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Finding a family travel helper and sitter

Japan With Kids - Forums: Traveling to/from and in Japan: Finding a family travel helper and sitter
By Lise on Saturday, January 19, 2008 - 2:39 am:

We're hoping to travel to Tokyo and possibly Kyoto for 10 days in late March. We have 3 boys: 13, 12, and 5. We do not speak Japanese and it will be a first trip there for my sons (except for the youngest who was adopted from Japan but doesn't remember anything about it). Because there is such a large age gap and interests between the older and younger kids, I was wondering if it's realistic or possible to hire a travel companion in Japan to help with the 5 yr. old - taking him to play at parks or children's museums if the older ones want to go to temples or museums not of the 5-yr old's liking. In the U.S., you can often find college-age women who do this, sort of like an au pair. We need to find someone who's 1000% reliable and enjoys young kids, and who would be able to travel with us (expenses and salary paid) either the whole time or via day trips, with some possible evening sitting if we want to take the kids to theatre. She could also help us with transportation and translation. I realize this is a tough request, but if anyone has any suggestions or leads to resources, that would be great. We are a really nice family, our kids are polite (and so are their parents!), and we think this might make our trip much easier and fun.
Thanks in advance, Lise

By Yuko_k on Saturday, January 19, 2008 - 1:01 pm:

Hi Lise,

This is not really an answer to your question, but it is very common for locals to accompany small children while visiting shrines and temples.

A family member can assist the child to play at the yard while others take a good look inside. At larger temples such as the Sensoji in Asakusa, there will be rows of venders that will be very entertaining for the little ones. You can buy sweets or toys first so that they won't get bored while you queue for worship or wait for others.

When shopping, department stores almost always have a "roof" where they have simple rides and little animals to entertain children. At the toys sections there is usually a small space where children are free to enjoy the toys situated at this space. Near shopping archades there often is a small park.

So members of the family will often take turns watching over the child for a half an hour or so. Just an option for you to consider and to help the child feel at home. Plus, it might be a good opportunity for the big kids and the parent(s) to learn a little bit about how children are raised in Japan.

Btw, in relation to your other post, I think it's a good idea that you decided to look for ryokans. I really recommend ryokans (or minshuku) for families with many children. It will be easier for the whole family to sleep in one room, and during the day the futons will be put away and you will have lots of space to move around.

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