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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Chugoku (Sanyo + San-in) 2015 日本中国 (山阴+山阳) - Via Inn Hiroshima ヴィアイン広島

Stayed 24.04.2015 (Fri)
Reserved via Jalan.net
- Single A room (with breakfast) = 7,800 yen
- Economy twin room (without breakfast) = 10,000 yen


Convenience & bonus. Via Inn Hiroshima beats other competitors hands down in terms of location - hotel is less than a minute walk away from Hiroshima JR Station. Via Inn is a relatively new brand under JR West group, following identical operating model like other popular budget business hotel chain such as Toyoko Inn and Super Hotel. Rooms are compact with limited walking space (economy twin room area is only 12 m2, similar to its single room) but enough for a good night rest. In fact, the decor of Via Inn's lobby is much more classy than what I have anticipated it to be (especially for a budget business hotel). Chic design and spacious environment make guests feel very comfortable upon arrival at the hotel lobby. Chose this hotel because its economy twin room was a bargain, especially for its strategic location. Its close proximity also allow half of the rooms to take in views of the train station, observe the commotion on the platforms and occasionally hear muffled sounds from trains - a bonus for train fans!

A peek at the train station at night from my room. I was really that close to the train station!

Daytime.
Complete with breakfast. There is no cafeteria in the hotel. Instead, Via Inn collaborates with two eateries situated right in front of the hotel, to provide breakfast for their guests. Guests are give the choice of western or Japanese style breakfast which is served in Cafe Di Espresso and Eki Zen (駅膳), respectively. Had the western breakfast set comprised of sandwiches and a drink.


What's nearby?

(1) Hiroshima Electric Railway (Streetcar) Station, located in front of Hiroshima JR Station South Exit.
- To Genbaku Dome (Atomic Bomb Dome) and Heiwa Kinen Koen (Peace Memorial Park), take Streetcar Route 1, 2 or 6 and alight at Genbaku Dome mae (原爆ドーム前).
Hiroden 広島電鉄: http://www.hiroden.co.jp/en/index.html

(2) Bus stops, located in front of Hiroshima JR Station South Exit.
Do note that the bus stop to board airport limousine bus departing for Hiroshima Airport is located on the Shinkansen exit of Hiroshima JR Station. 
Airport Limousine Bus: http://www.hiroko-group.co.jp/kotsu/kousoku/limousine/unchin-jikoku.htm

(3) Hiroshima Higashi Post Office 広島東郵便局; the building on the right upon exiting from the hotel.
Website: http://map.japanpost.jp/p/search/dtl/300151615000/?&cond200=1&&his=ar,nm

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Via Inn Hiroshima ヴィアイン広島
〒732-0822 広島県広島市南区松原町2-50
http://www.viainn.com/hiroshima/
1 min walk from Hiroshima JR Station South Exit.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Chugoku (Sanyo + San-in) 2015 日本中国 (山阴+山阳) - Hotel Flex ホテルフレックス, Cafe 43 (Kyarantotorowa キャランとトロワ)

Stayed 22.04.2015 - 23.04.2015 (2 nights)
Reserved thru' Jalan.net.
- Single Room (with breakfast) = 5,500 yen (facing buildings; 11 m2)
- Twin Room (with breakfast) = 11,000 yen (facing river; 23 m2)


Atypical. It was definitely atypical for me to choose a hotel which is not near the train station especially when I am staying in a city area. Came upon Hotel Flex when I was searching for accommodation in Hiroshima and was immediately attracted to its minimalist concept. Had second thoughts when I found out about its location (from the train station, we have to cross two bridges with our luggage) but could not suppress the desire to spend at least a night in this designer hotel. Have planned to stay in Hiroshima for three nights; eventually decided to allocate the first two nights for Hotel Flex and the last night to stay put in Via Inn Hiroshima, which is located just beside the train station.


