Central Japan Adventure
By Ann Srikanlaya Onchoysakul. Posted on December 27, 2013
It was really fantastic to be selected as a Trip Ambassador to Mie and Aichi to help spread the word about tourism in Central Japan. The trip lasted three days total and was packed with plans for visiting various attractions in the region.
A month before, my cousins from Thailand had come to visit me and travel around Japan. When I asked them where they would like to go, they said “Akihabara, Shinjugu, Harajuku, places like that.” Since I live in Nagoya, I convinced them to come to this area. However, they had never heard anything about Nagoya or central Japan, so they had no interest in coming to this region. I hope that by being Trip Ambassador, I can help to raise awareness among Thai people and foreign tourists about tourism in this region.
The trip started at Meitetsu Bus station in Nagoya, where a tall, white statue resembling a woman, named Nanachan, stands. Nanachan was in a Santa costume, welcoming us.
Nanachan is a statue whose costume gets changed throughout the year. People are always eager to see how she will be dressed next time. Leaving aside Nanachan, Nagoya Station is considered to be the hub of central Japan. It offers a variety of transportation options, including JR, Kintetsu, and Shinkansen trains as well as inter-prefecture buses.
Moreover, the Nagoya Station area is a good place for shopping. There are many brand name stores along the streets, and quite affordable stores in the underground shopping mall where you can enjoy shopping regardless of how the weather is. The stores range from a 300-yen shop to high-end stores, and there are also entertainment facilities, such as a cinema and a sports and game center.
Mie (Iga – Yokkaichi)
From Nagoya Station, we took a bus and arrived at Iga-Ueno Station.
We had a traditional lunch. Then we headed to a museum in Igaryu – a museum dedicated to the history of ninjas and Ninjustu.
A visit to this museum would spice up your trip to this ninja town. We were privileged to sit in the front row for the ninja show, which was fantastic. After the show, the audience members are allowed to try out the throwing stars and can win awards if they hit the target. This gives you a taste of how ninjutsu works.
In Yokkaichi, we tried Tonteki – pork steak with a special teriyaki-based sauce.
After filling our stomacsh with this famous local dish, we went to Yokkaichi Sea Port and rode a sightseeing boat to view the lit-up industrial seafront.
Yokkaichi Sea Port is surrounded by industrial plants, particularly related to the petro-chemical industry, and they are beautifully lit up at night. We also had a chance to have a close look at Asuka II, the biggest Japanese cruise ship. Despite the cold weather, I found that the scenery was decent, and the information provided by the announcer on board made the trip more interesting.
We ended the first day at Platon Hotel, a hotel in the middle of Yokkaichi. Being located only a three-minute walk from Kintetsu Yokkaichi Station, it was very convenient. The room was clean and very nice. Although there was only LAN Internet connection provided in the room, you could rent a Wi-Fi router at the front desk. The restaurant served quite a large number of dishes for breakfast, including both Western and Japanese food.
Mie (Futami/Toba – Irago)
The second day was refreshing. We took a train and a bus from Yokkaichi Station to Futami.
We visited the aquarium, Futami Sea Paradise. The most famous marine animals here are the earless seals. They make funny faces by pulling their eyelids down and sticking out their tongues. The audience can touch them when they come out of their cages. We watched two more shows as well: the spotted seal show and the walrus show. In both of them, we were able to touch the animals and take pictures with them.
In addition to the stunning shows, the décor of the aquarium was very kid-friendly. Parents with kids should find it fun and enjoyable.
Only 2 minutes walk from the aquarium was Meoto Iwa, the couple of rocks in the sea. These two rocks are bonded by shimenawa – an extremely thick and strong rope made of straw. People believe that these rocks are a couple. Many people come to wish for their love. Fishermen come to wish for their safe journey at sea..
After half an hour from Futami Station by local JR train, we arrived at Toba to participate in the "Toba Food Sampling Walk".
We visited local fish wholesalers and sampled fresh seafood — sashimi, sushi, and tsukemono. All the restaurant and the wholesaler proprietors were very welcoming and friendly. Though we had to cut the tour short, it was an incredible experience for me.
After the Toba Food Sampling Walk, we went to Mikimoto Pearl Island. It is the birthplace of aquaculture pearls and where ama divers are trained. In ancient times, ama, or female divers, would harvest sea clams and shells while their husbands were out on the ocean, fishing. In addition to the ama diving show, you can enjoy the Mikimoto Pearl Museum, where the story of aquaculture pearls and and the pearl industry is told.
Next, we took Isewan Ferry to Irago. You can use the Shoryudo Welcome Card to get a discount! You can get the card at major tourist information centers across central Japan.
We spent a night at Irago Sea Park & Spa, where all the rooms face the beach. Guests can have a relaxing time in a hot bath, an onsen, while appreciating the nice sea view.
Waking up on the last day of the journey, we headed to Himakajima Island, the octupus island, by Meitetsu Marine Cruise ship. The ship operates every day, transporting passengers to islands in Mikawa Bay as well as between the Chita and Atsumi Peninsulas.
The big red squid statue caught my eye as soon as we arrived on the island. To encourage tourism, everything on the island is octopus-shaped—even the police station. And without a doubt, the octopus dishes were unbelievably delicious. Every year, a great number of visitors come to try the octopus and blowfish, and to enjoy the public baths, which are also famous.
Crossing the sea, we came to Tokoname, located on the west shores of Chita Peninsula, near Central Japan International Airport.
This town is famous as the one of the six biggest towns for the ceramics industry. We wandered around the town and found many funny ceramic features, such as a scenic ceramic wall at an intersection. You cannot avoid touching the ceramics when you visit Tokoname. We went to Tokoname-yaki Marufuku, where we painted lucky cats (beckoning cat or maneki-neko) as souvenirs before heading to Centrair.
Central Japan International Airport (Centrair) is the gateway to central Japan. There are various shops and restaurants for both passengers and visitors. In addition to dining and shopping, passengers and visitors can also enjoy watching the runway and seeing the planes taking off and landing at the Sky Deck, which is especially well-designed.
There is the Shoryudo Information Center on the second floor, on the other side of Subway (the sandwich chain). International travelers can get a Shoryudo Welcome Card free of charge in order to receive discounts and gifts from shops and restaurants thoughout central Japan. You can get a card by showing your passport.
This three-day journey has given me precious moments, friendships, and stunning pictures of central Japan. Most of all, this area made a strong impression me as a place for tourism.
Ann Srikanlaya Onchoysakul
Ann is a Thai who came to Japan on a one-year exchange program at Nagoya University. Two and a half years of being a flight attendance for Japan Airlines reveals her interest in traveling and airplane. Traveling, she believes, is a fantastic way to appreciate the nature, to learn about herself and other people, to make friends, and to relax.
- Ninja Museum of Igaryu
- Yokkaichi Port Night Cruise
- Futami Sea Paradise
- Meoto Iwa
- Try out local favorites on the street of Toba castle town
- Isewan Ferry
- Irago Sea-Park & Spa
- Koijigahama Beach
- Meitetsu Marine Cruise Ship
- Central Japan International Airport (Centrair)
- Mikimoto Pearl Island