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Nagoya Attractions – Part 2

Posted on Jan 5th 2017 by Jenny in Japan | Travel | Working Holiday - (Comments Off on Nagoya Attractions – Part 2)

5. Denpark
Denpark is a theme park in nearby Anjo City. Since Anjo is known as the Japanese Denmark, a lot of the architecture and gardens inside are made to reflect a Danish townscape. Some of the highlights include the windmills, a children’s play area with an incredibly long roller slide that I may or may not have gone on, and many gardens in bloom with seasonal flowers. Apparently kids can also try their hand at making sausages inside the park. I took the easier route and just ordered a pizza with sausages on top. Hehe.

Denpark Denpark

6. Nagoya City Science Museum
The science museum was a place I visited during Golden Week when Frannie came to see me. It probably wasn’t the most ideal time to go because it was insanely busy. In fact when we initially made our way there late in the morning we had to give up and go for lunch instead because the line to get in was outside the door. (@_@) Luckily we had enough time to go through all the exhibits when we made our way back. Overall I would say the museum was really fun and all the exhibits are hands on and interactive. However the line ups are a little insane, so if you’re keen on visiting the planetarium and activity labs, make sure you get there early enough to grab an advanced ticket!

7. Expo Memorial Park
Expo 2005 was held for 185 days in Nagakute City, just east of Nagoya. Today many of the pavilions have been removed and the space has been reverted back into parkland. While Expo Memorial Park has considerably quieted down, there are still lots of things to do inside. Since the park covers about 430 acres, the best way to visit all the areas is to take the free shuttles.

As an avid Studio Ghibli fan, one of the places I recommend visiting is Satsuki and Mei’s House. The house is a recreation from the movie My Neighbor Totoro and it’s probably the most popular attraction inside the park. To get in you must join a tour and purchase the tickets in advance. I think when the attraction first opened the tickets sold out almost daily. Now that the buzz has died down it’s a lot easier to get tickets. I would say the house is definitely worth visiting because it’s exactly like how you would picture it from the movie. I felt like I was reliving my childhood inside!

Totoro Totoro

There are other places to visit inside the park, including the gardens, recreational centres, the huge ferris wheel, and the exhibition spaces. You can even take a picture with the two mascots Morizo and Kiccoro (or known together as Moricoro). There’s enough things to do that you could stay there for the day and leisurely go at your own pace.

8. Nagashima
Okay okay I know Nagashima isn’t a typical tourist attraction. Nagashima is like an all-in-one amusement park, hot springs resort, waterpark and outlet mall in one convenient location. You can even visit the Anpanman Museum next door! Lol. However, what I really want to highlight is the Nabana no Sato flower park inside the complex.

Nabana no Sato hosts one of the largest flower festivals in Japan during the warmer months. In the winter however, hordes of people go to the park just to see the nighttime illuminations. The illuminations run from mid October to early May and you can buy an admissions package which includes the return ticket from Nagoya Station. We also used one of the vouchers in our ticket package to visit Begonia Garden, which houses an incredible display of Begonia flowers.

Begonia Gardens

However the main highlight was seeing the amazing illumination display throughout the park. Every corner of the park is lit up as you make your way from the tunnels towards the theme area. I don’t think I have words to describe how magical it was inside. When I went in January it was a little colder than I would have liked, so I recommend bundling up before going cause it’s totally worth staying outdoors the entire time you’re there. =)

Illumination

Nagoya Attractions – Part 1

Posted on Jan 2nd 2017 by Jenny in Japan | Travel | Working Holiday - (Comments Off on Nagoya Attractions – Part 1)

After living in Nagoya for a year and visiting multiple times before, I’ve pretty much covered all the tourist spots there are in the city. Nagoya is actually not known for anything particularly famous, even the castle is a replica. I think that’s why Nagoya is referred to as the boring city between Tokyo and Osaka. =P

Some of the major tourist spots I’ve visited multiple times included Nagoya Castle, Osu Kannon Temple, the Nagoya Port Area including the aquarium, and Oasis 21 in Sakae. Those are the main ones everyone goes to since they’re within the city core and easily accessible by the subway. The Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology is another popular attraction, as well as the Tokugawa Garden & Art Museum.

