Scoring sweet swag, reviewing awesome products and living the rad mom life.

Posts tagged ‘japan’

7 Things You Will Love About Mount Takao

I really enjoy living near Tokyo because there is always something interesting to see or do, but sometimes it can be a bit chaotic and overwhelming with the constant hustle and bustle.  As much I love spending the day in the city, my soul really belongs in nature.  I recently took a trip to Mount Takao and it was an amazing place that I think everyone should visit!

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Mount Takao is conveniently located about an hour outside of Tokyo (in the Hachioji region) and can be accessed by train or car.  Depending on where you are coming from, both could be viable options.  I carpooled with a few friends and we split the toll/parking fees as well as found parking pretty easily.  There are a several parking lots surrounding the park and fees vary, but start at 1000 yen.  Get there early and shoot for a weekday as this is a very popular hiking destination and can get crowded quickly!  So here are a few highlights from my trip that I think you will like – even if you don’t like nature. 😉

  • You can shop and eat!  Once you arrive at the park and before you set off on your hike, check out the little shops along the main path.  You can stock up on snacks for your hike or you can have a meal at a restaurant.  And even if you aren’t hungry, it’s still fun to look at all of the unique foods and trinkets.
  • There are cable car/chair lift options!  Don’t feel like making the 2 hour trek up the mountain?  No problem.  Mount Takao offers a cable car and a chair lift option for your viewing convenience! Both will take you halfway up the mountain and both cost about 980 yen for round trip.  We took the chair lift (the line is much shorter for the chair lift) and it was an awesome ride!  You get to be closer to nature and enjoy the quiet sounds of the nature as you sit back on your ride.  One thing I will mention is that there are no safety bars on the chair lift, so hold on tight to your kids, dog, backpack, etc.  Also remember to smile – there will be a photographer sitting amongst the trees who will take a souvenir photo for you!  You can purchase your photo for about 800 yen.  But hold on to it!  You will have your photo taken again on the way down and you can trade in your photo if you decide you like the other one better!

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  • Different paths!  There are a few different paths you can take up to the summit so take a look at the map and determine your route before your adventure.  But the other cool part is that you can also take a completely different path down to the bottom too!  Which means double the scenery!  Yay!  There is also a monkey park that is pretty popular, however we didn’t have time to check it out so it will be on my list for the next visit!

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  • Temple (Architecture)!  Along with the nature views, you can also check out the Yakuoin Temple and admire the architecture during your trip.  Temples and shrines all have their own unique designs and details so even if you’ve seen 20 temples you will always find something new to appreciate at the next one. Mount Takao is very sacred to the locals so you may see some religious and cultural practices taking place throughout your hike, but especially around the temple area.
  • View from atop (with beer)!  Once you disembark from the cable car/chair lift it takes about 45 minutes to reach the summit of Mount Takao.  Some paths are a little harder than others but I saw plenty of children, elderly, and people with dogs out on the trails.  One of the paths is paved (but with some steps along the way), so even someone with a wheelchair or stroller could enjoy part of the hike. At the top you will find lots of places to sit and enjoy the view!  On a clear day you can even see Mount Fuji!  And bonus: there’s beer!  Yes, that’s right – there is also a café and convenient store at the top that sells food, ice cream, mochi, coffee, and beer!
  • Dango!  You will see many treat options around Mount Takao, but the most popular choice is Dango.  It’s a dumpling on a stick that has a sweet/salty or soy flavor. It will only cost you a few hundred yen and it’s basically the Mt. Takao thing to do. 🙂

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So what did I love most about my Mount Takao experience??

  • The amazing views!  My hike took place around early November so I really enjoyed viewing the fall foliage and crisp air.  Whether I was waiting in line or taking a break along the hike, there was always something beautiful and interesting to look at.  The people we encountered along the way were also very friendly and polite and it was great to see so many people out enjoying nature.

