Nagoya Again and Also Kanazawa

Shirakawa-gō

Having to find a destination that can fit an itinerary for 5 days, wasn’t hot in the summer, wasn’t raining, was affordable from a trip from Hong Kong, was easy to get around and walk around, and a city that we haven’t been many times before or recently, we settled on Nagoya.

To visit the major sites of Nagoya, you could probably do it in 3 days.  So since we were there for 5 days, including the flights, we decided to also pay visits to Shirakawa-gō, Kanazawa, and Tojinbo.

Nagoya is actually the fourth largest city in Japan, but you definitely wouldn’t see it that way when you arrive here.  The city represents a sense of calmness, serenity, peace, and all things that a city wouldn’t possess.  Yet at the same time, there is everything you want from a city – interesting people, convenient transportation, lots of food, and more.  It’s just organized and cleaned up well here.

I’ve written about a post about Nagoya before, so if you haven’t already, please check out Let’s Drive: Nagoya (Japan Part Three).  I’ll try my best to not overlap any sort of information.

 

Accommodations

APA Villa Hotel Nagoya Marunouchi Ekimae – Those typical budget ultra small rooms, where they barely fit a twin bed, a TV, and a tightly squishy bathroom.  I’m easily satisfied usually, as long as it’s clean and things work like the lighting and aircon, so a small room is satisfactory for me, especially if it’s at a really cheap rate. 

 

Hotel Trusty Nagoya Sakae – Just like what you expect from a Japanese hotel, except this one is quite old and doesn’t even have the Japanese onsen… it uses a traditional key and lock, not room key, to open the door.  If you choose breakfast here, you have to pre-select whether you want western or Asian or something else and also book a time for the breakfast.  The location is very convenient though, it’s like a stone throw’s away from the train station and also minutes away from TV Tower and also Oasis 21.

 

Kanazawa Manten Hotel – Ekimae – Located extremely close to the Kanazawa station, the Kanazawa Hotel has a variety of onsen for you to choose from, including one that’s outdoors.  Since it’s close by the station, it’s packed with lots of people.  Rooms were more spacious than the ones in Nagoya.

 

Transportation

Hong Kong International AirportWe took Hong Kong Express, the budget airline, for our trip.

Toyota RentalWe rented a car from Toyota Rent a Car

Toyota RentalToyota Vitz.  By the way, you really don’t need a car within Nagoya, the public transportation such as buses and trains are sufficient.  But if you’re planning to go outside the city, like we did, you may want to consider renting a car.  Do be warned though, that the toll fees are quite steep.

 

Things to Do

Pretty much I will just cover what I’ve done on a day to day basis rather than breaking up to different categories as this is quite a short trip.

MizuhoJust arrived to Nagoya, here’s a picture of Mizuho

Uogashi-Food KASENRight after we landed, we decided it made sense for us to eat at Nagoya station first, otherwise we’d have to change trains and drop our luggages and come back here to eat.  This restaurant is called Uogashi-Food KASEN, located on the 12th floor of Towers Plaza above Nagoya station.

Uogashi-Food KASENThis restaurant was recommended by our guide book.

Hirokoji Dori StreetIf you’re looking for a place for bars and partying, look no further than Hirokoji Dori Street.  As you can see, there were many young people gathered around the area.  Surprisingly, the clubs and bars here close early… around 1am, so to compensate, the nightlife also starts earlier, at around 10pm.

TakoyakiTakoyaki, great for late night snack!

TakoyakiNom nom nom!

Maruya HontenIn the morning, we waited in line for about an hour and a half for this restaurant recommended by our guide book, Maruya Honten.

Maruya Honten

Maruya Honten

Maruya HontenIf you’ve read about my Nagoya post from previously, you will see that I wrote about one of my favorite restaurants of all time was an eel restaurant.  It’s not this one, my first trip to Nagoya had a better eel restaurant, but the point is, Nagoya is famous for its eel.

Maruya HontenClose-up

Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and TechnologyI already talked about the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology in my previous post, but here are a couple more photos from this place.

Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and TechnologyWe were actually taking one of those city buses that stopped at major landmarks / tourist spots and came around every 30 minutes.  Surprisingly, we got through the museum, including purchasing the ticket, and caught the next bus, which means that we were in the museum for less than 30 minutes!  Last time it took me about an hour.  We were in a bit of a rush so that we’d have enough time for Nagoya Castle.

Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology

Nagoya CastleThe Nagoya Castle from faraway.  The Nagoya castle used to be the heart of many important castle towns in Japan.  Anyway, you can Wikipedia more of that information yourselves.  Don’t worry, that woman with the red pants isn’t my mom.

HommarugotenHommarugoten

Nagoya CastleLast time I didn’t get a chance to visit in the Nagoya castle.

Nagoya CastleThe view of Nagoya from the castle

Nagoya Castle

SakaeNext stop, we decided to stop by the area Sakae.

Nagoya TV TowerThe Nagoya TV Tower

Nagoya TV TowerThis was taken 2 days after, the Nagoya TV Tower at night.  Which do you prefer, day or night?

Oasis 21Oasis 21.  Supposed to be a complex multi-level park.  The park itself is quite nice, but there is almost absolutely nothing to shop there… not saying there were no stores, but there was nothing appealing about them.

Oasis 21What you can see from Oasis 21.  Kind of looks unreal, this pic.  The Coca Cola looks like an ad.

Oasis 21Sunset with the TV tower at the back.

Oasis 21

Oasis 21I don’t know what it is about Japanese skies that make them sooo beautiful.

Oasis 21Oasis 21 at night

Ramen DistrictAt night, looking for food.  This is a Ramen district near, or you can say in, the Nagoya station.

Wakashachiya Curry UdonNot in the Ramen district, but we settled on eating curry udon upon my insistence.  This one is with fried pork chop.

Wakashachiya Curry UdonThe restaurant name is called Wakashachiya Curry Udon.  This is the famous prawn tempura curry udon.

KushikatsuSome random restaurant late at night eating Kushikatsu, with Beer!

So the next day, we started to head off to Kanazawa, with a stop at Shirakawa-gō.  For some reason, while on the way there, there was massive traffic… like we could have been stuck in the queue for more than an hour.

Shirakawa-gōOne of the best restaurants ever!  I loved the beef.  An amazing restaurant at the Shirakawa-gō area.  We almost ended up eating at an expensive beef restaurant the night before, but decided it was too expensive, and settled on this one instead by chance.  Amazing!

Shirakawa-gōWhat the outside of the restaurant looks like.

Shirakawa-gōAnd what the inside of the restaurant looks like.

Shirakawa-gōSouvenir shop at Shirakawa-gō.

Shirakawa-gō

Shirakawa-gō

Shirakawa-gōShirakawa-gō is a historical village and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Shirakawa-gōMost people actually visit Shirakawa-gō during the winter, when the snow surrounds the roof and these houses and gives a remarkable site.  That said, I also don’t mind this vast green piece of land as well.

Shirakawa-gōExpect to finish visiting Shirakawa-gō in less than 2 hours… we did it in almost one hour.  It’s basically just an area with all these houses and with a ton of souvenir shops trying to sell you stuff.

Shirakawa-gō

Shirakawa-gō

Shirakawa-gō

Hand Drip H CoffeeWe stumbled upon this ‘Hand Drip H Coffee’ while driving around and searching for our hotel in Kanazawa.

Hand Drip H CoffeeThe reason why we found this place was because we were following the GPS after inputting the phone number of the hotel.  The GPS took us to a different location and we were 10 minutes away from our actual location, and while driving around that’s how we found out about this cafe.

Hand Drip H CoffeeDrip drip sip sip.

Kanazawa RestaurantWe just had tempura udon at a restaurant near Kanazawa Station.  Can’t believe it, but things here close early!  Most of the restaurants were closed by 8, 8:30pm.

Kanazawa StationThe Kanazawa station is famous itself because of its architectural design

Kanazawa Station

Kanazawa StationIn the daytime

Some RestaurantWhile walking to Omicho Market, we found this alleyway with lots of people queuing up for this restaurant.  I have no idea what this restaurant is, except I decided to snap a picture of it due to its popularity.  Maybe in the future?  Or one of you readers can try and let me know?

Omicho MarketThe Omicho Market is equivalent to the Tsujiki Market of Tokyo’s, in terms of purpose.  In terms of quality, I still much prefer the latter.  That said, we didn’t venture into many restaurants, or even any for that matter.  We only had the ‘take-out’ sashimi and some skewers so I think it’s fair for me to say that my experience could have been completely different if I dined there instead.