Designer hotel. Situated on the riverbank where Kyobashi river and Enko river diverges; rooms facing east can get an excellent view of the river. Hotel Flex employs similar operating philosophy like other budget business hotels; however what makes it stands out from its competitors is its affordable yet boutique quality. Utilisation of white and blue as the main colour scheme and wooden parquet flooring bring out this comfy ambience that makes guest feel at home during their stay. Despite the small floor area of their guest rooms (only 11 m2 for single room), excellent space optimization was able to create adequate walking area within the compact living space. In fact, I was already quite enraptured by the dimmed lights in the lobby upon arrival at the hotel in the evening. It is amazing to see how different elements complements one another - bare and rustic concrete walls, modern wooden furniture and sophisticated chandelier lights, all in one space. Everything in general was good, and Hotel Flex is definitely one place that I will fondly remember Hiroshima city for.


Designer cafe. Cafe 43 occupies the first floor of Hotel Flex and both the hotel and cafe share the same service counter. Semi alfresco style with subtle European flair, makes you want to enjoy a moment of luxury here, allowing time to sweep past slowly over a cup of coffee or relaxed meal. On our first night here, we decided to try their popular handmade pan galette (a pancake made with buckwheat flour). Ordered two different kinds to share - caramel nuts (キャラメルナッツ) and berries with creamy vanilla sauce. Each order comes in three mouth watering pancakes, all crispy golden brown on the outside and soft on the inside. Their version of pancake is thicker and dense in texture. For me, one order was too stomach filling; will recommend to share with other 2 person especially if you decide to have it for dessert after lunch/dinner. My stay with Hotel Flex also came with breakfast; each set came with a sandwich, yogurt, fruit and drink (coffee, tea and juices). There is a variety of sandwich fillings to choose from; had duck ham and raspberry, and chicken and basil on two separate mornings. Both were equally good. Breakfast is something I treasure a lot whenever I am on holidays; and such simple and well balanced breakfast in a conducive environment is the best way to start off the day right. 




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Hotel Flex ホテルフレックス
〒730-0014 広島県広島市中区上幟町7-1
Approx 10 mins walk from Hiroshima JR Station.
http://www.hotel-flex.co.jp/

Cafe 43 (Kyarantotorowa キャランとトロワ)
1st floor of Hotel Flex
Operating hours: 0700 - 1000 hrs; 1130 - 1500 hrs; 1700 - 2100 hrs
http://aglolywithatable.net/43/hiroshima

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Hokuriku + Wakayama 2017 北陸,和歌山の旅 - Day 9: Yuasa 湯浅, Kishi 貴志, Wakayama 和歌山

Day 9: 31.03.2017 (Fri)


Breakfast: Umitsubaki Hayama 海椿葉山

Tsubaki JR 椿駅 (0859 hrs) > Shirahama JR 白浜駅 (0909 hrs)
by local train. [200 yen]

Shirahama JR 白浜駅 (0919 hrs) > Yuasa JR 湯浅駅 (1015 hrs)
by Kuroshio 12. [2,110 yen]


Visited Yuasa Shouyu 湯浅醬油.
http://www.yuasasyouyu.co.jp/


Visited Preservation District of Traditional Building 湯浅町湯浅伝統的建造物群保存地区.


Lunch: Ippuku いっぷく

Yuasa JR 湯浅駅 (1251 hrs) > Wakayama JR 和歌山駅 (1335 hrs)
by local train. [670 yen]

* Purchased 1 Day Wakayama Railway Pass. [780 yen]
http://kir406712.kir.jp/2016/03/31/%E5%92%8C%E6%AD%8C%E5%B1%B1%E9%9B%BB%E9%90%B5%E8%B2%B4%E5%BF%97%E5%B7%9D%E7%B7%9A1%E6%97%A5%E4%B9%97%E8%BB%8A%E5%88%B8/


Wakayama 和歌山駅 (1355 hrs) > Kishi 貴志駅 (1427 hrs)
by Ichigo Densha いちご電車, via Wakayama Railway Kishigawa line 和歌山電鉄貴志川線.


Visited Nitama にたま, at Kishi Station.


Kishi 貴志駅 (1533 hrs) > Wakayama 和歌山駅 (1606 hrs)
by Tama Densha たま電車, via Wakayama Railway Kishigawa line 和歌山電鉄貴志川線.

