Hier der Beitrag zum Thema mit einigen nützlichen Tips und Erfahrungen =). So langsam denke ich dann auch an die bald bevorstehende 2-monatige Pilgerung. Dazu habe ich mir gedacht, nur das allernötigste einzupacken, was aufgrund der immensen Distanz durchaus ratsam ist. Mir schwebt da ein ähnliches Gepäck, wie zur Besteigung des Fuji vor, maximal 12 kg. Darunter natürlich hauptsächlich Klamotten. Demzufolge werde ich auch mein Netbook zurücklassen, da ich ihn sowieso nicht großartig nutzen werden kann. Das wiederum bedeutet, dass ich zum Rest der Welt und zu den Nachrichten generell keinen Kontakt haben werde, was ultra interessant werden wird. Der Fokus liegt dann wahrlich einzig und allein auf mich und die Bekanntschaften die ich mache. Ein vollkommenes eintauchen in mein inneres und die Umgebung. Bin gespannt mit welchen Erkenntnissen ich dabei herauskomme!
Derzeit spiele ich noch mit dem Gedanken, davor eine Woche nach Nagano zu düsen um mir im Herbst ein wenig die Region anzuschauen bevor dort alles unterm Schnee begraben liegt. Alternativ würde ich es anschließend machen, jedoch reizt mich ein buntbelaubter Wald mehr als ein kahler im Schnee versunkener. Ich liebe Schnee, aber der steht für Hokkaido auf dem Plan und da ich in Neuseeland keinen wirklich bunten Herbst hatte, wäre das mal was schönes =). Zugegeben wird es sicher auf Shikoku noch genügend Möglichkeiten geben, den Herbst in vollen Zügen zu genießen. Mal schauen =).
Traveling with a child – a 5 year old – was the first experience of its kind for me. Not a bad one by any means, but totally new anyhow.
My collegue from University paid me a visit almost 6 weeks ago, together with her daughter. We should travel throughout half of Japan as I previously wrote. My picture of kids up till then was usually one sided negativly, though I’m not quite sure why, for I never had bad experiences with kids. I though it might get really trouble- and tiresome, but in the end it was a real great experience, which is because she is very good educated and has a open mind and puts almost neverending trust and faith in her mother and that everyting will work out – somehow – in the end =). That said, I was already really astonished as I met them in Nagoya. I came from Tokyo, taking the Bus, while they waited near the station for some hours already. 32°C in the shades, burning sun, and a total new environment with strangers all around after a 12 hours flight + several waiting hours in Helsinki might be really harsh on a child, but as I met them it surprised me to see her really energetic and grinning all over her face, despite sweating as hell. And in fact, it was her who always calmed down her mother, not the other way around^^. I found it quite amusing but also very cute :D.
If your child is below 6 years old, you’ll meet a lot of conveniences regarding travelling. The biggest plus is the transportation which usually eats up the biggest chunk of your money, especially when using the train network of Japan. If you carry the Japan Rail Pass, which is very recommendable, your child (under 6 years of age) is allowed to ride for free in all trains, even the Shinkansen! But even without the pass this rule is valid throughout Japan in every train we’ve been on. For children in the age between 6 and 10, half of the respected fare is to be paid, while kids from 10+ need to pay the whole amount, if I’m not wrong on that.
The situation for the buses is a bit different. Usually you pay half the fare of an adult, but if you take your child on your lap during the whole ride (meaning, that you do not occupy a seat), you do not need to pay the price. This concerns long distance buses and/or night buses, where there is a limited offer on rides anyway. If you do not have the JR Pass, or going to use it later on, Buses are the cheapest transportation method in Japan, but still expensive (if you do not hitchhike that is^^). In city buses – as far as I remember – the same rules apply as to the traintickets. Meaning childs below 6 do not pay a single Yen. Same goes for the subway and tram services. That said it is advisable to visit Japan with a child below 6 years of age, however, is it also important to find accomodation where we encountered some hardships. If you – as we do – travel on a budget, it can become hard and frustrating to find some affordable stay for the night. About 50% of the contacted Hostel would host children at all. Some of them but only children who are at least 10 years of age.
If you’re lucky and find a Hostel which is willing to host kids, then, in most cases, you would be required to take a single/or double room. Something private at least. I can totally understand and see the reason, for no one wants a crying or loud child in a dorm room. Nevertheless is a single/double room in a Hostel much more expensive than a dorm. If your mom and dad, you can split the costs, which is a bit more effective. We stayed in 4 Hostels which would allow children in a dorm room, which I hereby dearly recommend.
The first one was the Wasabi Hostel in Nagoya, with its capsule like beds. Big plus for families: There is the option to lift the seperating wall bewetten two capsule beds, hence a family can sleep together instead of seperated. The Hostel is very hidden and we struggled to find it actually, but the stay was really good. For the orientation, it’s located in front of the Train Station, in one of the side roads.
Another one is the Beppu Guesthouse, a 3 min walk from the train Station and my former workplace. Depsite the rather simple character of the Hostel the dorm rooms are 4 to 6 bed size and cheap. 1.700 Yen per night, and you can take your child into the dorm room. At least we could =).
The third one is the Ace-Inn Shinjuku. They also provide capsule-style Beds in their dorm, but a bit more high class ones, hence the price is quite expensive. For 3.240 Yen per Person and Night you can rent one of these cosy capsules. The child can sleep (as in all of the Hostels by the way, for free, if it sleeps together with one of the parents in one bed.). All the staff speaks english, which is not the case for the above mentioned Hostels. They speak enough english to check you in and also give some advices but not enough for descent conversations.
Last but not least is the space riverhouse Hostel in Nikko. Among all of them my favourite, despite being the most expensive one. 4.000 Yen for one night in the dorm (children no problem). It’s run by an american all on his own. There is a free shuttle service and also free and handmade breakfast (if you stay for at least two nights). The most delicious one I’ve ever eaten, honestly. He makes it all by himself, Pancakes for example. awesome scrambled eggs with bacon and french toast. On each moring one of these dishes. It was really fantastic. Moreover, the landscape, and even the house itself are beautiful. The furniture is made out of tree trunks, tree roots, and is really smooth. It is a real eyesight. Despite being a bit far off of Nikko Station, there is the free Shuttle which brings you to Nikko Station. Scott (the owner) knows all about the region and can help you with all of your pleas.
For other stays wer always had to take single or double rooms. On average we paid around 4.000 per Person (not including the child, for she did sleep for free than).
Trvaeling with both of them was really entertaining and a good experience for myself. If I ever become a father, I wish to be one as good as my friend is a mother. If there are any more questions about traveling with children in Japan, I’m open to any question. One advice for the end. You should always plan ahead and reserve a room/bed as soon as possible. Especially in the season and the big cities all the Hostels can be fully booked easily. We had a hard time in Kyoto for example. The fourth Hostel took us in, after 3 refusels. So be prepared!