Today was a short hop from Kyoto to Nara, alot of people do this day trip from Osaka or Kyoto as is so close but we thought it best to head out of Kyoto and spend the night.
Checking out of J hoppers we posted our overdue first postcards of this leg of the trip ( photos as proof incase they don't reach the intended destinations). Traveling on the local Nara line ,( included on the JR pass ,whoop! ) to the main Nara station, then a 20 minute rather sweaty walk we dropped our bags off at guesthouse Naramachi. The owners where quick to hand us a map and pointed out a number of location recomendations. We later discovered that this beautiful old wooden building used to be a theatre and our dorm is on the stage.
Needing some brekky we stopped at what has quickly become our fav local convenience circle k or sunkus in other cities. This is simply all because of one hard to come by product , what we like to describe as the chocolate tourte. It's usually sold out so now we have to look in every one we pass.
By Jove ! the Nara circle k just so had two of these little bites of heaven for under a pound. But wait !You simply cannot just eat one of these walking down the road , you need to savour the moment so we went to enjoy ours by the lake up the road. Nara is essentially one big deer park, the deer are very tame and wonder round trying to eat your map thinking they are 'deer cookies'.There are tonnes of stall selling these crackers the deer love. Apparently the deer will bow if they want one but most just have a nibble at your pocket. A great place to pop into when in Nara is the Okumura commemorative museum. A great little respite area in its self with loo, free tea , viewing deck and garden complete with gold fish. The Okumura corporation make earth quake protection systems for buildings and the tiny museum shows you how their products work, pretty fascinating stuff. But the best bit is the earth quake simulator chair ( thanks Claire Powell for you instagram post of this place). If you ask they will strap you in and shake you to show what it felt like to be in some real recorded earth quakes around japan , and then again with the effects of their dampening products. There's even a glass window underneath the building so you can see the real deal (hopefully not in action) The main action attraction wise is the Tofai-ji temple building , apparently the largest wooden structure in the world . I say apparently as I swear we have heard that claim a number of times in Japan already. Anyway the best thing is the giant golden Buddha inside , And a strange attraction where children climb through I hole in a plilar something to do with it being the same size as Buddha's nostril. Free things are great so guided by lonley planet we wandered into a lovley yoshikien garden ( right next to the expensive impressive one), free for foreign tourists. An actual food festival was on ,clearly John got caught up in the hype and spent 2000 yen on the chef's plate or basically a pork sandwich and pumpkin soup. I'm sure this chef is a big deal ,so probably worth it I had a scone with saki jam , that's what I call fusion food Pics of a few more sites we visited around Nara including Kohfukuji temple, Ukimido Gazebo, Wakamiya Jinja Shrine and Nigatsudo Hall. Yet again we bumped into a school trip asking tourists questions, these guys were lovley and even gave us gifts and took our photo. Another great view ( From Nigatsudo Hall) After Johns excessive spend on lunch , we headed to the supermarket round the corner to hit up what turned out to be hugely reduced sushi (and a katsu curry for me). Also continuing our trial of lightly alcoholic beverages ,today I had a 1% sparking grape and 5% apple . Which clearly went to my head as I spilt most of in on the floor and on a seat cushion :/ Little curtained dorm, quite apt for an old theatre Nara Station Kyoto Station GUEST HOUSE WASABI NAGOYA
Another reason most travelers do this as a day trip is probably because you have to head back to Kyoto to get to most other places . Although I do not regret saying at naramachi guesthouse ,it was a great experience and contrast to the slick new hostels we've been staying in
This train was not quite as spacious as the previous although it did have fancy airline style seats. The journey was slick too, arrivingat Kyoto got reservations and off again all within about 10 minets First impressions of Nagoya are shiny.
Another city, another swath of circle K's to hunt don't our fave snack .
First shop , first success although only one left , we decide to share. Second shop and absolute jackpot three bars, what do we do .... buy them all muhahahah
After these success we continued to find an abundant supply in the shops around the station , the novelty of rareness has worn off. Sad times
Museum of the day is the Toyota museum , a half hour walk from our hostel we felt like we were in proper industrial japan . The museum it's self turned out to be a restored old mill , yet another architectural nod to industrial Britain.
The museum is absolute huge , and starts off with the history of weaving ,this is because toyota or toyoda started out life as a loom manufacturer and weaving company.I was completely unaware of this but the hundreds of weaving machines soon wore thin. Although the live demonstrations were interesting.
The automotive hall was much more exciting with explanations of exactly how the cars work and real life asemberly line domentrations
Even a robot playing the violin ! Saving the best till last, technoland where there was loads of interactive things to do , including a wind tunnel. I defiantly pretended I was michael Jackson in earth song. Unfortunately no photographic evidence exists of this, but the pics above show the navigation challenge cars After spending a lot more time at Toyota then expected , I was so very tied so went back to check into our capsule hostel. our pods came complete with TV, PC and safety deposit box. Not big enough to fit our big backpacks ,we had to leave them chained up with bike locks outside the room.
Western food was on the menu tonight we found a great little burger place called waves burger where they made their patties from Kobe beef.
Waking up to the same sound as you went to sleep is annoying especially when that sounds someone constantly clicking a coumputer mouse. The down side of a capsule dorm with all the mod cons. But we head to the foothills of the Japanese alps today , so off we trot.
