The last time we blogged about holidays in Japan with infants, we painted a scene of adventure laced with chaos. We learned a lot, and decided to have a second crack at it. Here is our story, for anyone looking to tip over the horror-pleasure cusp point and see the promised land of enjoyable holidays with babies and toddlers.
Bravely, we set out once again. Being unable to resist the allure of the World’s Largest Rodent, and a fine collection of cactii, we made our way to the Izu Peninsula, within sight of my beloved Mt Fuji.
The two hour train journey could have been horrendous, but as Jacob slept for all of it, in the pram we ended up having a really pleasant and relaxing time. Not quite absolute luck as trains are great places for sleeping, but since he hardly ever strings together a 40 minute nap, we didn’t know ourselves.
Arriving at Atami Station, we decided the day was panning out well enough to take a calculated risk and explore the area instead of changing trains to go straight to our ryoukan (Japanese style inn). Nat discovered there were some plum blossoms in a nearby beautiful garden. Slightly too early for mankai (full bloom) but still, a Japanese garden in the afternoon sun.
In the town of Ito, we discovered our ryoukan was an old wooden building handcrafted by 3 master carpenters, each in charge of a different level. Here is our tatami room, with sliding doors that open onto a balcony overlooking the river, 2 minutes walk from the volcanic sandy beach. There was also an onsen (natural hot spring) in the building, 3 in fact. So good.
Having been drawn to the area because of the World’s Largest Rodent and Cactus Park, we made an express visit the next day. Mt Omuro stands tall over the park, so we thought we would climb it using the handy chairlift. Omuro is the neatest volcano you have ever seen. Typically Japanese with its zen like perfect grassy slopes, round crater and conveniently compact footprint, they even turned the windless crater into an archery venue! Mt Omuro includes Mt Fuji in its panorama, as well as views of other ancient volcanic mountains, flows and islands out to sea.
Then the moment we (I) had been waiting for, the World’s Largest Rodent, the Kapybara. After finding them and patting their coarse straw-like hair, we realised they had all been drinking from and bathing in a pool with their own poo in it. Spoiled the moment a bit… but didn’t stop me buying the Kapybara curry for lunch, even if the sauce was an unfortunate colour under the circumstances.
We walked back instead of taking a taxi, through what looked like Japan’s Helensburgh, steeply descending back to sea level. Nat stole an orange from someone’s grove. Later that day we went to the beach, Aria had a nice play, and after her and Coby were in bed, we relaxed with wine and chocolate. Unbelievable. Somehow we avoided the maximum bad kid horror. More than avoided it, we were basking in glorious happy happy joy relax.
The next day it rained and we checked out to go home. As a last hurrah we went to Ito Marina, found a free foot onsen, then wasted money on a cruise equipped with an underwater viewing window. Being the wrong season, or weather, or something, we saw nothing underwater, but feeding seagulls was ok.
At lunchtime Aria tried her first wasabi, using her bravest resolve.
So, there you have it, we were able to extract a fantastic holiday using our thinly veneered kid-life chaos.