JAPAN WINTER 2017: NAGOYA, TAKAYAMA, KANAZAWA

First part of my Japan winter trip -> HERE

Continuing my Japan winter travel series and this time I am taking you to tour more of what Nagoya, Takayama and Kanazawa have in store and the flow of the blog post will follow the itinerary set for us, but one thing for sure, Japan is still my favorite country on earth because there are so many places, regions, districts even neighborhood to explore and the cities & regions that I went (Nagoya, Takayama and Kanazawa) were probably the most perfect to go during Winter, when I close my eyes and think about the trip I still vividly remember how cold the days were, which one was the coldest, each places that I went to, the friends and everything!

If I previously blogged about Gifu and Shirakawa-go, since we didn't stay overnight in Shirakawa-go we then continued our trip to Best Western Hotel in Takayama and stayed overnight there, a comfortable hotel that I'd love to recommend staying at while you're in Takayama, the plus point of staying here is the fact that it's located close to Takayama Old Town where I went to the next morning. Anyway took this picture of snowy bike on our way to the nearest 711 to shop for Japanese snacks, probably the first (and only) time where I struggled taking a picture of a bike because I forgot my gloves and it was NO JOKE freezing! My fingers were literally hurting and almost numb!
Morning routine: started my days in Japan with soy-latte just because, well good coffee! It was freezing most of the times but because I am a cold-coffee person, ICE ICE BABY!
I remember that morning Takayama was showered and packed with thick snow and it was such a beautiful moment as it was the first time that I woke up in a surrounding that white and to be completely frank, Takayama was my favorite destination among the main three that we visited and you guys definitely have to pay a visit here next time you have a chance to go here (amen!)

Takayama Old Town was literally a 5-minute bus ride from the Best Western Hotel and it's a beautiful preserved little town which is now occupied more as a tourist destination, during the 17th-19th century, it was the residence of the shoguns and samurais during the Edo period. The town itself now consists of houses (where locals live in), shops, restaurants and preserved houses! We were here for around 2 hours and that morning the snow was falling pretty hard so we (especially me and Anaz) didn't took this chance for granted so we did major browsing and picture taking. I have a lot of decent pictures to show you guys I hope you like them!
TAKAYAMA JINYA
You know those moments when you're abroad and suddenly you're more keen on learning other country's historical background and that's exactly what I felt when I am travelling. I know it sounds very sad but I can't lie that I did feel that way a little, but I surely know a lot about the history of my own country (well at least the main highlights) try me.

The first stop that morning in Takayama Old Town was the Takayama Jinya which previously was functioned as governmental office during the Edo's period, during the 17th-19th century, Takayama was highly controlled and dictated by Shogun or back then, pretty much align with president/prime minister on recent's modern era government. The tour guide explained to us that back then the governmental procedure was nothing like the current, Shogun had such big power in leadership and at times the punishment for mistakes could be pretty cruel, especially during winter times. Won't exactly give you details of that because I demand positivity on my blog (and you can always google further if you want).

