Previous posts about my brief trip to Tokyo:
Without waxing overly poetic, starting at the end seems best. My daughter has been a bit down in the dumps lately, recovering from being pretty sick and having a bit of the separation blues from Mom and Dad. On Monday evening, she came home and told Michelle that the currency in Japan is the Yen, because she had just learned about it in school.
I don’t think she had remembered I had given her one of each Japanese coin upon return from my trip, but Michelle fixed that. She packed up the coins (along with a 5,000 Yen note to show the difference in the paper money) so Catherine could take them to school for show and tell.
Tuesday morning, our mopey daughter was psyched to go show off the money to her classmates. It was all she could talk about when I talked to her after school that day. To some degree, I take travel for granted because it comes so easy, but there are plenty of people that will never even make it out of North America.
Since we have kids, Disney is obviously a big part of our lives. I mentioned to Michelle the other day that I understand the draw EPCOT has to older kids, as it’s their way to touch a world they may never reach. For our children, I’m sure they’ll love EPCOT. But, I expect them to also have rich experiences from our travels.
All of that is the long way around to my final thoughts on Tokyo. There’s no question the 787 trip was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. For an airline geek, I’m not sure you can come up with too many things that fit the bill better than that. I think it was a given that the 787 flights would be the highlight of my trip, but I did think I would enjoy Tokyo more than I did.
That’s no knock on the city. Part of it was self-inflicted. Due to a crazy schedule, I took very little (read, no) time to learn the local language. In my other travels, I’ve always taken time to do so. Couple that with the fact that most of the European languages have at least some natural transition, especially if they’re Latin/romance languages, and we’ve always gotten by in Europe being able to communicate.
Since I was traveling alone and I couldn’t speak the language, there were parts of the trip where I felt isolated even though I was in a city of 8 million people. There’s no question Tokyo is a city rich in history and local culture. I don’t think I would take my kids there at their current ages (6 and 1) as I don’t think there’s nearly enough things to interest them. However, I could see a return trip as they approached high school.
I do think Tokyo is a city to be explored with someone else, and I would have loved to have Michelle along with me for the trip. There are certain things through the city that just begged to be talked about.
I also think that where you stay can make a huge difference, both in navigation of Tokyo and in terms of getting assistance with activities. I found the Park Hyatt to be exceptional at helping me get around Tokyo and get access to places and events. Everyone there spoke English, which was definitely a plus. But, they also had an impeccable knowledge of the city. The concierge I worked with was more than happy to sit down with me multiple times to assist me. They had helpful maps and a car service available as well.
I started traveling at a fairly young age, and I have my father to thank for my love of travel. That’s something I hope to pass on to my kids in an even richer way than what my father was able to provide me. Over the past few years, I’ve been able to take my father on some pretty awe-inspiring trips to repay him for those moments as a kid where we got to explore.
And now, my wife has gotten our daughter a copy of Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, a Dr. Seuss book that’s a popular gift for high school and college graduates. I hope her passport continues to grow and epitomize the philosophy of the book. She’s asked about China, and now seems to be more interested in Japan.
Overall, I found Tokyo to be very safe and clean, easy to navigate via the subway and expensive. There are other places I would venture to before returning to Tokyo, but I suspect I’ll be back.