Wakayama Ekimae 和歌山駅前 > Koen Mae 公園前
by bus. [230 yen]


Visited Wakayama Castle 和歌山城. *Did not enter the castle. 
http://wakayamajo.jp/index.html


Dinner: Ramen Marui Junibancho マルイ十二番丁店
www.ramen-marui.com

Koen Mae 公園前 > Wakayama Ekimae 和歌山駅前
by bus. [230 yen]


Checked in: Toyoko Inn JR Wakayama Eki Higashi Guchi 東横インJR和歌山駅東口
http://www.toyoko-inn.com/hotel/00225/

- End of Day 9 -

Day 10: 01.04.2017 (Sat)

Breakfast: Toyoko Inn JR Wakayama Eki Higashi Guchi 東横インJR和歌山駅東口

Wakayama JR 和歌山駅 (0749 hrs) > Hineno JR 日根野駅 (0812 hrs)
by Kishuji Rapid Service.

Hineno JR 日根野駅 (0824 hrs) > Kansai Airport 関西空港 (0834 hrs)
by JR Kansai Airport Rapid Service. [890 yen]

KIX T1 (1055 hrs) > SIN T3 (1640 hrs)
by SQ619.

- End of Hokuruku + Wakayama 2017 trip -

Hokuriku + Wakayama 2017 北陸,和歌山の旅 - Day 8: Shirahama 白浜, Tsubaki Onsen 椿温泉

Day 8: 30.03.2017 (Thu)

Breakfast: Super Hotel Osaka Tennouji スーパホテル大阪天王寺

Tennouji JR 天王寺駅 (0725 hrs) > Wakayama JR 和歌山駅 (0826 hrs)
by Kishuji Rapid Service.

* Safe kept luggage in Toyoko Inn JR Wakayama Eki Higashi Guchi (Accommodation on Day 9) to travel light to Shirahama.

Shirahama JR Station.
Wakayama JR 和歌山駅 (0851 hrs) > Shirahama JR 白浜駅 (1009 hrs)
by Kuroshio 1. [3,340 yen]

* Purchased 1 Day Shirahama Onsen Pass. [1,100 yen]

Shirahama Ekimae 白浜駅前 (1025 hrs) > Adventure World アドベンチャーワールド (1033 hrs)
by Meiko Bus.


Visited Adventure World アドベンチャーワールド. [4,100 yen]
http://www.aws-s.com/english/

Adventure World アドベンチャーワールド (1416 hrs) > Sandanbeki 三段壁 (1428 hrs)
by Meiko Bus.


Visited Sandanbeki 三段壁. [1,100 yen]
http://www.nanki-shirahama.com/search/details.php?log=1332743453&nav=1



Sandanbeki 三段壁 (1544 hrs) > Senjojiki 千畳敷 (1545 hrs)
by Meiko Bus.



Visited Senjojiki 千畳敷.
http://www.nanki-shirahama.com/search/details.php?log=1332737678&nav=1

Senjojiki 千畳敷 (1628 hrs) > Rinkai 臨海 (1640 hrs)
by Meiko Bus.


Visited Engetsuto Island 円月島.
http://www.nanki-shirahama.com/search/details.php?log=1332736052

Shirahama Bus Center 白浜バスセンター (1724 hrs) > Shirahama Ekimae 白浜駅前 (1737 hrs)
by Meiko Bus.

Shirahama JR 白浜駅 (1806 hrs) > Tsubaki JR 椿駅 (1815 hrs)
by local train. [200 yen]


Checked in: Umitsubaki Hayama 海椿葉山
http://umitubakihayama.com/


Dinner: Umitsubaki Hayama 海椿葉山

- End of Day 8 -

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Hokuriku + Wakayama 2017 北陸,和歌山の旅 - Day 7: Katsuyama 勝山, Eiheiji 永平寺

Day 7: 29.03.2017 (Wed) 

Breakfast: Hotel Econo Fukui Ekimae ホテルエコノ福井駅前

Fukui 福井駅 (0828 hrs) > Katsuyama 勝山駅 (0931 hrs)
by Echizen Tetsudo えちぜん鉄道, via Katsuyama Eiheiji line 勝山永平寺線.

