10 Things to do in Osaka with a Baby

being the second biggest metropolitan area next to Tokyo, Osaka has a lot to offer to tourists traveling with babies and very young kids. With all their family-friendly facilities in place, you are sure to enjoy your stay in Osaka. From free public areas to paid play places, there is something for you and your traveling tot. Here are our recommendations:

1. KIDS PLAZA OSAKA

Kids Plaza Osaka is the first museum in Japan dedicated to child education. Founded in July 1997, the basic philosophy of this mega play place is learning through play. It is a massive 5-storey plaza filled with educational activities for kids of all ages. Each level offers a different experience for kids so be prepared to spend at least half of your day here. We explored all activities, and our 20-month old baby enjoyed every bit of it, especially the cultural center on the 5th floor, where he played with musical instruments and spun some wooden tops. If you are traveling with a kids 3 years old and above, they will surely enjoy all areas in the plaza. But, if you have a toddler and or a crawling baby, the best place to be in is PEEK-A-BOO on the 4th floor. Peek-A-Boo is a play room for babies and toddlers, with soft mats, Montessori toys and comfortable seating areas for parents and babies. There is also a nursing area here for the convenience of moms.

Opening hours and Admission Fee

Open daily from 9:30 to 17:00

Adult1,400yen
Elementary and junior high school students800yen
Pre-schoolers (3 years or older)500yen
(Babies enter for free)
Seniors (65 years old or above)700yen
* Senior discount is applicable to visitors aged 65 or more (verification may be requested during the admission).

How to get there: The facility is located right next to the exit #2 of Ogimachi station on the Osaka Metro Sakaisuji line. Alternatively, it is in a three minute walk distance from the Temma station on the JR loop line.
Both Ogimachi subway station and JR Temma station are equipped with elevators.

Look for the bird.
They are open daily from 9:30 to 17:00
Multipurpose room on the 4th floor can be used for meals and drinks.  There are no restaurants available inside the building, but you are welcome to bring your own food into the Multipurpose room. Vending machines serving beverages are available inside the facility.
We love how they employ senior citizens as attendants. Thomas really enjoyed interacting with them.
All levels of multi-purpose restrooms. This one is on the 5th floor
At the Science Section on the 5th Floor
Playroom for babies

2. OSAKA AQUARIUM – KAIYUKAN

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan is located in Tempozan Harbor Village, by Osaka Bay. Kaiyukan is one of Japan’s most spectacular aquariums, world-renowned for its innovative presentation. Kaiyukan shows the aquatic animals of the Pacific Rim at their most vibrant and dynamic, by recreating the natural environment of their habitats. ( https://www.kaiyukan.com/ ) To fully enjoy the two and a-half-hour – aquarium exploration, begin at the 8th floor and spiral your way down through the ramp to the 4th floor to see the marine animals from different perspectives. If you are traveling with a baby, here are some tips:

  • Strollers are not allowed on escalators, so make sure you take the elevators if you really need to bring one inside. Otherwise, there is a room at the lobby where you can leave your stroller and other belongings. The aquarium highly discourages strollers inside.
  • Audio guides are available for rent at JPY 500. We rented 2 units but ended up not using it as the volume is too low and it was more of a distraction than a helpful tool, with everything that’s happening inside. Plus, the baby kept on getting it from me so I had to keep it away from him.
  • There is a changing table inside the restroom, but since it was packed, we changed in the stroller, by the restroom instead.
  • Make sure to bring some snacks. Eat well before you enter.

Aquarium Hours and Admission Fee

Open daily from 10:00 to 20:00

Children 3 and below : FREE

4 years old to 6 Years old : 600 JPY

7 years old to 15 years old: 1,200 JPY

16 years old and up: 2,300 JPY

60 years old and up: 2,000 JPY

How to get there: Osaka Aquarium is located at Osaka Station on the Chuo subway line. From Osaka Station you can take the Osaka Loop Line to Bentencho Station and then transfer to the Chuo Subway Line. The total fare will be 400 yen and it will take you just 17 minutes.