Visiting Mount Takao was an amazing spiritual experience and I can’t wait to go back!  Each season offers a unique perspective of scenery so no two hikes are the same.  I also love that this park is great for people of all ages and abilities! It was fun to do with a group, but it would also be fulfilling to do it solo as well. I guarantee that you will leave here refreshed, restored, and your soul will be filled with joy and gratitude! Please visit if you get the chance!  You won’t regret it! 🙂

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“The mountains are calling and I must go.” ~John Muir

~SM

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8 Things to Know Before Visiting the teamLab Borderless Digital Art Museum

Right now all the hype in Japan is this museum called the MORI Building Digital Art Museum by EPSON teamLab Borderless. Everyone kept saying how amazing it was, so I decided to check it out to see what the fuss was all about.  Is it hypeworthy?  Read on to find out!

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  • Getting there. First, let’s talk logistics (i.e. tickets, parking, etc.) The museum location is in Odaiba and an easy walk from the train station — although they have an attached parking lot as well. You’ll want to purchase tickets beforehand because they can sell out on the day of – especially on weekends and Japanese holidays.  You can buy tickets online or at 7-11 (because 7-11’s in Japan rock).  I purchased our tickets online and paid about 7400 yen for two adults and one kid (small kids are free).  One thing to know is that these tickets are non-refundable and can only be used on the specific day you choose so make sure you are ready to commit! We opted for the train and went on Saturday after 4pm because the website said it would be less crowded then.
  • Lines.  Even if you have prepaid tickets, you may still have to wait in a few lines once you enter the museum to see different exhibits – so be prepared!  You’ll also spend about 2-3 hours in the museum so make sure you eat beforehand.

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  • There’s no map.  If you are wanting a layout of the museum to follow, you won’t find one.  Just like in the title, the museum is literally borderless.  It’s a giant building that’s kind of set-up like a dark maze with walls that you can walk through.  <—- Yes, pay attention, because some of the walls lift up and take you to another room.

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  • It’s dark.  Again, I just want to emphasize that the museum is pretty much dark and only lit up with the moving digital photography.  I’m mentioning this for those of you with small children because this might cause some anxiety.  If you have children that like to escape, you may want to invest in one of those leash things because this would be a stressful place to lose a child.  The museum also has a policy that there has to be one adult for every two children – and this is for good reason.

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  • Make time for the Athletic Forest.  The Athletic Forest is a cool spot for kids to let out some energy.  There are designated areas for climbing, sliding, and trampoline jumping (although you only get one minute of jump time). My three-year-old spent most of the time in this one spot so I recommend to save some of your time for this area.  Another thing to note: the floors here are slanted but you are not allowed to slide or jump on them.  It’s a little misleading for kids, but there will be staff there to immediately stop you.
  • It’s still a museum.  As fun and interactive this museum looks, remember that it’s still an art museum so there are rules.  In addition to the no floor-jumping/sliding, the LED lights are fun to look at but you can’t touch them (and by you, I mean your children).  Also, the giant balloon/balls are not for playing with, but they make a great Instagram photo backdrop. 🙂
  • Your art can come to life!  One cool thing about this museum is that you can choose a pre-made drawing to color and then watch it come to life!  A staff member will upload your picture and the drawing will then move across the floor and walls.  My five-year-old loved this and it’s a cool way to be a part of the whole art experience!
  • Appreciate your surroundings.  There is so much to see in this museum so try not to get overwhelmed by it all.  Take your time to enjoy the beauty and creativity of the whole experience!  And of course, check out the lantern room (but be prepared for a bit of a wait).

Have fun. Enjoy the day.  Hang on to your kids. 😉

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What do you think?  Would you like to visit a unique museum like this?

I’m off to a new adventure!

~SM

I’m All the Way Up (in the Tokyo Tower)

If you ever come for a visit to Tokyo, one of the most touristy things you can do is visit the Tokyo Tower!  At 1,092 feet high, it’s one of the tallest structures in Japan and a must-see during your next trip.

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On the outside, it just looks like a cool looking communications structure.  But, on the inside there is actually a museum, theme park, restaurants ,and plenty of shops.  I’ve had the opportunity to visit the Tokyo Tower twice – once in the evening and once during the day – and both times did not disappoint!

