Posts Tagged Nagoya

June 29, 2017 – Legoland Japan!!

Legoland Japan is amazing!

This morning The Penpal, Tiny Dog, and I checked out of our hotel and set off for Legoland Japan. We boarded Aonami line from near our hotel on a train packed with salarymen. The journey to Legoland took us through some of the extensive port areas in Nagoya, passing by rows and rows of new cars ready to be loaded onto a boat for overseas shipping.

After 25 minutes of ports and industry, we arrived at Kinjofuto station, located on a small island which is home to a conference center, restaurants, railway museum, and most importantly, Legoland.

Legoland is a theme park designed for ages 2-12. I could probably write a few thousand words about how amazing Legoland was, and we didn’t even see all of it. Some of the highlights include:

  • Large models of famous Japanese landmarks made from 10.5 million Lego bricks. Even better, there were lots of moving parts that could be activated by pushing buttons
  • A live Ninjago puppet show!
  • A pirate area where people in boats engage in a water battle with people on shore
  • An area where kids could drive Lego cars
  • A motherfreaking Lego submarine with views of real and Lego fish
  • Three different playgrounds
  • So many rides, and none of them too scary for little kids
  • A huge indoor Lego construction area

The one thing that Legoland didn’t have was protection from the insane humidity. By the end of our Lego day we were tired and drenched in sweat. TD managed to fall asleep on the train and not even the noise and activity of Nagoya station, one of the busiest stations in the WORLD could wake him up.

I’m already excited about our next trip to Japan and a return to Legoland.

Asleep in Nagoya station

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June 28, 2017 part 1 – Nagoya Aquarium

This morning we left Numazu bound for a two day trip to Nagoya. The main items on our agenda were a visit to Nagoya Aquarium and a day at Legoland Japan.

Getting to Nagoya was easy – The Penpal’s father dropped us off at Mishima station where we boarded the Shinkansen to Nagoya. While traveling I downloaded a GPS speedometer app for my phone. Our train topped out at 268km per hour (173 mph for my American friends). Very cool!

Unlike getting to Nagoya, getting around Nagoya was not so easy. Nagoya has several private railway companies that service most of the city, requiring multiple tickets and transfers. Navigating between lines is a bit confusing for Nagoya newbies like ourselves. We eventually got pointed in the right direction and made it to the Nagoya port area.

The first thing I noticed at the port was a giant boat – the retired antarctic survey ship. The second thing I noticed, before even the interesting design of the aquarium building, was that Nagoya port had a Red Lobster. In all my time in Japan, I had never seen a Red Lobster before – there are tens of thousands of options for seafood, so I never expected that an American seafood chain would have even a single location (in fact they have 24).

The Aquarium itself is huge, with exhibits spread out between two buildings and a large outdoor area for shows. There is a huge selection of marine life from around the world. Highlights include an big room full of penguins, colourful coral reefs, and more jellyfish than I have ever seen in one place before.

And these adorable sea worm things

In addition to exploring the marine life displays, we also watched a dolphin show. Tiny Dog absolutely loved the show, but he kept looking in the wrong place when the dolphins went underwater. The large screen in the background helped. I like dolphin shows, but I was more excited by the fact that I could get a cold beer at the concession stand. Drinking a beer in the middle of the afternoon is totally okay if you are on vacation or watching any kind of performance.

Mmmm beer

I never thought I would ever find an aquarium better than the stunning Osaka Aquarium, but I think I might have to give Nagoya Aquarium the win due to penguins. Totally recommended for guests of all ages, make sure you leave a few hours to see everything.


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September 18, 2005 – Aichi Expo

Aichi Expo group picture

Today I went to Aichi Expo with The Penpal and her parents. Expo is a world fair, with pavilions from 121 different countries, and also some large corporate pavilions as well.

The Penpal’s parents booked us a tour package that included bus transportation to and from Expo and a full day pass. The Expo grounds are 230km from Numazu, and we had to make a few stops along the way. That meant that the bus left from the north side of Numazu station at 3:55am.

Yes, 3:55am.

I woke up at 3:00, had a quick shower, and The Penpal and her family came by in a taxi to get us all to the station on time. Most people slept on the bus, but sleeping on the bus is nowhere near as restful as sleeping in a comfy, comfy bed. We got to Expo just after 8:00, and got a group picture after everyone got off the bus. The result is above, and the only two people smiling are The Penpal and I (back row, I am the only non Japanese person).

