5 Must-Do Things to do in Japan with kids

This is an updated version of a post I originally contributed for YummyMummyClub.

I grew up in a small town in Japan. It’s been almost 20 years since we moved to Canada, so my children were pretty much raised as Canadians. We try to go back to Japan as often as possible, and it’s great to see my kids get so fascinated with my home country. Here are 5 Must-Do Things in Japan with your children.

1. Visit a Family Restaurant

Photo credit: Osamu Iwasaki
Photo credit: Osamu Iwasaki

Family restaurants(FAMIRESU for short) are everywhere in Japan. They are reasonably priced and kid friendly. For some reason, Kids Meals are called “OKOSAMA(Child) LUNCH” And yes, they are served all day, not just at lunch time. It usually consists of little bit of everything (spaghetti, meatballs, etc.) and a little mountain of rice with a flag on top. When my son first saw it, he thought that was the greatest thing! Make sure you take a photo.

2. Visit a Shrine or Temple

Zojo-ji temple in the rain
Zojo-ji temple in the rain

3. Check Out a Festival or Two

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Some festivals are huge and happen annually, so be sure to check the local event schedule of where you are headed. But if you are lucky, you might just come across a small fair near the shrine. Unlike North American fairs, there won’t be any rides, but usually a strip is lined with all kinds of different vendors selling snacks (candy apple, cotton candy, OKONOMIYAKI savory pancakes, etc.), toys and masks, or have a game booth. My favourite is KINGYO SUKUI -“scoop the goldfish” game!

4. Character Goods Store

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If you have a daughter, (no, scratch that, boys will love it too) you must go to “Character Goods Store”—such as Sanrio and Kiddy Land. You’ll be overwhelmed by the number of character goods (most famous of all is Hello Kitty). From underwear, handkerchief, hair clips, note books, bento boxes,stationery,stuffed animals to chopsticks, you can find all kinds of wacky fun things with your favourite character on it. There are plenty of fun things for boys as well (my son loved Cup Noodle shaped erasers), and these tiny things make great souvenirs for friends back home.

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My favourite, Rilakkuma

5. Ride on a Bullet Train

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Free Hand-rolled Sushi Class by Chef Takayuki Omi

Sushi 660 FINAL flat 50 rev

Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF – 農林水産省) of Japan is encouraging Canadians to get familiar with Japanese food by offering free hand-rolled sushi classes at Nikkei Centre in Burnaby on Sunday November 8th.

MAFF is sponsoring this one day event to promote “healthy and delicious” Japanese cuisine, and Chef Takayuki Omi will show you how easily you can prepare them at home. You will also learn about Japanese food culture and why many of Japanese food is considered so healthy.

chef omiChef Takayuki Omi:

Born in Meguro, Tokyo. After graduating from culinary school in Shizuoka, he worked at Yamaha resort for three years. After spending two years in Toronto’s Ematei Restaurant, he spent thirteen years at Fairmont Royal York as Sushi chef. He moved to west coast in 2011 and currently works at Fairmont Pacific Rim. He also has his own catering company, Taka Catering.

 

Program:

Introduction to Japanese cuisine and culture

Japanese food is well known as heathy food. Chef Omi will introduce the concept of “One soup, three greens” menu, use of Dashi(stock), tools commonly used in Japanese cuisine, and more, along with some demonstration of Japanese cooking.

temaki

Hands-on sushi making class

Then he will teach you how to make “Temaki (Hand-rolled) Sushi”, a casual sushi commonly enjoyed in many Japanese homes.

Date: Sunday, November 8th

Location: Nikkei Centre (inside Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre) 6688 Southoaks Crescent, Burnaby, BC

There will be two sessions at 11:00am-12:30pm, and 1:30pm-3:00pm (Choose one)

This is a FREE event open to general public, but you must register as the space is limited.

To register, email yukari@yukaripeerless.ca with names of participants and which session you’d like to take.

Facebook Event Page

Media contact: Yukari Peerless (yukari@yukaripeerless.ca)

Okinawa (Part 2) -Whale Shark and Elephant Nose

(This is part of my #ANAOkinawa travel log; you can read all the previous posts here.)

Churaumi Aquarium

We were extra excited for this day’s destination – Churaumi Aquarium, the largest aquarium in Japan! Churaumi Aquarium used to be the largest aquarium in the world until Gorgia Aquarium beat the record in 2005.

This aquarium is famous for its 7,500 cubic meters tank and the Whale Shark. The highlight is definitely the shark and manta rays that swim so gracefully in the giant tank.

The aquarium is located inside Ocean Expo Park, and there is outdoor playgrounds for kids, Planetarium, Botanical Garden, beach, and parks. This is a GREAT place for people of all ages. If you have kids, you can spend all day there.

Of course, there are other ocean creatures at Churaumi. My favourite is Garden Eel.

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They look like worms, and they sort of stick out of the sand and swing around in the waves. Adorable!

Finally here is a quick video of the shark tank.

 Cape Manzamo

Then we headed to Cape Manzamo. There isn’t a lot of explanation needed here. This is a magnificent viewpoint with cliff that looks like an elephant’s trunk. “Manza” means “Ten thousand seats”. In the beginning of the 18th century, Ryukyu King Sho Kei visited Manzamo and declared that it had enough space to sit thousands of people. Here’s the video from there.

Read the next post: Hyakuna Garan – Brand new, yet nostalgic resort (Okinawa Part 3)

Or jump to the list of all the Okinawa posts: #ANAOkinawa Travel Log

Adventure continues with ANA

Okinawa

You might remember that I went to Japan last year as one of the brand ambassadors for All Nippon Airways’ Inspiration of Japan cabin service. I flew on their amazing business class with Neal Schaffer  as well as Cali Lewis and John P. of Geekbeat TV.

We explored Tokyo and Okayama and had an incredible time. You can read about the trip here.

Now, it was so much fun we are doing it again!

This year, the team (same member) are flying all the way to Okinawa, the southernmost prefecture in Japan.

Falling in love with Okinawa 

I’m from Sasebo in Nagasaki prefecture(in Kyushu) and it is a pretty warm place, but Okinawa is full-on tropical. It’s “Hawaii of Japan”!

Did you know Okinawa consists of about 160(!) islands, big and small? It is also known for its rich culture and history. It was occupied by The United States until returned to Japan in 1972 after the World War II. Also, Okinawan people are known for their longevity.

This will be my first time in Okinawa and I cannot wait to report everything I experience here. I’ve been reading up on this wonderful little island and I have already fallen in love with it!

Follow the #ANAOkinawa #YukariFliesANA hashtag on TwitterFacebook, and of course, Google Plus.

Lean more about Okinawa at OkinawaStory.com.

Read the next post:  Okinawa (Part 1) – Shuri Castle, Okinawa Village, Snake Liquor and more!

Or jump to the list of all the Okinawa posts: #ANAOkinawa Travel Log