I Lost My Son at Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto

Kiyomizudera Temple is definitely one of the places you must see in Kyoto. It actually is in my top 3 recommendations for Kyoto. But before you go, I must warn you to be extra mindful of your children. We lost our son for nearly an hour during the tail end of our trip! And boy were we scared and worried for him. I was already looking for the closest police station to report a missing child. Good thing I saw him (after an hour of looking) before we found an officer.

Travel Tip: Before going to places with large crowds, talk to your children about staying close to you. Japan is generally very quiet but perhaps it pays to have a whistle for when your child thinks he or she is lost so you may locate each other at once.

Beyond that legitimate scare, Kiyomizu-dera Temple grounds was so scenic and serene. See our photos from that day =)

Taken from the vantage point of Mt. Ottowa on our downhills. Climb from Kiyomizu-dera Temple.

Kiyomizu in English means “pure water”. People come here to do a water cleanse ritual. The line was long when we got to this point and didn’t think our kids would like the wait do I encourage you to go very early. The temple opens by 6:00 am so early risers will not have a problem with long queues.

Spooky fact: There are nearly 200 statues of the Buddhist deity Jizo at one of the gardens at the Kiyomizu-dera Temple. Jizo is the protector of unborn children or children who die very young. These stone statues are dressed in bibs by parents who have lost a child.

Kiyomizu-dera Temple

1-294, Kiyomizu, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, 605-0862, Japan

Website https://www.kiyomizudera.or.jp/en/

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Fushimi Inari Shrine Tips

There was not a single day in Japan that we didn’t get lost. Having said that, I would not want for you to have the same fate as we did..unless you like being lost in a foreign country. Maybe you enjoy the mere thrill of it? If so, don’t read this post or don’t do any research at all. However, if you do not want to waste precious travel time, I suggest you continue reading on =)

Here are my tips for visiting the famous and photo worthy Fushimi Inari Shrine:

1. TRAVEL EARLY: Yes, many others already say that but I cannot stress it enough. You would want to get there before the crowds start. There are tons of other tourists wanting to visit this place on any given day. The earlier the better. Fushimi Inari is open 24 hours so as early as can be! And to be early, I move on to my next tip…

2. STUDY YOUR ROUTE WELL. Aside from knowing your proper entrance gates, double check wit Google Maps on proper location. I made the painful mistake of following a pin that was FAAAAAR from where we needed to be 😩 We wasted almost an hour trying to get back on track. If you have a concierge or a friendly manager or airbnb owner wherever you are staying, please always confirm with them where you intend to go for the day. Locals (not maps) know best!

3. THE WHOLE PLACE ISN’T ENTIRELY STROLLER FRIENDLY so prepare to CARRY your stroller for at least 1 or 2 full flight of stairs if you want to see all of the the famous and seemingly never ending red Torii Gates.

4. Obviously, A BABY CARRIER IS MORE IDEAL but if you must bring a stroller because you intend to be out the whole day or like to avoid meltdowns because of kids wanting naps in a stroller, then embrace the fact that you can only see the bottom portion out of the whole area. If you decide to carry your baby in a carrier, prepare to walk a lot with the extra weight. It is a mountain trail! So, it’s a tough decision that must be made before you head out for the day.

5. REST WHEN YOU CAN. I doubt that very young children can walk the whole Torii Gate pathway without wanting pee breaks, snack break or just general foot rests. WARNING: It is a total hike of 4 kilometers one way alone!

There is a beautiful rest area facing a garden close to the entrance on the left side. Perhaps it wasn’t really meant for those going up, but really meant for those coming down – – but we chanced upon it anyway because we had a stroller and that was the only path possible for it to roll up!

It is nice to sit, enjoy the view and relax here before attempting to walk all the way up.

6. BE PATIENT. If you didn’t listen to the very first advice of coming early, there will be hordes of people passing through these gates. We had to wait maybe 10 minutes before taking a single decent photo. Then wait again another 10 minutes because a new batch of tourists would walk and take photos, too.

7. SEE WITH FRESH EYES. You are obviously there to see Thousand Torii Gates, or maybe look out also for the fox statues known to be as messengers of the gods for their rice harvests. My advice is to also see things as children would. My son spotted a tiny companion for the duration of our Fushimi Inari Torii Gates journey. As fascinating as I thought the Torii Gates was, my son was totally interested in his new found insect friend!

We are no stranger to the praying mantis as we have these back home, too, but we liked the thought that this Japanese praying mantis could act entirely different. We were gentle with the mantis and did say goodbye even if my son wanted to bring him home to our hotel.

8. IF YOU AREN’T PATIENT WITH PEOPLE, I suggest you take your photos outside the Torii Gates instead of inside them. Not many people would want photos taken from that angle which leaves you with shots like these anytime of day!

9. FOOD STALLS are found on the leftside exit. Now we made the mistake of coming at an odd time – almost lunch so the kids were famished and wanting to eat from every stall we passed. You should definitely go hike immediately after having a big breakfast to avoid hunger pangs. If not, have a snack by these food stalls before going all the way up!

That’s it! I hope you enjoyed all my tips for the Fushimi Inari Shrine. We never made it to the top but that’s okay. I know I’ll be back someday when my kids are older and I will attempt to finish the 4 kilometer mountain hike with them then.

