Friday, August 18, 2017

Japan: Nagoya onto Tokyo

In our transition back towards Tokyo, from southern Japan, we opted for a single night in Nagoya. It is mostly a business city, so it is mostly locals, and is very nice and clean. One thing that has struck us in every area is the complete lack of trash cans anywhere. I am not kidding, there are no trash cans anywhere in Japan. In the US, this would result in people just throwing their trash anywhere/everywhere, but here, people hold on to it, and the cities are super clean and minimalist because there are not trash cans everywhere and overflowing.

Once we got checked in to our accommodations for the evening, we ventured out to explore the city. And yes, my obsession with their artistic manhole covers continued.

We walked to Nagoya Castle, but it actually closes at 1630, so we were unable to actually see it up close.  It was a bit disappoitning, as it is the main focal point of visiting this city. So we opted to walked to walk around it, and its surrounding moat, as we had planned on a dinner on the opposite side of the park anyway.

Nagoya Castle

Nagoya Castle

Nagoya Castle

Nagoya Castle

Amusing road sign

Dinner was not to be had, as the place was absolutely full with a waiting line of at least 40 people. We were too hungry and frustrated to wait (hangry?). Thanks to the wonders of the internet we opted for another place that had decent reviews and was popular with the locals. It is primarily pork over rice with a variety of topping options. I opted for spring onion and an egg, but was not planning on the egg actually being ABSOLUTELY RAW (not even cooked slightly) and in a separate dish. As much as I am for new things, I struggled with this one. It was served with an egg yolk strainer, so I separated the uncooked yolk from the non-white, and into the rice went the yolk. Once I got passed my mind freaking out, it was delicious.

Walking through the center part of the city, we happened across a “Hawaiian Fest”, and had to chuckle at the irony. The following day marked 6 years since we left Hawaii. They had all of the traditional Hawaiian fair and even the local brews.

After a slow moving morning, we headed to the train station to make the journey towards our final city destination: Tokyo. Before departure, we had lunch at one of the MANY ramen places in the train station (with some stellar ratings). The train station food had the highest rated restaurants in the city. We ordered from a machine again, and opted for standard pork ramen with extra pork (cheers to super thick slices!!!) and an egg. It was absolutely delicious, and was timely, as we only had 35 minutes from arriving at the train station until our train departure.

Train wine <3

We fully adopted a habit of sharing a bottle of wine on our train rides, and it is really nice. I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE train travel, as I get to sit back and stare out the window at the beautiful countryside or cityscapes. This trip only solidified that this is my ideal form of travel. Neither of us having to focus on driving or giving directions, not cramped on a plane with nothing to look at, or on a slow and loud bus. Again, I must recommend and emphasize how incredible the Japan Rail Pass is, and how worth significantly worth the expense that it is (an extra $100 per person for 2 weeks) to upgrade to the “green pass”, which gets you in the “first class” car of the train. It is all so simple. Walked into a ticket office, show the agent your passes and tell them where you want to go, they book you on the next available and quickest train without any additional cost, and you walk right through the station to your train.

Japan is such a beautiful country; filled with massive produce gardens and rice fields everywhere, numerous solar panel fields (go green!!!), all mixed with huge green mountains and bamboo forests. I am always struck with how green that “green” is whenever we escape from the desert.

We arrived in Toyko-Shinjuku area just in time to take a slow walk from the train station through the area to check-in to our hotel immediately. We explored the Shinjuku area over the course of the evening, and it was insane. The people, the atmosphere, and the variety of “entertainments” offered.

My favorite dinner on Earth!

We happened across another random beer festival, and shared a few small cups and some delicious pork products.

The "busiest intersection in the world"

My most favorite pict of my incredible husband from this trip <3

Just wandering aimlessly around our neighborhood, we noticed many "Girl's Bars" where men pay an entry fee to go in and have an all-female staff serve them expensive drinks and talk to them (various themes dictating the attire that the girls wore).

Come 10p, we started passing several people in their mid-20s passed out on the street from alcohol consumption, a few covered in their own vomit. This is apparently the culture of young business people in Tokyo, after the end of a 14-hour day. And then they go into work and repeat the following day. Thanks, but no thanks. Fortunately, there seemed to be a protective crew around them.