2012 Japan Trip Day 26 – Takayama

Date of Travel: 24/02/2012

I must say, after the frantic travelling in Kyushu, Chugoku and Shigoku, the relaxed nature of the Chubu leg was welcoming. Unfortunately, today marks the last full day we would spend in this region. Thankfully the weather was good unlike the previous day of light but annoying rain. We kick-started the day by hitting both morning markets in Takayama. The first was located next to Takayama Jinya; the former local government office. There wasn’t much to see at this market as it was pretty small, so we didn’t spend much time here.

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The second market was located along the Miyagawa river. It had a lot more shops and was busier than the previous one. There were also more permanent stores along the canal, which made for more distractions! We were also unable to find a convenience store to grab breakfast from, so I bought some unique food from around the market area instead.

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Our next planned stop was Yatai Kaikan, but we got side-tracked by a number of giant tori gates. We followed it past Yatai Kaikan and found ourselves at the Hachiman Shrine. There wasn’t terribly much to see at this shrine, though we appreciated the spaciousness of the area.

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After snooping around Hachiman Shrine, we finally stopped by Yatai Kaikan around noon. This place houses a number of the festival floats used in the Takayama Festival, which is one of the most well-known festivals in Japan. The amount of detail put into each float was incredible. Each of those floats really did look like an incredible piece of art.

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Admission to Yatai Kaikan also includes admission to Sakurayama Nikko-kan, which houses a miniature model of the Toshogu Shrine in Nikko. I had been to the actual shrine on my previous trips to Japan, so it was amazing seeing how accurate these models were. Each tiny detail, from the individual roof tiles, to the guardian statues, the paintings of birds on the exterior of the halls, and the decorations of the Yomeimon gate, were all included. It served as a nice teaser for Brownie and J.C., as we were going to visit the actual shrine in person later on in the trip.

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Brownie and J.C. wanted to see another Castle Ruin to the east of town, while I wanted to explore the town area itself. Hence, we split up once again, and agreed to regroup at the accommodation at about 5 pm. I started off by finding some lunch nearby. It was the first time I had mochi with soba noodles. Must say, it was unique having the texture of mochi with something savoury!

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I started off my exploration of the Old Town Area by visiting the Yoshijima Heritage House at the northern end. The building used to be a sake brewery, but had since been turned into a museum. Unlike the other historical buildings at the various open-air museums we had visited over the past few days in Ogimachi and Takayama, there was plenty of light coming through the exposed attic. This allowed guests to see and appreciate the interior architecture more. The rest of the building featured wide spacious tatami mat rooms, a small garden, and facilities which were used to brew sake in the past.

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Most of the rest of the afternoon was spent wandering around the Old Town Area. Like Gion in Kyoto and the Chaya Districts in Kanazawa, this area was lined with old traditional buildings. Many of these buildings are now used as souvenir shops, sake breweries or restaurants. It was a nice pleasant atmosphere walking through these streets. Many of the souvenir shops were selling similar goods to what we had seen previously in Ogimachi, but there were a number selling more unique goods too, so I would recommend definitely spending time and having a good look through the area.

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As there was still some time after exploring the Old Town Area, I decided to explore Takayama Jinya, as it had looked quite interesting when we visited the nearby morning market earlier in the day. Like with the Yoshijima Heritage House, majority of the rooms in this complex featured large spacious tatami mat rooms, most of which surrounded a central garden. There was also a room showcasing torture devices used in olden times…not pleasant stuff.

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My camcorder batteries ran out soon after exploring Takayama Jinya. As I wanted to explore and take more photos of the Old Town Area at night, I decided to head back to our accommodation to charge the batteries while planning the route for the next day. Brownie and J.C. returned about half an hour after our agreed meeting time, but I did not mind as we had nothing planned anyway. When it got dark, we headed to the Old Town Area together. Like with Ogimachi, there was an eerie feeling walking around the area with almost no one else around. After finishing up, we walked along the main shopping arcade to look for dinner, before heading back to pack and prepare for the next leg of our trip.