If you did not secure your tickets online, you may get them at the ticket station located beside the entrance gate.
Always use the elevators as strollers are not allowed on escalators
At the service center, you may rent an audio guide and leave your stroller for convenience.
Coin lockers are installed in the aquarium, the Entrance Building and at the Tempozan Marketplace . Rental fee starts at 200 JPY
Nursing rooms for babies and mothers are located on the 6F of the aquarium and the 2F of the Entrance Building. Baby beds for changing diapers are installed in all restrooms.
My husband enjoyed the audio guide more than I did 🙂
It helped a lot that we taught Thomas all the basic animals and their sounds before taking this trip as he really enjoyed seeing the animals in real life.

3. TEMPOZAN GIANT FERRIS WHEEL

A 5-minute walk from the Osakako subway station, and steps away from the Kaiyukan aquarium, the Tempozan Ferris Wheel soars 112.5 meters into the air and has a diameter of 100 meters, making it one of the world’s largest Ferris wheels. On sunny days, a ride is a roughly 15-minute-long journey through the sky, offering views of Mount Ikoma to the east, the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge to the west, Kansai International Airport to the south, and the Rokko mountains to the north. Three of its 60 cabins are wheelchair accessible. Additionally, in-cabin announcements are made in both Japanese and English. Colorful light displays and weather forecasts for the following day are also popular features. The vibrant lights of Osaka Bay have undeniably become one of Osaka’s defining tourist attractions. ( https://osaka-info.jp/en/page/tempozan-ferris-wheel )

Operating Hours and Admission Fee

General admission ¥800 (age 3 and up)

Open daily from 10:00 – 22:00 (varies seasonally; closed for severe weather); final boarding 21:30

After purchasing your tickets on the ground floor, head to the gondola platform on the 3rd floor. You may queue on the general gondola lane or the see-through lane, for the- same price.
Strollers are allowed inside the gondola. We took the general type.
Christmas songs were being played in the background! We enjoyed the view of the surrounding areas for 15 minutes. Truly unforgettable!

4. TEMPOZAN HARBOUR VILLAGE

Located about 20 minutes from Osaka Station, Tempozan Harbor Village is a bay area leisure destination centered around Kaiyukan. Tempozan marketplace’s restaurants, shopping, entertainment offerings, and Osaka sightseeing cruise ships, such as the Santa Maria, are guaranteed to keep you entertained all day. Tempozan Harbor Village also hosts a variety of events throughout the year. ( https://osaka-info.jp/en/page/tempozan-harbor-village )

This tall LEGO giraffe was the first to greet us on our arrival. Make sure to visit Legoland inside the mall if you have kids 3 years old and up.
This massive cruise ship from Princess Cruises was docked that day too.
Since we visited in December, we were able to have our photo taken at this cute photo spot by the food court.
This fire dancer attracted an audience at the free area.
There are food options inside where you can satisfy your hungry bellies after a 2-hour excursion inside the Kaiyukan.

5. LEGOLAND DISCOVERY CENTER

The ultimate indoor LEGO playground, this wonderland is located inside Tempozan Marketplace. With its 4D Cinema, 8 Lego Build and Play Zones, 2 rides and a shop full of lego merchandise for all ages, you and your kids are sure to have a blast! book your tickets online here.

LEGOLAND® Discovery Center is designed specifically for children aged 3-10 years to enjoy – everything is kid-sizedAdults(16 and up) must be accompanied by a child.

6. TEN- SHIBA (Tennoji Park Entrance Area)

Located next to Tennoji Station, the southern gateway to Osaka, Tennoji Park is an urban oasis like New York’s Central Park or Hyde Park in London. It was first opened in 1909 and has one of the most colorful histories of Osaka’s parks. In 2015, it reopened with a wide open space with grass, futsal court, playland, restaurants and shops. It’s also home to the Tennoji Zoological Gardens and the Osaka Municipal Museum of Art. ( https://osaka-info.jp/ )

