Godzilla and Gyoza

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April 7th 2017
Published: April 8th 2017
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Did I mention that our hotel has a 20 meter tall Godzilla head pertruding from it's 8th floor? And that on the hour it roars, flashes coloured lights and sprays a mist over the balcony? Sooooo Japan! Tourists watch from the street below, but the locals walk by without a blink of the eye. There are so many people here. The city stretches to the horizon with high-rise hotels, skyscrapers and department stores. A panorama from our 26th floor hotel is ALL city! There are 13,000,000 people in Tokyo! That's half the population of Australia in one city!

And Shinjuku station has so many JR, metros, suburban and shinkansen lines intersecting beneath it that it blows your mind. There is something like 40 platforms! We got crammed into the train to Harajuku yesterday, and it wasn't even "peak" hour. It's ok if you're 6ft something, but it must be quite claustrophobic for Deaks, Jules and particularly Milla. They take it all in their stride though - these kids are good travellers. Deaks has been pretty happy that he is as tall as most of the women in Tokyo and not far below most of the men.

We make the short trip across town to Tokyo station. It's a 13 minute express train across town and yet we are still in the thick of the city. It's like catching an express train to Sandgate but still being in the CBD. This city is huge! And Tokyo station is not as big, but just as confusing to navigate. We thankfully leave ourselves plenty of time. There are 23 Shinkansen platforms and none of them say Kanazawa nor the name of the train. I did see 563, which is the train number and it did say 12:24, which is the departure time...but no platform number. We have to line up and awkwardly ask the ticket guy, and all he says is 'nex door', "nex door'. We find the 563 on a board and we make it in planty of time.

Sitting on the shinkansen to Kanazawa with snow covered mountains to our left and farmland to our right. The shinkansens are fast and yet it took a good half and hour after we left Tokyo station for the city to give way to the farms and factories. I saw some familiar names on the factories - Nissan, Mitsubishi, Toto - and the odd baseball field and soccer pitch. Each had crusher dust or gravel where the grass should be. Further out and there are more farms and less town. Every street of these towns is spotless yet you don't see anybody cleaning.

We must be actually travelling through the mountains. Some of these tunnels are epic. It feels like we are going about 200 km/hour. The seats are spacious and the toliets are massive. You could literally swing a cat in them. You do need an IT degree to close the door and wash your hands, but I know the symbol for bumwasher now and I finish off my business in style. I'm sold on it. And I think it cleans your back-end like no paper can. Jules and Deaks aren't so sure but I just don't think they leave it on long enough. Nor do they move around enough to position the jet in the right spot for that all-over clean. Milla is still a little reluctant to give it a go but I think she'll come around. While I'm not sure I'm prepared to fork out the $ to get one installed at home, I do know that the head office of CBA in Brisbane is in a Japanese owned building and these toiliets come as standard in their fit-outs. Guess I'll be booking more meetings with the CBA guys when I get back - a 9 am meeting would suit my bobu clock just fine.

I think I might of had a snooze on the train, the 3 hours went very quickly. We're in Kanazawa and we can't access the directions and instructions for the airbnb on my phone or tablet. Wifi is required and once we leave the station it is lost! There's a pocket wifi at the airbnb, but we have to get there first! We put our heads together and come up with a solution - Jules takes a photo of the email attachment on my phone and we show that to a taxi driver. Once again, the written japanes must be open for interpretation or maybe the way they write there addresses isn't clear. He finally gets it and I'm watching his tom-tom like a hawk. I know roughly where it is in relation to the river and it looks like he's heading in the right direction.

We are dropped off outside our building, we open the right letter box (403) and spin the combos on the key safe inside. The key is ours and we lug our suitcases up 4 floors to a cute little 2 bedroom apartment with futons and ricepaper sliding partitions. Shoes off, slippers on and we are liking Kanazawa already. It appears our apartment is in one of the geisha areas and the buildings around us look quite historic.

We wander into town to find a supermarket and to have some dinner. The kids both say they like Kanazawa more than Tokyo and wish we could stay here longer. The kids are so calm when we're travelling that you forget how scary Tokyo might be. It's intimidating to me and I'm 42 and I've been here before. It must have been quite a shock. Particularly Shinjuku at 11pm on a Wednesday night. Anyway they are pretty comfortable with Kanazawa. I tried to talk up Kyoto but they know that it's more touristy and that means more crowds.

Kanazawa has a big river running beside the main part of town and little canals through the city centre. Jules finds some samurai houses while searching for the supermarket. We stroll through the streets under the cherry blossoms and find a little Ramen and craft beer place. Milla orders fish and chips out of habit but regrets not ordering the ramen like the rest of us. Probably should have explained it as just like 2 minute noodles with bigger chunks. She love her maggi 2 min noodles! Deaks has picked up chopsticks with aplomb and is grabbing noodles, pork and the odd french frie from Milla's plate. I had a glass of Kyoto Brewing Company Pale Ale and Jules had a plum wine with green tea. She's found her new drink!

We stop at the mini market and manage to find what looks like rice bubbles for the kids breakfast tomorrow. We also think we've bought butter and milk but we''ll wait and see. I almost bought a 6 pack of the smallest Asahi I've ever seen. I think it was a 100ml can for about a $1. But I'll stick with the 350ml for $2 thank you very much.

We wander back to the Airbnb chatting. A dozen teenage boys ride their bicycles through an intersection, everyone of them chugging a can of free red bull from the promo girls standing on the corner. It's friday night and people are drifting into the CBD. We are heading home for a sleep on our futons and looking forward to a busy day exploring what Kanazawa has to offer.


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