Golden Week 2017: Nagoya (day 1).

While Tokyo is a massive city and has adventure around every corner and all sorts of famous locations, the city of Nagoya has a special place in my heart. It’s cleaner, calmer, and far less daunting than the capital, and I always look forward to going back once a year during our Golden Week break.

Before heading out, I stopped at my ENT (who put a snake-cam up my nose and down my throat to look at my vocal cords, an experience I wouldn’t care to repeat) and my dermatologist (who gave me some stuff I could have gotten any other day). Then it was off to Shinagawa to catch the Shinkansen.

The train was crowded, but I managed to find a middle seat. The problem with not having a window seat on the Shinkansen is that only the window gets an outlet. I consider this a design flaw. Anyway, I’d brought along some good beef jerky for the trip, which I dug into once we’d gotten well underway. It’s not a long ride, so a quick doze later and I was in Nagoya.

The incongruous-but-awesome Cerberus in the Hotel Calm lobby.

I usually stay at the New Shouchikubai Hotel, which is cheap and only about ten minutes from the station, but has a ridiculously early checkout time and restrictive shower times. Thus, I messaged my friend Takashi to ask for help finding another hotel. He came back with one called the Hotel Calm. Not only was it closer to the station by half, but it didn’t have showers and toilets separate (which is the general norm, but not when you’re talking ultra-cheap hotels). The lobby offered free breakfast cakes and muffins in the morning and free snacks (both sweet and salty, including Umaibou) in the afternoon, as well as a cup-type vending machine with free hot and cold coffees and teas, plus C.C. Lemon and Pepsi. Finally, in what looked like an old phone booth, there was a free soft-serve ice cream machine. The lobby even featured fish tanks and a large Cerberus that would growl and roar when you pushed a little pressure plate near his base. (They said he used to blow smoke as well, but they turned that off because it was bothersome.) The best deal was for me to sign up via Rakuten, and the cost for two nights ended up being about 8000円. The room was arguably better than my own apartment, with the usual complimentary slippers and such. I switched to my small backpack and headed out.

Sugakiya by night, traveler’s delight.

Not living in Nagoya, I don’t have a special travel card, and it was late enough in the day that an all-day pass wouldn’t have been worth it, so I chose to stay in the general area I was in — namely, Nakamura and the neighboring Sasashima. There was a brand-new K-Books just down the street from the hotel (seriously, a month old), which I checked out, but hunger ultimately drove me to Sugakiya for ramen.

My next stop was Sasashima — specifically the long building known as Market Square Sasashima. I was nice to poke my head into the various places I used to visit every weekend, but I found very little I wanted. I had, however, looked into going to see the new Fast and Furious movie, conveniently located upstairs in 109 Cinemas. It was a blast, and when it was all done, I did just like I had last year after seeing the new Captain America movie the previous year: I had fried food at Friday’s. The assistant manager whom I’d met was there again, and she even remembered me. Simple pleasures.

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