2014.08.20 | 北海道夏(3)

[Volume 9 Issue 8, #1932]
Hokkaidō Trip Summer 2014 - DAY 3 of 8: Sapporo (札幌) to Asahikawa (旭川)
中文讀者請注意: 因為篇幅問題, 這一系列日本遊記只以英語呈現, 敬請見諒..
after a rather "brief" rest as my virgin experience in a capsule hotel the previous night, we rose rather early on day 3 to catch a train to Asahikawa (旭川).. both Nagoya (名古屋) and Sapporo (札幌) in the previous days were just some kind of stopover, and i would rather say our plan for the trip actually started "more officially" after this day..
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we woke up at 6am on this sunday morning as we wanted to catch the 7:48am train to Asahikawa (旭川).. packed and checked-out, we took a cab from Susukino (すすきの) to Sapporo Station (札幌駅 Sapporo-eki).. it was merely a 5-minute ride and we paid ¥980 for it, a wiser choice since we were with luggage and it would be so troublesome to walk to the subway station and take a subway ride that would cost us ¥200 each..

travel tips no need to freak out thinking about taking taxi in Japan, it is not necessarily as expensive as you think, especially if you are in a group to share a car, why not that little bit extra for more comfort and convenience?? but of course, not all the time taxi lah..
Sapporo Japan - Doraemon Stand By Me Roadshow @ JR Sapporo Station
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wait!! what are all these Doraemon thingy again?? weren't we (rushing) to take a train to Asahikawa (旭川)?? yes, we indeed were, and this was actually another roadshow for the Doraemon movie "Stand by Me" inside the Sapporo Station (札幌駅 Sapporo eki)!! oh boy, what a thrilling surprise as we got out of the taxi and entered the station..
Sapporo Japan - Doraemon Stand By Me Roadshow @ JR Sapporo Station
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you know what?? i wanted so much to visit the Doraemon Waku-Waku Skypark (ドラえもん わくわくスカイパーク Doraemon Waku-Waku Sukai Pāko) which is inside the New Chitose Airport (新千歲空港 Shin Chitose Kūkō), but unfortunately both our arrival and departure flights were beyond its opening hours, disappointed but have to miss that.. so when i saw this, i thought God wasn't that mean to me, at least something Doraemon seen out of surprise in Japan, hihi!! we put catching the train aside (since there is always another train to take later if we miss this one) and quickly took some photos with Doraemon like kids.. okay, actually many others were doing the same lah, haha!!
Sapporo Japan - JR Sapporo Station
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okay, after some photos we were still in time to catch the train, and indeed we were even able to catch an earlier train that departs at 7:21am (lucky!!) though many was already queuing up at the platform.. we didn't buy tickets with reserved seats but just the normal ones at ¥4500, that explained why we actually buffered some time to arrive earlier, in order to queue up at the platform to (hunt and) secure a seat in the free-seating coach.. you may ask if we used the JR Pass?? we did not, as our fares for the trip did not add up to justify the price of the JR Pass..

travel tips the Japan Rail Pass (or simply JR Pass) would definitely be the first option you would consider while planning a trip to Japan.. find out the fares, do the maths, or probably re-arrange your itinerary to fit in, then make a justification.. :)
Sapporo Japan - EkibenSapporo Japan - Ekiben
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we skipped breakfast provided by the hotel, but bought "station lunchbox" (駅弁 ekiben) to be eaten in the train while traveling.. this was bought from the guy with a cart in the platform as seen in photo #3, something like people selling Ramlee Burger in basket here (hehe!!), convenient huh?? my ekiben as shown is at ¥800, so nicely packed right?? and printed on the packaging are some landmarks of Sapporo (札幌).. okay okay, i know you sure ask me to show what's inside!! just click on the ekiben itself above to unveil the luxury inside, haha~~ :D
Asahikawa Japan - Welcome Mascot
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after a 109-minutes ride, we arrived at Asahikawa (旭川) at 9:00am, right on the dot as per the train schedule, punctual!! so unlike the style of Keretapi Terlalu Melampau huh?? hahaha.. at the station, we were welcomed (ようこそ yōkoso) by this mascot of Asahikawa (旭川), but can anyone enlighten us what this cute animal could be?? i actually noticed many cities in Japan has their own mascot and all are so cute.. i personally think this is way more fun and lively than representing the city by boring flags or emblem.. besides the mascot, we were of course welcomed by our friend who picked us up at the station.. since it was still early to check-in our hotel, he fetched us back to his home to meet his family as well as his newborn baby boy (who was just 10-day-old)..
Asahikawa Japan - Shoyu Ramen @ Hachiya
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the friend then casually asked what our plans were, and i showed him our very detailed plan which probably impressed him a lot, haha!! but somehow it was also quite embarrassing when the family tried to accommodate our wish-list.. and so, this bowl of ramen was one of the many items on the list..