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Daily Expenditure

1) TRANSPORT
N/A […hopefully this becomes a regular thing?]

2) ACCOMMODATION
J-hoppers Takayama – 3,000 yen

3) FOOD
Breakfast – 950 yen [Rice cake with miso, apple, honey egg white thingy and hida beef takoyaki]
Apples – 472 yen
Lunch – 850 yen [Chikara soba]
Caramel flavoured pocky – 90 yen
Rice crackers – 370 yen [ebi flavour]
Dinner – 800 yen [ramen]

4) ATTRACTIONS
Yatai Kaikan entrance fee – 820 yen
Yoshijima Heritage House entrance fee – 500 yen
Takayama Jinya entrance fee – 420 yen

5) OTHERS
N/A [Need to save money at times right?]

TOTAL (cost for whole trip in brackets)
8,272 yen (487,640 yen total)

Total Cost of Chubu Leg
59,207 yen (9,868 yen per day)

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2012 Japan Trip Day 25 – Takayama

Date of Travel: 23/02/2012

We woke up to a cold morning in Ogimachi. It was partially my fault because we had turned the gasoline heater off the night before as I was getting a very bad headache from it. We started packing our bags before having breakfast with the other guests at Kanja Ryokan. After breakfast, we checked out of the ryokan and dropped our luggage off at the bus station. Once again, we split up to do last minute souvenir shopping and exploring. Brownie and J.C. headed south to the forests while I took a stroll around the village centre again. The weather wasn’t great as light rain had set in overnight, which enhanced the lonely feeling of the village compared to the day before. We regrouped at the train station shortly after and headed off to our final destination in Chubu; Takayama.

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We arrived in Takayama around 11:45 am, and checked into our accommodation at J-Hoppers Takayama. As our room was not ready, we left our luggage and headed straight out to find some lunch. Luckily, we managed to find one near the Takayama JR station, which was where we wanted to go to after lunch anyway.

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After lunch, we took a bus from Takayama JR station to the Hida Folk Village. This was similar to the other outdoor museums we visited in Hokkaido and Ogimachi. This time, the open-air museum featured dozens of traditional buildings from around the Takayama area. Many of these buildings are gassho-zukuri farmhouses, which are similar to those we saw back in Ogimachi. The exhibits were also similar to those we saw in Ogimachi, though more information/background were provided. The grounds were more spacious as well, and it felt like we were wandering around an abandoned village. As the museum was a lot larger than that of Ogimachi, and we ended up spending the whole afternoon there.

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Hida Folk Village had a Winter Illumination event later on at night, and to kill time in between, we decided to climb the hill neighbouring the village which featured some castle ruins at its peak. It wasn’t an easy climb due to the thick layer of snow covering the grounds.  As my foot was still injured from the day before, I did not follow Brownie and J.C. all the way up the hill and waited at the rest stop about two-thirds the way up. Brownie did take some good photos of the town from the peak thankfully.

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We descended from the hill and explored Hida Folk Village again. The illumination definitely brought a different atmosphere. The tranquillity and peacefulness of the village seemed to be disrupted by the lights, but the increased liveliness made it interesting. While we were still able to enter the buildings, it was too dark to see around inside. Nonetheless, the exterior of the buildings were attractive enough.

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While waiting for Brownie and J.C. to finish taking photos around the ground, I stopped by the rest area and picked up a warm can of red bean soup from the vending machine. It was the first time I had bought red bean soup from a vending machine, but it was delicious. It was nice having something warm after spending most of the afternoon in the cold. After the event, we hopped on a bus back to Takayama JR station and looked around for a place to have dinner. We were deciding between a grilled chicken joint and a ramen restaurant. Brownie and J.C. were keen for the chicken, though they did not realize it was “grill it yourself” (and I got told off by them for not mentioning this – how the heck would I know that they did not know it was such a place?). We headed back to our accommodation to formally check in to our room, and spent the rest of the nice resting and keeping warm.

