Monday, April 12, 2010

Japan Day 3

Day three saw us checking out of our hostel and leaving Tokyo. It was another early morning for us, as well. Personally, I was up at 5am, but tried my best to continue to sleep so as not to disturb everyone else in the room. By 6am, though, I had to get up and going. We all started packing our things and then had some breakfast at the hostel. After breakfast, we decided that we would head to Nagano next. Since it was very short notice we had to act fast. Patrick handed me the Lonely Planet guide to a list of hotels in Nagano and told me which ones he thought would be best. I started calling hotels and was having little luck booking a room for all three of us. Little did I know that I wasn't actually calling hotels in Nagano, but in Nagoya. Patrick made a slight mistake with the city names and I neglected to notice as I was trying to get something booked before we headed off to the station. Finally, I got a room booked in a traditional style inn. It was after that that Tim pointed out that the hotel I booked was in fact in Nagoya, and not Nagano. Fantastic.

So, we checked out around 9:30 and headed to the station with Nagoya as our next destination. We had to take the bullet train to Nagoya, which was exciting. Before our departure we stopped at a 7-11 to get some snacks. I planned ahead and got myself a boxed lunch which was great on the train since it was a two hour trip. We got out of the city and finally got to see some of the Japanese country side. Beautiful mountains and cherry blossoms reminded me that this was the Japan I should be seeing, not just the city. Our trip on the train was only about 2 hours and soon we arrived in Nagoya. What a difference from Tokyo. Sure, Nagoya is a big city, but I felt like I stood out a lot more. While in Tokyo, I would get the occasional stare from people passing by, but I felt like all eyes were always on me. It was a bit of an unsettling feeling. The giant backpack I was toting also wasn't helping to detract attention.

Tim and Patrick wanted to go to Oasis 21, which is a popular shopping area and meeting place. It took us a lot of wandering around and way more time than necessary to finally get pointed in the right direction, but once we got to Oasis 21 it was definitely worth it. It’s an awesome place. If you’re ever in Japan, I recommend a trip to Nagoya and check out Oasis 21. We first headed to the central park which was just across the street from the Sakae station and caught some live music in the park. We only saw two acts which were from a couple of rock bands. The second band did mostly Guns & Roses covers, which was pretty cool. We then headed to this spot right above the shopping area called the Galaxy Platform. Tim found the Galaxy Platform while we were watching the bands. He then suddenly came running back, out of breath, and all sweaty with a huge smile on his face. He brought us there, and it was really cool. It's hard to describe it, so I took pictures.

We then went down to the shopping area so Patrick and Tim could go to the Pokemon Centre there. Totally lame, right? :P

So, while they were looking around there I went looking for some postcards, but was surprised I couldn't find anything anywhere. They were still busy looking around in the Pokemon Centre so I just waited outside. There was a group of nerdy looking kids gathered outside playing pokemon and I suggested to Tim and Pat to trade some pokemans with them once they returned. They didn’t find it amusing. There was shop I wanted to check out in the area, so Pat watched our stuff while Tim and I looked around a bit. The shop we were looking in was a Ghibli souvenir shop, but since we’re going to the museum later in our trip, I decided not to buy anything.
We went back to our stuff to find Patrick playing Pokemon on his DS and some old guy talking to him. Pat was trying to explain that he didn’t understand when Tim and I walked up. The man turned to Tim and started talking in Japanese, which I found to be hilarious. FYI, Tim is Vietnamese and does understand a lot of Japanese, but I’m pretty sure this gentleman mistook Tim for a local. I then explained to the man as best I could that I only spoke a little bit of Japanese and didn’t understand what he was saying. “Chotto Nihon-go hanasemasu. Wakarimasen.”

We then hopped on the subway back to the main Nagoya station and started looking for our hotel. We ended up walking way past it again and got a bit lost, but in the end we found it. It was awesome! A traditional style inn with tatami floors and rice paper covers for the windows. The staff at the front desk spoke a little English, but the elderly woman who showed us to our room did not. She explained the use of our futons, the bathrobes, the tea set, and other things, most of which we understood, but I'm sure there were some important details we didn't quite get. After relaxing in the room for a good long while, we journeyed out in search of dinner. After walking around and finding a Uniqlo store, we stumbled upon this awesome ramen shop. Tim chose a dish at random and Patrick and I tried the fatty pork ramen. It was delicious. Probably the most memorable meal I've had here so far. I want to eat it again right now!

We all went back to the hotel and decided to have a bath. Since it's a traditional Japanese inn, it also has a traditional style bath. That is, a public bath with an area to wash yourself off using a shower nozzle, and then a large tub to soak in afterwards. After a nice relaxing bath, we went back to the room and I fell asleep entirely too early.

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