Opening hours: 7:00 – 22:00 (some facilities 24 hours)
Shops and restaurants surround this big open space, where kids can run around freely
really tasty Karuizawa Flatbreads at this shop
vending machines for drinks are available by the futsal field
Play place for kids 6 years old and below
Thomas and his new- found friends at the park

7. TENNOJI ZOO

The Tennoji Zoo opened in January 1915 as the third zoo in Japan. The zoo’s approximately 11 hectares house 1,000 animals of 200 different types, including everything from lions, and chimpanzees, to the always-popular koalas, New Zealand kiwis (which can only be viewed at the Tennoji zoo), and distinctive, black-headed drills. In addition to attempting to reproduce the animals’ natural habitats as closely as possible, the Tennoji Zoo also serves as a kind of ecological exhibition, introducing the public to the way these animals live. The reptile house, Ifar, for example, was meticulously designed to resemble real animal habitats. The hippo enclosure is Japan’s first transparent pool enclosure. The rhino enclosure mimics the African savanna. ( https://osaka-info.jp/ )

Park hours and Fees

9:30 – 17:00
[Zoo Opening Hours Extended]
9:30 – 18:00
*Weekends and holidays in May and September only ; Mondays (closed the following weekday when holidays fall on Monday), New Year holidays (12/29 – 1/1)

Adults 500 yen

Elementary/junior high school students 200 yen

*Free for children younger than first-grade ages;

How to get there: Ten-Shiba is a 5-minute walk away from Dobutsuen-mae Station on the Osaka Metro Sakaisuji and Midosuji Lines
5-minute walk from Ebisucho Station on the Osaka Metro Sakaisuji Line
10-minute walk from Tennoji Station on the Osaka Metro Midosuji and Tanimachi Lines and JR Line.

Zoos make me sad so I told my son that this is not really a happy place for animals.
Stroller Rental – 500 JPY , Elephant Buggy Rental – 700 JPY / Luggage Storage – 600 JPY per luggage
Strollers for rent

8. KUROMON MARKET

Kuromon Market (黒門市場, Kuromon Ichiba) is a covered public market that stretches around 600 meters parallel to Sakaisujidori Street in the Minami area of Osaka. The market has about 150 shops that predominantly sell fish, meat and produce, with other shops also purveying traditional sweets and low priced clothes and homeware. The market dates back to the Edo Period, and today makes for an atmospheric place to stroll around, shop and eat a variety of different street foods. ( https://www.japan-guide.com/ )

How to get there: Kuromon Market is a few steps from Nipponbashi Station on the Sennichimae and Sakaisuji subway lines. Alternatively, it is a ten minute walk from Namba Station.

Tips to enjoy Kuromon Market with a baby or very young kids:

  • If your baby is already eating solids, fresh juices and smoothies are available around the area; grilled vegetables and fruits are also good options.
  • Eat inside mini food courts with tables and chairs. Avoid standing in the alley way to eat or drink as it could get really crowded at times.
  • Park your stroller properly and don’t get in the way of other customers and vendors. Don’t block the entry ways of shops.
  • Throw your garbage in trash cans of the vendor where you bought your food from. This way, you would not be called out and inconvenienced as you enjoy your time with your family.
Really good grilled sweet potatoes and grilled pineapples
Thomas had fresh strawberry skewers. So sweet and soft!

Okinawa Kokutou. Melted lumps of kuro sato or brown sugar, mixed with lime – a staple in every Okinawan house. This is my new favourite ice cream flavor. ❤️ Thomas loves it too.

9. SHINSAIBASHI-SUJI

With over two million visitors going to Osaka every month, shopping could be horrific on weekends and the holidays. Especially during New Year’s Day , where people rush to the malls for Fukubukuro , shopping with your baby could be a challenging experience. So, to fully enjoy this activity with your family, we recommend that you do it on weekdays.

A commercial avenue stretching north and south for about 580 meters from the south of Nagahori-dori to Soemoncho-dori. Visitors to this street number about 60,000 on weekdays and about 120,000 on weekends and holidays. ( https://osaka-info.jp/ )

Shops of all kinds and for all ages line the street, this is a roofed arcade that is 600 meters long.  H&M, UNIQLO, GU, GAP, DISNEY STORE and ZARA are among the popular stores in the area where you can buy baby clothes.