The first time I went, it was during the Illuminations in the winter.  Illuminations are basically Christmas lights multiplied by 100 that last from November-February.  You can find them all over landmarks and popular attractions in Japan during this time period. For the Tokyo Tower, they had an Illuminations area at the base of the tower, where there were tons of orange lights and lots of photo ops.

Did I mention you can get some pretty amazing crepes at the base of the tower, too? Also craft beer!

After the lights and crepes, we headed up to the Main Deck Observatory for some sweet views of Tokyo!

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You can also grab a drink and hit up a smaller souvenir shop on this level.  And you can check out this super adorable sparkly pink version the Tower! 🙂

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And if you visit on the weekend or a holiday, you might even catch the Tokyo Tower mascot (yes, there’s a mascot) – Noppon! My kids thought he was Patrick Star from SpongeBob, but they were excited to see him nonetheless.

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I will say there is something pretty dazzling about the evening views from the Tokyo Tower.  It’s mesmerizing to see Tokyo lit up in beautiful lights!  Also, don’t forget to stroll through historic Shiba Park to take in some more sights!

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My next visit was during the day which provided even more unique views!

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This time, we (my cousin and I) headed all the way up for the “Top Deck Tour” because we are fancy like that.  For the Top Deck Tour, you ride the elevator to the Main Observatory, then go to a secret room for a whole different tour.

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You will be given a special phone and headphones so that you can listen to the presentation and tour in English (or language of your choice) and you also get a cup of lemonade and learn a secret hand signal! 🙂 Then, you go into a much smaller elevator to head up to the Top Deck.  Now, I love heights – I’ve hiked some pretty tall mountains and have even gone skydiving – but this little elevator almost gave me a mild panic attack.  Not only is it small, it’s see-through all the way around and it shakes a little as it gets higher.  But, no worries, the nice elevator controller lady explained that it was “just the safety mechanism kicking in”.  A piece of info that would have been handy before entering the elevator.  Anyways, once you reach the top, you enter into a disco ball.  A literal DISCO BALL! Like I said, things are fancy up here.

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The day was a bit foggy, but the views were still nice.

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There’s also an opportunity to stand on a floor window and look below!

But is there SWAG?  Why yes, there is!  Besides the scenery, cup of lemonade, and secret hand signal, you also get a free small photo (with the option to upgrade to a larger one for a fee).

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Nothing can stop us…we’re all the way up.

And if it’s your birthday, you get an envelope filled with coupons for free and discounted stuff within the Tower.  For instance, a coupon for a free crepe!

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Overall, the Tokyo Tower was a breathtaking experience that I will remember forever!  I highly recommend a visit during your next trip to this gorgeous city!

Day or night, the views do not disappoint!

Have you been to the Tokyo Tower?  What did you love about it?!

~SM

8 Things to Do at the CupNoodles Museum!

In case you weren’t aware, there is a museum in Yokohama, Japan all about CupNoodles.  Yes, like the 25 cent instant noodles you heat up in the microwave. Those noodles. Whole museum.

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So you might be thinking, “What could I possible do at a CupNoodles museum?  What on earth would I learn?!” Well, I’m here to tell you why you should visit this museum during your next trip to Japan!

  • There’s a park inside!  Much like many shopping centers and museums in Japan, there is a place for the kiddos to play.  It’s a giant area that’s made to look like the noodle manufacturing warehouse.  There are slides and climbing and some interactive activities.  It’s 300 yen for 30 minutes of play time and kids have to be at least 3 years old to enter.  You will have to either book your time slot online or as soon as you get there.  They also have lockers to store your items (the instructions to use them are entirely in Japanese) and no photos are allowed inside this particular area (although I saw someone with a legit camcorder) so keep that in mind!
  • Make your own Noodles!  Head over to the factory to make your very own CupNoodles! At first, it looks like an overwhelming cluster of people, but Japan is a very methodical place and there is a system for everything. 🙂

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First, you pay 300 yen for your cup and then you are assigned a table to color your cup. And don’t forget to snag your hat SWAG from the Noodles Park!

