Long day of travel

4 08 2009

Woke up super early at Kyle and Lacey’s place in Asahi, Mie. Took the 7.15am train to Nagoya central, then the Tokaido line to the West. It was our second longest day of travel – 10 hours on the train making transfers at Ogaki, Maibara, Aioi and Okayama. We were able to follow the train schedule perfectly and make all our transfers as planned. We had lunch in Okayama where we found a supermarket by the station and bought ume (pickled plum) onigiri (rice balls covered in nori), cooked edamame (soybeans), blueberries and ritz crackers. Then we were back on the train for another 2 and a half hours to Hiroshima. We arrived a bit after 5pm, checked into Ks Backpackers which was only a 5 minute walk from the station, then went for a walk to find a supermarket. We found Jupiters, an International store which had coconut chai and refried beans. We had difficulty finding a fruit and veg section, and then when we did, they had no S&B curry cubes or soymilk that we could eat. So we caught the tram/streetcar to the station again and found another store. They also had no curry cubes so we settled on pasta sauce. Hiroshima does not seem the most veg* friendly of places. It was after 9pm by the time we had made dinner. But we enjoyed a lovely cup of chai in the evening before bed.

Thatched roof cottages in Takayama

3 08 2009

For our second day in Takayama we took a local bus from the station for a 10 minutes and went to Hida no Sato (Hida Folk Village open air museum). We saw old thatched roof buildings from around the area. It was a beautiful day and the sun was shining and it was lovely to be out wandering around the village. It was really scenic and have an atmosphere like Sovereign Hill or other ‘Historic Themed Villages’. We wandered around all of the different houses that had been relocated from other areas around Gifu and especially collected. They had example rice paddies, waterwheels, people doing traditional crafts that you could watch and lots of wildlife.
We came back to the town central by bus, walked to the Takayama castle ruins (there were a few stones but nothing more- it really was ruins) after having a picnic lunch (of salad and inari) in the park. We ate some red bean icecreams to cool down. Then we went to a museum that was a Government Building and Shrine. They had nice tatami rooms and a torture/prison room.

We wandered through the main streets again and stocked up on yummy Takayama sweets – ume, shiso and brown sugar flavoured jelly type lollies.
Then we caught the express bus back to Nagoya for the night and stayed with Kyle and Lacey for our last night.

Kuwana Festival

1 08 2009

Photo of a lit up float, taken with our phone.

Nagoyan Festivals

1 08 2009

Day 3:

In the morning we visited Nagoya jo (Nagoya castle). This castle had interesting exhibits. There were lots of insects in the collection and a model of the castle village.

Then we had lunch at Jinenan, a lovely vegan organic cafe. We feasted on the set meal that contained about 12 different items. It was pouring with rain and the lovely owners, seeing that we only had one umbrella, gave us another umbrella to take.
We caught the subway to OsuKannon shopping area and watched the CosPlay festival parade. Lots of crazy dressups, but most of the participants seemed too shy for photos.
After the cosplay festival we had dinner at an organic cafe called Poran no Hiroba- pita bread with chillibeans and salad, and a set dinner with an interesting bitter jelly for dessert.

Then we trained to Kuwana, one stop from Asahi, where we watched the “noisiest festival in Japan”, Ishi Dori Matsuri. Groups from all the neighbouring towns pulled their town floats along the streets of the city towards the main shrine. There were stalls set up along each side of the road selling food, souvenirs, sweets, drinks, games and amusements. People danced and banged metal drums the whole night – to no particular rythmn so it made it really noisy.

2 festivals in one day – yay!

Nagoya and Inuyama

31 07 2009

Day 1 of our summer kansai holidays:

We took all local trains from Kisarazu (where we had to run for the bus to the station because we were running late) to Nagoya, making transfers at Tokyo, Shinagawa, Atai, Shizuoka and a couple other stops. Since we are not tourists (we have working visas, not tourist visas) we don’t qualify for the JR pass so the expensive shinkansen was not an option. We bought the seishun juhatchi kippu which is a seasonal pass for 5 non-consecutive days that allows unlimited travel on local trains for a day (i.e. you can go from Tokyo to Fukuoka for Y2300). We arrived in Nagoya around 6pm after 9 hours of travel. We picked up a map at the info centre before walking to Osu Kannon temple. We wandered down the Osu Kannon shopping streets to a restaurant called Chen Fu, but it had closed down in May. oh no! So we caught the subway to another restaurant (a little hard to find as it wasn’t on a main street) called Sorairo Magatama. It had a nice homey atmosphere and was vegan and organic. We had dinner of pasta and the fried vegetable set. It was rather late by the time we caught the train to Asahi and stayed with our awesome couch surfing hosts, Kyle and Lacey.

Day 2: After a big sleep in (needed especially since Benno hadn’t slept at all the night before we left) we caught the train into Nagoya central. We visited Atsuta shrine, but the temple itself was shut for renovations. The grounds were still lovely for walking in. Then we went for lunch at Kataron, where we had the lunch set and the fried soy set with an interesting roasted golden syrup flavoured jelly. Then we caught the subway up to Inuyama. We visited Inuyama Jo, the oldest standing original castle in Japan. The stairways were really steep. They had some interesting samurai armour on display, and the view from the top floor balcony was pretty good. We had to walk barefoot through the castle to preserve the wooden floors- just glad they didn’t break under our weight!
Walking back down the hill we passed through some shrines dedicated to dogs (inu). Then we caught the train a few stops to Tagatajinjamae station, walked the 5 minutes to Tagata shrine and saw the sacred object (a giant wooden penis). There were stones and carvings scattered throughout the grounds of balls and penises.
Then we went back to Nagoya for dinner at MosBurger where we had the vegan rice burger (the patty is a grilled rice patty), and adzuki bean icecreams from the supermarket.