Unwinding the Journey
Today we travelled back from Shibu Onsen to Nagoya, by means of the train departing from Yudanaka station. There was plenty of time to eat breakfast at the hotel again and pack before our hotel-provided transport back to the station at 9:40 am. Although Shibu Onsen accommodations were the most expensive part of our trip (running around 200 USD per night), the meals we ate there were some of our best and the onsen experience is unforgettable.
The train departed Yudanaka Station quite full of tourists also checking out that morning.
Layover in Nagano Station
After about 50 minutes, the train from Yudanaka arrived at Nagano Station. We had about an hour layover before the Limited Express train to Nagoya. Within that hour we had to purchase tickets for our next segment and, avoiding the same mistake as last time, purchase a boxed lunch to eat on the long train ride.
We encountered two difficulties with the first goal. Unlike the machines in Osaka, the automated ticket machines in Nagano would not take my MasterCard. Furthermore, the ATM located closest to the ticket machines did not have an English mode, making it too risky to attempt to navigate. Not wanting to waste any more time, we stood in line for a ticket agent. Although the line moved sluggishly (there are many foreign tourists that needed help plotting the course to their next destination), they had no difficulty accepting our credit card. The lesson seems to be that in addition to carrying enough cash for your next accommodations and food, you’ll save time by having cash to pay for your next train tickets (the automated machines do accept cash).
Next we purchased a bento box to eat on the train from a vendor in the train station (there are many to choose from). In the time remaining I was also able to locate a 7-Eleven ATM on the first floor of the train station, from which I was able to get some additional cash.
We then settled in for our three hour ride to Nagoya.
Hotel in Nagoya
There was not much time left in the evening for activities in Nagoya. We checked into our hotel, Dormy Inn Premium.
This hotel is located a few blocks off of the Higashimaya subway line in Nagoya. Rooms are small (average size by Japanese city hotel standards), but the hotel is clean and feels modern. The biggest draw of this hotel is the luxurious public bath on the second floor. There is both an indoor and outdoor tub for soaking, a cold pool, and a sauna. We felt right at home after our time at Shibu Onsen. In the same facilities, the hotel also provides free laundry (though the dryer costs 100 JPY per 20 minutes). For those not interested in the public bath, the rooms do come equipped with their own showers.
Dinner in Nagoya
For dinner we ate at a ramen restaurant: Ichiren Nagoya Sakae. The format of this restaurant is certainly unconventional by western standards, but it is tailored for efficiency for both the staff and the guest.
To pay for your order, you start by purchasing tickets near the entry.
It is a bit like ordering from a vending machine, but rather than the actual item coming out, you get a little paper ticket. I ordered the basic ramen dish, with a side of a soft-boiled egg and seaweed.
Then, you go inside and take a seat at a long counter. Near the entrance there is a board with lights that shows you which seats are free. Go take a seat. There is a little pad of forms where you mark how specifically you’d like your ramen cooked, and which additional sides you’d like.
Next, push a button to summon a server. They will collect your form and your paper tickets that show you paid. A few minutes later, your food will appear.
If you’d like some water, there is a tap right at your table!
Back at the Hotel
Since I forgot to order one with my ramen, I finished out the evening with a can of Japanese beer from the vending machine.