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Daily Expenditure

1) TRANSPORT
Bus from Ogimachi to Takayama JR station – 2,400 yen

2) ACCOMMODATION
J-hoppers Takayama – 3,000 yen

3) FOOD
Lunch – 900 yen [Katsudon]
Red bean warm drink – 100 yen
Dinner at Keichan-ya – 1,833 yen [chicken skin and self-cooked chicken]

4) ATTRACTIONS
Hida folk village – 1,200 yen [bus fares, daytime and illumination entrance fees]

5) OTHERS
N/A [Need to save money at times right?]

TOTAL (cost for whole trip in brackets)
9,433 yen (479,368 yen total)

2012 Japan Trip Day 24 – Ogimachi

Date of Travel: 22/02/2012

This day marked the 1-year anniversary of the most significant event in our lives in recent memory – the 22nd of February 2011 Canterbury earthquakes. All of us had experienced the event first-hand. Tragically 185 lives were lost in the event; though I was lucky that no-one I know was seriously hurt or killed in the event. However, the city itself is still recovering to this day. There was going to be a minute of silence held at 12:52 pm New Zealand time as a memorial, which would have been 8:52 am in Japan time, and I wanted to make sure I would not miss it. We started the morning by checking out of our accommodation, getting some breakfast from the bakery at Kanazawa JR station, then waited at the bus stop for the Hokuniku bus which would have taken us to the main bus stop at Ogimachi and the Shirakawa-go area. The bus came at around 8:45 am. I observed the minute’s silence on the bus (though the rest of the bus was quite rowdy compared to some of the other trips we had taken thus far), took a breath, then looked forward to the events of the day ahead.

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We arrived in Ogimachi at 10 am. The small village was covered in the thickest layer of snow I had seen thus far on this trip. Ogimachi, and other traditional farm-house buildings in the Gifu prefecture, were well known for its pitched roofs. This prevented snow from accumulating too much, and to prevent the roof from collapsing. We had a walk across the bridge leading across the river from the bus stop/information centre to the village itself. It took us a while to find our accommodation at Kanja. It was still too early to check in, so we left our luggage there and explored the rest of the village.

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Our first stop was Gassho-zukuri Minkaen which, like the Hokkaido Historical Village we visted earlier in the trip, is an outdoor museum featuring a collection of historical buildings from the area. We were allowed to enter majority of the buildings to admire its architecture and design, and also to read the historical information relating to the previous usage of these buildings. The displays within the buildings were nice, but not photogenic. As such, I did not take many photos from within the building. This was probably a good thing, as I found I appreciated the buildings more when I was not focused on taking photos the whole time. The grounds itself was beautiful, though I could imagine how different the place would look like if it wasn’t covered in snow.

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We decided to split up for a short while to explore other parts of town. I had a quick stop at a nearby café to have lunch, before exploring the southern part of town.  Unlike the centre of the village which was more commercialized and surrounded by souvenir shops, the southern part had few buildings and was a lot quieter. It was also closer to the snow-capped mountains which were beautiful.

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Along the way back to the villange centre to rejoin Brownie and J.C., I stopped by the Shirakawahachiman Shrine. There, I found an area which contained wish plaques with anime character designs. Most of these were from the popular anime series Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni. For those who are unaware, Ogimachi was used as the inspiration for the village setting in Higurashi. Not many of the locals were joyed by this fact as the anime series featured a lot of sadistic violence, particularly to female child characters. It also depicted the village has having a virus that causes its inhabitants to go insane if they move away from the village. However, this did help increase tourism in Ogimachi.

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After regrouping with Brownie and J.C., we had a look through some souvenir shops, then started walking along the highway up towards the lookout point as the regular access was closed due possibility of avalanche. The view of the mountains in the distance on the way up was beautiful as always. When we arrived at the lookout point, we could see the whole village below. Just thinking about how small this village was compared to its gigantic surroundings, and how relatively far away this place was from the modern civilizations of other places like Osaka and Tokyo, there was an unusual sense of loneliness about the place. The snow covered fields definitely contributed to that feeling too. I would definitely love to return and visit the place when it is covered in green, to see if the greenery brings with it more life. (Note: The opening of Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni featured a scene inspired by the view from this lookout point.)

