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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.

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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? πŸ˜‚

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 Β₯. 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 πŸ˜‚

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.

Three Dames Cafe

We’re back in civilization (aka the big city of Puerto Princesa) and had a late lunch at Three Dames Cafe as recommended by my mom peers. I’m always looking for new places to eat because we lack big city choices in El Nido. This place is hip and relatively new so I was looking forward to new tastes.

We ordered the Three Dames burger with fries, the Pesto with Grilled Chicken, Kimchi Fried Rice sans the Pork and had coffee with 2 desserts, the Apple Pie ala mode and the Ube Leche Cake. While waiting for our orders, one of the owners who also happens to be the baker sampled some merengue for my kids to try. They loved it, of course 😍

We were so famished so gulped down our orders like there was no tomorrow πŸ˜‚ Yes, everything was good! It reminds me of really good homecooked meals. Comfort food and a cool place to hang with friends for tea, coffee and dessert. My kids also loved the unique seating concept which was their playground for a few minutesπŸ˜‚ We can’t wait to go back to try the sticky buns. One owner said they’ll have a fresh batch made tomorrow afternoon!

Three Dames Cafe

2nd floor Malvar Square

Malvar Street, Puerto Princesa

Kopi Bake El Nido

We’ve been hearing from other locals in El Nido that Kopi Bake, one of the newer coffee shops in town, has good coffee and bread. So, we gotta try it, right?

It was a hot day so I decided to try their Iced Mocha (160php) which did not disappoint. My son got the Banana Walnut Bread (120php) which we really liked. It was a generous serving, moist and just plain yummy! I will definitely be ordering it again for my other kids to try because my son wiped that one in the car on the way home.

Kopi Bake

Rizal Street, Bgy. Maligaya

Cel No. 09216146306

Neko Cafe Ragdoll: A Cat Cafe in Osaka, Japan

Included in our Japan itinerary was to visit a cat cafe, of course! We found Neko Cafe Ragdoll online as we were having lunch nearby one day. My kids and I are into cats (We’ve got a rescued kitten who we named Hamishi and created an IG account for her and her furry puppy sister @islandpetselnido) .

We were surprised to see first hand how crazy the Japanese are about cats! Neko is the Japanese word for cat. I can see why they love these furry creatures. Cats are very low key, fuss free, demure and like to clean up a loooot. In fact, they spend most of their days grooming themselves. Much like the Japanese, right?

There is a Japanese mythical story about the cat which I loved reading about. Apparently, they find the feline friends very lucky especially with business. That is why we see those cat statues in restaurants and other establishments. They are there for good energy!

We visited the Neko Cafe Ragdoll Cat Cafe which is tucked in an alley outside Namba City Mall, Osaka.

What I noticed is how OC they are about cleanliness. We had to change into their indoor slippers, wipe down the slippers with wet wipes and alcohol, wash our hands and wipe our hands after with alcohol so as to not spread any possible germs or diseases to the cats?! Wow, the Virgo in me was impressed. I should do the same with guests entering my home πŸ˜‚

The cost of a 1 hour stay per pax is 1,000 Yen. They serve food and drinks, too on top of that charge. We were still full from our lunch but my sister did order a drink to have the full cat cafe experience.

Many of the cats were sleepy, tired or plain lazy. Some though were curious at us especially my kids and of course, the hungry one was interested when I had food to give.

The attendants were kind enough to answer our questions even if they didn’t really speak much English.

My children finding them too cute. We noticed how much hairier these cats were compared to our tropical island ones!

Do you have any cat cafe recommendations in Japan? We will be returning to Tokyo in September and would love to visit one there, too!

NekoCafe Ragdoll

Japan, γ€’542-0075 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, Chuo, Nanbasennichimae, 13βˆ’6 ジェむプラむド難泒ビル

Tamboks El Nido has reopened

Tamboks has finally reopened its doors to feed the hungry of El Nido! They were closed for a few months due to renovations to accommodate more guests.

My family eagerly waited for this Filipino restaurant to open again because it is our default choice for Sunday lunch. They have proper parking + seating space for families (rare in El Nido), and just a skip and a hop away from our home! Oh, and a real plus is that they probably have the fastest WiFi in town, too!

My kids always order the Chicken Inasal (230php) while I love the vegetarian-friendly, Laswa Soup (135php) and Tortang Talong (100php). I also like their Farm Fresh Salad (120php) and Inasal Veggies (120php).

See their menu:

Sorry, no photos of our food because we were famished that I forgot to take any. You’ll just have to trust me– this is the best family-friendly Filipino restaurant in El Nido!

Tamboks

El Nido National Highway, Villa Libertad

0920 914 1412