s “normal” is constantly being challenged.
We started our Tokyo exploration with reading a few books to introduce Japan. We read K is for Kabuki, a Japanese Alphabet, and a book called All About Japan, which has a boy from the country and a girl from the city introducing kids to the food, culture and everyday life of kids in Japan.
The second book included several popular children’s songs, so we went to the internet to hear how the songs sounded. We also found some clips of the Bon-Odori, or coal miner’s dance. The book had simple instructions so we gave it a try. It was harder than it looked!
It was hard to choose a craft project to do since there were so many fun options. We looked at cherry blossom pictures, paper carp, fans and lanterns, but in the end we did a couple of very simple origami projects. The kids made their’s with large pieces of paper and I made a small one. My daughter chose a folded heart and my son made a rocket.
For our Tokyo dinner I decided to try a few new things. I was feeling brave, so I purchased my own sushi rolling mat and tried my hand at making sushi rolls from scratch. It was a lot of fun and I was able to mix and match fillings and experiment a bit. The results were a bit amateurish, but I was quite proud of myself! I also tried my hand at prawn and yam tempura (and was quite shocked at how much you can make from a single yam!) and made an udon soup to round out the meal. To drink we had green tea and Asahi beer.
And the verdict? Well, I think my T is for Tokyo meal has been the biggest success so far! Now, I have to admit, my normally picky kids love getting Japanese food, so I knew I had a pretty good chance that they’d like it, but you never know with these guys. My son mainly ate the soup, but my daughter loved the sushi and tempura. We all ate a little more than we should have to be perfectly honest!
For dessert, I decided to keep things simple since the meal was quite a bit of work. And while I love many Japanese foods, I’ve never really liked the desserts. Red bean paste and mochi must be the kind of thing you need to grow up with to truly enjoy. Fortunately, Japan has some great snacks and they’re easy to find in Canada. So Pocky and Hello Panda cookies it was.
And that was Tokyo. We had a really good time exploring this amazing place, and I’m more determined than ever to get us there at some point. Of course, the fact that Tokyo has a Disneyland doesn’t hurt my resolve, either. And speaking of Disneyland, I’ll be taking a week off for a little trip to the happiest place on earth next week, but I’ll get back to our alphabetical journey in March for the letter U. See you then!