for lunch, we were brought to the "Asahikawa HQ" of the famous Hachiya (蜂屋旭川本店 Hachiya Asahikawa honten) to savor the Asahikawa (旭川) style soy sauce ramen (醤油ラーメン shōyu ramen), with extra rolled pork (チャーシュー chāshū) at ¥900.. another variation of ramen for the trip, somehow very different as the noodles was not that curly, and the soup was fish based instead of pork.. i found the taste a little heavy compared to those we had in previous days, don't get me wrong, it was nice though i would not place this as first choice.. we briefly concluded that the more northern the heavier the taste, in order to keep warm under the colder weather.. despite that, come to Asahikawa (旭川) and you gotta taste the soy sauce ramen (醤油ラーメン shōyu ramen)!! and one more thing, it seems like Asahikawa (旭川) is the "city of ramen" because i actually noticed a lot of ramen shops around, but too bad was that, so many ramen so little time!! haha..
Asahikawa Japan - Staying Indoor
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it was raining the whole day in Asahikawa (旭川) on day 3 (!!!), so we had no choice but to postpone some plans and hoped for nice weather the next day.. anyway, we did hang out around downtown to settle our train tickets, went to an electronic mall and the retail shop of a local bakery.. no photos taken as those were just brief stays, but this was where we spent most of our time that day.. the photo above shows the dining and part of the living room of our friend's house, though i cannot understand and speak Japanese, i still joined in the fun with universal body language.. well, not typically a "touristy" day but definitely a "homey" one~~ :p
Asahikawa Japan - Homecooked Dinner
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of course, we stayed in for dinner with the family that day.. i'm not showing off, but just look at how scrumptious (some of) the dishes were, and we can surely feel how hospitable they are!! clockwise from top left the delicious dishes we had, very fresh raw fish (刺し身 sashimi) to be eaten with rice and seaweed wraps, fish (cooked the Japanese style - i know this is a very generic description but i really have no idea, hihi!!), oden (おでん - i do not know how to explain this, please refer here yourself) and egg (卵 tamago).. of course these were not all, somehow being a guest, i was not comfortable (and also it was not courteous) to keep taking photos of food, you get what i mean right?? :)
Asahikawa Japan - Take-away Homecooked Dinner
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it was an incredibly rich and warm dinner, i may say, and such an honour to be invited and included.. and now you are seeing the same set of food but in a different setting?? yes, in Cantonese we call this "eat and still take away" (又食又拎 yau sik yau ling), maybe the host was happy enough to let us tapao the leftover back to our hotel, but we definitely felt a little bashful, haha!! what's more, they actually paid for our accommodation (¥12000 per twin room) in this Asahikawa Washington Hotel (旭川ワシントンホテル Asahikawa Washinton Hoteru), that's amazingly wholehearted!! what else more could i say?? it was certainly a night of good sleep after a wonderful dinner in a comfortable room..
so this is a just very brief day 3 since it was raining and we did nothing much but more like having a precious opportunity to blend into the life of a Japanese family.. was it a day with good weather the following day as we hoped for?? stay tune for day 4 and read about one of the highlights of the trip!! :)

previous posts in this series:-

2014.08.18 | 自助旅行

[Volume 9 Issue 8, #1931]
On going DIY for your vacation...
Japan Nagoya Sapporo
the collage above is formed by photos taken during the first two days of my recent japan trip..
請點擊!! >>  

