Osaka  – the one where mom and dad take a break

Confession time: planning is getting old at this point in our trip!  Usually, we’re planning for one or two big trips a year, trying to find the perfect places and activities.  This year, we’ve been planning the trip of a lifetime basically every week.  We’re grateful to have this time, but after nine months of logisticing, as we affectionately call it, we’re exhausted.  We were sitting in Onomichi talking about this when the lightbulb went off. The kids should plan our three days in Osaka as part of their homeschool/worldschool experience!  Thankfully, they were ready for the challenge! We gave them a budget for food and activities, but otherwise they were free to make all the choices.  James and I kicked up our feet up while the kids did all the work. 

Manji ready to take on the challenge of planning our time in Osaka!

James had a few remaining Marriott points, so we stayed at Marriott’s Moxy Hotel.  We haven’t stayed in many hotels on this trip, but it ended up being our favorite one by far.  It had a huge lobby with loads of board games, a foosball table, and ample space for us to work and homeschool.  We had fun playing games in the afternoon as it was rather chilly while we were visiting.

Our first evening, Goose found an amazing light installation at the Osaka botanical gardens.  The lights were installed by a group called teamLab. And luminated trees and inflatables were synchronized to music throughout the park.  As you touched them or walked past, the music began and continued as we walked around the garden.  It was a great find by Goose and one of the highlights of our time in Osaka. 

At the Team Labs exhibit Goose planned

The following morning, Manji took us to a bakery for a late morning breakfast.  It was cool watching the kids pick different activities to average out their budget. So a breakfast picnic in the park was the perfect solution.  We had unique bakery treats from Taniroku bakery Panena, including mushroom and parmesan scones, chocolate bread, and a dense spinach biscuit.  We played games back at the hotel and then made our way to Dotonbori district for a mini food tour. 

Panena Bakery – Manji’s choice

That morning, we watched the Osaka episode of Street Food: Asia on Netflix. And we knew we had to find takoyaki, a fried dough ball filled with octopus.  Our joke throughout Japan has been the Japanese love a good queue since there are lines for everything desirable.  And the line for the takoyaki place was no exception.  Thankfully, they’re pretty efficient at moving people through quickly and we obtained our eight balls of delicacy in no time.  We all gave them a try and safe to say that James was the only one that enjoyed them.  I thought they were going to be cooked all the way through, but the runny batter coupled with the octopus was not my favorite. 

Next up was conveyor belt sushi at Daiki Suisan kaitenzushi! This was again a Manji pick as he is our major sushi lover.  We all sat at the bar as the sushi rode by on a conveyor belt with different colored plates valued at different amounts.  At the end, the waitress totals the plates and that’s the bill! The kids got a kick out of grabbing their favorite ones. They shouted with joy at the end when their lunch bill totaled less than their allotted budget for meals!    

Sushi conveyor belt time!

We finally had a bit warmer weather, so the kids found a playground on the last day.  I’m guessing the local kids were on break because there were several there and the kids enjoyed playing games with them on a giant slide.  It’s always fun to watch the kids communicate with other kids when we’re traveling.  The universal language truly is play!

We finished our afternoon with a walk to the Dotonbori district.  It was bitter cold, and we stumbled across a karaoke room.  This had been on the list since we arrived in Asia back in October, but we hadn’t found the right time to do it.  Well, the kids agreed it was the best place to spend some of their budget and so we were escorted to our private room where we spent two hours belting out our favorite tunes! Goose went for “Chicken Fried,” Manji sang “Dancin’ in the Moonlight,” and Bingo chose “Twinkle, Twinkle.” We finished our time with “Rather Be” which has been our theme song for this entire trip.  All five of us belted the tune together knowing what the song meant to us as we prepared for this year and now almost at the end of our journey. 

Goose singing his heart out!

I would be remiss to not mention that we didn’t have adjoining rooms in the hotel this go round.  We split up, James sleeping in the king size bed with the littles and Goose and I having our own room.  Goose and I each read the book Wonder (highly recommend!) and his goal was to finish it so we could have our own movie night.  Well, he succeeded, and we enjoyed thoughtful conversations about the book and our special time together!  As difficult as it has been to homeschool at times, it has truly been the most rewarding experience to learn alongside our children this year.

Sunset on Doutonbouri Street

The kids got an A++ on their project for our time in Osaka! They successfully planned our time, understood that it actually takes work, and came in under budget! Jobs well done!!!!

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