DAIMARU

Should you need to use the restroom or the baby lounge, head to this department store for convenience.

Baby Lounge – This is located on the seventh floor of the main building. There is hot water supply device for milk, exclusive use of the beds for diaper change and a nursing room.

Stroller Rental – you can rent at the first floor of the main building information desk ●NPC Nishishinsaibashi first parking ●NPC Nishi Shinsaibashi 2 Parking. Children three years or younger can use the strollers.

enjoying my matcha soft serve outside Daimaru


10. UNIVERSAL STUDIOS

Your Osaka trip won’t be complete without going to Universal Studios Japan. Prepare to spend a day or two here if you want to fully enjoy this experience. For kids of all ages, including babies, there is something for everyone. Read our Universal Studios with a Baby guide here.

TIP: We recommend not visiting the park on weekends and school holidays as the waiting time for attractions will be longer and the restaurants could get really crowded.

Park Hours and Tickets

Park operating hours change from time to time, so it’s best to check the schedule on the dates of your visit, here.

Tickets –

1Day Studio Pass / 2Day Studio Pass

The admission ticket includes park entrance and use of all attractions in the park.
TypeAdults[Aged 12 or over]Children[Ages 4 to 11]Seniors[Aged 65 or over]
1 DAY
Studio Pass
from ¥7,091
(¥7,800 with tax) –
from ¥4,910
(¥5,400 with tax) –
from ¥6,455
(¥7,100 with tax) –
2 DAY
Studio Pass
from ¥14,000
(¥15,400 with tax)
from ¥9,546
(¥10,500 with tax)
Prices differ depending on the date. Check with your travel agency or ticket provider for the updated list.

Advance Tickets

Do not require exchange for a Studio Pass at Ticket Booths and allow direct entry to the park. We got our tickets from KLOOK.
  • KLOOK
  • KKDAY
  • VOYAGIN
  • TRIP ADVISOR
  • TRAVELOKA

How to get there: The easiest way to get to USJ is by train. The park is just a five minute walk from Universal City Station on the JR Sakurajima Line.

FAMILY – FRIENDLY FACILITIES

BABY FEEDING – Facilities for breastfeeding, baby feeding and diaper changing are available. Also equipped with hot water dispensers and microwaves for preparing baby formula or baby food. Located next to Guest Services/Inside Universal Wonderland.

DIAPER CHANGING TABLES – A total of 37 units are installed in the park. Disposable diapers can be disposed of here. One unit installed in each of 16 men’s / ladies’ restrooms inside the park (except in the restaurant restrooms).

BABY FOOD – Baby food for babies aged between 7 and 12 months old is available in Snoopy’s™ Backlot Café and Studio Stars Restaurant.

MISSING CHILDREN CENTER – Meeting point for lost children (under 12 years) and their parents or guardians. Located at the Guest Services counter.

STROLLER RENTAL – Rental strollers are for children up to three years old (under four years old). Children above the age of 4 are not allowed to use the rental strollers. FEE: ¥1,100 each (single seater, tax included). You may rent one at the counter to the right of the entrance.

CHILD SWITCHThe Child Switch system enables guests with children/companions who do not meet an attraction’s height or other requirements to take turns and enjoy the attraction without waiting in line again. For details, please ask a crew member at the attraction.

BABY – FRIENDLY ATTRACTIONS

UNIVERSAL WONDERLAND

The ultimate fun place for the whole family, UNIVERSAL WONDERLAND features attractions and rides , especially for kids under 10 years old. My baby really enjoyed meeting his favorite characters (he memorizes all Sesame Street muppets and he knows Snoopy!), riding the carousel and chasing the bubbles in the air. Here, you will enjoy Sesame Street Fun World, Snoopy Studios and Hello Kitty Fashion Avenue.

We also enjoyed JAWS, JURASSIC PARK AND THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER with our 20-month old.