如果大家有日去旅行, 究竟會選擇自助旅行, 定係跟旅行團就算呢?? 我當然係比較喜歡前者啦, 因為可以根據自己嘅時間同埋選擇要去邊而去自己plan行程.. 當然, 出發之前有好多功課要做, 時間緊迫嘅時候仲可能導致壓力問題, 不過唯有如此先可以更加了解一個地方同佢嘅文化.. 另一方面, 我大可參加旅行團, 俾錢之後開開心心等出發, 有個導遊充當阿四角色, 帶我去主要旅遊聖地, 唔駛排隊買飛之余有可以優先入場--完全無憂無慮.. 不過我之前兩次經驗(超過十年前)教識我以後唔駛考慮旅行團, 趕死趕命而且大部份時間都係坐巴士同去購物, 必去景點好多時候係要額外補錢, 市區遊一定係坐喺巴士內齋睇就算, 萬一有得揀可以去邊都係要少數服從多數.. 所以話, 過去十幾年來, 我所有嘅旅行都係自助性質, 我覺得我應該完全控制自己嘅行程, 我應該跟住自己嘅時間和步伐去享受自己嘅假期.. 你又如何呢?? :)

do you prefer to go on a vacation which is of DIY nature or guided group tour?? i certainly prefer the former, as i can plan for my own itinerary following my own pace and time and choose where i would like to go.. of course, a lot of research work and preparations need to be done ahead, probably stress when time is tickling, but that's how i learn more about the place and probably culture.. on the other hand, i can just pay for a travel agent and then pack my luggage to wait to go on my vacation, and have the tour guide bring us to all major tourist attractions, no need to queue to buy tickets and can have the priority to enter before other tourists - no frills and all relax.. but my two times of such experience (more than 10 years ago) taught me to never consider group tours again, too rush and a big chunk of time was spent on the coach and shops, some must-go places were included as "optional excursion" where i needed to top up for, city tours were always inside the coach, and i only went to places where the majority agreed to if there was ever a choice.. that explains why, for the past 10 years, all the trips i went were only of DIY nature, i just want to have control over my own itinerary, and to enjoy at my holiday at own pace.. what about you?? :)

2014.08.15 | 北海道夏(2B)

[Volume 9 Issue 8, #1930]
Hokkaidō Trip Summer 2014 - DAY 2B of 8: Sapporo (札幌)
中文讀者請注意: 因為篇幅問題, 這一系列日本遊記只以英語呈現, 敬請見諒..
this post is a continuation from the previous post on the same day, after we left Nagoya (名古屋) and landed in Sapporo (札幌).. we took a late afternoon domestic flight and by the time we get to the city, it was already all dark.. looks like we were quite "nocturnal" huh?? :p
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Sapporo Japan
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we took the Jetstar flight GK183 at 1700 from Chubu Centrair International Airport (中部国際空港 Chūbu Kokusai Kūkō) and arrived at New Chitose Airport (新千歲空港 Shin Chitose Kūkō) at 1845 (return flight at ¥21060).. the first thing we needed to do once touched down, was to get free Wifi access for our stay in Hokkaidō, you know lah, Malaysians can't live without free Wifi, haha!!