TIPS: because visitors are not allowed to enter with their own shoes and needed to use these slippers they provided, during the peak winter days I suggest wearing thick socks and I mean it. I kept on forgetting little details (and ones that I didn't know first hand) and that day I was wearing thin socks and my feet were FREEZING even being inside Takayama Jinya was technically indoor. Please also BRING YOUR GLOVES AND SCARFS WITH YOU! Each of us might deal with cold differently but to prepare won't ever hurt.
From Takayama Jinya the tour guide then gave us 45 minutes of free time to browse Takayama Old Town, and free time means picture hunting time for me and Anaz! Pictures of me here were shot by Anaz and pictures of her and Sierin were taken by me.
Anytime calls for ice cream time! Even at freezing days like that! Found this random ice cream shop in Takayama Old Town before making our way back to the bus, and as expected: GOOD.
ENROUTE KANAZAWA
After a short but glorious times in Takayama, we headed to Kanazawa to continue our journey and stay overnight there before heading back to Nagoya. Our first stop in Kanazawa was this popular ice cream shop called Hakuichi, that's very famous for their 24K Gold Leaf ice cream! The queue was crazy and on weekends they could sell 1000+ servings, I not smell only Gold but money!!!
The ice cream was seriously GOOD, you know that I might not be the biggest fan of milk ice creams but theirs was absolutely thick, creamy, yes milky but in the most delicious way and didn't overpower my palate! I got tons of questions regarding the taste of the gold, well honey the gold was tasteless, it was there as an eye-candy and that extra spark but didn't do much on the flavor.
KENROKU-EN GARDEN
It was around 4 PM when we're done from Hakuichi and the guide actually gave us a free time to explore the neighborhood but all of us were too excited for Kenroku-en Garden (and it's just a few more hours from the dawn) so we skipped and proceed to Kenroku-en which was located just 10 minutes away from where Hakuichi is.
Our tour guide kept on referring Kenroku-en as one of the three best gardens in the entire Japan and I feel like all of us "consumed" what she said and that's another reason why we were highly excited about going here, especially me because I just freaking love Japan gardens! I've been to Japan during Spring, Fall and Winter (and no plan to visit Japan during Summer because I hate hot weather) and always spare time to go to the gardens and they are either good or very good. Must admit that gardens might look even more fabulous during the Spring (sakura season) or Autumn (foliage) compared to the Winter where flowers didn't really grow and the park consist of mainly bald trees but branches can be beautiful too in my opinion.
Somewhere in Kenroku-en which offers terrific view of Kanazawa, the snow finally stopped to fall during our visit here and it was just the moment before golden-hour where the sun shined bright giving a little warmth to the surrounding.
21ST CENTURY MUSEUM OF COMTEMPORARY ART
Our final stop before checking in to our hotel in Kanazawa was the 21st Century Museum of Comtemporary Art which was gorgeously designed by Japanese architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishiwara from SANAA back in 2004! Ok I gotta be completely frank here I may not know much about museums nor it's something that I usually go on my trips, but this one was a fine exception! The museum was seriously nicely built and the arrangement was so convenient that exploring the whole museum and rooms inside were like bliss.
Ended the night having Japanese set dinner, went back to the hotel and sleep! Oh, even though the hotel rooms are equipped with AC but never I once turn on the AC because it was super cold already, all that I did was just open the window!
The next morning we visited the Omicho traditional fish market to check out the fresh seafood there and unexpectedly had sushi & sashimi breakfast at this little stall that looked legit to us! Craving for cray good uni and otoro and we successfully fulfilled the craving without having to spend much, the price range for the uni and otoro ranges between 500-3000 yen depending on the size and quality, get the 1000 yen one it's pretty good already!
BACK TO NAGOYA
The bus ride from Kanazawa to Nagoya took approximately three hours, I took a short power nap on the road and the road back was slightly different, it was the warmest, the sun is finally out!
As we reached the city of Nagoya that day the less I saw snow covering the mountains
TOYOTA COMMEMORATIVE MUSEUM OF INDUSTRY AND TECHNOLOGY
The trip to Toyota Commemorative Museum was like a trip back to witness Toyota's success from the beginning of their career to a giant that they are now, and I really thought I was going to see mainly vintage cars and spareparts, yes but that's not the initial idea! Now trivia for those who are not aware: Toyota is a company owned by Sakichi Toyoda and his son, Kiichiro Toyoda and actually started as a textile company and slowly evolved and expanded their business as one of the most successful automobile producers that they are now. The museum showcased the company's journey in such impressive details and arrangement, I really think when it comes to museum, arrangement is everything, not everyone is a museum person like me, but my visits to these Japanese museums were wicked simply because their thoughtful arrangement and well-preserved content. I just can't deny that Japanese people are seriously NEAT!

When in Nagoya, don't miss its local delicacy: HITSUMABUSHI aka grilled eel on rice! SUPER DUPER LOVING THIS ONE!!! Probably my favorite meal among this trip! The way to enjoy hitsumabushi is to 'cut' the portion into four parts, carefully have it part by part and when you start getting into the third slice, pair it with the clear soup prepared for you in the serving and I suggest adding a little wasabi for that extra kick! The Kabayaki-ed grilled eel was certainly the highlight of this dish, such interesting flavor play of mainly sweet and savory! Forgot the name of the restaurant but there are a lot of Hitsumabushi specialists here in Nagoya.
NAGOYA CASTLE
Nagoya Castle was our last 'touristy' destination in this trip before saying goodbye to Japan and head back to Jakarta the next day! I don't know why some people sort of 'correcting' me and insist on telling me that this was Osaka Castle, major lol I was the one who went and this is ABSOLUTELY Nagoya Castle! I didn't even go to Osaka so why the force? The castle was once the home to Tokugawa-Owari family for 17 generations, unfortunately it was burned down decades ago and this was actually the replica of the castle.
Accidentally met a real Japanese samurai!
If you notice in this entry I refer to 'the guide' and special shout out to the funniest, friendliest, most helpful guide who hang with us and took good care of us throughout the trip: AKIKO-san!!! She is seriously THE BEST!!! If you need a guide please-please give her a call I'll look for her contact and put it here!
My goodness that's a lot of pictures to edit and so much to write, but writing this entry brings back the good memories back in Japan. I still remember exactly how cold it was, we were freezing the whole time, especially during the night where the wind could needle-stung us, but above it all, there was TONS OF FUN!

Special thanks to JNTO and Cathay Pacific for one of the best trips ever!!!
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