That mandatory photo by the globe
Big BIrd’s Top Circus
Character Meet and Greet
Bubbles for babies!

So, that’s it for this post! Please let me know in the comments section if you think I missed some details! We could also chat on Instagram @wandermommyblog.

MORE ON OUR OSAKA TRIP HERE:

>>>>>>>> WINTER TRAVEL TO OSAKA WITH A BABY

>>>>>>>>>> HOW TO ENJOY UNIVERSAL STUDIOS JAPAN WITH A BABY

>>>>>>>>>> NARA DEER PARK WITH A BABY, IS IT WORTH THE TRIP?

>>>>>>>>>> EXPLORING KOBE WITH A BABY

TRAVELING TO HOKKAIDO THIS WINTER SEASON? CLICK HERE FOR SOME TIPS.

10 Things to Bring When Traveling with a Baby

For some reason, Thomas asks for milk everytime we are in a cold place, and walking. In this picture, we’re inside an MTR station in Hong Kong.

Traveling with a baby can be so much fun, especially when inconveniences such as dirty surfaces, carrying around dirty diapers, washing dishes in hotel sinks, among others, are kept out of the way by genius products made for parents-on-the-go. Aside from the common essentials such as a complete diaper bag, blanket, and disposable milk bags, here is a list of things we find very useful and deem fit to be added to our usual travel checklist.

1. Non – Contact Thermometer that Can Measure Body, Room and Bottle Temperature

Image result for drkea thermometer mom reviews
Perfect for active toddlers like Thomas!

When traveling with a baby, especially an infant, it is very important to keep an eye on baby’s temperature regularly to ensure that he or she is comfortable and well. During the cold months, most especially, when baby has layers of clothes on, it is essential to check not just his or her body temperature, but the room temperature as well.

Parents nowadays are so fortunate because the best thermometers in the market at present have great features and are user-friendly. One of the highly recommended brands is Drkea +. Their Ear and Forehead Thermometer is voted number 1 by Parenting Pick and it received a high rating not only from Best Reviews Guide but from other mom blogs as well. Unlike other non-contact thermometers that will only keep beeping with fever indication, this one shows color indication for fever warning. Accurate, reliable and easy to use, this thermometer from DrKea+ can measure body, room and even baby bottle temperature! Worth it! SHOP HERE.

2. Compact, Lightweight, Folds Flat and One-hand Maneuver Pushchair with Rain Cover and Travel Bag

We love our Joie Baby Pact ! This pushchair is suitable from birth, with flat, reclining seat. We paired this with the Joie infant carrier to form a travel system . What we love about this is it is lightweight, very easy to fold (even with just one hand!) and it packs flat into a compact fold. It comes with a carry bag and rain cover which is perfect for travel! The shopping basket below the seat is surprisingly full-size – we can put the baby bag and our Ergo Baby carrier with ease! The best part is, it costs only around 250 USD!

3. Hip- Seat Carrier

Image result for ergo baby hip seat carrier

The baby carrier we used during our winter holiday when Thomas was still 8-months old, was the Ergo Baby Adapt Carrier. While we liked how easy and comfortable it is to use, we thought of switching to the one with a hip seat when Thomas turned 10 months. This was when he started to walk, grew taller, gained a lot of weight and loves to face front when being carried! This carrier made our travel to Disneyland so much easier as he did not have to turn his head to see the attractions. I found this also easier to use on the plane and when in the train. The hip seat is detachable – perfect for parents with toddlers who want to go up and down and up again! Best 200 USD purchase!

4. Disposable Diaper Sacks

Image result for sassy diaper bags

One of our dear friends gave us a bag of diaper sacks during the baby shower, and we could never be more grateful! This product is a life-saver for new moms like me. When Thomas was born, we lived in a condo, which means, we had to take the elevator to dispose of our trash everyday. The powdery scent of the bag controls the odor, so, we are spared of embarrassment every single time. This is also very handy during our travels especially when we had to change diapers and there is no trash can nearby. It seals tightly and neatly so you would not have to worry about spills. This is totally a must-have at home and on-the-go!

