After a night in our dormitory private bunks, we all were ready for a quick breakfast stroll before the train to Nagoya. The weather was beautiful and sunny though still a brisk temp. Hands and feet were soon frozen. We headed off for a coffee at Don’s then through a street market grazing our way through octopus balls, Hida beef croquets, and Hida beef dumplings all local delicacies.
At the station a hot coffee/ chocolate helped to warm hands as we waited for the train. The Japanese are very efficient with their transport. They managed to asses how many people were waiting ( not all have reserved seating) add some extra carriages and still get off dead on time. Love this rail system!
Arriving in Nagoya Russell had it sorted and knew exactly how to get us to the wrong hotel! After coming out of the opposite side of the station and having to turn around and go back through to the other side to get to the correct side when trying to check in we discovered that we were booked into another in the same chain. So back we went to other side again and found our accom to drop bags.
We decided to taxi to the castle. To our delight sakura were blooming in the grounds and we started to digitally snap away. The sakura festival was all set up with food vans and heaps of people in the grounds due to this and the Star Wars Exhibit.
When we bought our tickets we realised that an English tour started 30 mins earlier we asked if we could join. We found out that the guide had been waiting for a group to tour with and had had no takers. He was ready to go if we ran across the whole length of the castle grounds to the opposite gate.. We were in! So we had our own private tour of the palace and castle.
Our guide was great answering all of our questions and he was really surprised at how busy the castle was that day. The palace and castle top had been burned to the stone wall and is being carefully rebuilt authentically including artwork. We were lucky that as it was the beginning of the sakura season, special exhibits were also there including a kimono photo opportunity and Richard was delighted to meet the local ninjas.
We set off for a famous shopping area that has second hand and thrift shops selling kimonos. It was certainly really interesting. Especially the middle aged men all singing along with actions to the maid girls pop groups. We had lunch there – quite late, in fact it was hard to find some =where open for lunch- again! Russell got a mysterious treasure box with his lunch in it.
We then set off to the castle for the night illumination which is again a special event. Plenty of sakura pictures were taken. We also had a snack there that was sticky chicken wings.
It was soo sticky that they provided gloves to eat it with.
Nagano’ speciality is Miso Katsu -crumbed pork with a red miso sauce. Richard found this on a blog site and we also asked our guide about it. Can you believe that both sources sent us to the same restaurant Yabaton and we managed to find it just near our accom in the JR Towers.
It was well after 9 when we finally checked into our rooms and had a planning session with a few canned drinks – Zita found Champagne in a can! Not much planning was done!
Step count: 23,780