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We descended from the lookout point and headed to our accommodation to check in. Our room was quite spacious, with plenty of room to store our luggage. As it was winter, they had a kerosene heater running in the room. The smell hadn’t quite affected me yet, but I did get a bit nauseous from it later on in the night.

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After resting for a bit, we split up again to look around a bit more and to do some souvenir shopping. I found the closed-off path which lead up to the lookout point while aimlessly wandering about. The thickness of snow on either side of the path was over a metre high, and the path itself appeared to be covered in a thin layer of black ice at some parts. It was no wonder they close off the path in winter! Once I had bought the souvenirs and it started getting dark, I headed back to the accommodation once more.

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We had some snacks and green tea while relaxing, both of which were provided by our accommodation. Shortly after, it was time for dinner. Dinner consisted of some excellent quality steak cooked with miso sauce and vegetables, fish, tofu, udon, and a few other smaller side dishes. As usual, it was delicious!

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After dinner, we were undecided on what we wanted to do. I had sprained my toe descending from the lookout point earlier in the day, so I wanted to stay on level ground and explore the town. Brownie and J.C. however wanted to go back up the lookout point to take some night-shots of the town. We decided to split up again. It was quite eerie exploring town at night. Unlike other cities where you will be surrounded with a couple dozen people at all times, there were no one else around this time. Street lamps were few and far between, and many patches of town was covered in complete darkness. I had a torch I brought with me, but it was running out of batteries very quickly. Still, it was an amazing experience walking around town on my own in such circumstances. I was also stupid enough to cross the bridge in these conditions. But nonetheless, I had a lot of fun.

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I arrived back at the accommodation a couple of hours later, and was surprised that Brownie and J.C. beat me back. They showed me the amazing photos they had taken from the lookout point. While I wished I had followed them, it was a good thing I didn’t as resting my toe was the priority. I still had a great experience wandering around town on my own afterall!

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Daily Expenditure

1) TRANSPORT
Bus from Kanazawa JR Station to Ogimachi – 1,800 yen

2) ACCOMMODATION
Kanja Ryokan – 9,660 yen

3) FOOD
Breakfast from bakery at JR Kanazawa station – 480 yen [pumpkin bread, yakisoba bread and strawberry chocolate coronet]
Lunch – 950 yen [tempura soba]

4) ATTRACTIONS
Gassho-zukuri Minkaen entrance fee – 500 yen

5) OTHERS
Souvenirs – 1,510 yen [Japanese doll with ball, hello kitty keychain, book on Shirakawa-go]

TOTAL (cost for whole trip in brackets)
14,900 yen (469,935 yen total)

2012 Japan Trip Day 23 – Kanazawa/Fukui

Date of Travel: 21/02/2012

One of the reasons we decided to visit Kanazawa was its proximity to Fukui, where another one of my friends live. We had first met each other from a school exchange trip in 2003 when my school travelled to Fukui, then again in 2004 when their school came over, and finally in 2005 when I went with my school again. We had arranged to meet each other on this day in Fukui. In addition to that, we also planned to visit one of Fukui’s most well-known attractions – the Fukui Dinosaur Museum! In a change of pace, we bought breakfast from a bakery rather than a convenience store (which we had pretty much done for almost every day of this trip thus far!). We then caught a train west to Fukui. We did spot a sign warning women to be careful of perverts on the train, which is somewhat disturbing that a country like Japan filled with such nice people can have really dodgy residents too.

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Upon arriving at Fukui City, we still had about an hour to kill before meeting my friend. We decided to look around the Fukui Castle ruins, which was located near where my friend worked. There wasn’t entirely much to see around the ruins as many office buildings had been built on the ruins itself. Nonetheless, it was still a nice area to stroll around, and wasn’t located too far away from the train station. We went to meet my friend at Fukui City Hall shortly after. He wanted to bring us to a nearby coffee shop to chat over coffee, but unfortunately it was completely full. As such, we ended up just chatting while walking back to the train station. We didn’t talk long, but it was awesome catching up with him again!