After the grumpiest group photo ever, we all rushed towards the entrance to wait for the gates to open. It was already hot, and the crowds were intense. Fortunately Japanese people are good with lines, so the massive crowd of people was orderly and polite.

We spent a full day at Expo, walking around in the heat, waiting in various lines to see different pavilions. We ended up going to Canada, USA, Mexico, Turkey, and a few others. The corporate pavilions had waiting times between 4-8 hours each. As much as we wanted to see the awesome robots that can play the trumpet, we had no interest in standing in line for that long to see just one display.

The Canadian pavilion featured interactive displays about the country, which The Penpal’s parents found interesting. As a rule, Japanese people know well about the US, but not nearly as much about Canada. One of my highlights was seeing a live performance by a band called Blou. They play Acadian party music, and managed to get the entire crowd up and dancing in 35 degree heat.

aichi expo band picture

Yes, I am rocking the classic Winnipeg Jets logo

There were a lot more things to see, but with the crowds and the heat, we really took it easy and limited ourselves. Also, you can only go to so many things when there is a 45 minute wait for the women’s washroom! We nicknamed the women’s washroom “toilet pavilion” because it had the same kind of line as many of the countries.

After a long, hot, crazy, crowded day, we all got back on the bus in the evening and got back to Numazu station before midnight. I am happy that I got to spend the day with The Penpal and her parents, but if I was going to do something like this again, I would break it into two days and stay in a hotel.

(2015 Update) I wanted to find out if Expo was really as busy as I remembered it. It turns out that the attendance on September 18, 2005 was 280,000 people. The official capacity was 170,000. No wonder the lines were so long!

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Japanese buses are f**king confusing!

When people think of mass transit in Japan they usually think of trains first, and for good reason. Trains are by far the most famous and most efficient way to get around the country and the major cities. But not all cities are big enough to have great train systems like Tokyo or Yokohama. Enter the bus.

After living in Winnipeg, I am very used to riding the bus. Winnipeg Transit is usually on time, and provides decent service along major routes and is really cheap. Before anyone in Winnipeg starts complaining about this one, I would suggest that you try another city’s bus system first. Anyway, I figured that since I mastered the train system with no previous exposure to trains, buses would be no problem. Was I ever wrong!

There are two main kinds of buses in Japan. One is what is familiar to most people in Canada. You pay a set fare when you enter the bus, and exit when you reach your destination. No problem here. On the other type of bus, you have to pay based on the distance traveled. You board the bus by the rear door and take a ticket. Your ticket will have a number of the stop that you entered the bus. As the bus travels, there is a large digital scoreboard at the front which has the stop numbers and the current price. For example, I get on at stop one, so underneath the one, it says 150 yen. At stop two the board is updated with a higher price for people who boarded at stop one and a base price for people who just boarded. (Seeing it is much easier to understand than reading this.)

When you want to leave the bus you press the signal button and you insert your ticket in the reader at the front of the bus beside the driver. The readout displays how much you owe, and you insert that in change into the coin slot. If you have a 1000 yen bill you can put it into the bill slot. The bill slot will break your 1000 yen bill into 9 x 100 yen coins, 1 x 50 yen coin and 5 x 10 yen coins. You then insert the correct amount of change into the coin slot and leave the bus. Despite the fact that vending machines, train ticket machines, and EVERY OTHER MACHINE WHICH TAKES PAYMENT allows you to pay with bills, this bill slot only makes change for you.

Last Friday I rode the bus from Mishima station near my school to Ooka station near the Penpal’s house. I didn’t have enough change, but I had a 1000 yen bill and NONE of the information I just typed. First I tried to stick my ticket into the bill slot. Fortunately the driver was able to rescue it and put it in the right place. The display read 270 yen, so I inserted my 1000 yen bill, took all the change (1000 yen) and tried to leave the bus. The driver stopped me, and then I realized that I hadn’t yet paid. Fortunately, most bus drivers are used to people (especially foreigners) being confused with this system and are very patient and friendly about the whole thing.

To make things even more confusing, in Nagoya city there are two companies that run buses in the city. One has the previously mentioned system of breaking your bill and then you pay. The new company accepts payment with bills and makes change. Two different systems in the same city. Even the Japanese are confused by that one. In the mean time, I think I will try to stick to the excellent train system where I can insert any bill and coins by the handful, or my bicycle that I can drive on the sidewalk and park nearly anywhere. buses are just too f**king confusing.

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