No I didn’t mean ‘travel by Toyota’, I really did mean travel ‘to’ Toyota because that is where the next Springbok game is taking place. Unfortunately it is not an easy place to get to especially not from Kyoto. It required us to firstly get to the station (just on 2km away). We would usually have walked but my feet told me to call an Uber instead. We then had to take the shinkansen to Nagoya. At Nagoya we took a regional JR train – one heads north and one east. It is easier and quicker to get to where we were staying by going east but unfortunately the train we got onto went north. We had to then change onto another regional line (local and privately owned line – read not covered by our JR rail pass and hence buy another ticket). Our station Shin-uwagoromo was about 1.8km from the hotel so we did the walk.
It felt like we had gotten off in the middle of nowhere. There was very little around – a few houses, some light industrial places, a few office buildings, some paddy fields etc. Really very different to the large cities we have stayed at so far. We got to the hotel at 1:30pm but they wouldn’t let us check in until 3pm. I am pretty sure the rooms would have been available but the rules say 3pm check in so you cannot check in before 3pm. Japan seems to be a rules based society. We went across to a restaurant for lunch and had fried chicken and gyoza. Fried chicken is a local specialty so we felt like we were doing the local thing. Back across the road to sit in the lobby with a whole lot of other Safricans waiting for the 3pm check in time.
The hotel rooms are the smallest room I have ever stayed in. They are supposedly ‘double rooms’ but it would be hard to fit two of me into the bed. Michael and I were originally meant to be sharing (because we could only get one room) but fortunately we managed to get a second room for him. He thought he would sleep on the floor otherwise but that would have been difficult too because there is hardly any floor space. For instance, if I push back the chair from the desk it hits the bed. I have to turn sideways to get up from the desk. The bathroom is so small that when I get up off the toilet I have to step out of the bathroom to be able to turnaround and flush the loo. The bed is like sleeping on a brick but I did manage to have a remarkably goodnight despite that.
M & B went for walk in the afternoon around the town – I decided to stay and catch up on some work and allow my feet some recovery time. They said there was not a lot to see (as we knew already). We went across the road for dinner to a Izakaya restaurant. It is a form of Japanese pub and is one of those things you just have to do if you visit Japan (apparently). We stumbled onto it as it was across the road! You get a private dining room for just you (comes with it’s own door). The idea is to drink as much as possible (it seems) while eating a little. There are lots of drink options. B & I ordered a beer (which we recognised) and when it arrived it was a massive 633ml bottle for each of us. The price was in line with what we had been paying for 300ml so it was actually good value.
Japanese travel sites describe the food at Izakaya as ‘goes well with alcohol’. There is no real style. You just order a bunch of dishes, eat, drink and then order some more. They bring you an iPad to do the ordering on. It was all in Japanese – thank goodness for Google translate. But even that was pretty dodgy at times especially when one of the options came out as ‘Snaked breath’. We gave that one a skip! We did order beef which came partly cooked and then they bring you a small gas burner and plate to cook it to your desired taste. We also had a seafood risoto (which B & I really enjoyed), some kind of chicken (which was very spongy – we hope it was chicken), some kind of minced chicken on a skewer (which came with a raw egg), french fries (never eaten those with chopsticks before). After dinner we went to a Baskin Robbins (US ice cream shop) for desert.
When we walked out M said ‘who thought the hardest part of tonight would be ordering an ice cream at Baskin Robbins?’ It really was. Not a word of English from the servers. You would think it isn’t hard to point to the flavour you want and get them to give it to you. The first time B did that he get a taster of that flavour. We then tried to show we wanted a scoop. But we couldn’t get them to understand 1 scoop only and in a cone. It was quite comical. We did eventually get the ice cream we wanted and then headed back to the hotel for the night.
Until tomorrow …
P, M & B