Sapporo Japan - Susukino
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we opted to take a coach (¥1030 per trip, at Bus Stop #14 or #22 at the domestic terminal) to downtown Sapporo (札幌) since we were carrying our luggage and changing trains may be a little troublesome.. if we were to go by train (¥1040 per trip), it stops at Sapporo Station (札幌駅 Sapporo eki) and we needed to take another subway ride to Susukino Station (すすきの駅 Susukino eki) where our hotel is located, and that's another ¥200 to spend.. the ride took us more than an hour, about twice the time needed for the train to get to the city.. time, cost or convenience?? your choice, but if you are staying around Sapporo Station (札幌駅 Sapporo eki), train would of course be the best option..
Sapporo Japan - Susukino
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and so after that hour-plus coach ride, we alighted at the Susukino (すすきの) district in downtown Sapporo (札幌), welcomed by the colorful neon lights and bustling city life.. Sapporo (札幌) is relatively a new city in Japan and therefore developed under a modern city planning, where you find straight roads intersecting each other to form areas in squares named after directions and running numbers (for instance, south 3 west 2 road).. the Susukino (すすきの) district, or sometimes noted as "zebra grass field" (薄野 susuki-no) is a red-light district in Sapporo (札幌) and is congested with many restaurants, bars, hotels and adult-entertainment establishments [Reference].. do photos #2 and #3 give you that impression?? :p
Sapporo Japan - Susukino
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anyway, we were just staying (in a hotel) there for a few hours before we headed to another place again the next morning.. i was rather fascinated by the beautiful neon lights of the place, and here i spotted another "statue of liberty" like what i had seen in some other Japanese cities.. so we have the statue of liberty, and Marilyn Monroe beside her, and also a very traditional looking street lamp all at one place, interesting huh?? that is exactly what i love about Japan, though a very advanced country, they also preserve their very own history, culture, heritage and tradition so well.. Bolehland is so unlike, anything old will surely be scrapped off and replaced..
Sapporo Japan - Capsules @ Spa Hotel Sole Susukino
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so we were putting up a night at this Spa Hotel Sole Susukino (スパホテルソーレすすきの Supa Hoteru Sōre Susukino).. this is our "room" and you wonder why it looks very weird?? well, this is a capsule hotel and what you are seeing are the individual bunks.. if you suddenly recall our luggage, they were kept in designated lockers in another section.. generally, only your bunk and locker are private, while all other facilities are shared, which include one public bath where everyone strips naked to shower or bathe.. and you gulped as you read public bath?? haha.. i had no issue with that at all, and indeed it was comfortable and relaxing, and please don't ask me to show photo as cameras are not allowed in there!! at ¥3000 per person, this hotel accepts only male guests and seems to be popular among the locals for a short freshen-up rest..
Sapporo Japan - Ramen Yokocho
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reading too much and start to feel hungry?? haha, i bet not as hungry as us as we touched down at 1845 but dilly-dally until past 2100 before we could go find something to eat.. something simple for the famished while saving more time for rest, ramen seems to be a good choice.. and here we were after check-in, the first Sapporo Ramen Alley (元祖さっぽろラーメン横丁 Ganzo sapporo rāmen yokochō) in Susukino (すすきの) housing 17 ramen shops which are still operating in the traditional way.. of course, you may opt to go to the more modern style Ramen Republic (ラーメン共和国 Ramen Kyowakoku) inside ESTA next to the JR Sapporo Station (札幌駅 Sapporo eki), but i would definitely prefer the Ramen Alley (ラーメン横丁 rāmen yokochō) which is way more nostalgic and organic.. probably that is why it has become more of a tourist attraction already?? :p
Sapporo Japan - Ramen Yokocho
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expecting to see a bowl of ramen now?? haha, hold on, let me show you another photo taken in the Ramen Alley (ラーメン横丁 rāmen yokochō) first.. this billboard shows the history of the first Sapporo Ramen Alley (元祖さっぽろラーメン横丁 Ganzo sapporo rāmen yokochō), if you could even see, hahaha!! briefly, it all started in the year of Taishō 10 (大正十) which is 1921 at a canteen (食堂 shokudō) in front of the Hokkaidō University (北海道大学 Hokkaidō Daigaku), and all the way to the year of Shōwa 26 (昭和二六) which is 1951 in which this current Ramen Alley (ラーメン横丁 rāmen yokochō), with its initial 8 shops, was finally established at the present location at South 5 West 3-8 (南5条西3丁目-8 minami 5 jōnishi 3 chome-8)..
Sapporo Japan - Miso Ramen
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okay, i know i'm boring you with too much factual info but forgot what you're waiting for.. so, here comes the ramen we had, bloggers!! basically we did not know which shop among the 17 to choose (like some other Japanese tourists from other places we bumped into), but in the end one that had empty seats for us as majority of the shops are small and can only house less than 10 people at once, very stall (屋台 yatai) style that is.. we went into toraya eatery of the fourth generation (四代目とらや食堂 yondaime toraya shokudō) and ordered the popular (人気 ninki) "burnt miso ramen" (こがし味噌ラーメ kogashi miso ramen) at ¥800.. flavorfully tasty!! a totally different kind of taste from the pork marrow base soup (豚骨 tonkotsu) we had yesterday, and look at how "luxurious" those stuffs that topped the bowl..

TIPS: The Ramen Conundrum when you are in Sapporo (札幌), you can of course choose to order any type of ramen, but why must you not miss miso ramen (味噌ラーメ)?? because Sapporo is where miso ramen was originated!! :)
Sapporo Japan - Capsules @ Spa Hotel Sole Susukino
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okay, had dinner and it's time to get back to the hotel for a bath and then call it a night.. sorry for the quality of photo on the left, as we had to quietly snap photos without using flash, else we would be disturbing the other guys who were already snoring in there.. so, some of you may be curious how it feels like sleeping inside a capsule?? it was my first experience, but the place looks just like a dormitory to me, except each bunk has their own "private cubicle"..

