Imagine a day of rain followed by temperatures of 31 degrees Celsius. There’s only one way to describe a day like that – a stinker.
We were well aware of the day ahead of us, but we weren’t prepared to let a little bit of hot weather ruin our plans. On the schedule, playgrounds and Tokyo Tower. And a whole lot of walking. Surely a couple of Australians could handle the heat…
First on the agenda was a playground. Hannah had been saint-like in her tolerance for travel over the past few days and she hadn’t had much chance to really stretch her legs. A solid play was well-and-truly needed. As I said in the day 1 post, one of the main reasons I booked an apartment in Roppongi was the playgrounds. I was particularly keen to try out one that was consistently mentioned on travel blogs – Robot (RoboRobo) Park.
Robot Park typifies the Tokyo philosophy towards use of space – cram as much into as little space as possible. Why have one or two slides, when you can have nine? In true Japanese style, the nine slides have been placed neatly in a row and ordered by size. The final slide is a brilliant winding yellow contraption that is about 4 metres off ground level.
Hannah immediately climbed the small set of steps and surveyed the choices before her. She chose one of the middle slides for her first go. Unfortunately we hadn’t counted on some residual water from all the rain on the slide, so Hannah popped out the bottom with wet and dirty tights.
Not one for worrying about a bit of dirt on her clothes, Hannah continued on her merry way. She decided that all the rest of the slides were for babies and headed straight for the biggest one, right at the end.
I’ll admit to feeling a little nervous as I looked up at my tiny little girl, way up high on the platform. I felt even more terrified as I watched her climb haphazardly onto the slide. Hannah looked for a moment as if she was about to accidentally slide down head-first, but at the last moment she corrected herself and executed a textbook Hannah feet-first belly slide.
Then came the greatest discovery of all. I don’t even have the words to describe the majesty of this wonder, so I’ll just have to let a picture do the taking…
This series of rollers covered about 20 metres. A sign on the side clearly stated that it was designed for children 6 to 12. Fortunately Hannah can’t yet read, so she was totally cool with hopping on and giving it a go.
We did insist that she sit upright on this slide. The sign was also clear about that and it seemed like a sensible safety measure. We showed Hannah how to sit properly, then I went to the bottom (should there be a need to catch her as she came flying off the end), while Emma walked down the hill behind her, holding her steady.
The slide took a little getting used to, but by the fifth or sixth go, Hannah had it nailed. There were very few other children in the park, so Hannah had unfettered access to the contraption.
As the morning went on, the park steadily filled with other children. A group of preschool students appeared, with two English-speaking teachers. Hannah had a great time watching then play and enticing the odd kid into interacting with her.
Walking to Tokyo Tower
Surely a mere 30 degree day wouldn’t bother a couple of seasoned Australians? We deal with those kinds of temperatures all summer long!
The difference is the humidity. A dry 30 degree day is no big deal. As long as you drink plenty of water, you can go all day.
An extremely humid 30 degree day, on the other hand, is a punishing experience. By about 5 minutes into the walk, we began to question whether we had made a sensible choice. Hannah appeared to be melting in her stroller seat, her face bright red and he hair dripping wet. Other than that, she didn’t actually seem to mind.
At some point on the long road to the Tower, common sense prevailed when Emma pointed out that the other side of the street had shade. It provided sweet relief, and we continued on our journey in far greater comfort.
Fruit and Veg Under a Motorway
An unexpected benefit of our walking adventure was the fruit and veg shop that we stumbled across. As it was well off the tourist track, it catered to locals by providing the most rare of things in Tokyo – fruit and veggies at affordable prices! The prices were far more reasonable than most of what we had been able to find in the upmarket supermarkets of Roppongi.
Emma stocked up on tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries and shallots. Hannah and I waited outside with the stroller and admired the exotic cars that regularly drove past.
Finally, despite the oppressive heat and humidity, we reached our destination of Tokyo Tower. I was impressed by the size of the structure, I had never managed to get close enough to appreciate it during previous visits to Tokyo. Emma was less impressed. She described it as an oversized communications Tower that was a vague rip-off of the Eiffel Tower. I guess she had a point.
We spent some time in a small park across the road from the tower. Hannah discovered the joys of chasing pigeons and attempting to jump into ponds. I discovered the terror of having a young, active toddler near a waterway.
Soon though it was time to leave Tokyo Tower and head home. We braved the heat and humidity once more, and headed back the way we came. We stopped off at a supermarket for some tasty pre-prepared lunch supplies. While we were in the supermarket, Hannah fell fast asleep, so we lowered the RECARO stroller into sleeping position.
Discoveries of the Toddler – remote controlled lights
The Japanese love gadgets.
Okay, that may be a gross generalisation, but in my experiences of Tokyo so far, the statement rings true. Take, for example, our Airbnb apartment. It’s a pretty simple affair. By Australian standards, it would be considered tiny and basic, yet, take a closer look and you will see all kinds of little features designed to make life slightly more comfortable.
Our toilet has a permanently heated seat, which can be slightly disconcerting the first few times one uses it. It also kindly offers to wash ones anus with a variety of spray types and from different angles.
With the touch of just a couple of buttons, the washing machine in the closet both washes and dries full loads of clothes.
One place we didn’t expect to find a gadget was in the lighting. This was why we were slightly bamboozled by the existence of two remote controls labelled “bedroom”. One was clearly for the air-conditioning, but the other…?
I spent many seconds pondering is use, but as is the way when you are the father of a small child, I never got around to figuring it out. I had scanned the walls, the ceiling, the closets, nothing seemed out of the ordinary or in need of a remote.
Then, just before bed time, Hannah was playing with the remote control. She was holding it to her ear and taking into it, as if it were a mobile phone (yes, she has an excellent role model…).
All of a sudden, the lights turned off. Hannah had solved the mystery of the strange remote. It was for the lights!
I should have known.