Since we stayed at J-Hoppers for 5 days, we got a free bike day. After packing our things, Georgie and myself went biking for about 2 hours and made sure to be back by noon as we had to go meet Kayo at 1PM for a day trip to Nara. When we returned, Daniel showed us his bike that he had purchased for roughly 300CAD. It was a foldable bike called Yeah. We said our goodbyes as he went on his way enroute to Tokyo while we waited for Shela’s return. She had taken the train to Nando station for a 100¥ shop and found Japanese peaches. She had to wait for the bus which made her late, luckily we called Kayo to let her know we would be late. We arrived at the station to meet with Kayo quickly and purchased our ticket to Nara which was 480¥ (our most expensive one just yet for a single ride). To get through the ticket gate from our station, you had to combine the tickets into the ticket slot and then it spat back out the Nara ticket. The train went around the mountain and gave us a nice scenic view.
We went directly for the deer park and grabbed the deer crackers 150¥ a pack. The deers have been in Nara for thousands of years so they roam free. If you bow to them, they will bow to you for food. But be aware, the deers swarm when they see food. They are suppose to be polite but occasionally they will headbutt you in the butt or pull on your shirt for food so when you don’t have any crackers left you are to show them your hands to show them there is nothing left. It was very cute to see the kids make them bow. The Sika deer are free roaming especially in the park but they do go into town. The deer have become symbols of luck and have a slight deity status which makes them sacred and protected so killing one could be punishable by death. Even if you don’t have food, it is great to see that if you bow to a deer they will bow back to you.
We also went to see the Big Buddha in the temple which cost 500¥. Nothing too special but the courtyard was beautiful and the grass was pristine.
We ate near the train station where we had udon noodles. For only 680¥, I grabbed the egg soup udon noodles which was the perfect size and so delicious. We also found the Daiso (which is Japan’s 100¥ shop) selling pretty much anything and everything you could need for a home. On the train heading home, there were these 2 gentlemen sitting across from us – you could clearly tell they had been drinking. At one point they stood up but wasn’t fast enough to get off at their stop so they stayed on. One of the guys then decided to approach Kayo to tell her that he thought we are all beautiful ladies and gave us a box of special sushi. Fruits and sushi are given as gifts for any occasion. We aren’t sure as to what kind of sushi at this point but Kayo tells us that it is good. However, that man didn’t want to get off the train but his friend got too embarrassed and made both of them get off. As the train pushed away, the man kept waving frantically.
When we returned to J-Hoppers, Shela cut open the peaches she bought earlier and we ate them before we left. At first, the first piece I had wasn’t anything special but then I took a piece from the second peach and it was so good! The skin has a softer texture to what I’m used to and it is just so juicy. Those peaches were incredibly tasty and unlike the regular peaches back home.
We have had an amazing high of 28, low of 15 degree weather since we arrived in Japan so a light shower came down as we grabbed our things from J-hoppers and departed for our new home for the night – Capsule Hotel Asahi Plaza in Shinsaibashi. We really wanted to experience what it would be like to sleep overnight in a capsule. We arrived and tried to get settled. The thing is a capsule hotel is very simple and bare. You take off your shoes immediately and put them into a designated shoe locker, grab the key and give it to front desk (you should remember your number). There are lockers for charging and maybe 1 plug inside the capsule areas. You get a capsule key holder with a big key and a small key – the big one opens the main corridor for the women’s only section (there are single gendered & co-ed dorms as well) and the small one is for your locker where you can store things. Mind you, it is tiny – 88CMx24CMx44CM so you can throw things in there like your personal bag and things you would need from your luggage. If it is too large, the luggage gets stored at reception for 200¥ a night but the good thing is that 200¥ gives you 24 hours of storage.
The bathing area is an open area with 1 stand up shower and 5 sitting with a tub to soak in – very traditional Japanese style bathhouse arrangement. Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body sponge and facial wash are provided for you. So the proper etiquette for taking a shower in this onsen is you go into the main room of the shower room where there are little lockers to store your clothes and lock it up. You strip down then go into the bath room and choose your spot. You want to rinse yourself first then go abouts with your personal hygienic business. There are mirrors but I would say try to avoid looking at them since the mirrors are placed in angles that you could potentially lock eyes with someone else in the room. After people wash and clean themselves, some opt to soak in the tub (I did not) and then you get out, dry off and dress. I’m not the biggest fan of communal shower but at least I can say I’ve stayed at a capsule hotel and I’ve also done the whole communal bath house that is part of Japanese culture.
The capsule is for sleeping. It’s not too small but I hit my head 3 times on the built-in television. If you are sitting straight up in your pod, there is still space around for those who feel claustrophobic. There are capsules where you need to crawl straight in and then there are some that you go sideways in. You also have either someone on top or under you as well. You have a bamboo type curtain that separates you from the rest of the pods with a light and air constantly being blown into your space.