Japan 2017 – Day 8

Left the manga cafe at 6:00am for the first Shinkansen back to Tokyo. It’s about a total of 6 hours ride with a stop in Shin Osaka.

Bought some bread from the bread store for breakfast and went to get my bags from the coin lockers.

And this is when I had the first panic of the entire trip.

I couldn’t retrieve my bags from the coin lockers.

Though I said panic, I was still pretty calm throughout the entire thing, munching on the bread along the way.

Reading the signs, it says that after 12am everyday, you will have to pay another 300 yen fee.

I tried to put in my coins but the slots were blocked. Sign says that lockers are opened from 7am, but my train leaves at 6:59am.

I called the number on the locker and hoped they would send a security guy to help me but they couldn’t. Or maybe wouldn’t?

Resigned to my fate, I went to make reservations on the next train back, which would disrupt my schedule for the day by about an hour.

And then I went back to the locker area still munching on the bread while waiting for the lockers to work.

But at around 6:50am, a sudden thought came into my head telling me to try putting in the locker key before inserting coins. I tried it and it started accepting coins and unlocked!

I quickly grabbed all my stuff and rushed to the platform.

Made it to my train in time.

Back in Tokyo, Akihabara, I checked into my hotel, washed up, and went to meet another friend from FFXIV for the first time, H.

It was a short meet up at Ikspiari, a shopping mall right next to Tokyo Disneyland. Had some dinner, matcha tea and we window shopped before parting ways.

I spent the rest of the night at Disneyland with the after 6 night passport which is cheaper. Managed to get on all the thrilling rides before they had to close for the day.

The last time I went to DisneySea, so this time, I went to Disneyland. They had already begun with the Christmas theme. It’s only November!

Japan 2017 – Day 7

So for my 1 night in Nagoya, I stayed in a cheap business hotel. During midnight while I was in my room, I could hear noises like doors closing. Didn’t bother me much as it wasn’t too loud.

But in the morning at 6am when I got up and started preparing, while using the hairdryer, I heard 3 knocks on the wall. Probably woke up the guy next door.

It’s a 4 hour long Shinkansen ride from Nagoya to Hakata. Which is why I got up early.

Arriving at Hakata, I stored my bags in a coin locker at the station.

I had a few hours to kill before my beer tour in the Asahi beer factory. So I walked down to Canal City, had breakfast, and decided to watch the movie, Hyouka.

The tickets here are a little more expensive than in Singapore. And because of this, I thought there would be less commercials at the beginning.

I thought wrong.

And the other mistake I made was not checking how long the movie was.

I ended up late and missed my scheduled tour at the beer factory.

I called them up to see if there was another tour after my slotted time or if I could just tour the place myself but was told not possible.

With the factory tour plans cancelled, I went to Tenjin area for lunch and window shopping.

Walked around before deciding on a hamburger steak restaurant.

My un-Japanese way of entering the restaurant and communicating with the staff probably gave it away that I am a foreigner. But instead of giving me an English menu, she gave me a Korean menu. I asked for a Japanese one instead.

I suppose there are lots of Korean tourists in the area.

When food was served, the guy seemed to say something to me in Japanese in their native speed so I couldn’t catch what he was saying.

I poured a little bit of the sauce onto the hamburger steak and started eating. As I looked around the restaurant, a sign on the wall says not to put the sauce onto the steak.

That’s definitely what he was saying, I thought to myself while embarrassed.

Did some more window shopping until evening where I met another couple from my FFXI days for dinner and drinks.

They both have quit FFXI and moved on to FFXIV.

Similar to my second trip to Japan, I spent the night at a 24 hour manga cafe. This time I opted for a flat space but I think I should’ve gotten the reclining chair one as it’s more comfortable sleeping on a cushioned seat than the hard wooden floor.

If I remember correctly, it was around 3000 yen for a 10 hour package.

You can tell there are a lot of other people using the place as a cheap hotel from all the snoring.

Japan 2017 – Day 6

Today I leave for Nagoya to meet up with 2 friends from FFXIV, B and Z, whom which we have never seen each other in real life before.

I managed to get a reserved seat on the left side of the train so I could see Mount Fuji during the ride.

But unfortunately due to bad weather, I couldn’t see it.

It didn’t take me long enough to identify the both of them based on the descriptions they gave in our LINE group. We had 味噌煮込みうどん (Google translate calls it Miso-stewed udon) for lunch and headed of to the SCMAGLEV and Railway Park. Sort of like a train museum.

Entering the exhibition area, there are 3 trains displayed. This is probably one of the earliest trains.

Followed by the bullet train.

And then the new magnetic levitation train which I don’t think is in service yet.

We went into the maglev train simulator which simulates what you see outside the window and how it feels like riding on one as it transitions from running on wheels to floating in the air.

Too bad the computer-generated window view simulation didn’t have a view of Mount Fuji.

There is a room which houses a huge diorama and has lots of trains running on it.

The main area of the museum houses lots of carriages from the old days. Some of them, you can go in and look around.

I especially love the wooden ones.

And also the fonts on the exterior.

After a short break here, we walked over to Maker’s Pier nearby. It’s like a small shopping district with lots of interesting shops. I was expecting more hand-made stuff but most of what I saw were definitely mass-produced products.

But still it’s a nice place for a short walk.

We stopped by Oasis 21 for a short while before heading to Sekai no Yamachan, main branch for dinner and beer!

Japan 2017 – Day 5

The main highlight of today was to see and ride the monorail train in Chiba.

Took it to Chiba zoo to see how foreign zoos are compared to Singapore’s. I think Singapore’s has more variety but there are also some species in Chiba’s that Singapore’s does not have.

Anyway, the first exhibit I see is this guy taking a nap.

Then I went on to see other monkey species, birds, land animals. But the most important one of all is the red panda. The world needs more red pandas.

After an hour of walking through all the exhibits, on my way out, I dropped by to check on that guy.

Still napping.

Then I headed off to Odaiba to checkout the Unicorn Gundam.

Went in to Diver City for dinner and window shopping until the next transformation show.

Pretty neat!

After the show, I went to this Oedo Onsen Monogatari place where the characters in the Genshiken manga visited. It’s an onsen theme-park set in the Oedo period.

Lots of tourists here.

And I suspect it’s because there’s so many tourists, the onsen isn’t as hot enough as the other ones I’ve been to.

But besides that, it’s amazing inside. Izakayas and lots of different food places. Huge area with reclining chairs where you can watch TV and take a nap.

Definitely a place I’d like to go again.

From here, I took a free shuttle bus to Tokyo station and then back to my hotel.

Japan 2017 – Day 4

Today I head off to Utsunomiya to meet a long time JP friend from my FFXI days, Z.

The first time we met was during my first trip to Japan in 2007 in Akihabara. Then again in 2010 were we went to Shizuoka with a few other FFXI friends and all of us spent the night in a hotel in Atami, drinking away.

When I compare the level of Japanese I spoke back then and now, I could tell there was a great deal of improvement.

Z now owns a car and offered to drive me around. I googled up some places in Utsunomiya and chose the Ooya Shiryokan 大谷資料館.

It’s a huge underground cavern where people use to extract rocks from. It’s now mostly used to store wine, hold exhibitions and as a filming location for local dramas and movies.

Next we walked to Ooya Kannon temple nearby.

The Gardens behind the Ooya Kannon Temple

And near it is another Kannon statue made for peace.

27 meters tall statue of the Peace Kannon

Z then drove me back to his quiet little hometown for a little tour before we had dinner and then sending me back to the station where I took the Shinkansen back.