5. Disposable Stick-on Placemats

Image result for sesame street table topper disposable stick-on placemats

I think this is necessary when eating out during travels because this provides a sanitary eating surface especially for babies or toddlers who spread food around the table and love to touch the surface. But even when yours is the behaved type, this product would give you peace of mind, knowing that your baby is protected from the myriad of germs present in public spaces and restaurants! It is disposable so no need to wash or wipe after meals. Choose a mat that has a colorful design to keep baby entertained!

6. Baby Snacks

Image result for happy baby puffs

Thank God for healthy baby snacks! These are your life-savers during long lines, heavy traffic, delayed flights and places with no baby-friendly food options. We prefer Happy Baby Puffs, Sproutz and Gerber Organic.

7. No Vacuum Needed Space Saver Bags

Image result for acrodo space saver travel bags for clothes

Increase storage space by 300% and make space for other important things in your luggage ! We use Acrodo Space Saver Bags because aside from space, it saves us time as we don’t have to use a pump anymore to compress the clothes. This is really helpful because Thomas and I share one luggage every time we travel.

8. First aid and medicine kit for baby

Image result for first aid kit for baby

In my post about our winter holiday in Japan, I included this in my checklist. This is very important and must be thoroughly prepared with your pediatrician’s guidance.

Two weeks before our winter trip, we visited our pediatrician to ask for prescription medicines in case of emergency. It is best to see your doctor to ensure the correct dosage. Below is the list of medicines our doctor recommended we bring.

  1. Antihistamine
  2. Antibiotics (Suspension)
  3. Paracetamol Drops
  4. Nasal Decongestant Drops( for colds)
  5. Cough Medicine

and here are the things I included in our first -aid kit:

  1. Non-contact thermometer – this was in my pocket the whole time! I used this to check his temperature ( must not go below 36.5 C or above 37 C) and the room temperature ( between 68 and 72 degrees F is a good range in winter). When the room is too hot, research has shown that it can increase your baby’s risk of SIDS; when it’s too cold, baby can easily become uncomfortably chilly and wake up unnecessarily. Again, it is best to discuss this with your doctor to be guided accordingly.
  2. Saline solution – baby’s nose could get clogged due to the cold weather so this is quite handy.
  3. Chest rub – I brought Mustela Soothing Chest Rub for his chest and Vicks Baby Rub for his feet 
  4. Aveeno Eczema Lotion – for his atopic skin
  5. Mustela Cleansing Water – very handy during nappy changes in public spaces.
  6. Mustela Cold Cream Stick – to keep his cheeks and lips moisturized.
  7. Scissors
  8. Band aid strips

9. Portable Collapsible Basin

Image result for collapsible basin

This is very useful. Before I discovered this, I used to wash my baby’s bottles and cutlery in hotel sinks which I find really stressful. This portable and collapsible basin gives me the peace of mind I need when traveling with my toddler and it also saves space in my luggage.

10. Portable Bottle brush and Drying Rack

Image result for boon trip travel drying rack

This portable drying rack and brush set is amazing. During travel, it stresses me out to have to just put Thomas’s bottles and cutlery on a paper towel to dry. I feel that it is still not clean even after sterilizing each item. Also, even after leaving them to dry overnight, the bottles would still have moisture the next day. I am so happy I discovered this product. The way this is designed allows the air to flow through and dry the items effectively. I love that it includes a large and smaller bottle brush. Definitely useful for moms who have to wash and dry breast pump parts. SHOP HERE.

That’s it for this post. If you have other items that you think should be in the list, let me know in the comments section below.

Happy trip!

Edit: Most of the things listed here may be purchased here. Shop now! (for Philippine residents only)

Christmas in Hokkaido

Christmas 2018 was very memorable for me and my family for the following reasons : 1. It was Thomas’s first Christmas 2. We celebrated it in another country for the first time 3. The trip was a gift from Thomas’s grandparents. We couldn’t be any happier and more grateful! This was a long -anticipated David family holiday, with some bumps along the wait including my baby bump, but it was worth all the intense preparation because it is the best yuletide celebration we have had to date. (well, for me, at least. Because hello? Snow!)

