By Ed Junaidi on December 16, 2016
Gaya Travel went back to Japan; this time to the Central region. Ed has a different experience because this time he went discovering Japan on highway bus using a bus package called Shoryudo Highway Bus Ticket. Sounds like fun, yes?
Central Japan is also called Shoryudo, hence the package name. Shoryudo means rising dragon, coined from its shape on the map that resembles a rising dragon, which in Japanese culture symbolises wealth and power. There are five prefectures in Central Japan: Aichi, Gifu, Ishikawa, Nagano, and Toyama.
Central Japan has a lot to offer through its vibrant mixture of modern urban cities and fascinating culture and history as far back as the Edo era. Forget about Mount Fuji. Instead, check out the Japanese Alps, which is a mountain range encompassing Hida Mountains, Kiso Mountains and Akaishi Mountains.
Shoryudo Highway Bus Ticket is actually a master ticket that helps travellers get connected to all cities within Central Japan by bus, which might be cheaper than other modes of transport. It also gives free access to Chubu Centrair International Airport (Central Japan International Airport) in Nagoya and Komatsu Airport in Kanazawa. Travellers can choose either the 3-Day Pass for ¥7,000 (RM 290) or 5-Day Pass for ¥14,000 (RM580). When travellers use this pass, they need to travel on these buses on consecutive days
The master ticket or pass can be purchased online or at any travel agencies outside Japan. For Malaysian travellers, we recommend that they contact Wendy Tour Sdn Bhd to purchase the ticket or pass, and ask questions about travelling around Central Japan. Each master ticket or pass can be used to access buses, certain trams and certain trains to destinations in Central Japan. It can also be used to get discounts when shopping at retail outlets that are operated by the Meitetsu Group. However, if travellers need to take a highway bus that requires reservation, you can only do it at the ticket window. The master ticket or pass cannot be used to reserve tickets online or by phone.
Some ideas on where the Shoryudo Highway Bus Ticket can take you:
Chubu Centrair International Airport (Central Japan International Airport)
One of the international gateways to enter Japan is via this airport. It is only 30 minutes to Nagoya city centre by train. There are various services to accommodate your arrival, especially luggage service and tourist information centre, where travellers can ask about getting to other Central Japan destinations.
The luggage service offers convenience in not having to carry your luggage when you’re heading to your destination, which requires you to change different trains and buses along the way. The luggage will be delivered to your hotel the same day.
Travellers can also find many shopping and dining options that range from local to Western cuisines. There are many charming traditional Japanese shops that sell popular Japanese merchandise, food and toys.
On top of the airport is a huge viewing deck for travellers to enjoy the fascinating sight of airplanes landing and taking off the runways.
Meitetsu Department Store
Shopping is a must when you come to Japan, especially for its fantastic toys and merchandises, clothes and accessories, including everything and anything you can think of.
Meitetsu Department Store is not just a typical shopping complex. It is well-integrated into a bus station, taxi station and train station. The store has two buildings: the main building is dedicated to women’s clothing, general merchandise, children’s clothing, accessories and cosmetics; while the other building is for men’s fashion. This store has a huge giant doll called Nana-chan located in front of the Men’s building to help travellers and locals identify it as landmark.
When we visited Meiji-mura (Meiji Village), we first thought it was a theme park, but instead we found that it is an open-air museum that preserves and exhibits Japanese architecture from the Meiji period. To date, 60 buildings have been relocated to this park and the most famous one has to be the Imperial Hotel. This is also the park where you can experience a real-life working locomotive train. Travellers may need at least half-a-day to explore this park.
Takayama Jinya used to be one of the Governor’s offices and there were once more than 60 houses like this during the Edo period when Takayama was still called Hida. However, Takayama Jinya is the only one left in Japan. This building has been used as a government office for over three centuries between 1692 until 1969. This is the perfect place for travellers to learn and see the architectural features and details of the building from the Edo period.
Sanmachi Suji (Takayama Old Town)
Sanmachi Suji (Takayama Old Town)
This vividly preserved old town from an old district preserved since Edo period can be seen and experienced amidst the northern Japanese Alps. Located in the centre of the bustling city, Sanmachi Suji is brought alive by the merchants on this street who maintain the old traditional shops and houses with distinctive charm and warmth. Most of the buildings are as old as 400 years. Some of the businesses have been running for generations.
Shirakawa-Go World Heritage Site
The historic village of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama is about 400 years old. The people here still live and go about their daily lives as they have been doing for generations. Shirakawa-go has about 60 thatched-roof homes surrounded by paddy fields and breathtaking mountains. UNESCO has enlisted this village as part of the World Heritage Sites since 1995.
This is the only two-storey gondola in Japan. There are two ropeway stations heading to Nishihotakaguchi Station that has 360-degree panoramic view of the majestic mountains of the northern Japanese Alps. This station is located at the altitude of 2,156 metres above sea level. It also offers amazing views for every season.
There is a visitor’s centre at the first station, Shirakabadaira Station, where travellers can watch videos of climbers scaling to the top of the highest peak of the Japanese Alps, Mount Okuhotakadake, and also learn about the flora and fauna found on the mountain range.
We recommend that travellers stay at Hotel Hotaka, located right next to the Ropeway ground station within the Chubu-Sangaku National Park. We had a great time experiencing hot spring thermal water from the mountain.
21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art
This museum features a unique architecture with circular design and painted in elegant white tones. It exhibits contemporary artworks in various forms including films, performing arts and music, in order to promote and exhibit contemporary art to the public as part of their learning and opportunity to gain new experiences.
Higashi Chaya District
Chaya is famous as the entertainment district where men used to come to be entertained by the geishas who danced and played traditional Japanese musical instruments since the Edo period. These days, most of the Chaya houses have been converted into tea houses, restaurants and souvenir shops. If travellers want to see a geisha performance, be sure to come to the district on a Saturday.Travellers are recommended to take a stroll from Higashi Chaya district to Kazue-machi Chaya District by following along the Asano river to soak in the area’s quaint historical atmosphere.
Toyama Glass Art Museum
The museum, which comes together with the Toyama City Public Library, has distinctive modern architecture that innovatively combines wood and glass. It has six floors of exhibition spaces and it is on the fourth floor that the museum exhibits Dale Chiluly’s glass artworks that combines unique glass forms with Japanese culture.
This museum also symbolises the 30-year old project called “Glass Art City, Toyama” that broadly exhibits the charm of glass art.
Fugan Kansui Park & Starbucks
This tranquil park, located 15 minutes’ walk from Toyama Station, is where travellers can enjoy their favourite Starbucks’ coffee in a fresh bright morning while looking at the marvellous view. Now I understand why the Starbucks here is dubbed as one of the most beautifully located store in Japan: this outlet allows patrons to observe the beautiful scenery of Fugan Unga Kansui Park in every season – from cherry blossoms during spring and lush greenery of summer to the changing of foliage in autumn and the whiteness of winter – whether inside Starbucks’ glass walls or outside on the balcony. After coffee or tea, take a stroll along the canal or take a cruise ride to the port and back.