From Gujo to Tokyo

A few days ago James and I went to Gujo, which was insanely far from our hotel in Osaka. It took us about four hours to get there by bullet train and three local trains. When we arrived, we saw snow covering the ground and the mountains in the distance. By then we were already used to the cold weather. I should also mention that at the stations there are heated waiting rooms, and all the subway trains, railway trains (yep, there’s a difference!) and bullet trains have heating.

After we picked up a map we headed to the Sample Village Iwasaki, the production centre for wax & plastic food models. In Japan (and in Japanese restaurants/eateries around the world), there are often fake food models in shop windows that are designed to look exactly like the real dish, so that you know what your food looks like and you don’t have to pick and guess at the names of menu items. They became popular when restaurant owners realised their income was increasing with the use of the food replicas.

Gujohachiman station
Gujohachiman station
The train we just got off
The train we just got off
Instant green tea from a vending machine!
Instant green tea from a vending machine!
Outside the Sample Village Iwasaki
Outside the Sample Village Iwasaki

At Sample Village Iwasaki we were able to have a go at creating our own plastic food. James made a fruit tart and I made a parfait. We were also shown how prawn tempura and lettuce were made with wax in hot water. It was amazing watching the way the demonstrator pulled the floating puddle of wax under the water and it expanded into a long elliptical shape. She then rolled it into a ball of lettuce, tossing it into cold water to harden the wax. 😧 I didn’t take any photos inside because I didn’t want to be rude. They might not have liked it. But they were extremely thrilled that we travelled a long way to visit.

They had a bunch of items on sale and a little exhibit of how some of the model fish were made. I bought a bunch of keyrings for my friends and family. I was tempted to get a huge bowl of some model food but it would probably only be sitting as a decoration in our house so I decided against it. I’m not really fond of buying things that only serve as decoration without any specific use. It tickles the hoarding monster inside me, and I really hate owning a lot of stuff that doesn’t have much use. 😶

Main river in Gujo
Main river in Gujo

Afterwards, we walked out into the snow again and walked to Gujo-Hachiman castle, the highest point in the city. I was wearing two pairs of stockings under my boots and although my boots are extremely sturdy, they are not waterproof, so I ended up with wet feet after some time. James bought some new waterproof sneakers in Hong Kong so he was wearing those to test their claim, and his feet thankfully survived the journey. James and I haven’t seen snow since 2007 (which was back in high school), and James was so amazed he kept occasionally reaching down to make snowballs.

Walking up the mountain to the castle
Walking up the mountain to the castle
James made a snowball
James made a snowball
Me at the top of the mountain near the castle
Me at the top of the mountain near the castle
Gujo-Hachiman castle
Gujo-Hachiman castle
View of Gujo
View of Gujo
Sun slowly setting
Sun slowly setting
I took photos from as many angles as I could
I took photos from as many angles as I could
Such a lovely, small town
Such a lovely, small town

The view from the top of the castle was wonderful. We could see all the small houses topped with snow, and it got really sunny just before the sun set. Entry to the castle was a few hundred yen, but it was certainly worth it for the view. After admiring the view, we decided to make it back down the mountain before it got too dark. The sun sets way too fast here.

The next day I bought some new shoes in Kyoto because I didn’t want to wear my wet boots. I really hate shoe shopping because my feet are really small and it is just very hard to find shoes that fit my feet. Japanese people have small feet, though, so it wasn’t too much of an issue. But they also seem to like their high heels so I ended up buying two heeled boots. They were only ¥3000 which wasn’t too bad.

We spent the rest of the day in the Nishiki Market browsing all the food and souvenirs. It was a nice change from the bright lights in Shinsaibashi.

The next day we were off to Tokyo, but before we caught the bullet train we checked out of our hotel and went to the Monkey Park in Arashiyama. We weren’t allowed to feed them, and we were advised not to look them in the eye and to stay at least a few metres away from them. We had to walk up a mountain to see the majority of the monkeys. They were really cute and interesting to watch.

Monkey enclosure
Monkey enclosure
A monkey by a pair of lookout binoculars
A monkey by a pair of lookout binoculars
A view of Arashiyama
A view of Arashiyama
Another view of Arashiyama
Another view of Arashiyama
Monkeys walking around after a feeding session
Monkeys walking around after a feeding session
The monkeys liked to pick and eat fleas off each other.
The monkeys liked to pick and eat fleas off each other.
A little monkey hanging out
A little monkey hanging out
Another pair of monkeys cleaning each other
Another pair of monkeys cleaning each other
James and this monkey have something in common...
James and this monkey have something in common…

The train ride to Tokyo was really tiring, for some reason. It took four hours to get there. We checked into our apartment near Bakurocho station and have been there for the past couple of days. Tokyo is a lot more exciting than Osaka, that’s for sure. The station was crazy busy, full of people at around 6:00pm. Yesterday we ate breakfast at Denny’s and went to Skytree Town.