This past year however, I actually went to a lot of attractions for the first time. Here’s a short list of places I recommend if you’re looking at visiting somewhere other than Nagoya Castle:

1. Noritake Garden
Noritake is one of the oldest and prestigious glass and ceramics company in Japan. Their pottery and porcelain ware can definitely compete with those produced in Europe. Noritake Garden, which also includes a museum, shops and restaurants, is a 15-min walk away from Nagoya Station. There is a small admission cost to go inside the museum, but I would recommend skipping the museum altogether and just enjoying the garden and their showroom.

Noritake

2. SCMAGLEV and Railway Park
SCMAAGLEV and Railway Park is a railway museum owned by the JR Central Company. It’s about a 25 minute train ride from Nagoya Station via the Aonami Line. Inside the museum there are tons of full size railway vehicles, dioramas and train simulators. Some of the carriages you can actually go inside, which was really neat especially seeing the dining rooms.

There are a few train simulators you can try which are at an additional cost, but due to their popularity the slots are given out via lottery. I ended up trying the Conventional Train Driving Simulator, which cost 100 yen and didn’t require a lottery ticket. I waited in line for about 10 minutes before it was my turn. The simulator was neat because you could pick the route and the weather conditions, so everything felt realistic. It’s definitely a fun place for a day trip out with kids. =)

SCMAGLEAV

3. Higashiyama Zoo & Botanical Garden
I went to Higashiyama Zoo twice when I was living in Nagoya. Once at the end of September when it was brutally hot, and the other in May when it was also unseasonably warm. Lol. The zoo itself is easily accessible on the Higashiyama subway line. The admission to the zoo also allows you to enter into the botanical gardens. Depending on the season it might be worth it to see the gardens as it is a lot more tranquil than dealing with the crowds inside the zoo. The zoo itself is really well kept and one of the main attractions is the giant male gorilla named Shabani. Apparently people flock to his enclosure because of his attractiveness and the zoo has seen an increase in visitors over the years due to his popularity. I wish I could say I was making this up but sadly it’s true lol.

4. Atsuta Jingu
To be honest I had no idea Atsuta Jingu even existed if it weren’t for my host family. We took a drive out there one day in the fall when families were still celebrating shichi-go-san. Atsuta Jingu is rumoured to be home to the Kusanagi no Tsurugi, which is an ancient sword considered to be one of the Three Sacred Treasures of Japan. The remaining mirror and jewel are supposedly located in Mie and Tokyo respectively. The buildings and the grounds are similar to many of the other shinto shrines. We spent time taking a walk around then we grabbed a bowl of kishimen at one of the stalls outside before we left. (Kishimen of course is a flat type of noodle similar to udon which is a local Nagoya specialty.)

Atsuta Jingu Atsuta Jingu

Yoro

Posted on Dec 26th 2016 by Jenny in Japan | Working Holiday - (Comments Off on Yoro)

One of the day trips I did during the spring was to Yoro Park in Gifu. I had always wanted to visit the Site of Reversible Destiny Park in Yoro since I saw pictures of it in a travel guide many years ago, but I never had the time to go until I moved to Nagoya. Finally I took advantage of one of the days I had off in May and went by myself!

Side note: I’m not sure if my biggest mistake was going during one of the warmest days in May or by myself, but I highly do not recommend doing EITHER. Lol

Yoro

The easiest way to get to Yoro from Nagoya is to take the Kinetsu Line to Kuwana or Ogaki Station, then changing to the local Yoro Line. The trip overall would take about an hour one way. The Site of Reversible Destiny Park is another 15 minutes on foot from the station.