We celebrated Christmas eve with my parents and siblings in Aruga by Rockwell (will write about this awesome staycation on a separate post) and left at around 9:00 pm to catch our red-eye flight. Needless to say, Justin, Thomas and I were at the airport when the clock struck twelve. Together with us in the flight was Justin’s brother, Martin.

We took the Eva Air Hello Kitty Jet which means, we had to stop over Taipei and wait for a few hours before we get to Sapporo. So basically, the four of us spent Christmas day in transit with luggage and a baby in tow. Not to mention our minute-to-win-it like experience of having to change not just wet but soiled diapers five minutes before boarding! So memorable, indeed!

We reached Sapporo at around 9:00 pm and had onigiri for Christmas dinner. The best! All of us were billeted at Ibis Styles, Sapporo which served as our home for three days before we traveled to Hoshino Resorts, Tomamu to bask in the snow for a few more days and then headed back to Sapporo again to celebrate the New Year.

I would probably run out of headspace (right state of mind) if I write about every little detail of our trip so I will just do a run down of what I think are the highlights of our winter holiday.

OTARU

This deserves a solo post. But, for the sake of this list, i’ll encapsulate my experience in three words: Magical but expensive. Magical because of the snow-covered Otaru Canal and the charming, European feel of the city; expensive because it just is. Most claim it to be a tourist trap because of the scores of souvenir shops selling pricey mementos around town. Nevertheless, I would say it is worth the experience. There are a lot of reasons to go to Otaru but below are my top three.

  1. Otaru Canal – The best spot for a family photoshoot, this attraction has a certain charm that takes you back in time and makes you feel like a character in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Thomas and his Daddy
Thomas and the guys
Thomas with his grandparents
Thomas and Mama

2. Naruto Honten – Really good fried chicken! For about JPY1200, you could stuff yourself with their large spring chicken combo meal with rice and miso soup. It was so good I forgot to document my food! But what makes it even better is it was a treat by Justin’s brother, Paolo. So grateful!

Going there is a bit tricky if you are planning to meet up with friends or family for a meal. There are two branches of this restaurant in Otaru and if you are unaware of this fact, you could end up waiting in the wrong restaurant like what happened to us. 😂 One branch is located near the station, called Naruto Denuki Kouji which is a smaller and newer shop.  While the main branch, Wakadori Jidori Naruto Honten is about a 15 -minute walk from the canal area. We went to the latter.

This spring chicken meal set is around JPY 1,200

3. Le TAO Honten – The name of the store “LeTAO”, is an acronym for the French phrase “La Tour Amitie Otarumeaning “Beloved Otaru Tower.” As its name suggests, LeTAO became the sweet shop loved by the people of Otaru, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2018.

As Honten means headquarters, main branch or flagship store, Le TAO Otaru boasts of three levels of cheesecake goodness, with the shop on the first level, cafe on the second and observatory deck on the third. Although we were only able to admire it from the outside due to the massive crowd present at the time, we were able to try their famous Double Fromage Cheesecake at the New Chitose Airport.

Otaru is a very romantic place, indeed.

SAPPORO WHITE ILLUMINATION

Although most of the magnificent light shows ended on the day we arrived, we were still able to catch some illumination shows. My favorite was the one at the Sapporo Station south exit station square . A huge Christmas tree was brightly lit and flashing lights with music reflected on the walls of Daimaru’s exterior. It is a great experience especially for little kids. Here are some of the shows we missed:

1.Odori Park
2.Sapporo Ekimae-dori
3. Minami 1jo-dori
4. Sapporo Kita 3-Jo Plaza “AKAPLA”

While winter illumination events are now held all over Japan, it was in Sapporo that the tradition originated in 1981.