Mama’s Hour Off in Kyoto

After taking care of all 3 kids alone when my husband was sick in the hotel for a day in Kyoto, I persuaded him to give me an hour off a few days later so I can do an errand faster.

Not only did I get to do that said errand, I also enjoyed wandering the streets alone and randomly walked into a local and natural soap shop in Kyoto!

I spoke to the sales lady who just opened the shop and asked her many questions about the soaps. Despite the language difference, we did manage to communicate.

According to her, this shop is local to Kyoto and is not available in Tokyo (although she did mention that they have a shop in neighboring Osaka). What interested me was that all the ingredients are natural or organic. And everything was made by hand! It reminded me so much of my soap mentor back in the Philippines. We also do handmade cold processed soaps so I was curious on how they make theirs in Kyoto.

They also make lipbalms. Look at the bamboo containers! So innovative!

I wanted to buy these for my kids. They are similar to Chinese Jackstones but Japanese made?

They list their soaps, bestsellers and their ingredients.

Will you look at those beautiful wash basins to try the soaps? I was pressed for time so I only tried to wash my hands with 2 bars of soap.

And this section leads to the cafe!

You can have some tea while getting your foot soaked in warm water! To me this is a very unique concept but to the Japanese who traditionally practice the art of onsen, it must be normal to do this sort of thing on a daily basis?

It’s too bad I didn’t really bring enough cash with me during this walk. I would have loved to buy more (if not all.. I wanted to buy so many things!) from this local soap shop but it is probably a sign that I need to go back one day!

Shabon-ya

1F Shiratori Bldg.55 Masuya-cho,Nakagyo-ku,
Kyoto, Japan

Business hours : 11:00~20:00

www.shabonya.com

P. S. Do you also follow a Mama’s Hour Off during your family travels? Or are they more like Mama’s Day Off? 😂

Mochi Pounding in Nara, Japan

While my kids absolutely loved seeing the deers in Nara, Japan.. I had the mochi pounding activity high up in my itinerary. And guess what, my kids were mesmerised, too.

After searching, hanging out and feeding the deers, we went to look for the famous Mochi shop called Nakatanidou which was close one of the train station’s exits. After back tracking our path via Google maps, we watched the live demo which happens every 30 minutes. As soon as we got there, they were already preparing for another mini show.

After the mochi pounding demo, we bought Mugwort and Red Bean paste mochi for taking back to the hotel for us.

There is something so special about seeing local artisans completely passionate and immersed in their craft. I hope to continue witnessing and sharing these kind of travel experiences with my children.

Yes, we would totally go back for those freshly pounded mochi! So so good!

Nakatanidou

http://www.nakatanidou.jp/sp/

Nara Deer Park Day in Japan!

If you plan on going to Osaka or anywhere in Kansai region in Japan with kids, you must prioritise visiting the Nara Deer Park in Nara Prefecture!

This was the obvious highlight of my kids because you not only get to meet, but also get to feed, hang out and pet the deers which are almost mythical creatures for us Filipinos since we don’t have any deers in our home country!

Not far from the train station, we saw some vendors selling deer biscuits for 150 ¥. My son hurriedly bought some to feed any deers that might come to our path. Little did we know.. there were tons roaming!

Some are aggressive so I warn you to please be mindful because they can nudge you with their antlers when asking for food. We noticed that some deers had their antlers removed. I think it’s because they are the most aggressive ones?

Also, don’t leave any kind of paper (maps or brochures) lying around. I mistakenly left mine on the stroller which was half eaten by a hungry deer by the time I came back for it. 😩

There were a lot of places you could just find a spot, sit down and do a picnic?

Remember to bring your own snacks and drinks. Luckily, we had some Mister Donuts with us which we bought from the Kyoto Station to tide us over because we were running late for lunch.

Many restaurants close after 2pm and reopen for dinner!

My kids loved Nara and the deers so much they are determined to stay at one of the guesthouses located within the park next time we’re in Japan 😂

What To Do For Kids at Kansai International Airport in Osaka

1. Look for the nearest playground!

Traveling with kids mean you are always on the lookout for playgrounds. One way to ease some travel stress, get limbs moving and keep kids happy during waiting times before a flight is for them to play at an indoor playground in an airport. Luckily, Kansai International Airport in Osaka has a few. We were able to have my kids play at the one closest to our gate before leaving Japan. Note that you can only avail of the playgrounds AFTER checking in so if you want to get your kids to spend some time here, do come early.

It would really depend on where your country destination is but most international ones will have designated playgrounds near their gates.

For us, it was right next to Tully’s Coffee where I had their Honey Latte (Yum! Not available in my own country)

2. Relax at one of the aufomated massage chairs

My son used up his last 200 yen on this massage chair while he waited for me buying coffee at the cafe next to it.

3. Don’t forget the donuts!

My kids absolutely love Mister Donuts and we were thrilled to find out that there was some available at the Mosdo restaurant (a brilliant Mos Burger +Mister Donut collaboration!) We didn’t choose to eat here before our flight but we did grab some donuts to go for snacks.

They even have ice cream which we didn’t get to try because we were there before lunch.

The Japanese are big on Halloween so decor was all over even if we left Osaka end of September.


Find Mosdo at the 2nd floor in the Dining Halls before checking in for your flight. Again, go to the airport early enough if you want to explore Kansai International Airport.