Katsuyama 勝山駅 (0933 hrs) > Kyoryu Hakubutsukan 福井県立恐竜博物館 (0947 hrs)
by bus. [300 yen]


Visited Kyoryu Hakubutsukan 福井県立恐竜博物館. [720 yen 620 yen, discounted rate with Hokuriku Arch Pass]
https://www.dinosaur.pref.fukui.jp/

Kyoryu Hakubutsukan 福井県立恐竜博物館 (1233 hrs) > Katsuyama 勝山駅 (1245 hrs)
by bus. [300 yen]

Katsuyama 勝山駅 (1249 hrs) > Eiheiji Guchi 永平寺口 (1320 hrs)
by Echizen Tetsudo えちぜん鉄道, via Katsuyama Eiheiji line 勝山永平寺線.

Eiheiji Guchi 永平寺口 (1325 hrs) > Eiheiji 永平寺 (1339 hrs)
Keifuku bus. [410 yen]


Lunch: Teraguchi てらぐち


Visited Eiheiji 永平寺. [500 yen]
http://kankou.town.eiheiji.lg.jp/guide/

Eiheiji (1620 hrs) 永平寺 > Fukui Ekimae 福井駅前 (1649 hrs)
by Express Bus Eiheiji Liner. [720 yen]


Visited Asuwagawa 足羽川.
http://www.city.fukui.lg.jp/kurasi/koutu/kasen/asuwa.html


Dinner: Yo-roppaken Souhonten ヨーロッパ軒総本店
http://yo-roppaken.gourmet.coocan.jp/

Fukui JR 福井駅 (1841 hrs) > Shin Osaka JR 新大阪駅 (2034 hrs)
by Thunderbird 42.

Shin Osaka JR 新大阪駅 (2100 hrs) > Tennouji JR 天王寺駅 (2119 hrs)
by Haruka 53.

Checked in: Super Hotel Osaka Tennouji スーパーホテル大阪・天王寺
http://www.superhotel.co.jp/s_hotels/tennouji/tennouji.html

- End of Day 7 -

Monday, May 8, 2017

Hokuriku + Wakayama 2017 北陸,和歌山の旅 - Day 6: Tojinbo 東尋坊, Mikuni Minato 三国湊

Day 6: 28.03.2017 (Tue)


Visited Kosouyu 古総湯.
Breakfast: Kai Kaga 界加賀

Yamashiro Onsen 山代温泉 (0935 hrs) > Kaga Onsen JR 加賀温泉駅前 (0951 hrs)
by bus. [250 yen]

Kaga Onsen JR 加賀温泉駅 (1013 hrs) > Fukui JR 福井駅 (1035 hrs)
by Shirasagi 6.

Checked in: Hotel Econo Fukui Ekimae ホテルエコノ福井駅前
http://www.greens.co.jp/hefukui

* Purchased Echizen Tetsudo 2 Day Pass. [1,500 yen, discounted rate with Hokuriku Arch Pass]

Fukui 福井駅 (1109 hrs) > Mikuniminato 三国港駅 (1158 hrs)
by Echizen Tetsudo えちぜん鉄道, via Mikuni Awara line 三国芦原線.
Lunch: Tajima 田島
Mikuni Minato 三国港 (1342 hrs) > Tojinbo 東尋坊 (1354 hrs)
by Keifuku bus. [190 yen]


Visited Tojinbo 東尋坊.
Tojinbo 東尋坊 (1528 hrs) > Mikuni Ekimae 三国駅前 (1537 hrs)
by Keifuku bus. [270 yen]


Break: Mikuni Minato Za 三国湊座
http://mikuni-minato.jp/za/


Visited Old Morita Bank Main Office 旧森田銀行本店.
http://mikunikaisyo.org/morita/

Mikuni 三国駅 (1741 hrs) > Fukui 福井駅 (1831 hrs)
by Echizen Tetsudo えちぜん鉄道, via Mikuni Awara line 三国芦原線.


