Golden Week 2016: Nagoya (day 1).

Golden Week this year, for me, was relatively short. My school was closed for four days — Monday through Thursday — but two of those were already my days off. Still, experience has shown me that I don’t need much time in familiar destinations, so I took Monday to rest and prepare so I could leave early the next day.

Hello, Nagoya.

It was already warm when I left late Tuesday morning. I’ve said it before: I’m glad to live near Shinagawa, which is one of two 東海道新幹線 stations in Tokyo (and the closer of those two). There was no line for tickets, but I did have to dash to catch the next Nozomi. Despite the fact that I had bought an unreserved seat, there were plenty scattered around, so I chose an aisle and settled in. (People will tell you that the prices go up during Golden Week, but the truth is that only applies to reserved seats, and the difference is exactly 200円.)

The trip only takes an hour and a half, so we arrived in no time. My first stop was the New Shouchikubai Hotel, where I stayed last year. The owner was manning the counter this time, so he didn’t recognize me from before. He asked me how many nights, and when I told him two, he said he wasn’t able to accommodate me. However, we kept talking, and I mentioned that I’d stayed there the year before. A couple minutes later, he offered me a room at 3000円 per night, explaining the internet-reservable rooms were gone. In retrospect, I think it was my ability to converse with him in Japanese that got me that room (plus maybe mentioning I’d stayed there the year before).

Strings Hotel Nagoya, which wasn’t there last year.

I unloaded my backpack in the tiny room and headed back out. My next stop was La Vamo Sasashima, which at some point was renamed Market Square Sasashima. I walked past a huge line along Zepp Nagoya for the Japanese band Scandal (whether for a concert or fan event, I’m not sure), and noticed a major change to the area: where there had been a parking lot across from Zepp for years before, sometime in the intervening twelve months a huge, expensive hotel had been built, complete with valet parking and a fountain. I stopped into my usual places: Lashinbang, Leisure Land, and 109 Cinemas (the latter to check their movie merchandise for the new Captain America). One of the girls at Leisure Land actually recognized me from years before and seemed very happy to see me (which was nice, since no one had recognized me in 2015).

Call it what you want, I missed this place.

Once I’d played out La Vamo Market Square, I headed back to the station the long way and cut through like I’d done so many times when I lived there. This time through, I realized that the Nagoya Station Sofmap was simply gone. I asked someone at a nearby building about it, and he said it had vanished sometime in the last year, replaced by more restaurants. Kind of a letdown. I killed some time in the Lashinbang nearby the station before finally heading back to the hotel to shower and drop off a handful of things I’d picked up that afternoon.

I missed this place.

My friend Konan and I had been talking about hanging out for several days before, so as soon as I had showered and changed, I headed to Kamimaezu to meet him. We hit Taito Station, Urban Square, and Mandarake before looking for our true destination: Wine Watanabe.

Without coupons, I never could have afforded the meal.

As I mentioned in a previous entry, the company I work for sends its employees 10,000円 in vouchers on their birthdays. I’d already tried the beef, and figured if I was in Nagoya anyway, it’d be nice to have an expensive dinner on the company. There was a short wait, and then we were seated at a stone counter to eat. We had a baguette, a cheese board, entrées and a few side dishes, and a handful of different drinks. Everything tasted really good, and our bill came to a surprising 9363円. The restaurant couldn’t give change, so I gave them 9500円 in coupons and walked out satisfied.

Konan and I parted ways, and I headed back to the hotel, footsore and ready for sleep. I had places to go the next day, and the shower cutoff was nine in the morning.

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