Sunday, June 29, 2014

Japan Trip - Conclusion (finally)

Last post about Japan. So after we got off our overnight train, we quickly got onto another train to go out to Kawagoe, a small city on the outskirts of Tokyo. After we got to there, it quickly became apparent to me that these guys scheduled another really tight trip. The visit to this town was sandwiched between the overnight train and another train out to the Alps of Japan. My friend and I were not going to go out to the mountains with them as I needed to get back earlier than what they had planned. And this part of the trip seemed much more rushed. I read about Kawagoe and decided that I wanted to spend more time exploring it so this was where we parted ways with the group.
Shrine at Kawagoe
We got out of the train station, and had some trouble with directions. After everyone realized that there was only an hour scheduled for this town, we found the tourist bus and got on that. It took us slowly through town and dropped us off at a famous temple where you can get buy a small wooden board, write a wish, and hang it up. Then we basically ran to the main street where there are a lot of cute little shops. The group ran off to catch their train while my friend and I strolled slowly. The group ended up having to take a taxi back to Omiya so that they can catch their next train. This town is known for sweet potatoes so there were sweet potato flavored everything. After we walked for a while, it started raining so we got lunch at a cafe. I had kind of wanted to spend the night in this town but it was hard to find accommodations online and there were a lot more choices in the big cities. We ended up booking a hotel for Nagoya so we left Kawagoe after lunch and took a train back to Omiya. We wandered around that city for a little bit too and then took train to Tokyo, then another one to Nagoya. It was cold and rainy when we got to Nagoya and it took a little while to find our hotel.

Sweet potato and taro ice cream
My friend had another friend who lives in the city and we had some small snacks at a restaurants with him. We walked around for a while until it got too cold and wet. Then we went to a place that featured grill-your-own food with an all-you-can-drink menu. I've never drank so much alcohol in my life. Good thing the hotel was right next door. Anyway, I was really looking forward to this hotel because it featured a hot tub. It turned out to be a really nice spa place where there are Japanese style communal showers, two jacuzzis, and sauna. There were also massage chairs and a relaxing area. They even had a vending machine where you can order real massages.

So cute
Nagoya castle
The next day, we relaxed at the spa again and enjoyed the free breakfast before heading out. We got to the main train station only to find that there are no lockers available because it's a big transportation hub and everyone in Japan is traveling. We ended up going back to the city subway station and left our things there. In hindsight, we could have just left our stuff at the hotel. Anyway, we then went out to see the Nagoya castle and then a temple. The castle was really crowded with other tourists and actually not that impressive. We went back to the main train station for lunch where I also got a Krispy Kreme doughnut. I recently found out that there Krispy Kreme had opened some stores in Hong Kong before but left because HK people apparently don't like pastries that are too sweet. Anyway, after lunch, we went to see another tourist sight and decided to walk back to the station. Along the way, we passed by the hotel. I booked a train ticket for Nagoya to Kyoto to the airport so at some point, we started running through the station to get me on this train. There was a lot of running after trains on this trip. It's really a good thing that we got this train pass and can just get on any train.

Krispy Kreme Easter special!
I met up again with my roommate at the airport and we shared stories about our trip. They definitely had a more chill trip. Anyway, really need to go back again! Japan is an interesting place. It would be nice to get the 21 day pass and just travel all over the place. I've found out that both Korea and Taiwan also have similar train passes. I'm a big fan of getting subway passes when I go on holiday. Don't have to think about buying individual tickets and adding money all the time. This train pass thing takes it to a whole new level! I think this trip has renewed my desire for a long trip somewhere.

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