so, day 2 that's it.. a brief half day in Nogoya (名古屋) and a brief half night in Sapporo (札幌).. it was less than 12 hours in Sapporo (札幌) for we were heading to Asahikawa (旭川) early next morning after a few hours of sleep.. no worries, we were getting back to Sapporo (札幌) again to catch a flight days later.. stay tune for the next post on day 3 in Asahikawa (旭川) where we paid visit to our friend.. :)

previous posts in this series:-

2014.08.13 | 北海道夏(2A)

[Volume 9 Issue 8, #1929]
Hokkaidō Trip Summer 2014 - DAY 2A of 8: Nagoya (名古屋)
中文讀者請注意: 因為篇幅問題, 這一系列日本遊記只以英語呈現, 敬請見諒..
i hope you enjoyed reading the previous post of this series, and are actually looking forward to more posts, haha!! you may wonder why i called this a Hokkaidō trip while i also went to Nagoya (名古屋).. well, it was actually just a stopover since there was no direct flight to Hokkaidō, and we actually had just half a night and then half a day spent in Nagoya.. day 2 of the trip was a brief explore of Nagoya before we headed to Sapporo (札幌) in the late afternoon, and the remaining days thus all spent in Hokkaidō itself..
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Nagoya Japan - Nagoya TV Tower
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in day 1, by the time we stepped out of the station, it was already dark at night.. to me, one thing about sight-seeing is that, i prefer to do it in the day, though night views can be more fascinating with all the lights, somehow i still think we see things in their "real" colours rather than colours from the lighting.. for example, this Hisaya Odori Park (久屋大通公園 Hisaya Ōdori Kōen) and Nagoya TV Tower (名古屋テレビ塔 Nagoya Terebi-tō), certainly look more "macho" than being a little "sexy" at night huh?? errr, i hope you get what i mean with my rather vague descriptions.. :D
Nagoya Japan - Oasis 21Nagoya Japan - Gachapon @ Oasis 21
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if you know me well, i don't usually want to pay to go to every touristy place up close, but just happily snap photos from afar.. and this is Nagoya TV Tower (名古屋テレビ塔 Nagoya Terebi-tō) viewed from inside the Oasis 21 (オアシス21 Oashisu 21), which is said to give the best view of the tower.. and something interesting about the oval glass deck on top - it's filled with water (just imagine because i know you can't see from the photo) for an interesting visual effect and at the same time to cool down the temperature of the place, smart and practical huh?? anyway, i was more attracted by a capsule toy (ガチャポン gachapon) machines booth 50m away [click here] but too bad, i could not find anything on Doraemon :(
Nagoya Japan - Nagoya Castle
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okay, here it is, our first stop the Nagoya Castle (名古屋城, Nagoya-jō), about 5-minute walk from the Shiyakusho station (市役所駅 Shiyakusho-eki) on Subway Meijō Line (名城線 Meijō-sen).. completed in 1612 on the orders of Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康) to ward off attacks from the direction of Ōsaka (大阪), it has been the residence of the Owari lineage of the Tokugawa family (徳川尾張家 Tokugawa Owari-ke), until the Meiji Restoration (明治維新 Meiji Ishin) in 1888, used as a palace for the Emperor.. a major part of the castle, including the Hommaru Palace (本丸御殿 Hommaru Goten), were burnt down during the WWII, however under the plead of the people, the castle was soon restored and rebuilt in 1959.. [Reference]
Nagoya Japan - Grand Sumo Tournament
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digress a bit, we also found something interesting there.. we saw flocks of sumo wrestlers (相撲レスラー sumou resurā) heading to the Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium (愛知県体育館 Aichi-ken Taiikukan) next door.. being curious we followed, but don't ask me for photos because it will be disrespect to "paparazzi" them lah!! we ended up finding there was this annual Grand Sumo Tournament (大相撲 Ōzumō) held there, and these were the flags representing the wrestlers lined up outside the gymnasium.. excited but even if we wanted to pay to go in and watch, all tickets were sold out, we could only watch it on TV later :p
Nagoya Japan - Nagoya City Hall
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okay, you were scrolling up and down for more photos of the Nagoya Castle (名古屋城, Nagoya-jō)?? and i'm not pulling your legs if i tell you photo #3 is the only one, haha!! i may just grab a few photos from the internet, post them here and fake like i've been there.. but no, that is not my style.. the fact was that, we decided to give it a miss for two reasons, the entrance fees of ¥500 and we only had a few hours to spent before heading to Sapporo (札幌).. so we just continued to the next stop, having seen the Nagoya City Hall (名古屋市役所 Nagoya Shiyakusho) from afar as well as the roof of a building (on right of the photo) that looks like Nagoya Castle, haha!! like that also can lah~~ :D
