Travel: Postcard from Japan

Rebecca Coppin’s multi-stop adventure with her family was a feast for the senses

We booked to go to Japan while I was pregnant with Margot, clearly in a state of denial about the event that was about change our lives. Yet we were determined not to let having a baby stop us from doing things we loved. We chose the well-trodden route of Tokyo, Hiroshima, Osaka, Kyoto, Tokyo, staying a few days in each city.

After a surprisingly painless 12-hour flight, during which our five month old mostly slept and fed the entire way, we arrived, instantly hit with that thrilling feeling that we were a long, long way from home. Our hotel overlooked Tokyo harbour, with stunning views of the bay and the twinkling lights of the city. Our first stop was the trendy shopping district of Ginza, where we had our first taste of Japan – a delicious bowl of steaming ramen  – in a tiny restaurant in the subway. As strange as it sounds, you’ll find some of the best food in Japan in the subway stations, including the three-Michelin-starred Jiro.


Next stop in Tokyo was Shibuya, and the pedestrian crossing made famous in Lost in Translation. We put Margot in the BabyBjörn, and you could tell by her flapping legs that she was thrilled by all the new sights and sounds. The Japanese are an incredibly friendly nation who love babies, and blue-eyed, fair-haired ones in particular are a bit of a novelty.

We flew to Hiroshima, and spent three days being shown around by the brother of a family friend. Nobuhiro spoke very little English but was charming and generous, and it was fascinating to see this beautiful city through the eyes of someone who had lived through its troubled past. He and Margot adored each other!

From Hiroshima we took the bullet train to vibrant Osaka where we stayed at our favourite hotel, the St Regis. Its butler service meant we could leave a tray of Margot’s bottles in our room and when we returned hours later, they had been sterilised!

Geisha spotting in Kyoto

Back on the bullet train and to our final destination, the elegant city of Kyoto. We were too early for the cherry blossom, but were lucky enough to spot the first of the plum blossom, along with a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it sighting of a geisha. We took a taxi out to Kinkaku-ji (or the Golden Pavilion) where our blue-eyed girl proved to be as much of a photo opportunity as the UNESCO World Heritage Site itself. For foodies like us, the street food at the nearby Nishiki food market was a dream.

We returned to Tokyo for one final night, and on our last day we woke early to visit the world-famous Fish Market, followed by breakfast of melt-in-the-mouth sushi served at a tiny counter restaurant with Margot asleep on my chest. It’s amazing how portable a baby can be, and with patience and good organisation, we realised it really is possible to get out there and experience the world.

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