15 Jun Day 7: Takayama and getting to Shinjuku
Takayama Old Town
Firstly, here are a few photo’s from around Takayama during the evenings. Takayama’s old town is an area that has preserved buildings dating back to the Edo period. We walked from our ryokan and wandered down the streets, browsing in the stores. Some of the stores were selling typical tourist souvenirs but most of them were lovely and unique. We came across a range of different stores, a lot of them selling handmade toys, clothing and jewellery. There were lots of lovely laquered wares to admire and one store that we entered had the back section full of gorgeous handmade wooden furniture. We were there when it was getting close to closing time, so didn’t get long enough to browse all the wonderful shops. On our way back through we passed shop owners locking up their stores and heading home.
Morning stroll around Takayama
On the morning of our sixth day in Japan, we had breakfast at the ryokan and then went strolling around Takayama to look at the morning markets. The first market we visited was along the Miyagawa river. We weren’t sure exactly where the market was located but found it by following signs. The market has a long history and the stalls along the river were selling lots of fruit, vegetables and pickles as well as cut flowers and craft items.
When walking past this stall the lady held out a plate of apple slices for us to sample. Fletch and I took a slice each and the apple was delicious! so sweet. They didn’t come cheap at 500 yen per apple, they were massive though. We spent some time looking around the river and then we walked around the streets of Takayama.
The shops were closed at the time. We walked to the other morning market which is in front of Takayama Jinya. The market sold similar things with lots of produce but there were more crafts and nick-nacks. I purchased a little Sarubobo (monkey baby) doll, the mascot of the Hida region. A charm for good luck in marriage, fertility and childbirth, traditionally made by mothers for their daughters. I was going to buy one of the large apples but thought we’d pass by the first market and I would get it there. We walked down a busy, modern street which was a total contrast to the ‘old town’ streets of Takayama. We had gone a different way and didn’t end up passing by the market.
We got back to the ryokan in time to get all our things ready before check-out at 10am. As we were getting out of the room it was about 9:50am and our in room phone rang twice. Forgot that in Japan, you don’t just run on time, you run early. We fixed up our bill, minus the beers we had ordered with dinner that hadn’t arrived. On the night we didn’t know what course they would come with, so just waited and then we forgot about it until at reception he was adding up the total.
Returning our rental car
We got in the car and headed back to Nagoya to return the rental to where we had picked it up. About half an hour into the drive Fletcher was sound asleep. We kept to the expressway this time and arrived in Nagoya with time to spare before our car was due back. We hadn’t needed to re-fuel at all during our trip but we were meant to return the car with a full tank. Not wanting to drive around the city, we chose to return the car and pay the surcharge.
Getting the bullet train from Nagoya to Tokyo
After returning the car we walked to Nagoya station to get a shinkansen to Tokyo. I got in a line up for a train to Tokyo station as it was arriving soon and had minimal stops. Tim wasn’t convinced it was the best option and wanted to go wait for a different train. A young man in front of us turned around and asked if we were going to Tokyo, I said we were and he agreed this would be the best train at the time to get us there. The train arrived and we pulled all our luggage on and were about to look for seats when the same man got our attention. He was sitting in the front row of the car with three seats and told us to take them, before he went and sat next to another passenger. We were so grateful for his kindness. The Shinkansen’s have a small luggage space behind the last seats of each car. As the seats are always turned to face the direction the train is travelling, this means the front seats have extra space in front of them. We were able to fit our suitcases and the stroller in front of us.
Getting to our Shinjuku hotel
Just over an hour and a half on the bullet train, we arrived at Tokyo station and then had to transfer to the Chuo line to get to Shinjuku station. After exiting Shinjuku station we were totally disoriented and didn’t know which direction our hotel was. All we had to do was cross the road, which we did and then second guessed ourselves and crossed back over! We eventually got our senses together and were soon at Hotel Century Southern Tower. The hotel is on top of other businesses and offices, so we had to take an elevator up to the reception on the 20th floor to check-in and then take a second elevator up to our room. We had booked a southern tower king room through the official hotel websites summer promotion. Our room was west-facing and according to the view guide we would be able to see Mt. Fuji from our window. The weather was never clear enough to be able to see that far.
After putting all our luggage in the room, we set out to wander around Shinjuku. Hotel Century Southern Tower is located in the southern terrace area, in the centre of Shinjuku. Takashimaya department store is just across the terrace, there is a large Krispy Kreme just outside the door of the hotel and a bakery closer to the station. After aimlessly strolling around for a while, we got some takeaway dinner to take back to our room before calling it a night.