Nagoya Japan - Atsuta Shrine
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next, we made a visit to the Atsuta Shrine (熱田神宮 Atsuta Jingū) which is about 5-minute walk from the Jingu-Nishi station (神宮西駅 Jingunishi-eki) on Subway Meijō Line (名城線 Meijō-sen).. founded 1900 years ago (read again, not year 1900 but 1900 years ago!!) enshrining the sacred sword Kusanagi (草薙の剣 Kusanagi no Tsurugi), one of the three sacred treasures of Japan, together with the Five Great Gods (五神 goshin) of Atsuta.. this shrine is revered since ancient time, and now ranked second to the Great Shrine of Ise (伊勢神宮 Ise Jingū) [Reference].. standing at the entrance was this gate (鳥居 torii), a simple identity of a shrine and symbolically marks the border between the profane and the sacred.. to be exact, there were three in total all the way to the main shrine, so how many levels have i been cleansed?? :p
Nagoya Japan - Atsuta Shrine
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so this was the furthest we would walk into the area of the shrine, the main shrine (本宮 hongū) which is located behind the trees on the left is not opened to public unless you had prearranged some special activities (for example, wedding) with the authority, if i am not mistaken.. on the right, looks majestic as well huh?? that's the souvenirs shop, haha!! impressive huh?? at least they have built something that looks in-sync with the shrine and not some funny looking touristy thing with cute mascots moving around :D
Nagoya Japan - Karugaden @ Atsuta ShrineNagoya Japan - Ema @ Atsuta Shrine
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don't get over-excited at the souvenirs until you miss this Karuga Palace (神楽殿 Karuga-den) which is quite hidden behind the souvenirs shop.. this is one very majestically looking structure which is a prayer hall (拝殿 haiden) to serve your prayers for safe delivery, good luck and so on.. outside this prayer hall, you will see many wooden plaques written with individual prayers (絵馬 ema), sold at ¥600 a piece if not mistaken, hung on a dedicated rack where the god (神 kami) receives the wishes (願意 gani) [click here]..
Nagoya Japan - Atsuta Shrine
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were you searching high and low for my signature pose?? no lah, this is a shrine, a sacred place, so i must pose decently also, agree?? hehe.. anyway, here's another photo taken at Atsuta Shrine (熱田神宮 Atsuta Jingū), i just love these rice wine (酒 sake) barrels stacked up neatly as decorative containers (飾り樽 kazaritaru).. like i said earlier, things are done with a reason here unlike the Bolehland mostly for the sake of "superficial appearance".. this started as supplies of sacred wine (お神酒 omiki) to the shrine for religious (神道 Shinto) purification rituals, but as the supplies of wine in barrels got overwhelming, brewers now supply only a bottle of two with a symbolic gesture of donating an empty barrel instead..
Nagoya Japan - Miya Kishimen
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i don't remember we had proper breakfast that day, but some snacks bought from the convenience store last night.. it was late morning when we were at Atsuta Shrine (熱田神宮 Atsuta Jingū) and after doing a bit of walking, the urge to eat came without warning!! we went to an air-conditioned cafe near the entrance, nothing attractive but expensive.. while about to give in, the observant me spotted a hidden eatery just behind, way cheaper and has got what i wanted to eat (TIPS!!).. what's more, having it alfresco under the shades of trees and on tables and stools we so commonly find in mamak stalls but hardly in Japan (at least for me).. that was why we chose to sit under the trees rather than the roof, haha!! :D
Nagoya Japan - Miya Kishimen
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so, what was there that i wanted so much to eat?? Nagoya's signature flat noodles called kishimen (きし麺) that is!! it's something like our pan mee but more chewy, and cooked in simple soy sauce soup, topped with just bonito (鰹 katsuo) flakes and spring onions, tasted totally different of course.. as it was summer, they also had it served chilled and i personally find the chilled one tastier than the hot one, probably because the chilled one kind of "locked" the flavor in the soup..