Sapporo Station South Exit Station Square

THOMAS STATION

Located at the 9th floor of ESTA in JR Sapporo Station, this is a happy place for kids under 6 years old. From the train ride, bouncy house and ball pool, the railway toys and the overwhelming Thomas and Friends merchandise, you could easily spend at least 2 hours of fun and maybe a (couple or more) thousand JPY worth of goods. 😉

Thomas at Thomas Station

PECHE GRAND

is a little patisserie, café and wine bar located on the Red Brick Plaza – a beautiful tree lined road that leads to the Old Hokkaido Government Building. The pretty interiors match the fancy and quality French desserts to complement their fresh brews. There is nothing like sipping hot coffee and savoring a slice of that soft and luxurious strawberry gateau while watching the fluffy snow fall on the fairy dust-covered roads.

I ordered this cake set for JPY 1,100 ( 2 cakes and 1 drink)

FUKUBUKURO

This Japanese New Year custom epitomizes the real meaning of the phrase “shop ’til you drop”. We went to the mall at 9:00 am with high spirits and left at 8:00 pm with aching bodies.

A combination of two Japanese words, fuku, which means ‘good luck’ and bukuro, which means ‘bag’, Fukuburo is a lucky mystery bag filled with random stuff, sold by retailers on January 1 at lower prices. Malls could get crazy packed on this day. I highly recommend leaving your babies or young kids in the hotel if you want to keep your sanity. For more information on this event, read my dedicated post here.

Crazy queue! But, since this is Japan, everything was efficient.
Worth the wait! This little bakery too was cramped! but we were happy we waited as this boulangerie and cafe serves really good breads and pastries for affordable prices!

HOSHINO RESORTS TOMAMU

A ski resort located at Naka-Tomamu Shimukappu Yufutsu Hokkaido, this is a 2-hour train ride or 1. 5- hour private ride (add 1 hour if the roads are heavily covered in snow) from Sapporo. We hired a bus for the entire family to comfortably get there. We had so much fun despite the freezing temperature. Even if you don’t or can’t ski, there are many activities for everyone, including babies. More on this fun trip here.

On the way to the Unkai Gondola Ride

NEW YEAR’S DAY LUNCH AT MERCURE SAPPORO

On New Year’s day, we all gathered at Bordeaux Restaurant for thanksgiving lunch. This is Mercure Sapporo’s French buffet restaurant. This is a really special family lunch because it culminated our Christmas vacation , that which is a gift to all of us from mom and dad, and, it served as a prelude to mom’s 70th birthday on January 3rd.

Everything on the buffet spread was delicious. From the starters to the desserts, I enjoyed every bit. Indeed, it was a celebration meal.

Some of the places we went to but not featured here are: Sapporo Beer Museum, Nishiki Market, Ishiya Chocolate Factory and New Chitose Airport. I will write about these spots separately.

Two days after celebrating the new year, we flew back home with cold hands, warm hearts, full bellies and even fuller smiles as we once again filled our memory banks to the brim.

ありがとうございました !
(arigatou gozaimashita!)

Have Baby, Will Travel!

Traveling with a baby doesn’t mean mama’s on vacation. It is just moving to another place, taking the whole house with you and doing your usual routine in a different setting. The tiredness is doubled but the level of excitement surpasses it, like a hundred times.It makes me a different person each time as Thomas’s level of activity increases each time too. It is like playing a video game called Mom Dash with Candy Crush‘s never – ending-and – getting – more-difficult – stages . LOL!

Today, we did our usual routine: breakfast – books-shapes-songs-nappy change-morning care-milk-morning nap. And now , I have about two hours of free time until he wakes up for lunch. Really, it’s just the same schedule but in a different room. We are spending four days at The Nest Tagaytay, Bed and Breakfast and so far, day one has been good to me.

I don’t regret not getting a nanny. (although I’m not closing my doors!) I may have put some personal goals aside but I know that I’ll be able to pursue them again pretty soon. My son’s childhood is fleeting (and wonderful) like the sunset and I wouldn’t mind chasing after it until the day he tells me “Mom, I can do this on my own now. I’m not a baby anymore.”

So for now, I’ll savor this needy stage of my son, take him with me wherever I go, move places, try to do some work, go back home and do it all over again, in a heartbeat.

Feeling cozy at The Nest Tagaytay, Bed and Breakfast