I am in Japan! Yes...I really am in Japan.
I arrived on Wednesday night July 26. My daughter Rebekah met me at the airport in Nagoya and we took the train to the Kayahama Station and from there we walked across the street to the Cypress Garden Hotel.
After Rebekah helped me check in and settle into the hotel, we went to a nearby convenience store and I cashed some Japanese money. Rebekah taught me how to pay for things in Japan. The cashier puts out a tray and the patron puts his or her cash or coins in the tray and then is given back change. I have learned that it is not polite to count your money to make sure you received the correct change since the Japanese people are so honest that checking your coins and cash is not necessary.
The next morning, Thursday, Rebekah and I went to Starbucks. Yes, Starbucks is all over Japan! And...I am able to drink decaf coffee there just like I do in the USA. The cinnamon roll I had Thursday morning was delicious and so was the biscuits I had on Friday and Saturday and Sunday morning.
On Thursday, after Rebekah went off to work, I hung out at Starbucks for awhile and then I decided to check out the beautiful Shirotori Garden. I rode my little scooter that I brought to Japan there. It was a long scooter ride since I didn't quite understand how to use the GPS, but I eventually did get there.
I forgot my water bottle which in Japan during the summer is essential, so I had to stop for a break at a 7/11 where I had a delicious Salted Rice Ball and water. The break gave me a "2nd Wind" and I'm so glad I made it to the garden. It reminded me a bit of a nature center in California I've hiked though and I enjoyed taking photos until all of a sudden I realized I had been bitten like crazy by some sort of bugs (Rebekah said they were mosquitoes). The itching was so horrible that I headed quickly towards the tea room to cool down and I threw some cold water on my legs and arms.
I then decided to head back to the hotel and was delighted that the GPS took me on a bike path where I got to enjoy riding my scooter!
When Rebekah returned to the hotel after a two show day, we went to CoCo Curry, a chain in Japan that my son Joel told me was his favorite restaurant in Japan. I had Vegetable and Eggplant Curry and I'm not sure exactly what Rebekah had.
On Friday, Rebekah and I started off at Starbucks again and then I rode the train with her to the show venue and saw her perform in Disney On Ice! Before the show I got to see her practice on Open Ice and got to see some of the cast. It was a challenge for me to find Will Call to pick up my ticket, but I discovered the employees at the arena were so very helpful and walked me right to the ticket window. I had the best seat ever right in the front row at stage left!
After Rebekah led me back to the train, I found my way to the train platform and got back to the Kagahama Station and back to our hotel. Before I returned to the hotel, I found the coolest semi-outdoor marketplace in the train station and bought myself a coin purse. I don't use coins much at home in the USA, but found in Japan I really do need to use coins since the 500 Yen ($5.00) and 100 Yen ($1.00) coins are used often. (Hey...I wonder what the Japanese use at coin laundries?)
After charging my phone and eating a rice ball, I decided to head towards the Eon Mall on my scooter. It took awhile for me to get back on track with the GPS on my phone, but I eventually found that there was a clear bike path the the GPS called a "crosswalk" that took me right there.
I was shocked at how huge the mall was and I couldn't believe the huge supermarket in that mall. There were several levels in the mall and I did spend considerable time staring at everything. I headed back to the hotel without purchasing anything and after taking my scooter back to the hotel, I walked over to CoCo Curry and ate another wonderful meal there which was Vegetable and Spinach Curry.
I found one English speaking channel on the hotel television: CNN. I watched some of that and then got ready for bed. The jet lag really was "heavy" on Friday so crawling into bed at 7:45 PM and trying to stay awake until 8 pm was quite a challenge!
On Saturday morning I again met Rebekah at Starbucks and after she left I hung out at Starbucks trying to decide what to do. I finally decided to visit the Nagoya-Boston Art Museum which was right in the area of of the Kayahama Station. The museum was very nice too!
After the museum, I went back to hotel for a bit and then decided to head towards the Osu shopping area on my scooter. I got to see more of the city on that trip, but when I got to the shopping district, I was amazed at the long covered streets which were very crowded!
I decided that the crowds were more than I wanted to deal with, so I began scootering back to the hotel, but it was so hot, that when I saw the subway entrance, I decided to try to figure out how to take the Subway back to the hotel and Kayahama Station, but to my dismay, it was not easy to figure out how to do that. Just as I was about to give up, a lady approached me and in very broken English she asked me if I needed help and she helped me buy my ticket and led me to the station and correct platform. Once I returned to Kayahma, I was so relieved!
After dropping my scooter off at the hotel, I walked over to CoCo Curry and had a wonderful plate of Vegetable Curry and then headed back to the hotel.
I tried hard to stay awake and when Rebekah returned to the hotel, we got to visit a bit before she went off to bed.
On Sunday morning, Rebekah and I went to Starbucks and I repeated hanging out at Starbucks deciding what to do, and made up my mind that I would go to Nagoya Castle. Using the GPS on my phone I learned about how much it would cost and after getting my scooter, off I went to the Kayahama Station and found the correct Subway Train and got myself to Nagoya Castle!
The castle was so cool and I could tell that tourists had come from all over Japan to see it.
After spending a few hours there and roaming the castle gardens, I headed back to the Subway and got myself back to the Kayahama Station and returned to the hotel where I've been for the past couple hours wearing the robe supplied by the hotel and recovering from the long hot humid day in Nagoya!
More Japan adventures to come....