Bento box on the Shinkansen. A pointless taxi ride. The machine that goes psh.
09.04.2013 14 °C
Woke up in the futon sandwich and got ready for action. Had breakfast again in the dining room, some more mysterious food, like these gelatinous translucent white cold noodles with a dob of wasabi. The hot miso paste on rice, more pickles and miso soup, a croissant and a tiny pot of plain pot set yummy yoghurt. Green tea of course. We left behind piles of nougat as thank you gifts: in the room, the dining room and at reception. These are called omiyage and are tokens of appreciation. Ours were nothing like the omiyage they sell in the department stores.....
The ryokan shuttle took us to the JR station where our day packs were locked away while we had the last 2 hours to look around Takayama. It was still chilly but the sun was out. There seemed to be a lot more tourists today, but the place still has a very empty quiet feeling. Which is fine.
And so we had another train ride in reverse, this time returning to Nagoya to connect with the Shinkansen for a short ride to Kyoto. The trip to Nagoya is very pretty, there were so many cherry blossoms out and people working in the fields, it's all so idyllic really until you see a monstrous big factory.
At Nagoya, there was 20 mins until the connecting train, so we grabbed two bento boxes as you do, from the shop. These lunch boxes are works of art. It starts from the outside, with amazing packaging, that you feel bad about throwing away. Inside is a chocolate box style arrangement of tidbits. Carefully fashioned piles of pickles, vegetables, sushi rice lumps, mystery jelly things and mystery round things plus the essential tofu product, all placed in plastic or paper patty pans. There are even flower shaped garnishes. Each bento was about $9.50. The ride in the bullet train was only 35 mins, scarcely time to finish admiring, photographing and eat the artwork.
(If anyone has read the Japanese murder story called "Out" then it will bring more meaning to how these boxes are made and presented).
Being such pros with public transport, we caught the subway straight away to Shinjo station, near the hotel. However. . . . . The map we had, and the maps on the streets were not helpful at all and street signs are not in English. Wandered around up and down back streets for 10 mins. Decided to hail a taxi. The driver didn't speak English but when he saw the address Paul showed him, it was the universal facial expression that said, "You cannot be serious, but ok if that's what you want". He drove around the block so that he was facing the correct way on the one way street, then drove 100m from where he collected us and delivered us to the front door of the Mitsui Garden Hotel. I don't know if I was amused or annoyed or embarrassed.
The hotel lobby is shiny and big and modern. The hotel room itself is a whopping 22msq and you can hear your neighbours. Several times I thought that our door was being opened. Paul went on a salad seeking mission while I sorted out my stuff. He returned with lots of nice salad, strawberries and whole meal bread. I am starting to miss my home diet but it is actually better to eat here than a lot of places we've been to overseas. At least Japanese food is light, fresh, easily digested and not greasy. I just miss my green smoothie for breakfast.......
The hotel room has a machine to clean the air. It makes a lovely soothing pth sound.
The tour guide rang this evening to find out what we wanted to do tomorrow. She is showing us around for 8hours. It was bad timing, because we were in the middle of a study up of the guide book and it is just overwhelming the number of things to do and see here. I guess it is easier to say, we don't want to be stuck in queues, we don't want to waste time. We like gardens, out of the way local things, handicrafts, artisans and some bargains. She said she will come up with something. That will all be revealed in tomorrow's blog entry. In a way, it's nice to not be planning and leaving it up to somebody else instead.