Heian Shrine was within walking distance from the restaurant but I would say a walk wasn't the best thing to do at that point in time. Not so much because we had just eaten but more because the wind had started to blow more strongly when we arrived and according to some locals, the temperature in that region on that day was the lowest to date. So much so it was even difficult to open our eyes long enough to get a picture taken. Brrrrrrr. Anyway, Heian Shrine paled in comparison in terms of grandeur to Kiyomizu Temple. It had a huge façade and a large but sparse courtyard. The seeming emptiness of the place as well as the cold prevented my sister and I from venturing into the Shrine itself. We hung around the courtyard and
snapped some pictures and half ran back to the coach.
The rest of the day was pretty much spent on the bus as we made our way to Hotel Nikko in Toyohashi to stay for the night. Fortunately, there was a shopping mall next to the hotel to entertain us at night but as with other retail outlets in Japan, they closed at about 8 PM, which was way too early for Singaporeans who were used to their shops closing at 10 PM.
Shinkansen is something that all Japanese are very familiar with but for foreigners like us, it was indeed quite exciting to ride in one. Commonly known as the bullet train, the Shinkansen is designed very much like an
airplane on the interior, with the footrests and adjustable seats. It was very clean and spacious and honestly, when you travel in it, it was quite difficult to feel the train going at 400 km/h. We spent only about 15 minutes on the train traveling from Toyohashi to Yamamatsu. All through the experience, many of us were snapping away endlessly, which must be quite amusing to the Japanese (though I have been told since that the Japanese take the highest number of pictures per capita and photography is widely considered as a passion). Imagine if local travel agents decide to let their tour groups ride in our MRTs and we see all these folks taking pictures in front of the Station Controls. That was what we did.
As we transferred on our coach to our next stop, I caught my first glimpse of Mount Fuji. Finally! It was so huge… so majestic… and it looked the same as it did in all those pictures I saw. Unbelievable.
Fujikyu Highland is an amusement park nestled at the southern foot of Mount Fuji with the world's longest roller-coaster, the Fujiyama, as its main attraction. I wanted to take a ride but it was so freezing cold that the wind sucked my guts out… Alright, I am lying. We had lunch
steamboat-style at a restaurant in the park itself and moved around to explore the park. To relieve ourselves of the guilt of not trying the Fujiyama, my sister and I took a miniature coaster which was
equally exciting. Almost like real. We also found a little corner of the park called Thomas Land, which is based on the cartoon train and basically a place for kids. Perhaps due to its remote location, there was just a handful of people there.
Shiraito Falls was really cool but as usual, it was exceptionally cold. When we arrived it was just beginning to get dark so we hurriedly took some
precious photos. As we were walking towards the bus, someone spotted Mount Fuji with a red cap! Must be due to the setting sun or something but for a moment, I was silently praying it wouldn't explode.
Accommodation for the night was interesting enough. We stayed in a traditional Japanese inn
(ryokan) by the name of World Plaza with a
built in public bath or onsen in its basement. I didn't try it just because I wasn't about to bare
my butt in front of unknown Japanese yet. Anyway, the
rooms had tatami mats, a tiny old television with dust gathering on it, sliding doors
separating the dressing/balcony area, the main sleeping area and the washroom/entrance
area. Even the wardrobes reeked of an ancient smell. Good experience though.
vacation - continued
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