Back to Japan and Korea

I didn’t count Kanazawa for my count is now at 7. Over the coming years my plan is to get to the original 12. I have considered doing a trip as a castle run.

Tenshu has long gone in Kanazawa, but the other parts remain (or have been rebuilt) so I reckon it's still a Castle!
 
Oh this is the new shinkansen route! We took the thunderbird on this in 2023, and I look forward to trying the new shinkansen soon. I heard that Tsuruga station is a bit of a hotch potch and not that easy for the transfer, so roll on the day when the last leg is constructed and no need to change stations.
The transfer between the thunderbird and shinkansen at Tsuruga is relatively painless. When I purchased the tickets I was informed there was only an 8 minute transfer time, I was not comfortable with that as we had luggage and I had not transferred through there before. On arrival you only have to go up 1 level and the staff were directing PAX which platform to go to, in hindsight 8 minutes was achievable. We had elected to take the later train with a 40 minute layover and figured we would get something to eat. I was wrong as once you get through the transfer gates there are no shops, eating places and only the standing vending machines on the platforms. This may change in the future when the line through to Kyoto is completed.
 
A little bit more detail on the property (&Here) it has an interesting design as the central roof and western side were completely open. There is also public bathing on the top floor with one of the baths being slightly open to the elements and allowed the cooler breezes to flow through.
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The rest of our time in Tokyo:
Day 1- we revisited Disney it was as busy as I remember or any of the other Disney’s we have been to.
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Day 2 - Mrs&MissM achieved what they wanted to in Tokyo which was shopping. MissM is 17 so Harajuku was always on the cards, she managed to spend the whole day there. I had forgotten how busy the area is and it is one of the reasons that I avoid it at all costs.
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Day 3 – We went off to the National Art Centre Tokyo which we enjoyed, there was also a special exhibition of Henri Matisse which was unexpected. I took many photos but this was the only painting with an aircraft in the composition and why I posted it. MissM realised that we were not far from Shibuya, it was still as crowed as always.
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Last on the agenda was a cab to a hotel near the airport as our morning flight was at 8:40 and it was easy to be near the airport.
 
So it was farewell to Honshu and time to head to Okinawa, checked in and back to the JL domestic F lounge however this time it was the one at the other end of the terminal.
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During the taxi I noticed we were behind QF26.
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A shot of the northern islands of Okinawa, not sure which one.
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We decided to base in Naha staying at the Mercure. The room was pretty much standard and it was booked when there was an offer on so it also included 4 days car hire. The transfer from OKA to the hotel was easy, as the monorail station is opposite the property.
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After checkin and collecting the car we headed out to a couple of beach’s weather was overcast but these are what MissM wanted to see and one of the reasons we are here.
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On the way back we took the scenic route and had a stop off and then up some odd road which is meant to have amazing views at the top however the clouds had rolled in.
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Also on the way back Siri became lost and we ending up in a residential area in the hills, the streets were narrow and even with the small rental car navigating some of the turns were a bit tight.
IMG_4853.jpeg The camera was on wide angle so the streets look wider than they were our hairdressers car could open the doors on one side only. In the last photo the street narrows we had to retract the wing mirrors to avoid damage and halfway through the turn backup slightly and re-continue. IMG_4907.jpegIMG_4909.jpeg
 
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Beach’s checked off time to get to some other places. First place today was the Navy Headquarters Underground Park. It was a rabbit warren but very interesting and it is hard to fathom that it was all dug with pick and shovel.
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The Commanding Officers Quarters
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Medical treatment room
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Final place was the Southeast Botanical Gardens. We found these gardens to be a bit unusual, there are 2 gardens the big one and the small one. We started in the big garden and soon realised some of the plants were not real and the garden is wired with 1000s if not 100000s of LED string lights. I think it is set up for the tourist evening tours. There are also a number of animals, also being in Japan and arriving at the rock garden location I was not was not expecting it to look like the last photo.IMG_5110.jpegIMG_5109.jpegIMG_5112.jpegIMG_5118.jpegIMG_5116.jpegIMG_5132.jpegIMG_5136.jpegIMG_5137.jpegIMG_5153.jpegIMG_5119.jpeg
 
The smaller garden was a little better as at least there was not artificial plants.
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Also while I was in the big garden I heard jet engines that seemed to be directly overhead and low but could not see what it was. On leaving the gardens the jet engines could be heard again, this aircraft was landing.
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We had dinner at what I would call a mainstream local restaurant, with a bit of everything. It was a restaurant that allowed smoking inside so Mrs&MissM were not sure about but they gave it ago. The food was excellent, there was one more dish of noodles which I could not post as I have reached the attachment limitation. Total price including wine was around AUD90.
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I love nasu dengaku - I make it at home with miso paste, mirrin and sugar. Yummy.
When I get home I will be looking for how to make it at home. MrsM was surprised I liked it as in general I dislike eggplant or at least the way it has been served up in AU.
 
So big day today, we have to drive around 70-80 Km north to the Ocean Expo Park and the Churaumi Aquarium. It was a long travel day as the general speed limit on Okinawa is 40 km/h and if using the expressway it increases to 80 km/h and you pay for the privilege. The 50 km of expressway was around AUD16 each way but when compared to the toll roads in AU it is cheap. I have way too many photos for one post and will limit to 2.
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Then the aquarium IMG_5248.jpegIMG_5287.jpegIMG_5269.jpegIMG_5273.jpegIMG_5272.jpegIMG_5294.jpegIMG_5324.jpegIMG_5327.jpeg
 
When we arrived back in Naha the restaurant decision making process of ‘it must be full’ or with a wait line worked again. Tonight was tempura, we all had slightly different meals along the same theme . The restraunt drill was the same only bringing out small portions so it remains crispy. The photos are of my meal only and taken each time a before more pieces were added.IMG_5384.jpegIMG_5385.jpegIMG_5386.jpegIMG_5387.jpeg
 
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Great report and really enjoyed reading and the photos were so good.
can I ask what laundry facilities were available, if any at the accomodations you stayed at.
 
Great report and really enjoyed reading and the photos were so good.
can I ask what laundry facilities were available, if any at the accomodations you stayed at.
There was coin operated washing machines and seperate dryers at all the properties we stayed at (note not 100% sure about the one in Nagano as we did not need it). IME all the businessmen’s and Japanese hotels usually have laundry facilities also depending on the property some washing machines have inbuilt detergent dispensing, for those that don’t there will normally be a washing powder vending machine.
 
So today is a travel day and not a lot to report. My thoughts on Okinawa, it was always a place I thought I would like to visit but it was not high on my priority list. It was MissM who wanted to go and I figured we were going to be in Japan so why not. We enjoyed our time there and it was interesting as it is still Japan in so many respects but at the same time so different. This may make no sense unless you have been to the main islands and Okinawa. Even on the main islands there are differences and Okinawa is completely different. Okinawa is not large and when looking at what to do and the distance between place it looks easy and would be quick. Don’t be fooled into think getting from point A-B is as quick as in AU, in most places the speed limit is 40km/h and I got excited when we hit the 50 or 60km/h limits. The main expressway has a speed limit of 80km/h and is also a toll road. Would I go back again, the simple answer is yes as I would like to get to some on the other islands. Would it be a main holiday destination, most likely not but would certainly visit as a side trip when we come back to Japan or other countries in the region.
 
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