I woke up early on Saturday. I was excited and ready to explore. I was jealous of Mikey’s late night escapade and I wanted to go on an adventure. Mikey and Max were still sound asleep, so I took the opportunity to explore a bit. I went to 7-11 to pick us up some breakfast and I visited the coffee machine on the 2ndfloor of our hotel. By the time I got back, Max was awake and Mikey was still tucked in.
The commute to the aquarium was about 30-40 minutes. We took the MRT and we were supposed to take a 10 minute walk to the aquarium, but it took longer because it started to rain and we only had one umbrella. I ran to the nearest konbini and picked up two umbrellas displayed in front. I didn’t look at the price (I mean, how expensive could umbrellas be?) and ran to the register because Max got fussy on the stroller whenever we had long stops. When the man rang it up, the two umbrellas cost me almost 4,000 yen (almost Php 2,000.00 or around USD 36.00). I was flabbergasted, but I didn’t have enough Japanese in me to cancel the transaction. Mikey just laughed at me.
From afar, it looked like the Aquarium was packed. There was a long line, but I quickly learned that in Osaka, long lines don’t mean slow lines (like they do over here). Everyone is always working and moving. I got the tickets pretty quickly and we folded up our stroller and left it at the receiving area.
There’s really only one route through the aquarium, so you basically follow the crowd. Looking back, maybe it wasn’t the best idea to visit the aquarium on a Saturday (it was packed), but the great thing about it was that it was never disorderly. And even if there were so many people, Max had a blast! He saw clownfishes, rays, sharks, whale sharks, dolphins, seals, penguins, and crabs. It was everything he saw in Finding Nemo and Finding Dory, live!
The weeks leading up to our Japan trip, it was Finding Mamo (Nemo) fever in our home. We would watch Finding Mamo and Dory once (even twice) a day! He would get really excited when Dory explored the different exhibits in the Marine Life Institute. I would ask him, “do you want to go to an aquarium?” And he would always nod. Then I would say “we’ll go to one in Japan!” And he would smile and say “Pan!” After weeks of doing this with him, it finally came true.
Max would sit by the windows of the exhibits, press his face (and squish his nose) on the glass window, and watch the fish swim by. He screamed “kark!” and “ray!” and “ish!”. He kept screaming “Momma!” and “Papa!” also to make sure we were seeing what he was seeing. Seeing him light up like that was pretty amazing…it was life changing. Or maybe it’s life affirming? I can’t describe it eloquently. It was like being gobbled up a huge joyful cloud. It was also pretty amazing that this squealing, joyful child was the same kid we brought to the ER just a few days back. I was beyond grateful.
Before heading out, Max picked out a stuffed whale shark from the gift shop and I got him a small clownfish pin which he wore on his bib during our trip.
We walked to the mall next to the aquarium to get some lunch. The place was packed, so we ended up eating at an eat-all-you-can do-it-yourself kushikatsu restaurant. Max had some rice with miso soup and A LOT of cheese. He also had one cup of soft serve ice cream.
Side note: Oh my goodness, the soft serve ice cream in Japan is so amazing. We had it multiple times every day. It was so, so good.
After lunch, we put him on his stroller and 5 minutes later, he was knocked out. It helped that he was on his last day of the decongestant, but it gave me and Mikey some time to do a little shopping. There was a Daiso and a large drug store, so I got to pick up some really cool things. Mikey got to check out the Lego store at Legoland (which was connected to the mall).
We got off a different MRT station on our way back to the hotel. That’s when we realized how great our hotel was. We were right next to an amazing shopping district. We also saw a sign that said that, Daimaru, the mall near our hotel had a Pixar exhibit. We knew Max would love it, so we were definitely going. On top of all of that, we realized that our hotel was ONE minute away from Ichiran, a popular ramen joint that came highly recommended among our friends.
After a quick stop at the hotel, we walked back to Shinshaibashi to look around. We also visited the street parallel to Shinshaibashi which housed a lot of big stores like Nike and Apple. I also had my first taste of GU, Uniqlo’s even more affordable sister company.
We decided to have dinner at Ichiran and the timing was perfect. There’s usually a long line and you have to wait a while to be seated, but we came before the dinner rush. Our friends describe Ichiran as introverted ramen because you eat on a boxed-in table and your ramen is served to you through a small curtained window. It reminded me of those tables we used to have in our University Library. We sat on these stools that were bolted on to the floor (but we could twirl around in them). Unfortunately, Max didn’t have a seat for himself, but he was surprisingly content with sitting in his stroller and watching ABC Kids TV on the iPad.
In Ichiran, you can customize different aspects of your ramen, like the richness of your broth, spiciness level, or the firmness of your noodles. I couldn’t be too adventurous because I was sharing with Max, so I just ordered the ramen the way they recommended us to have it. I also ordered extra rice for Max. I have to say, it was excellent ramen. Ramen isn’t my favorite thing, but the broth was just so flavorful and the pork was so soft. Max enjoyed it too. I would twirl around in my seat and feed him a spoonful of rice and ramen broth. He ate a lot that night!
After dinner, we checked out Uniqlo and then we went to the mall for the Pixar exhibit. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, the exhibit was closed. So, we told Max that we would go first thing the next day. We got to look around the Pixar gift shop though! And Max got a couple of Pixar themed mystery toy eggs from the vendo machines.
On our way back to the hotel, we stopped at a random fast food joint and got ice cream. When we got back to the hotel, Max fell asleep without much effort and Mikey went out to get a massage. I took a hot bath and put on my PJs. The only English channel on TV was CNN, and I wasn’t in the mood for news, so I browsed through Netflix. There were so many more shows and movies in Netflix Japan compared to the Netflix we had at home. But being the lame-o that I am, I settled on Twilight Saga: Eclipse. Hehehe. I have all of them in Blu-ray at home, but who takes out discs to watch movies anymore?
It dawned on to me how different things were now that we had a toddler. I looked back on our day and I thought of how we would’ve done it if it were just me and Mikey. We definitely would’ve made it to the Osaka Castle and Museum. We would’ve explored more of the shopping district. I could’ve enjoyed my ramen more. All of that was true. But there wasn’t even a hint of sayang. I’m so glad that we got to take trips before Max. But all the challenges that come with travelling with a toddler is worth it when you see your kid experience the world in new ways. Love can be so illogical sometimes.