recommendation at ¥650 a bowl, though looked so plain, i can say this was one of my favorite food of the trip!! this place is called Miya Kishimen (宮きしめん), one of the venerable old eateries.. oh, i miss that bowl of kishimen (きし麺) already :p
Nagoya Japan - International Cosplay Show @ Centrair Airport
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happily contented with the bowl of kishimen (きし麺), we got back to our hotel to picked up our luggage (we have checked-out earlier as standard check-out time in Japan is usually 10am, yes, that early).. off we took a coach to the airport (¥1000 per pax), available at another more renown hotel across the road instead of subway and then train, which was more convenient and saved us the troubles to carry and drag our luggage..

after a roughly 70-minute ride, we arrived at Chubu Centrair International Airport (中部国際空港 Chūbu Kokusai Kūkō) again, but this time for a domestic flight to Sapporo (札幌).. no joke, that's what we saw and found in the airport, cosplay fans swarming the place and happily posing for photos.. it was the Opening Event for the World Cosplay Summit 2014!! ah, such a nice coincidence for this uncle to meet up with the youngsters~~ :D
so that's it half of day 2 in Nagoya (名古屋) before we arrived at Sapporo (札幌) in the evening.. you may ask why i masked my friends in the photo?? well, i think this blog is public and my friends would not want to be "famous" yet, let's respect privacy here, shall we?? okay, day 2 is not done yet, stay tune for the final half of day 2 in the next post, Sapporo (札幌) we will be~~ :)

previous posts in this series:-

2014.08.11 | 北海道夏(1)

[Volume 9 Issue 8, #1928]
Hokkaidō Trip Summer 2014 - DAY 1 of 8: Nagoya (名古屋)
中文讀者請注意: 因為篇幅問題, 這一系列日本遊記只以英語呈現, 敬請見諒..
okay, here comes the travelogue of my recent trip to Japan, i'll try to blog as long-winded detailed as possible.. since majority of my readers only read English, i'll omit my usual Chinese write-up for the time being, so that i can focus to write more in a single language.. as this is the first post, do let me know what you think of this style (which is so not me, because everyone seems like to scroll, haha!!), let me know if you think this is too lengthy (or not detailed enough)~~ :p
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day 1 started excruciatingly early at 5:30am because we were taking the AirAsia flight D7542 at 0845 from KLIA2 to Nagoya.. we buffered more time for a few reasons, and were glad we did so.. if you are flying from KLIA2 in the future, you may want to consider these factors as well..
  1. the new airport is way bigger than the old LCCT, it takes more time to walk to the gate and also more shopping to do in the airport mall
  2. it was the Raya festive and peak season for holiday makers, the airport was already packed with people as early as 5:00am
  3. there are two rounds of security scanning, one after immigration and another before the boarding gate
Nagoya Japan - AirAsia X
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since there is no direct flight to Hokkaidō (from the budget airlines we searched for), we flew to Nagoya (名古屋) and then took a domestic flight to Sapporo (札幌).. of course you can fly to Tōkyō (東京) or Ōsaka (大阪), but since flying to Nagoya is cheaper and we have not been there before, Nagoya was the choice for a stopover.. we got our return flight at RM984, no meals or other extras, and every two of us shared one basic 20kg check-in baggage allowance as we won't have much things with us until we come back.. yes, we are smart traveller :p
Nagoya Japan - Tonkotsu Ramen
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it was a 6½ hour flight and we survived just on bread and rice balls bought a day earlier from AEON and "smuggled" onboard (tips!!).. because i think i deserve cheaper and nicer food onboard, haha!! after the long flight with little food, we were starving and this was the first meal we had once touched down at Chubu Centrair International Airport, Nagoya (中部国際空港 Chūbu Kokusai Kūkō).. this ramen at ¥780 was of the pork marrow soup base (豚骨ラメン tonkotsu ramen), that kicked start our search for a "ramen grand slam", haha!! we slurped the springy ramen and flavorful broth, loud as the Japanese culture, it tasted so good and we said おいしい (oishii meaning delicious)..
Nagoya Japan - From Airport to City
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happily posing for photos after being fed with a bowl of nice ramen, contented!! this was the train on the Meitetsu Line (名鉄線 Meitetsu Sen) that we took to the city from the airport.. instead of Nagoya Station (名古屋駅 Nagoya-eki), we stopped at Kanayama Station (金山駅 Kanayama-eki) to change for the Meijō Line (名城線, Meijō-sen) subway for our hotel located in the Sakae (栄) area.. the trip of roughly 30 minutes cost us ¥810 for JR and another ¥200 for the subway..
Nagoya Japan - Doraemon Stand By Me Poster
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the Meijō SubwayLine (名城線, Meijō-sen) is actually a circle line, so take note of which direction you are travelling though you will eventually reach your destination either way, haha!! out of the station, this was the first Doraemon I saw during this trip to Japan.. posters asking not to cry together with Doraemon (いっしょに ドラ泣き しません issho ni dora naki shimasen - don't know if my translation is correct??) for the upcoming movie "Stand by Me", but too bad the timing wasn't right so I'll just pose and take a photo then~~ :p
Nagoya Japan - Sakae
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i have to confess, if we did not linger too long inside the airport, it would still be bright daylight coming out of the station towards our hotel.. but there were really too many attractive souvenirs and delicious food sampling (and unbelievably polite promoters) that kept us a while in the airport, haha!! anyway, nice also to get a night view of the area since we were leaving for Sapporo (札幌) the next afternoon..
Nagoya Japan - Nagoya TV Tower
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so we were in the Sakae (栄) area carrying our luggage towards our hotel.. on the way we passed by a few attractions, the Oasis 21 (オアシス21 Oashisu 21) and Hisaya Ōdori Park (久屋大通公園 Hisaya Ōdori Kōen), as well as in the background the landmark Nagoya TV Tower (名古屋テレビ塔 Nagoya Terebi-tō) built in 1954 and standing at 180m which is the oldest TV tower in Japan.. if you have watched the movie "Godzilla", this is THE tower.. :p
Nagoya Japan - Miso Katsu
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dinner time right after check-in and a little rest.. we didn't walk far but just settled our dinner at one of the canteen style eatery (食堂 shokudō) near hotel.. lucky us, as this random pick didn't disappoint us at all, instead the food was nice and we really enjoyed it!! this pork cutlet with miso sauce (味噌カツ miso katsu) is one of the must-eat in Nagoya (take note!!), our set came with the katsu on a pile of rice and another bowl of udon (うどん) at ¥840..
Nagoya Japan - Hotel MyStays
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after dinner, a lazy stroll around the area and then grabbing some snacks from the Lawson convenience store next to our hotel.. Fing-Fing liked this citrus jelly drink so much that he was not willing to share with Daddy, how mean!! we put up a night at Hotel MyStays Nagoya-Sakae (ホテルマイステイズ名古屋栄) at a rate of ¥5950 per double room per night, i had a good sleep..
that's day 1 of the trip, nothing much really since we were travelling, and please pardon the quality of the photos because they were all taken with my phone.. stay tune for day 2 as we spent half a day exploring a little of Nagoya (名古屋) before flying to Sapporo (札幌) in the evening.. :)

