Day 5: Travel Day to Tokyo

Our Day 5 in Japan was scheduled to be our travel day to Tokyo. As such, we didn’t want to plan too much as we needed to catch the Nozomi bullet train in the afternoon. We started our final day in Osaka with another visit to the St. Marc Cafe that was located just outside of our restaurant.

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Afterwards, we headed back to Nakanoshima (a 3km sandbank that divides the Kyū-Yodo River) where they have a rose garden. It was quite surprising to see roses still in bloom even though we were here in late November.

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Tucked within a busy business district, Nakanoshima Rose Garden is a hidden gem that’s worth the time to visit. We were fortunate that the weather was bright and sunny and we took tons of pictures of winter roses. I imagine that the number of roses in bloom would be even more so in the spring.

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As you walk among the flowerbeds, you’ll notice that the roses are planted from different decades.

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The red brick Osaka City Central Public Hall during the day.

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As I mentioned, this was our travel day to Tokyo along the bullet train so we stopped at St. Marc Cafe to pick up some sandwiches for our trip.

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Now for the disaster/adventure that was our bullet train ordeal. I feel like we did everything that we were supposed to do. We arrived at the station with plenty of time to spare and purchased our reserved tickets for the Nozomi Shinkansen (the fastest train). We even got to the platform with time to spare. But that’s when everything took a turn for the worse. You see, we got on the wrong platform and didn’t realize this until only a few minutes before our train was due to depart… and everyone knows that Japan’s trains are known for sticking to a tight schedule.

So just imagine, if you will, the two of us trying to run through the busy train station, lugging our big suitcases up stairs and escalators. We finally managed to find our correct platform… but only in time to see our train close the doors and speed off. In retrospect, we probably could have made it onto the train if we just hopped onto the nearest car (the cars all connect to each other). After a bit of frantic effort, we were told that we could just hop onto the next train… but we’d have to take the non-reserved car and hope to find a seat. Most of the seats in the car were already full, but a gentlemen graciously moved to another seat so the two of us could sit together (in truth, he probably didn’t want to sit next to us and our huge suitcases).

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After that rough experience, we just hunkered in for our ride to Tokyo. The bullet train ride was actually quite smooth and the time seemed to pass by quicker than I thought it would. Fortunately, we had some experience navigating from Tokyo Station to our hotel during our visit the prior year because Tokyo Station is a mad house. Tokyo Station epitomizes everything you’ve ever heard about regarding confusing Japanese train stations. It’s just so huge and busy with so many different train lines… gives me a headache just thinking about it.

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We wound up staying at Hotel Niwa, a hotel located in the school district of Chiyoda and only a few blocks away from Tokyo Dome in Bunkyu. One of the reasons why we decided to come back to Hotel Niwa was because the hotel rooms were actually quite spacious.

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We were so tired from our travel adventure that we wanted to stay close to the hotel for our first night in Tokyo and decided to grab some food at a nearby restaurant. Our misadventures continued as the restaurant that we chose, Mensho Tokyo, had no English menus and we had some trouble ordering from the vending machine. Oh well, I suppose that’s what makes these trips more memorable.

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After our meal, we walked back to our hotel, stopping at the LaQua shopping centre to check out the Winter Illumination that they had on display.

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Anyone remember Ultraman?

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Tokyo Dome City has an amusement park which features a centreless Ferris wheel called “The Big O” and that has a roller coaster that passes through the centre of the wheel. A lot of the lights here change colour so it’s a nice spot to enjoy the light display.

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This covered walkway was one of my favourite spots because the lights change in interesting patterns.

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