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Once you’re done coloring, you can go get your cup filled with noodles and pick your toppings!

Then you take your cup over to be sealed and shrink-wrapped!

Then put your creation in a special bag, fill it with air, and tie some string around it for transportation purposes.  Like I said, there is a system for everything!

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  • Walls of Noodles!  There is whole room within the museum where packages and cups of noodles line the walls.  You can see how the noodles and packaging have changed throughout the years.  It’s surprisingly displayed in a beautiful and artsy way!
  • See a movie! Stop by the theater to watch an animated movie discussing the history of Momofuku Ando (the CupNoodles creator).  The movie is in Japanese, but you will be given a headset that translates the audio into English.  The movie is actually very interesting, so I would not skip this exhibit!

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  • Momofuku’s Shed! – After the movie head out the back door to tour a replica of Momofuku’s very own work shed.  This is where Chicken Ramen, which is the first instant ramen, was created. You won’t believe how small it is!
  • Interactive Art! – Along some of the walls, there is interactive art that further explains Momofuku Ando’s actions and thoughts behind his inventions. This is also great for the kids!

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More fun quotes and art! “Rather than a lone cedar, it is better to nurture a whole forest. No one has a monopoly on ideas.” ~Momofuku Ando

  • Eat Noodles and Shop! After roaming through the art exhibits, you can head up to the Noodles Bazaar and sample noodles from the around the world.  Then, you can check out the museum shop or more photo props on your way out!
  • Get Inspired!  My favorite thing about the CupNoodles Museum was the inspiration!  Momofuku Ando was all about thinking outside the box and sharing ideas with others rather than keeping everything to himself.  He was also very determined and persistent even during rough times.  Coming into this museum, I thought I was just gonna learn about the history of instant noodles, but I left totally inspired and with a different perspective on life!  I definitely recommend checking it out!

Museum logistics:

  1. Parking – There is a small parking garage under the museum, but it’s a little pricey so the train may be a better choice.
  2. Hours/Admission – 10:00-18:00 and 500 yen per person. Check the website for special closings.
  3. Location – The museum is located in Yokohama – close to other tourist attractions like the Landmark Tower and Cosmo World.  You could spend a couple of hours here and then easily hit up some other Yokohoma hot spots!

So next time you are in Yokohama, check out the CupNoodles Museum and score some knowledge and inspiration!

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~SM

Bright Future, Brighter Shades

Disclaimer: I received two pairs of Knockaround Premium Polarized Sunglasses to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Winter is finally fading away, Spring is ramping up, and Summer is right around the corner.  What does that mean?? It means the SUN is coming out and shining brighter than ever (for real, the sun shines bright at 5:30 am here in Japan). So it’s perfect timing to test out some new shades! I chose the Rubber Mint/Aqua Preumium Polarized Knockaround sunglasses to try, but I also received a bonus pair!  Yay for SWAG! 🙂

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I’m all about wearing sunglasses and I feel like you can never have too many pairs!  Another fun fact about Japan – people here don’t wear sunglasses! That’s right, even on a bright day you’ll see most people wearing hats or holding umbrellas to block the sun.  If you catch anyone in shades, chances are they are a tourist, an expat, or Yakuza (Japanese mafia).  It’s also Wisteria season here and these flowers create very whimsical scenery!

When I first saw the black frames, I kind of thought they had a masculine appearance…but I actually liked how they looked with the green lenses! I always like to have a black pair of shades in my stash because black goes with almost anything!

After “knocking around” in my black frames, I took the Rubber Mint/Aqua shades for a spin! I took them around Japan and despite the light-colored lenses, these did a really great job of blocking out the sun! And even though the word “rubber” is in the description, they are really smooth and don’t pull your hair or anything.

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Then I had to put them to the true test – How would they do on a RUN? 

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These sunglasses are super lightweight, so I was surprised that they didn’t budge during my run – and they even held up in the wind! I also didn’t have any issues with the lenses fogging up which is something that can be super annoying.

