Day 3: Trains

Today was quite a day for travel. I woke up at around 6am again, but refused to get up until 7. Outside it was snowing lightly, and I could see about 2 inches had fallen during the night. I was feeling a little sick and I think my body is fighting off a flu. I began packing and noticed the snow was really falling thick, and I could see a block maybe 2, and decided perhaps I should wait a little. After a bit it let up, and I finished packing, dressed in my warmest clothes, checked out, and walked to the train station 10 blocks away. On a side note, I must say the Saihokukan Hotel was really very nice, the staff spoke english, and the rooms were nice though on the small side, but cheap at $65. The sun was out and it was a very nice day. After grabbing a bite to eat along the way, I stopped in at the JR ticket office to ask how was the best way to get to Takayama, my next stop. I figured I was going to have to take a series of local trains first heading north to the west coast of Japan, then down the coat a while before heading south and back up into the mountains to Takayama. Lucky for me the attendants at JR are really quite helpful, and were able to tell me the quickest way to Takayama, and help me buy the tickets, which turned out to be going south to Nagoya on a limited express train, then north to Takayama on another limited express train. The limited express trains generally go faster, and make only 5-6 stops from start to end, with seats like that of an airplane, compared to the local trains which are much more like subway trains and make many many stops. The first trains were sold out sadly, and I had to delay an hour, but this bought me enough time to find the post office and the international ATM and get some cash. I spent the rest of the day sitting on trains, which isn’t all too bad since I’m fighting off a cold, and looking out the windows as snowy rural Japan passed by my window is fairly pleasant. However because the trains took a good 6 hours, I didn’t arrive until 4pm, and with the sun already going down I couldn’t do anything. I have to shift my plans for tomorrow a bit later in the day, doing everything I wanted to do today after checking out and before heading to Kyoto first by limited express back to Nagoya before catching the bullet train a few stations to Kyoto, which most likely will be 3- 3.5 hours. So today I figured my mission for the day would be to find this restaurant I had read about called Suzuya that cooks the same menu it cooked back in the 1300s. I felt that I would be remiss if I came all the way to Takayama to see the houses from that period without having some of the cuisine. It turned out to be hard to find, down a dark alley with a very simple sign, I was able to recognize the Kanji of the name though. The food was a little pricey at $17, but was worth it to me, the owner spoke very good english surprisingly, and I had the chance to have Hoba Misu. Hoba Misu is kobe beef with onions, mushrooms, and an assortment of other Japanese vegetables cooked with misu paste on a hoba leaf at the table, then served with rice, misu soup, and green tea. The meal tasted quite good despite its simplicity, and was very enjoyable.

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