Drew randomly mentioned leaving home for a little getaway this weekend, and if I’m being honest, I really was dreading going on Friday night. My husband is a fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants kind of guy, while I’m a planner. I wanted to have our hotel and train tickets booked a week in advance, and when we didn’t, I assumed we weren’t going. Friday afternoon rolled around, and Drew simply came home from work and asked when we would be leaving.
That’s one of the greatest things about Drew- and just one reason I’m so glad I married him. With two kids under three, he doesn’t even think twice about loading everybody up on a train and taking a fun weekend trip in the dead of winter.
And I’m so glad he thinks like this.
Morioka is a gorgeous little town surrounded by mountains. The weather this weekend was PERFECT (upper 30’s) and we were able to have the kids outside for most of the weekend without worrying. I wore Ellie in my LilleBaby, and Henry rode around in his stroller.
Man, I’m telling you. Traveling with kids is really not nearly as hard as you think. I’m definitely exhausted after this weekend- but when you take the right steps to prepare for having little ones with you, traveling is so much better with them than it would have been alone.
We only spent two days in Morioka, and we visited a few different coffee shops and restaurants (I shared a bunch of them on my Insta Story highlights under the explore Japan tab) but two main things stuck out to me from the weekend.
If there are two things you need to do in Morioka, these are them:
If you go to Morioka, especially if you have kids, you shouldn’t leave without visiting here. Honestly this is where we spent the first half of the day on Saturday, and I could have spent the entire day there. In a nutshell, Round 1 is a massive indoor play arena, with SO many different games and activities to enjoy. It’s like an amped-up Chuck E Cheese that is also fun for adults.
It has like 6 or 7 stories of bowling, batting cages, soccer fields, ball pits, bounce houses, skating rinks, pool halls, and arcade games.
We spent 3 hours in there and could have spent a solid 3-4 more, since we only explored like two levels of the place.
On top of that, it was only $30 for Drew, Henry, Ellie, and me. Once you get your bracelet inside, every game and activity is completely free, and honestly it wasn’t that crowded at ALL. Talk about cheap fun for your kid, right?
There is all sorts of food there, and again in regular Japan fashion, you can buy beer right in the middle of the place. So funny to see the equivalent of an American Chuck E Cheese selling steel cups of beer.
There are lockers on the first floor that you can utilize for free, and since we walked from the train station, we also had Henry’s stroller. Japan is amazing in the fact that we just left his stroller on the first floor by the lockers for three hours, and it was completely untouched when we came back.
I was SO confused at first when I started hearing about this soba restaurant. I assumed it was just like yakiniku or shabu shabu (which are both all-you-can-eat style restaurants.) In reality, this restaurant was more like a game.
We had somewhat of a language barrier at first- but in hindsight I much better understand how to do it.
The object of the game is to eat 100 bowls of soba. When you walk in, you will see the Japanese people sitting at the low tables, absolutely inhaling bowl after bowl after bowl of soba.
You will walk in, and take a seat at a low table. You are assigned one server who will be at your table for the duration of the meal. The server, as seen above, brings out around 20 bowls of soba at once. These are bite-sized bowls of noodles. As soon as your bowl is clear, they will pour more noodles into your bowl.
Most of the Japanese that we saw eating would swallow each bite of noodles whole, then immediately raise their bowl in the air for more.
You will continue having your bowl filled immediately until you place the lid on your bowl. Once you place your lid on, the game is over.
The object of the game is to hit 100 bowls.
Sounds easy, right? After all, those bowls are teenie, and each bowl is only like one bite of soba!
Wrong. Not a single one of us made it past 75 bowls. I ate a solid 65, and as soon as you hit that wall, you are so done. We made the mistake of buying the regular soba, while Clint chose right with buying the deluxe. When you buy deluxe, they pile your bowls on the table in front of you. With the regular, you have to just keep track of how many you have consumed by yourself. If we go again, we will absolutely choose the deluxe option.
Because we had the hardest time finding this place- it is directly across from the Morioka train station on the SECOND story! Message me on my Instagram account for the direct pin- but if you search Wankosoba, you should find it immediately!
So worth it, although we all almost died leaving that place with how full we all were.
A few random tips:
• If you have kids, I really think it’s worth it to pay the extra $10 for the “first class” Shinkansen tickets. Green car tickets are maybe $10 more per person, and they are SO worth it. Kids are free as lap children until age 3 on the trains almost everywhere in Japan, so we got the bigger, comfier seats, since we chose to have the kids sit on our laps. Henry fell asleep within 4 minutes of boarding.
• If you have kids and plan to stay in a hotel pretty much anywhere in Japan, get a double room. Honestly, even if you don’t have kids… get a double room. We stayed in the New City Hotel (not sponsored), and while it was very very nice, Japanese hotel rooms are TINY. Having two beds was a lifesaver, and allowed one kid to sleep in each bed with us. The last time we stayed in a hotel, we made the mistake of trying to fit into one “double” bed. Unfortunately double beds in Japan are somewhere in between a twin and a full sized American bed. Not quite what you need for two Americans (one of which was pregnant at the time) and a toddler, right?
Overall, it was a fabulous trip. Totally worth the bullet train tickets to not have to brave the snow, and totally worth a little walking to do a few fun things close to the train station! Easy with kiddos, and a blast for everyone involved!