And the best part about Knockaround sunglasses?  They are SUPER affordable! The  Polarized Premiums are only $20!  I’ve lost expensive sunglasses in the past plus I have small children who have complete disregard for my accessories, so I don’t have to stress too much if I lose these guys (although I would still be sad).

Here are some other things I love about these Polarized Premium Knockarounds:

  • Bigger frames – I like larger lenses so it blocks out more of the sun!
  • Reflective lenses – My kids really enjoy making faces at themselves. 😉
  • Polarized lenses and UV400 protection
  • Fun Colors – They come in lots of fun and bright color combos!
  • Includes pouch – This was a really nice touch – most sunglasses at this price point don’t come with any type of extras
  • Born in San Diego – The company is headquartered in San Diego and this beautiful city will always have a special place in my heart!
  • Snoop Dogg – Even celebrities are rockin’ the Knockarounds!

Overall, I really like these sunglasses and plan to wear them frequently!  The only negative I found was that the lenses weren’t the easiest to clean, but I may try a different cloth and see if that works.

And just to make things sweeter, you can save 20% on your own pair with code “BIBRAVEKNOCKS”!  Plus free shipping on orders over $50!

And join me on #Bibchat on Twitter on 5/8/18 at 6PM PST for your chance to win a pair! 🙂

So are you ready to “knock around” in a new pair of shades?? This guy is…

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~SM

Building Bricks in Tokyo

There seems to be plenty of options for kid-friendly entertainment throughout Japan – including museums, huge playgrounds, and themed restaurants. If you are looking for something fun to do with the kiddos while visiting Tokyo, then I suggest making a visit to the https://tokyo.legolanddiscoverycenter.jp/en/!

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Just to be clear, this is a LEGOLAND Discovery Center and not an actual outdoor LEGOLAND Theme park.  They do have one of those a few hours south of Tokyo, but a Discovery Center is a little different.  It’s more like a snapshot of what a LEGOLAND theme park is all about – it’s completely indoors, much smaller, and a great way to spend the day with the family!  This one is inside of the Odaiba Mall so you could spend part of the day at the Discovery Center and the rest of the day exploring and shopping.

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So what should you expect from a visit to a LEGOLAND Discovery Center?

Well, when you first arrive you can a pay little extra and receive a lanyard with scavenger hunt stamp cards.  You look for stamp stations throughout the center and stamp your card at each station.  They are easy to find and the kids will enjoy stamping their little cards.

We spent the first part of our visit learning about different weights and the kids seemed to be really intrigued by this station.

After that, we moved on to the Kingdom Quest ride.  It was a laser car ride where you had to shoot your laser gun at projection screens and everyone in the car racks up points each time they hit targets.  Then we checked out the 4D show.  Even though it was in Japanese, because it was a 4D Show (i.e. you wear 3D glasses and get sprayed with water and such), my kids were still entertained.

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Next, we hit up another ride called, “Merlin’s Apprentice”.  You get in a car shaped liked a magician’s hat and then go around in a circle and up/down simultaneously.  You could probably get the same effect by spinning around in a computer chair, but my kids really liked this ride and wanted to ride it multiple times.  There was also a third ride at the park, but it was closed for renovations.

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After all that, we decided to stop at the café for a snack and a drink.  There really weren’t a lot of options, just a few basic snacks, juice, water, coffee, popcorn, and vending machines. They also had some Lego Brick lunchboxes you could purchase, but my kids weren’t interested.  Fun fact about Japan: Fountain sodas aren’t really a thing so vending machines are typically a cheaper option for beverages.

We opted for the popcorn so could keep the bucket (SWAG) and get discounted refills.

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My favorite thing about the café was the location.  It’s situated between the Lego Ninjago play castle and the Duplo play area (which is for kids under 5).  There were lots of tables/chairs and it was a nice place to take a break.  This is a great spot for kids to run around and burn off all that energy.  There were a couple of employees walking around the climbing area to make sure everyone is safe, but it’s required to sit inside and supervise if you have littles.  My kids spent a TON of time at this station, so plan accordingly if you have some active children in your party.

