Getting onto the Shinkansen at Tokyo station and making our way back to Nagoya. Do note that a short subway ride is needed to get from Shinjuku to Tokyo station where the Shinkansen line is located. There is an express subway train which should take only around 20 minutes to get you to Tokyo station instead of the normal subway train that stops at every station. Ask the info counter at Shinjuku station for the platform number of this express subway train (was platform 8 when we were there).
Do look out for signs to ensure that you're at the correct platform and car number. The Shinkansen trains roll in and out very punctually and rather silently. It's better to be at the right place at the right time.
The Tokaido Shinkansen is the best used line and connects Japan's three largest metropolitan cities - Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka/Kyoto. There are three train categories for Tokaido line: Nozumi is the fastest category and cannot be used with the Japan Rail Pass. Hikari is the second fastest category with slightly more stops. And Kodama is the slowest, stopping at all stations. From the electronic board, passengers could check train details at that platform easily.
Ticket on Nozumi 23 at 10.10am to Nagoya. A reserved seat would be more comfortable. Check your car number and start queuing at the corresponding line on the platform. A reserved seat on Nozumi costs 11,090¥. The Japan Rail Pass is not usable for this class.
The super sleek N700 Series Nozumi Shinkansen, the fastest train service running on Tokaido line. It has a maximum speed of 300 km/h and has a tilting capability that allows the train to maintain high speeds around curved tracks.
A good place to stay in Nagoya would be Marriott Associa Hotel. It's located within the JR Central Towers, which also houses the JR Central Line train station, the subway, as well as a whopping 12-floor Takashimaya departmental store, all in one building. While it is a little pricey compared to other hotels, it's excellent location could save you lots of trouble and hassle of moving around. And could keep your day happily occupied with Takashimaya at your doorstep.
You'll also quite certainly get a great view of Nagoya from the hotel room, which occupies from the 20th to the 49th storey in one of the two JR Central Towers.
Not forgetting a multi-storey Tokyu Hands within the massive Takashimaya.
Took a bus to Nagashima Resort located on Nagashima, also known as "Long Island". Buses depart from Meitetsu Bus Center (beside Nagoya station) every 20 to 30 minutes. It costs 1,030¥ to get to the last stop at Nagashima Onsen (main area of the resort) and the journey takes around 50 minutes.
The terminal bus stop at Nagashima Onsen. In fact, the Nagashima Resort comprises five main attractions: (1) the Nagashima Spaland amusement theme park, (2) the Joyful Water Park, (3) the Nagashima Spa Yuami no Shima hot spring complex, (4) the Mitsui Jazz Dream outlet shopping mall, and (5) the Nabana no Sato flower theme park. All attractions are clustered together except Nabana no Sato flower theme park, which is 15 minutes away by bus.
Entrance (West Gate) to the Nagashima Spaland amusement theme park. Enter this gate as well if you're going to the Yuami no Shima hot spring complex. Seriously, I think they need some help with their naming. "Spaland" has nothing to do with the spa we know. It is purely an amusement theme park. And the "Jazz Dream", which sounds like a musical theme park is actually the outlet mall.
Admission fees to the amusement park and the hot spring complex. Note that there is a significant discount for all admissions after 3pm (indicated in red texts). Doing some shopping first could be a good idea.
Crossing the pedestrian overhead bridge to Yuami no Shima hot spring complex gives you a good view of the amusement park and water park. But the parks are closed in winter, hence the emptiness.
The entrance foyer at Yuami no Shima. Take off shoes before stepping onto the raised platform. Hold your shoes and keep them in the lockers before proceeding to the front desk.
Approach the front desk to get your wrist band, which is also your assigned locker key and a barcoded credit identity tag. The entrance and front desk are located on level 3. After receiving your wrist band, take the lift down to level 1.
This is where everyone picks up a yukata and a pair of tiny white socks.
This is the main locker room where you get changed into your yukata. Do keep your undergarments on, some people also had their t-shirts and shorts under their yukata. From here, you may wonder around the facility in your yukata to meet friends and enjoy a drink at their café. Otherwise, you may proceed to the dressing room which has another locker (sorry, no photos there). That is where you'll need to strip everything and be given two towels - big one for use after the bath and the tiny one to be brought to the hot spring.
A nice café to hang out after an hour of uplifting hot spring session. An ice cold Asahi was perfect.
Shopping time at the Mitsui Jazz Dream outlet shopping mall, offering more than 200 stores including Armani, Burberry, Ferragamo, Gucci, Hugo Boss, and most importantly, LEGO!
Some really exciting roller coasters in the Spaland theme park. Unfortunately, it is closed in winter.
Grabbed dinner first before taking the bus back to Nagoya station.
And once again, on the last evening before heading home, a nice bottle of sake to keep my heart and body warm especially in this very cold night by the long island coast.