Yoro

One of the things I didn’t realize was how popular Gifu Prefecture is for hikers. There were lots of seniors decked out in their hiking gear when I got to Yoro Station. I guess if you’re an avid hiker then you’re probably well attuned to the weather in May, but it was absolutely brutal for me being out the entire day. The heat was still bearable, but the longer I stayed the hotter it got. I should have picked a cooler day to go! (Mistake #1)

Once I got to the Site of Reversible Destiny Park, I paid the 750 yen admission at the front and went inside. The park is actually quite huge and there are many areas and structures inside to explore. The theme of the park is to allow people to rethink their physical and spiritual orientation to the world. It was a very neat idea and I think the spaces inside really work well in that aspect. However, this was where it got a little dangerous because there’s lot of areas with high elevation and the pathways are not exactly laid out, which means you could pummel to your death at any point in time and no one will find out until it’s too late lol. (Mistake #2)

Yoro Yoro

After spending the better part of the morning at the Site of Reversible Destiny Park, I decided to explore the rest of Yoro Park. The entire park is huge and includes a children’s play area, the Yoro Land amusement park, a golf course, rest area, shrine and much more. As I mentioned before there are also many hiking trails along the river, so you could easily spend a day at the park without running out of things to do.

Once you make your way across you will eventually arrive at Yoro Falls. I forget how long the entire hike took, I think it was about an hour or so. The hike itself wasn’t terribly challenging, but because I had already been walking the entire morning after arriving at the station, it was a struggle making the climb up to the falls. However I do recommend going because it’s worth it seeing the waterfall in person.

Yoro Yoro

Overall Yoro makes a great day trip from Nagoya. Pick a day that’s warm but not overly humid and make sure you go with someone! =P

Concert Roundup

Posted on Dec 25th 2016 by Jenny in Arashi | Concerts | Japan | Working Holiday - (Comments Off on Concert Roundup)

I had a few more entries I had wanted to post but I got so lazy writing them that I’m just going to compile them here and hope that I still remember the details. =P

One of the best parts about living in Japan were all the concerts I was able to attend. Before if I wanted to see a con, I would always have to line up my vacation dates to correspond with concert dates. The sucky part was that I wouldn’t always manage to hit for tickets, which meant I would usually have to pay a small fortune to buy them off ticket reselling sites. This is why concert experiences are way better when you’re already living in Japan!

The first con I went to when I moved to Nagoya was Arashi’s Japonism Tour. I was super lucky that I actually managed to hit for tickets through the FC. The con also happened just after my midterm exam so the timing worked out perfectly. I even spent the better part of the previous night practising the moves to Funky. Hehe.

Arashi

The next con I went to was to see Ayaka perform in Osaka. Since I was flying to HK via Osaka for Christmas, I asked my friend Rin to see if I could crash at her place. It just so happened that Rin had bought her ticket to see the concert, so I scrambled to put my name into one of the advance ballots via Lawson’s and managed to hit for a tix! Everything worked out perfectly the evening of the con. Rin and I parted ways at the entrance since we would be sitting in separate sections, then just met up after the con ended to grab dinner together.

I should mention that Ayaka sounded amaaaaaazing live. She sang a lot of songs off her new album which I didn’t recognize, but regardless of that I got chills listening to her voice. I think the ticket was worth every penny I paid!

During the New Year I went to my first K8 con. That was the concert in the history of concerts where one of the members did not show up. I think I wrote a separate entry on that one already. Hehe.

