Read Day 1 here – Satsuki and Mei’s House, Osu Kannon
Read Day 2 here – Mount Fuji, Kawaguchiko
Read Day 3 here – Tokyo Tower, Shibuya
Read Day 4 here – Tsukiji Market, Yokohama Chinatown
First trip of 2016! ツ
For our four day, three night trip we used a combination of the Seishun 18 kippu (青春１８きっぷ), bus and a flight. The Seishun 18 kippu is sold during the three holiday periods of the year and costs 11,850 yen for five full days of unlimited rides on JR local and rapid service trains.
Our first day was by far the most tedious in terms of commuting and it is not suitable for everyone but you are able to save money. Most importantly, I think you should travel only with a backpack (no rolling suitcases) if you choose this route.
I used HyperDia (http://www.hyperdia.com/en/) to plan our journey ahead of time. This is necessary because our shortest connection was only 4 minutes so we barely had time to read the signs and figure out which train to board. You can select for the results to only show the trains eligible for Seishun 18 kippu.
We departed from Himeji Station (姫路) at 8:55am. Two transfers and about 3.5 hours later we arrived in Nagoya (名古屋) at 12:43pm. Fortunately we were able to get a seat on the full trains. Our first destination of the day was the Expo 2005 site in Aichi (愛 知) so we boarded another train. There is a more direct way to the site but on this particular day we used the following route. We took the JR train from Nagoya to Kozoji (高蔵寺) for 29 minutes, then the Aichi Loop Line from Kozoji to Yakusa (八草) for 17 minutes. The latter was not JR so it cost 390 yen. Lastly we took the Linimo (リニモ), an urban maglev train, for two stops to Aichikyuhaku kinen koen (愛・地球博記念公園Expo Memorial Park) for 170 yen.
We finally arrived at the Expo site at about 2:15pm and rushed to Satsuki and Mei’s house (サツキとメイの家) for our 2:30pm tour. There is a free shuttle bus on site but it is infrequent so despite being quite far from the Linimo station, it was faster for us to walk. I bought the tickets on the Lawson Loppi Machine (Lawson is a chain of convenience stores) beforehand and they were 510 yen each.
|Satsuki and Mei's house|
I thoroughly enjoyed viewing the house which is an exact replica of the one in My Neighbour Totoro. Water came out from the pump and each item in the house looked like it was from the era the movie was set. I especially liked how they set up the dad’s study room.
The tour ended after 3pm and we went to the observatory deck to see the house from there. Then we walked to the shuttle bus station and took it to Koen-nishi station (公園西) of the Linimo. There was a lot of open space and many kids were playing jumping rope and walking on stilts. I’m not sure if these were provided by a facility in the park or if they brought their own.
We took the Linimo to Fujigaoka station (藤が丘) then switched to the local subway to Osu Kannon station (大須観音). Unfortunately our ICOCA cards didn’t work here. There were many people lining up to go into the temple since it was the New Year’s holiday and many more in the adjacent shopping arcade.
By the time I was finished shopping it was dinner time so we went to the famous Misokatsu Yabaton for food. We went to the Honten location and there was about a 15-20 minute wait but it was worth it. It tastes sweet and savoury and the sauce goes great with rice.
After dinner we walked around the Don Quijote in Sakae which was impressively big and opened 24 hours. We were taking an overnight bus in the evening so we went to an onsen to bathe. We went to Tenpu no Yu (太平温泉天風の湯) which was a bit pricier than other onsens I have been to but was also one of the best. It costs 770 yen and another 100 yen for the shoe locker. The outdoor onsen area was the best part complete with a TV to watch local programming, individual bowls and an area with many rubber ducks if you go with kids.
We took the subway back to Nagoya Station and found the Meitetsu Bus Centre about 10 minutes before our bus for Fujisan departed at 11:10pm. We booked the ticket online and seating is assigned. The ticket cost 4110 yen per person and we arrived at about 7:15am. There were stops to extend the journey so that we arrive at a reasonable time in the morning. The bus did not have a USB outlet like other Japanese highway buses to charge your phone and it was a regular tour bus so the seats could be a bit cramped for sleeping long periods. However it did save us travel time in the day and a night of accommodation.
I was able to rest reasonably in the seats but it depends on your luck because we were accompanied by a group of chatty teenagers and very unhappy toddler who screamed starting at 2am. I was glad I brought earplugs with me to dampen some of the noise.