2014.08.08 | 北海道夏(0)

[Volume 9 Issue 8, #1927]
Hokkaidō Trip Summer 2014 - Overall Preview
好喇, 如果閣下有在facebook上跟我嘅話, 應該都知道上個星期我身在日本啦.. 呢一次係去北海道感受她的夏天, 因為冇直飛班機, 所以就由吉隆坡飛去名古屋, 然後在搭國內航機飛去北海道.. 去過嘅城市包括名古屋, 札幌, 旭川, 富良野, 美瑛, 函館以及小樽.. 呢個旅程為期八日七夜, 如果你有興趣知道, 花費在RM4500左右.. 今日呢篇文只係一個總括預覽, 呢一個月內我都會繼續寫比較詳細嘅遊記(因為長篇幅問題, 所以決定只以英語寫作, 中文讀者敬請留言).. 所以呢, 如果閣下係唔想被我啲遊記轟炸嘅話, 可以乘機休息一個月哦, 呵呵!! :p
okay, i think if you have been following my facebook, you probably knew i actually travelled to Japan last week.. it's a trip to Hokkaidō during its summer, as there is no direct flight so we flew to Nagoya for a stopover and then took a domestic flight to Hokkaidō.. among the cities visited were Nagoya, Sapporo, Aashikawa, Furano, Biei, Hakodate and Otaru within this 8D7N trip, in about RM4500 (if you are interested to know).. this post is just an overall preview and i shall be writing more posts with details throughout this month (and due to the length of the posts, i decide to write only in English).. if you are bothered with being bombarded with (my style of) travelogue, you can happily take a break this month, hehe!! :p
Click or tap image to view more photos
Japan Hokkaido Summer Trip