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Out of all the trips I have planned for 2017, there is one I most look forward to – my first trip to Kyoto! After waiting for the past 10 months, the trip is finally here, less than two weeks away. There will be a lot of first-time experiences on this trip and I am so excited!

First trip to Kyoto

I went to Japan for the first time in April 2014, and I absolutely loved every minute of it! I spent five days in Tokyo with my brother. We visited many temples and parks,  enjoyed the incredible cherry blossom scenery everywhere. The city was so clean, everyone was so nice, the subways and trains were so easy, and the food was just so delicious! I fell in love with Japan and I have been wanting to go back ever since! But I always knew that the next destination in Japan must be Kyoto.

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First time flying Japan Airlines

I love flying Asian airlines (well excluding those from Mainland China). I have flown first class on Cathay Pacific and business class on several airlines, but I have yet to fly Japan Airline. I heard JAL has a fantastic premium cabins. I will be flying their business class SkySuites on Boeing 777-300ER.  I am really looking forward to my first JAL flight! I loved the food on my ANA flight to Tokyo last time, I can’t wait to see what JAL serves.

Dan and his wife flew JAL first class from Chicago to Tokyo last year. A first class award seat actually popped up yesterday for my exact flight. But since I don’t drink and I am not six-feet tall, business class seat is usually enough for me. The first class seat came and disappeared, only to reappeared few days later and stayed there for another week. I felt like it was calling my name, so I decided to splurge and called AA to upgrade my seat. I am so excited to try out JAL first class!

My daughter’s first trip to Japan

Two years ago, I took my middle daughter to Taiwan and China during Chinese New Year when she was in 6th grade. To this date, she still talks about her first Chinese Lunar New Year experience thanks to the big mother-daughter trip I took her on.

This year my youngest daughter is in 6th grade and it is her turn for the big mother-daughter trip. When I told her 10 months ago that we would be going to Japan, she was ecstatic! She loves Japanese food especially ramen noodles! She could eat them every meal every day and she wouldn’t complain! I can’t wait to see the big smiles on her face.

Japan noodle

First overseas trip with my best friend

Besides my daughter, I am also traveling with my best friend Laurie and her younger son. Back in the college days, we loved going places. But during the past 15 years, we had been so busy raising our own kids that we don’t see each other often although we only live 30 minutes apart. It wasn’t until about two years ago we started talking about taking trips again. This will be our first oversea trip together. We are so looking forward to spend time together just like the good old days (when we were single and kid free, you know. 🙂 )

Things to do in Kyoto and Osaka for Kids

Kyoto is known for its countless temples and shrines, but we most likely only visit a few. Because we are traveling with two 10 and 11 year old kids, our activities will be tailored to them as much as to us adults. So far on our list to do inside Kyoto include visiting:

  • Fushimi Inari Shrine for the ultimate toriii gate experience;
  • Arashiyama bamboo grove and nearby Tenryuji Temple, along with a famous vegetarian lunch at Shigetsu Restaurant.
  • Nishiki market to explore the variety of culinary delights that Kyoto is famous for;
  • Gion district for geisha sighting;
  • Higashiyama District to walk the narrow historical street;
  • Kyoto station and aquarium (our Kyoto hotel actually locates directly above the station).

Perhaps the one thing we all most look forward to is a day trip to Nara and feed deers in Nara park, an experience we unlikely forget.  We are spending two nights in Kyoto and five nights in Osaka, but the two cities are only a short train ride from each other. Besides the aquarium in Osaka, I haven’t done much research about activities for kids to do in Osaka.

Have you been to Kyoto and Osaka, especially with kids? If so, do you have any recommendations for my first trip to Kyoto?

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