Omicho MarketThe Omicho Market is actually just about 10 minutes walk away from Kanazawa station.

Omicho Market

Omicho MarketThese were some of the grilled skewers I tried, not bad, but nothing special.

Omicho MarketTwo kids playing with a 30kg block of ice?

Omicho Market

Omicho MarketThe take out sashimi we had.  It was just alright.

Kanazawa Castle ParkJust a couple minutes away from Omicho Market walking distance, is the Kanazawa Castle Park

Kanazawa Castle Park

Kanazawa CastleKenroku-enContinuing on the path, we reach the more famous Kenroku-en.  It is famous as being one of three of the most beautiful Japan landscape gardens.

Kenroku-enFor example, this picture represents why it’s so beautiful.

Kenroku-en

TojinboIf you don’t drive to Shirakawa-gō and drive along the coastal side, you can stop by Tojinbo.  And that’s what we did on the way back to Nagoya, we stopped by Tojinbo.  Here are some cute hats you can buy… I bought one for my colleague.

TojinboTōjinbō is a series of basaltic cliffs on the Sea of Japan in Japan <- copied from Google, still don’t know what basaltic means gonna have a look.

Tojinbo

Tojinbo

Tojinbo

TojinboSome foods you can eat there

TojinboBut I opted for ice cream instead.  Ok la.

LadybugOn the way back to Nagoya, we stopped by a gas station and I used the bathroom.  No idea what it means, but it’s cute!

LachicInside one of the shops of Lachic, a shopping mall in Nagoya

LachicSame shop, pretty artsy

HitsumabushiWe loved eating the eel at Nagoya, so why not go for one more time, different restaurant?

HitsumabushiHitsumabushi restaurant, located in the shopping mall Lachic, was even better with its grilled tasting eel.

Hoshoin / OsukannonHoshoin / Osukannon

Osu Shopping StreetOsu Shopping Street.  To be quite frank, while many people recommend this place as it’s where the ‘locals shop’, I find that the shops here lack quality and of substance and it’s just a… cheaper variety of clothes for here to buy.  It’s almost the equivalent of buying clothes from Mong Kok in Hong Kong in my opinion.  They are cheap quality, local brands, but nothing amazing.

Alice on WednesdayAlice on Wednesday on Osu Shopping Street.  Funnily enough, the security guard told me I had to stand at an exact spot otherwise I wasn’t allowed to take a photo of this shop.  This was the result of taking the photo at this exact spot.

Aeon Mall TokonameJust before we went to the airport, we reserved some time to check out the Aeon Mall Tokoname.  Again it was a mall recommended by our guide book.  Huge mall, but of little substance, there isn’t really much to shop.  I ended buying stuff just from Uniqlo.

Ikinari SteakIkinari Steak.  This was good though.  This is famous for choosing the steak you want on a sizzling plate, and you have to stand while eating it.

Ikinari SteakEveryone is standing to eat.

Ikinari Steak

Chubu Centrair International AirportThis is the Nagoya Chubu Centrair International Airport.  They have a beautiful sky deck, where this photo was taken, where you can see the control towers, the plane take off and land, and the amazing light blue skies and fluffy clouds of Japan.

Chubu Centrair International AirportUnfortunately for us, our plane got delayed for about 6 hours!  When we got home home, it was already past 3am in Hong Kong, and I had work the next day.

Chubu Centrair International Airport

MentatsuWe had Mentatsu, ramen, before the flight.  Funny story – a group of Mandarin speaking people, well specifically one of them, kept asking a Japanese assistant why the price was 800 yen but it also says 394 kcal in the same picture, and kept saying that she should pay 394 yen instead.  Note this is Japan, so you use those machines at the front to pay the ramen first before the staff prepare the noodle for you.  Anyway, it took about 15 minutes before this woman understood that the 394 kcal meant the calories…

So that wraps up my 5 day trip to Nagoya!  Japan just never disappoints, in terms of beauty, scenery, fun, food.  I probably wouldn’t go to Nagoya for some time, unless for a stopover, but I’d rather go to more outer cities like Kanazawa and drive to other smaller cities that are more ‘local’ and have the food there.  What are your thoughts on Nagoya?

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