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The next order of the day was to catch a train to Katsuyama. Unfortunately, it is not serviced by JR trains, and the one-way train ticket was more expensive than travelling between Kyoto and Nara. We bought bentos from a convenience store at the Fukui JR station, and waited for the train to arrive. There was a statue of raptor dressed in a lab coat sitting on a bench at the platform, and we had some fun taking some photos of it in the meantime!

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When we arrived in Katsuyama, it was already past 2:30 pm. As the place closes at 5 pm, and that I would have liked about 2 hours to go through the exhibits slowly, I recommended taking either the community bus or the taxi. Wanting to save money, Brownie and J.C. decided to walk there instead after looking at a map and deciding it won’t take more than 20 minutes. We arrived about 1 hour and 15 minutes later…well at least the scenery was beautiful!

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The dinosaur museum itself was amazing. I had been there twice before, but this was still more memorable. While it had the usual display of skeletons and fossils, the robot T-rex and raptor were awesome. While J.C. and I spent our time going through the displays slowly, Brownie rushed through the exhibit about 4 times going crazy taking photos! We definitely needed more than the 1 hour we had to look around, but it was still an awesome museum.

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We waited for the community bus on the way back to the train station as it was getting dark and cold. When we arrived back at the station, we noticed that it was still another good 10 or so minutes until the next train arrived. As such, we took the chance to take more photos of the beautiful scenery of the snow cap mountains and the wide snow covered fields.

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By the time we arrived back in Kanazawa, it almost 9 pm. Luckily the restaurants and music store at the mall was still opened. We had dinner, bought some CDs, then headed back to our accommodation to pack. Kanazawa and Fukui were lovely cities, but it’s time to move on to one of our most anticipated towns of our trip – Ogimachi!

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Daily Expenditure

1) TRANSPORT
Train from Fukui Station to Katsuyama Station – 750 yen
Train from Katsuyama Station to Fukui Station – 750 yen
Bus from dinosaur museum to Katsuyama Station – 100 yen
JR Trains covered by JR National Pass

2) ACCOMMODATION
Shibaya Ryokan – 2,880 yen

3) FOOD
Breakfast from convenience store near Shibaya Ryokan – 549 yen [Apple pastry, strawberry melon bread and water]
Sweet strawberry and sweet fromage pocky flavour – 525 yen
Lunch from convenience store at Fukui JR Station – 645 yen [Karaage bento, sandwich, water]
Water – 100 yen
Dinner at Azabu Sabo @ Forus Kanazawa – 1,400 yen [Teriyaki set and melon soda float]

4) ATTRACTIONS
Dinosaur museum entrance fee – 500 yen

5) OTHERS
Locker at Dinosaur museum – 100 yen
Music CDs from – 3,743 yen [Guilty crown, egoist and anime DJ mix]

TOTAL (cost for whole trip in brackets)
12,042 yen (455,035 yen total)

2012 Japan Trip Day 22 – Kanazawa

Date of Travel: 20/02/2012

Putting behind the events of the previous day, we had a reasonably early start and enjoyed the stroll through the city towards Omicho Market. Similar to Nishiki Market in Kyoto, but without the overwhelming crowd, Omicho features hundreds of stalls selling fresh ingredients and food. We picked up some reasonably sized and priced oranges along the way. It was so good having fresh fruits after not eating some since Miyajima, which was half a week ago!

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We continued eastward to the Kuromon gate at the Kanazawa Castle Park. We did get side-tracked by the pretty frozen lake. There was also a pay phone nearby so we used the opportunity to catch up with our families at home (just to let them know we have not been kidnapped!) The park itself was covered with snow. I had accidentally left my sunglasses at the accommodation, so I had quite a bad headache walking through the field of white. It did not help that the clouds cleared and the sunlight reflected off the snow. Upon entering the castle grounds, we climbed up one of the walls of the compound to have a good view of the castle and its surroundings.  As we had quite a lot to do in the morning, we skipped on the interior of the castle. Our main attraction of the morning was Kenrokuen afterall.