The subway tickets are awfully tiny
The subway tickets are awfully tiny
Here comes an express (rapid) subway service
Here comes an express (rapid) subway service
Skytree tower
Skytree tower
James trying naan and curry in Skytree town
James trying naan and curry in Skytree town
We had crepes from Cold Stone Creamery
We had crepes from Cold Stone Creamery

We had crepes in the late afternoon. We were going to go to Sumida Aquarium but it didn’t look that interesting and was also really expensive so we walked home for fun, and when we got home James cooked some spaghetti with the groceries we bought that morning.

Walking home from Tokyo Skytree tower
Walking home from Tokyo Skytree tower
We crossed a bridge along the way
We crossed a bridge along the way
Long exposure shot of a boat going across the water
Long exposure shot of a boat going across the water

Hope you all have a merry Christmas! 🙂

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Comments on this post

Wow! So you guys are actually living in apartments during your stay? I thought they had hotels? Or did you just choose to call the hotel rooms apartments?

How much in total was this trip? Can you guess at it? It seems as though you’re having a blast while in Japan! Have you been to any of the old villages yet? I hope you get too!

Merry Christmas to you and to James all the way in Japan! I’m quite jealous! I finally got a chance to meet Tristan’s mom and siblings! I friend requested them on Facebook once we got home, and voila, I’m now friends with them. I also got a little gift from them as well. That was unexpected. I hope you guys are having a blast in Japan during this winter season!

Wow that’s simply lovely! I want to go to Japan one day. It’s been one of my dreams for a while. ♥️ I love the snow there too, all the pictures just look gorgeous.

And with all the monkeys running around. Oh goodness, I’d probably be freaking out with excitement from all of that. 😆

And I hate buying shoes, too. I have what seems to be a common shoe size because whenever I try to buy shoes, they never have them in my size!! 😒 It’s so irritating.

Oh my gosh what an amazing time. You are making me want to go there! I especially love the monkeys. I just think they are so cute and would love to get that close to them. All the ones I have seen are just behind cages. What a wonderful experience!

It looks like you had a fabulous trip! The castle definitely doesn’t look like what I’m used to from Irish or Italian castles 🙂. What’s the history of Japanese castles? What were they used for and who lived there?
Lovely views too, from the mountain. And snow!!! I’ve missed snow this Christmas.

Oh Georgie, your photos are so beautiful… Gujo looks like a very very pretty little town, all covered in snow!
was there an Instant Green tea machine like Instant coffee machines over there? Now that was something different…!
Even have the same problem while buying shoes, cuz I can never find shoes of my size (I’ve small feet too)… and I am not really found of heels… prefer snickers or sandles…

Merry Christmas to You too, Georgie and wish you a very happy New Year!:D 😄

It looks beautiful in Gujo! I especially love the photo of the main river, and the town looks so pretty with all the snow covered tops 🙂 I think that’s smart of them to have wax models of their food. I can see how it’d attract more customers!

Wow, there’s so many monkeys in that park. I think it’s cool that there are areas like that instead of just viewing them in a zoo.

It looks like you’re having a great time in Japan! I’m jealous!

Ahhhh, Japan! You’re so lucky! ♥️ I’d love to visit there some time, especially round the holiday season, but it’s so expensive 😕

Also every time I visit your blog I’m tempted to start a blog again and do all that website stuff I used to do 😚

Aw Danette, you know you’ll give in some time! It would be great to see you blogging again. 🙂 I used to have so much other stuff on my website but now it is centred around my blog.

If I do (I really might someday soon) I think I’ll stick to using a pseudonym. I don’t like being very public with my personal information. I have a possible host in mind but their rules state “little to no cursing,” and I quite like being profane ;O

I love all the pictures you took! Japan is really beautiful. I wish to go there too some time 🙂

I’m glad that you’re having such a wonderful time in Japan.

Japan looks so beautiful! You’ve captured the beauty perfectly in your pictures. Green tea from a vending machine sounds like fun! Japan is one of the places that I’d really like to visit. This sounds weird, but if I could have any animal in the world as a pet, I’d choose monkeys (baby monkeys), they’re adorable!