We caught the train from Kyoto on the chou line to Nakatsugawa and then bus up the mountain a bit too mogome from here we started our hike over to Tsumago. As ever relying on lonley planet it recommended a 7 km route taking between 3-6 hours. Expecting a grueling trek we pack lunch supplies . The hike started in a village that had been preserved in the old style, already quite high up the view down the valley was great. Japan has bears ! I did not know. We had to be aware of them though and ring a bell to make them aware of us. The first few kilometers we ascended through pine and bamboo forest Criss crossing the road route up the mountain. We soon realised most of the hike are rather easy going . We were coving ground very quickly and the route wouldnt even take the 3 hours suggested let alone 6 . Picturesque all the way a great route to do with the autumn colours The original end destination was another old style village with water wheels and souvior shops. Even what looks like a hydro power station. As we got here in much less time than expected we pushed on the extra 4.5km to the train station instead of getting the bus . Random spot for a driving range.
Stumbled upon on of Johns fav topics of convosation ....teletext!
Magome Tsumago Azuma Nagiso Station This extra meterage took us past the ruins of a castle( serious ruins , just a few stones laying about) and through proper country side villages with residents tending to gardens. We also bareley saw anyone else on this route and it was again mostly down hill .
The whole roughly 11 km took us about 3. 5 hours in then end including detours for lunch and up to the castle ruins.
Arriving at Nagiso train station we had over an hour to wait for the train back to Nagoya. Wondered round the Town and bought some oranges to pass the time. Found a rather good looking bridge to walk over Got the limited express service back to Nagoya , very comfy although aparetly mostly reserved seating so had to stumble down the rather fast moving train to the only carrage that was unreserved Back in Nagoya , we tryed some of the region's specialties. I had katsu-don miso the usually breaded port cutlet on rice with a sweetened miso flavour sauce.
John went for the curry udon another speciality with the really thick udon noodle
Today was a day of many photo's 'On the road (or should I say rails) again'
Today I tried first complicated travel days since being in Japan . Although the town of fuji is on the line from Nagoya to Tokyo our hostel is round the other side of the mountain in an area called fuji five lakes. so a series of trains are required to get there. 🗻
Nagoya Yokohama Station Hachioji Station Otsuki Station Kawaguchiko Station First leg on the Bullet train to Shin-Yokohama...
Then onto the local Yokohama line too Hachioji...
From Hachioji to Otzuki on the limited express Just one stop on at Otsuki we change to the Fujikyuko line to final stop Kawaguchiko!!!!! Had to buy an extra ticket for this line even though it's possibly the slowest train yet. A Thomas the tank train was on the other platform complete with faux drivers seat and hat (definitely in children's size) Another excellent egg sandwich for lunch, this one is from Lawson, I usually go for a 7 eleven. Chugging through the country side, I was waiting for fuji to come into view.
Unfortunately although it was a beautifully clear day everywhere else , mountain fuji was completely shrouded in cloud, you could just just make out there was a mountain there.
After the four hour journey and a longer than expected walk we arrived at K's House Fuji view hostel. The hostel is also almost brand new and you can tell , the kitchen and Common area are immaculate. And the dorms have just what you need including USB chargers. They even do a spacious double capsule bed. With only a few hour till sunset we trotted off to the nearest site which was the fuji info centre. I case fuji never came out of the cloud , I had to take a few pics with the giant picture. Fuji-Q theme park is also just round the corner , looks great but rather costly and the reviews about wiring times are awful Another supermarket meal and drinks tasting. Today John had some beer, it tasted like beer Just chilling in ma hostel like it's my own house ,feet up on the sofa. Still trying to decide weather to go to Fuji -q tomorrow or not. Think I might let the weather decide.
Thankfully the weather made a definitive decision on the day. I woke up like a kid at Christmas to find a window and see if Fuji was clear of cloud.
This was the view from the kitchen window , happy bunny cycling day it is then. Our hostel even has a roof top observatory, to get an even better view . No wonder the hostel is called fuji view This was a cycle route a circumnavigation around lake Kawaguchiko and Saiko As ever took way to many photos but the view just kept getting better and better Ended up cycling around lake saiko twice as we missed the rebuilt village o Iyashi-no-sato the first time round ( probably not that worth it but not to far in the end ) Relaxing on the hammocks on the hostel observatory deck . You have to climb through a window to get out there but defiantly worth it . Especially when your aching from a very long days bike ride.
Time to leave mount Fuji and it's another perfect day, sad times leaving the sleeping giant .But onwards and upwards to Hakone.
Kawaguchiko Station Otsuki Hachioji Station Shin-Yokohama Station Odawara Station Hakone-Yumoto Station Ashinoyu Today's lunch stop at our 50 minute wait at otsuki station consisted of pizza steamed bun, probably one of my favourite fast food option. They are always available in corner shops for a little over a pound .
Also had a tuna salad from 7eleven , chopsticks is defiantly the way forward for salad eating.
Definatly the mot amount of changes to get to our destination today. Back tracking to Shin-Yomohama, plus another few trains an an extremely windy bus ride up the tight mountain roads of Hakone hot springs resort town. Finally get to experience my birthday prezzie🎂🤗 Ahhhhhhhhh this is our traditional Ryokan accommodation for the night , complete with traditional dinner breakfast and onsen. Dinner time, these dishes are only the start ! Amazing! Don't know what half of it is but was all good apart from the orange cube , that had the texture of a curdled blomonge After dinner we discovered this place has massage chairs an spent way to long sampling them . Whist at dinner the staff change your room and put the traditional Japanese futon beds down , they also bought a different kind of tea. John sampled a beer from the ever present vending machines The onsen baths were super hot an sent me straight to sleep ,with the help of the giant meal and massage ♨ Breakfast was a buffet with a variety of Japanese and western food on offer. Sadly we had to leave our little sanctuary and bath robes and make use of the last day of our JR pass. Thought it felt cold out ,being so high up the tempurature dropped to 3 degrees .