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The employees were pretty friendly and even helped my son put his shoes back on! 🙂

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The other cool thing about this particular area was the bathrooms!  Once you have kids you become more appreciative of bathroom layouts and cleanliness.  I love that most bathrooms in Japan have an area that’s kid-sized.  There are also directions on how to use the toilet. 😉

And just like any LEGOLAND theme park location, there is a MiniLand! This is my favorite part of any LEGOLAND.  I think it’s fascinating that people have patience to build entire cities out of Legos with such detail and precision.

Afterwards we checked out the Lego Friends area, but it really wasn’t anything special.  Just some benches and a microphone for the kids to talk and sing.  I imagine they use this area for performances or shows, but there weren’t any going on that day so we didn’t spend much time there.  Then we moved on to the Racing & Building Station.  You could build a little car out of Legos and then race it on a couple of courses.  I think older kids would really enjoy this area – my kids kept getting frustrating that their cars kept crashing.  There was also a nice employee that helped my daughter build her car which was very much appreciated.

Then we headed over to the Creative Workshop area.  You will need to check the schedule as there are projects all throughout the day.  The teacher seemed concerned that we didn’t speak Japanese, but there are plenty of instructional photos and thankfully “Lego-Building” is a universal language.  My daughter was able to build her pirate ship with no problem.  And you don’t actually get to keep your creation, but there is a spot in the classroom where you put it in action.  In our case, the pirate ship set sail in some Lego water.

It was getting close to closing time so we made our way to the exit and discovered another fun area – Train World! This included a couple of giant tables where you could build your trains and planes and then test it out on the tracks.  I think my kids would have spent a lot more time here, but we ran out of time.  It’s also located right near the exit, so once you leave there’s no turning back since they don’t allow re-entry.

After all of the interactive fun, we showed the stamp cards to the gift shop cashier so we could collect our prizes!

And besides that sweet SWAG, you also get this amazing view of Tokyo when you leave the Discovery Center!

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Overall, my kids had an AWESOME 😉 time and we plan to take them back in the future. *Also when we went earlier this year the Dino Explorer Exhibit wasn’t opened yet, so we definitely plan to go back for that!  Here are some tips to make the most of your experience:

  • Book your tickets online. Price tickets range between 1950-3200 yen, but purchase your tickets at least 24 hours before your visit to save some dough.  They also have a Parent/Toddler, Toddler Time, and Combo option.  The Combo option saves you money on admission to both the LEGOLAND Discovery Center and the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum which is also located on the same floor of the Odaiba Mall.  We had already visited Madame Tussauds in Hollywood so we decided to skip this experience.  And Bonus!  If you don’t have kids but still want to check out all the fun, they offer an Adult Night a couple evenings a month.
  • Drive or Train?  This is really up to you.  Most people prefer taking the train and the Discovery Center is close to a train station.  We opted to drive and parked in the Odaiba Mall parking garage.  We also had our parking ticket validated at LEGOLAND which saved a lot of money.  However, I’m not sure if you could have your parking ticket validated if you purchase your park tickets online.
  • Pay attention to the hours.  The park stays open until 8:00 PM during the week, but the rides and shows will close down earlier.  There is also a spot where you can purchase your photos.  This will also close early and cannot be re-opened.  And they will not email your photos to you either (we learned this the hard way).
  • Try to go during the week.  We visited the park on a weekday afternoon in January and there really weren’t much people there.  No lines, no crowds – it was like having the place to ourselves!  I would imagine they would be much busier during the weekends or summer break so keep that in mind when planning your trip!
  • Not a lot of food options.  Like I mentioned earlier, there wasn’t a large food selection in the café.  The good news is that the Odaiba Mall is pretty large and has multiple restaurants and a food court!
  • English.  Most of the employees we interacted with spoke enough English to have a conversation so don’t be afraid to ask questions!  Again, everyone who works there is really nice, energetic, and eager to help!
  • Have fun!  Most importantly, have fun!  There are lots of opportunities for kids to express their creativity and engage in STEM activities – you should join them and build your own creation! Because at LEGOLAND everything is…AWESOME! 🙂

And if you’re at the Tokyo location, head outside to enjoy the view!