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Kenrokuen is one of the three most famous landscape gardens in Japan. But unfortunately the snow covered most of it! It was kind of disappointing. Still, even with the snow covering much of the bonsai, the landscaping was still beautiful. There were surprisingly a large amount of tourists despite it being winter. There aren’t really any words to describe how beautiful the garden was, so I’ll let the photos do the talking.

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After Kenrokuen, we headed south towards Myoryuji Temple, which was also known as Ninjadera due to the number of traps it contains within the building. We did get side-tracked by some gift shops and having to find some lunch. I found a Honey and Lemon Fanta flavour, which was surprisingly good! Also found a roll sushi at a convenience store, which was a lot harder to unwrap than an onigiri.

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We were hoping to reach Myoryuji for the 1:30 pm tour, but arrived late and took the 2:00 pm tour instead. Unfortunately, we were unable to take any photos from within the building itself. However, many of the traps they showed us were very simple yet ingenious! This included removing floor panels in the middle of the night so that intruders will fall to their doom, hidden alcoves for people to hide from danger, secret rooms for guards to attack, and much more. Brownie was a bit disappointed because he was expecting full on rolling boulders, swinging axes, rotating spike walls and more, but we all would still agree that it was an awesome tour.

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Our next stop was the Higashi Chaya District to the northeast. It was too far to travel by foot, so we took one of the loop buses to get there. The bus was packed, so the three of us were standing. The bus took a very sharp turn however, and Brownie lost balance and fell onto a female passenger. Luckily neither were hurt! We got off at Higashi Chaya District and were greeted with beautiful traditional Japanese teahouses. While not as grand as those in Gion, it is still a very beautiful sight to see. We didn’t go into any teahouses as we were running short on money, but it was a nice place to have a stroll around. There were also a few exhibits involve gold leaf, which is one of the products which Kanazawa was famous for. The gold leaf used on Kinkakuji originated from Kanazawa afterall.

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We walked back west past Kazuemachi Chaya District towards our accommodation, though I lost my umbrella somewhere along the way. Not that I cared much, the scenery was too beautiful to ignore!

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Upon arriving back in the town area, we headed straight to the mall from the previous day to have some dinner. I also decided to hit the music store to get some CDs. I must say, Japanese music CDs were expensive! Though mind you, we did convert it back to NZD, so it was expensive from our perspective. I was interested in a CD containing mixes of popular anime songs, and two from an anime series called “Guilty Crown”, which in my opinion was a pretty average series but had great OSTs, though I did not buy them until the very next day. After a long day of moving around, we went back to our accommodation to have a bath (they have a great bath on the ground floor which made this ryokan one of my favourites of the whole trip), then headed to bed.

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Daily Expenditure

1) TRANSPORT
Bus from Myoryuji to Higashichaya – 200 yen

2) ACCOMMODATION
Shibaya Ryokan – 2,880 yen

3) FOOD
Breakfast from convenience store near Shibaya Ryokan – 532 yen [Onigiri, hotdog with corn mayo, double coronet]
Oranges – 400 yen
Lunch from convenience store on the way to Myoryuji – 600 yen [Yakisoba bread, sushi, sandwich, honey lemon Fanta]
Dinner at Pomunoki @ Forus Kanazawa– 1134 yen [Omurice with chicken]

4) ATTRACTIONS
Kenrokuen entrance fee – 300 yen
Myoryuji entrance fee – 800 yen

5) OTHERS
Souvenir at Myoryuji – 500 yen [postcards]

TOTAL (cost for whole trip in brackets)
7,346 yen (442,993 yen total)

2012 Japan Trip Day 21 – Kanazawa

Date of Travel: 19/02/2012

…You know how sometimes you just end up spending your day in a really bad mood? Maybe it is because you are tired, or that you got up on the wrong side of the bed, or maybe something as small as not having what you wanted for breakfast. This was my day…and it was a shame too as this day marked the halfway point of our trip.

Our aim for the day was the reach Kanazawa by 4:30 pm, check into our accommodation, then explore the city centre before having dinner. We got off to an alright start at Matsuyama, successfully checking out of our accommodation and arriving at the Matsuyama JR station on time. There, we got some breakfast, and hopped on a train towards Okayama. There, I bought a large bento for lunch.