Dinner: Akiyoshi Yakitori 秋吉やきとり
http://www.akiyoshi.co.jp/shop/access_map/fukui/ekimae.html

- End of Day 6 -

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Shikoku Autumn 2014 四国秋季之旅 - Kazurabashi かずら橋, Oboke Iya Regular Sightseeing Tour Bus 大歩危・祖谷定期観光バス

Visited 18.11.2014 (Tue)


Designated national cultural asset. Miyoshi-shi is a mountainous countryside area, where Mount Tsurugi (Tsurugi-san 剣山) , the second highest mountain on the island of Shikoku, is located in. Kazurabashi is a suspension bridge made from the vines of Actinidia auguta (a hardy kiwifruit) and is reconstructed every three years. Origin of this vine bridge can be traced back to close to a millennium ago, when the Heike Clan lost the Geppei war with Minamoto Clan, fled from Kyoto and settled down in this secluded region. Kazurabashi is about 45 m long, 2 m wide, weighs approximately 5 tons and is suspended 15 m above water. Bridge was constructed to facilitate movement across the gorge in this remote area by the Heike Clan and could be cut off anytime to protect themselves from enemies. Apart from the legend behind this bridge, the gorgeous natural backdrop of wilderness that Kazurabashi is set against to is what make this place so fascinating to many visitors. 


Cross with caution. Experienced for myself how people crossed this daunting looking bridge in the old days. Despite the bridge being relatively wide, one way traffic is only allowed here. The gap between the wooden planks is actually wide enough to put a foot through, therefore I had give up photo taking to hold both hands on the side and literally took baby steps to complete the traverse across the gorge. After crossing the bridge, we were welcomed by the sight of Biwa no taki (琵琶の滝), a 50 m high waterfall, whose name came from a Japanese lute played by Heike Clan as they reminisced the good old days by this natural water feature. Was given ample time to capture and soak myself into the picturesque scenery of Kazurabashi, Iya river and autumn foliage, couldn't help but awe at this mysteriously beautiful landscape right in front of my eyes.

Biwa no taki.
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Kazurabashi かずら橋
三好市西祖谷山村善徳162-2
Operating hours: Sunrise to sunset, open throughout the year
Admission fee = 550 yen
https://www.awanavi.jp/feature/kazurabashi.html

How to get there? 

(1) Local buses
From Oboke JR Station:
- Shikoku Kotsu Bus (四国交通バス), Iya line (祖谷線)
Bus schedule: http://yonkoh.co.jp/pdf/timetable/009.pdf
* Note that additional buses are operated only on weekends & public holidays between Apr and Nov.
- Miyoshi-shien Bus 三好市営バス, Kazurabashi/Oboke line (かずら橋・大歩危線)
Bus schedule: https://www.miyoshi.i-tokushima.jp/fs/2/0/2/0/9/_/h28nishiiyajikokuhyousasikae.PDF

From Awa Ikeda JR Station:
- Shikoku Kotsu Bus (四国交通バス), Iya line (祖谷線).

(2) Oboke Iya Regular Sightseeing Tour Bus 大歩危・祖谷定期観光バス
One of the best (and fastest) way to cover most of the attractions in Miyoshi, is to sign up for this 1 day sightseeing tour bus service offered by Shikoku Kotsu. Sale of tickets starts 3 months before excursion date and reservation can be made through either email or phone. The price of the entire sightseeing bus tour includes lunch, admission fees to Kazurabashi [550 yen] and Heike Yashiki Museum of Folklore [500 yen], and Oboke sightseeing boat cruise ticket [1,080 yen]. Bus departs from Awa Ikeda JR Station at 1045 hrs and returns to the same train station at around 1620 hrs. For my trip, since we were staying in Iya Onsen for the night, I requested the staff from Shikoku Kotsu (through the help of the tourist information center at Tokushima JR Station) to liaise with the ryokan Iya Onsen Wanoyado) to pick us up from Oboke sightseeing boat cruise center, the last place of interest on the itinerary, instead of returning to the train station with the rest on the sightseeing bus.

Price = 7,500 yen (adults); 7,000 yen (child)
Period of operation: Daily in May, August, October and November; Weekends and public holidays in March, April, June, July and September.
Itinerary: Awa Ikeda JR Station > Iya Valley and statue of pissing boy > Lunch > Kazurabashi > Heike Yashiki Museum of Folklore > Michi no eki Oboke > Oboke sightseeing boat cruise > Awa Ikeda JR Station

Website: http://yonkoh.co.jp/
Email to make seat reservation: yonkoh@arion.ocn.ne.jp
Check seats availability: http://secure.j-bus.co.jp/web/asp/HnCurceDate.asp?gpcd=360303&rocd=0001&bncd=0001&mode=1


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Video: Scroll to 42:30 for 爱玩志's feature on Kazurabashi.