Later on I also attended my first flumpool concert! Again, I knew none of the songs off their latest album, and I was one of the ones Kazuki berated for attending a concert tour without listening to any of their newest singles. Ooooops.

flumpool

Another concert I spontaneously bought tickets to see was Misia. I can probably count the number of Misia songs I know in one hand, so it was kind of a random decision attending her con, but I wasn’t disappointed at all because she sounded stellar! Misia is one of those artistes who has an extremely loyal fan base, so I was probably one of the few in the audience who had no idea what to expect during the show. There was a moment where she held onto the last note of her song and removed her mic and you could still hear her voice ringing throughout the concert hall. I totally got goosebumps from that. It was also kind of neat because I found out one of my colleagues was a reallllly big Misia fan back in the day and even belonged to her FC! So cute!

misia misia

The last two shows I went to in the summer was again to see K8’s summer recital tour. I had a hard time balloting for tickets and I didn’t manage to hit initially when I applied for their Chiba and Nagoya shows. My sister graciously forked out the money for their Chiba show and we had a good time chilling in Chiba for most of the day. (Mainly because there were zero lineups for their tour goods and we had allocated four extra hours just for that purpose lol.)

I was really lucky I managed to hit for a ticket to the first night of their Nagoya con after they had released a new batch of seats. The only problem was that I had shipped out my FC card, so I didn’t have it with me when I went to the box office to grab my ticket. I guess I must of looked pitiful enough going with all my IDs including my passport because they let me in. Lol

Anyway, altogether that was 7 concerts by five artistes in the span of a year. I didn’t pay anything extra if you don’t count the auction ticket my sister paid for. Think of all the money I saved! One thing to keep in mind is to make sure you’re well aware of when artistes announce their concert tours. A lot of the times the balloting window is months in advance. If you don’t belong to the FC then it’s even more important to find out when the balloting period opens up to the general public. Lawson’s was a surprisingly good experience and I managed to hit for all the tickets I balloted for so I have zero complaints. If I have the chance I would definitely pay to see any five of these artistes perform again!

Sakushima

Posted on Nov 5th 2016 by Jenny in Japan | Working Holiday - (Comments Off on Sakushima)

The last big one day trip I went on in the summer was to Sakushima with my friend Mami. We were trying to decide on a place to visit where we both haven’t been before, so Mami suggested going to Sakushima, which is an island east of Nagoya in Mikawa Bay. Sakushima didn’t become a major attraction till a few years back when they installed a series of art sculptures on the island. It was part of a project called ArtPlan21 and it helped to revitalize the island and attract a younger crowd of day-trippers to visit.

Sakushima

I was really lucky that Mami had offered to drive, which meant it saved us the journey to Nishio by train and the bus to Isshiki Port. Once we parked by the port, we waited inside the terminal to take the ferry over to the island. There’s basically two ports you can get off at, depending on whether you want to stop at the East or West Port. If you plan to rent a bicycle to travel on the island, then it really doesn’t matter which port you disembark as you’ll eventually make your way around.

Once we got off we first made our way over to one of the restaurants for lunch. Sakushima is famous for its octopus and fugu, but I don’t think we went in season. Both of us ended up ordering a sashimi teishoku, which was super yummy. Once we finished eating, we ended up renting our bicycles from the same restaurant. After consulting our maps to plan our route, we were off!

Sakushima

There’s actually a lot to see and do in Sakushima. Aside from the art installations, there’s a few beaches you can go swimming in. There’s also a shrine you can cycle to and a guesthouse to rest at. Depending on the time of year you go, there are also many flowers that bloom on the island.

Sakushima

Some of my favourite art installations were the Hirune House, which is a big structure shaped like a three dimensional tic-tac-toe and the East House, which is a big square frame with a staircase on the side. We had to wait our turn to get our photo ops, but it was definitely a lot of fun posing with the structures!

Sakushima Sakushima

The island doesn’t look very big on the map but there’s a lot of trails you can take to get from one side to another. I highly recommend renting a bicycle, especially if you go smack in the middle of summer like I did, because you would likely roast if you travel on foot. Even with our bikes, Mami and I had to chug two bottles of water in addition to eating a popsicle midway through the day just to cool off. (@_@;)

Overall I had a really amazing time at Sakushima. The scenery on the island is gorgeous and there’s so much to check out while you’re there. For those who have a chance to visit, make sure you check the ferry times before you go!