I just realized that I haven’t written a post about Japan in a long time, oops. So today, will be a post about the trip I went on last month. I went to the town of Mishima in the Shizuoka prefecture. Note that in the case of Japan, “town” means an urban area of 100,000 people. From most other countries, that would be a major city. Anyway, read on from for a small account of my trip.
There really isn’t a whole lot of reason to head to Mishima besides their unagi don, but I’ll get to that in a bit. The reason I went in any case was to go see my Japanese friend who lives there :). The train journey itself was rather interesting, so I’ll explain that too.
In Japan, there is slow rail and the bullet train. In my case, since I’m poor, I had to use the slow rail, which involved switching between two rail systems, five transfers, and a travel time of 4hr 45. In contrast, taking the bullet train would take only a little more than an hour. To compound the problem, there is no coherent overall map. So you’re stuck with trying to piece together maps from different services. The map below is the one of the Meitetsu Line. I had to take the route that I’ve drawn in red. Riding the express trains, it took me around 1hr 30 minutes.
At the last station Toyohashi, I had to switch trains to the JR Tokaido line. For some reason, there are no maps of the actual Tokaido line, but the trains go very very far. The Tokaido line runs alongside the ancient rode that used to connect Tokyo to Kyoto, or so I’ve heard. Along the road there use to be towns which people used to stop at for lodging or food. It’s no surprise that these old towns have developed into major metropolises and are now major train stations as well.
Thanks to the fact that no train actually runs the entire length of the Tokaido line, I had to switch at the major stops to keep going. Next stop Hamamatsu.
Another interchange at Shizuoka, and 5 hours after I departed…. MISHIMA! The total fare was 4,400 yen. The bullet train is roughly double, but takes about 1/4 the time.
Mishima is a city located somewhere in the foothills of mount Fuji. As a result, many rivers pass by the city which are fed by run off from the top of the mountain. The town itself celebrates the abundance of water with lots of fountains, parks, and related tourist attractions
First things first, lunch! I covered the unagi don that was served, but I never mentioned the restaurant. Arugably the most famous restaurant in Mishima, Sakura-ya!
Thanks to the ginormous line for the restaurant, you have to sit outside. However, the restaurant itself is next to a river, so it was actually quite cool.
After about an hour’s wait, we finally had our lunch. In case you forgot, it was unagi 🙂
There really isn’t all that much to see in the town, but we took a walk anyway. Along one of the bigger rivers, they setup these catwalks that are only wide enough for one person. Getting through was a mess of “sumimasen” and “gomenasai”, for excuse me and sorry. Though my friend, who’s a local had no such problems.
Mishima is quite the multi-faith city with buddist temples, Shinto shrines, and even Christian churches all built close to each other. Make sure you can tell the difference or else people will get upset.
These doll looking things are what people put up when an infant dies I believe. Not a good thing to be taking pictures of. Of course, my friend only kindly informed me of the fact AFTER the picture was taken.
Next up we have the biggest shrine in Mishima. Unfortunately, I have forgotten the name. I’m sure my friend will post here and kindly remind me of it soon though :P.
When making a wish, you need to toss in a coin that has a value with a number of 5 in for some reason. That means you can either toss in 5 yen, 50 yen, or 500 yen. Obviously, most people are stingy and go for the 5 yen though. Went through the whole toss coin in, clap clap, bow, make a wish, clap, clap, bow routine, let’s see if my wish comes true :). There’s also an unspoken rule that animals are not to be obstructed in the proximity of a shrine, was news to me when I first heard it.
Keeping with the theme of water, there are parks set by river banks that make them a great place to spend the time.
And finally, there’s cultural center, which is in the town center with a bunch of karaoke places. An interesting point about the karaoke places for the week I was there. The K-ON OP and ED were the #1 and #2 most popular karaoke songs in Joysound across Japan. Vocaloid songs made up the #6-10 spots in the ranking. The power of otakus in Japan is astounding.
Mishima is really a nice place to live and visit to get a taste of a Japanese suburb. None of the hustle and bustle of the city, but in exchange there isn’t a whole lot to do either :). Ah well, I thoroughly enjoyed my time there.
Time to wrap it up with three pics I took as I was walking home from my station.
Ah well, That’s it for this trip. Well then, until next time! Thanks for reading!