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Have you visited a LEGOLAND Discovery Center?  What did you think?

~SM

How I Fell in Love with Running Again

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It’s been six months since I traded in beaches and burritos for high-rises and ramen.  And during that time, my relationship with running has a been a bit rocky.  I really loved running in San Diego – the scenery is beautiful, the weather is always perfect, and there are races every weekend – it’s a runner’s dream! And of course,  I can’t forget my running club and BRF (Best Running Friend) – @TheHungryRunner_

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So leaving all that behind and moving to a new country with narrow sidewalks (or zero sidewalks at times) and actual unfavorable weather sort of derailed my running momentum.  It was also a bit depressing not having my running friends and weekly races to look forward to.  Because of the move and the transition, my running became inconsistent and I sort of felt “lost” with my running.  What am I training for?  Why I am I running? What am I even doing?! I definitely began falling into a running rut. 😦

Another challenge was finding quality places to run close to my house.  Basically I have three choices: a track, a treadmill at the family gym, or a running path with a decent view of Mt. Fuji on clear days. Kind of an adjustment from the assortment of beaches and trails I had to choose from in SoCal.

After a few weeks, I basically lost my running motivation and began just running minimal miles each week. I stopped focusing on running so much and started embracing the Japan life.

Then I missed the idea of having running goals and began running a little bit more.  I started taking advantage of the track (speed work anyone?) and started aiming to run a little more (or a little faster) each week. In December, I did the WeavRun streak challenge and successfully ran for 30 days straight.  The streak really helped motivate me to challenge myself and work on cadence. I even started to incorporate more strength work and found out that I love kettlebell swings, box jumping, and ball slamming!

Then after New Years I took two whole weeks off!  No running, no gym, no counting miles, reps, or calories.  I just took time to relax without worrying about not getting in a run or workout session each day.  I literally stopped to smell the roses! 😉

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I took the time to not only reset physically, but also mentally and spiritually.  I decided to write out some goals for the month, the year, and next few years.

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After my little running sabbatical, something magical happened… IT SNOWED! And I HAD to run in this winter wonderland since I knew it would only last a day.  I ran slow so I wouldn’t fall, but it was super refreshing and peaceful!

Then I started building up my weekly mileage again and found out that the track isn’t so bad. You can zone out and not worry about traffic, work on your speed, and its super soft and much better on your joints than road running. 🙂

I’ve even discovered some beautiful running paths in the nearby parks.  The forests in Japan are green and super dense, which makes for some peaceful and reflective running.

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What I discovered through this transition was that I don’t NEED super lofty race goals or shiny medals (although those are nice) to enjoy running.  The break reminded me why I started running in the first place.  Because I LOVE it!  Sometimes preparing for races can get stressful, so I realized that I actually needed a break from all the bling chasing.  It finally dawned on me that I don’t HAVE to run…I GET to run!!  Last week, I went out on a run with no pace/distance goal at all.  I just slowed down, took in my surroundings, and enjoyed the run! I fell back in love with running by letting the run lead me instead me leading the run.

So what’s next??  Well the SWAG is not lost, y’all!  I’m still an ambassador for Bibrave and this year I will be an ambassador for Sweat Pink too!

Okay, back to the races.  Races aren’t really that prevalent in my area, but I’ve kind of enjoyed having my weekend mornings open to new possibilities.  However, I do have my eye on a couple of local races coming up…so stay tuned!  Also, I’m excited to announce that I will be participating in some Virtual Races this year too! So I will be reviewing those as well!

I’m also working on possibly starting up a mom’s running group in my community because I’ve had a few new moms ask me about where to start with running. And I would love to share the running LOVE!

I’m really glad that I have found my love for running again and I can’t wait to share my excitement and motivation with everyone else this year!

IMG_8332“Run often. Run long. But never outrun your joy of running.” ~Julie Isphording

And P.S. – I still miss my BRF! 😉

I’m off to chase some goals! 🙂

~SM

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