25/26 March 2012
Once escaped from the ravenous den of inbound immigration, having battled gypsies whilst jostling to maintain my position in the lengthy queue, we made our way via the Nankai railway to the small city of Wakayama, population 370,000. Here, we were to get some rest, and wake up rejuvenated for our trip up to Hokkaido the next day.
For a country famed for its 24-hour cities, this was certainly one that decided a little shut-eye never did any harm.
As we walked the kilometre from the train station to the hotel along main roads at around 8:30pm, admittedly on a Sunday evening. It was eerily quiet. Businesses were closed, the streets were almost devoid of cars, and we passed maybe only a handful of people on the walk. It strangely felt like a parallel universe resembling home, but with different signs, brands, language, and roadworks.
We stopped to admire the very colourful lights set up around a site set up for kerb replacement down the main street. A scintillating array of flashing red lights lit the path. Suffice to say, this picture certainly does not do the scene justice.
Did I mention it was cold? It took about 15 seconds after hopping off the train to realise I had definitely under-packed in the warm garment category.
Soon after, we arrived at the Tokyu Inn. In the absence of open restaurants, I settled in to a warm cup of noodles. Which the Japanese kettles seem perfectly designed to cater for. I then quietly ate, marvelling at the illuminated castle that faced us across the road.