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From Okayama, we hopped onto a shinkansen towards Shin-Osaka station. When we hopped off the shinkansen, there was still plenty of time before the next train out to Kanazawa. As it was quite cold and I was quite tired, I decided to buy a warm can of BOSS coffee from the vending machine. Brownie however decided to be a prankster and blocked me from using the vending machine. After unsuccessfully trying to push him out of the way, I got pissed off…and punched him in his gut. After buying the coffee, we ended up having a verbal spat at each other for a few minutes while J.C. was trying to figure out what was going on. Safe to say, the ride from Shin-Osaka station to Kanazawa was definitely an awkward one. The snow covered scenery and the sight of a giant statue would’ve been awesome, had it not been the dark cloud resulting from the fight hanging over my head. Thankfully, both of us saw eye to eye and apologized to each other when we got off at Kanazawa station, as all grown men should. We shook hands, and decided to leave the quarrel behind us.

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Despite arriving in Kanazawa on time, the drama for the day had not ended. We were deciding whether to take the east of the west exit. Knowing that the accommodation was located to the east, I suggested taking the east exit. J.C. however was absolutely sure that it was the west exit. Not taking no for an answer, J.C. headed out towards the west. Brownie and I followed as we didn’t want to get separated, though I was still in a foul mood. After wandering for about 20 minutes and still not coming across our accommodation, we ended up running into some kids at a local park. I think those kids were quite terrified when three suspicious looking guys lugging around large items of baggage showed up and started talking in broken Japanese. We gave up trying to communicate shortly after, and started heading back the way we came. We then saw a couple leaving their house, and started to approach them. The woman saw us and started panicking and started to walk faster. The guy however was more calm and collected, and managed to communicate to us in English. He then pointed out that we were on the wrong side of the station afterall! We headed back the way we came, exited out the east exit, then came across the famous Kanazawa station gate which I was expecting to see at the entrance to the station! I was initially furious, but then realized how hilarious it was looking back at it which eased away all the tension!

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After a short 5 minute walk from the station, we arrived at Shibaya Ryokan. We got shown to our rooms shortly after, where we sat down and relaxed for a while. The ryokan was nowhere as grand as Yamamizuki and Jukeiso (obviously as there is a huge price difference). However it was quite cosy and homey.

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As it was already quite late, we decided to head over to the mall next to the train station to find some dinner then call it a night. After dinner, we explored the mall for a while, but then stumbled across an Italian restaurant showing a large wax model of a loaf of bread with an ice cream on top, which is known as Honey Toast. Despite the fact that we were all full, we decided to share one Honey Toast as it looked so damn good. And it tasted even better! The bread was actually cut into smaller chunks and coated with honey before the whole loaf was toasted. It was definitely the best desert we had throughout the whole trip. Definitely made what was a pretty crappy day pretty good in the end! After exploring for a while longer, we headed back to the ryokan to do some laundry and get some rest after yet another exhausting intercity trip.

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Daily Expenditure

1) TRANSPORT
Tram from Dogo Onsen to Matsuyama JR Station – 150 yen
JR Trains covered by JR National Pass

2) ACCOMMODATION
Shibaya Ryokan  – 2,880 yen

3) FOOD
Breakfast from convenience store at Matsuyama station – 644 yen [Sandwich, shiffon cake, pocky and water]
Lunch from bento shop at Okayama station – 1000 yen
Boss coffee at Shin-Osaka station – 120 yen
Dinner at 実演手打うどん杵屋 @ Forus Kanazawa – 980 yen
Desert at イタリア食堂まかない亭 @ Forus Kanazawa – 367 yen [Honey toast]

4) ATTRACTIONS
N/A ~all free~ […not that we went anywhere…]

5) OTHERS
Souvenir at Matsuyama JR Station – 365 yen [Tart keychain]
Clear-file for storing pamphlets, tickets etc – 241 yen
Laundry – 467 yen

TOTAL (cost for whole trip in brackets)
7,214 yen (435,647 yen total