Monday, April 10, 2017

Japan trip Spring 2017 Part 5: Day 5 - Nagoya Aquarium, Nagoya Castle, Science Museum and Oasis 21

For March 28, I planned for another day trip! This one was to Nagoya. I've been dying to go to Nagoya...because there are two Liz Lisa locations there, and they're relatively easy to access! Tbh I didn't know much about the area besides, that but it was fun to do some research before the trip to figure out what other activities to fill the day with.

We had another early morning and decided to go with another convenience store/station-bought to-go shinkansen breakfast.

We were catching a Hikari-type shinkansen this time because we were headed back in the direction of Tokyo (but of course, not that far).

I didn't get to see Mt Fuji on the shinkansen but I did get a nice clear view of Mt Ibuki!

After a brief stop in Kyoto, we made it to Nagoya in about an hour!

The first thing we did was catch a JR line train to Kanayama. I thought I had picked the right track but talked to the staff and he pointed me to a different track. We had plenty of time to make the transfer after arriving so it was no problem and the train was mostly empty.

Once we arrived in Kanayama, we went to the subway part of the station and purchased 1-day subway passes from the ticket machine for 740yen each.

The Nagoya subway system is pretty simple (compared to Tokyo) and I really liked the graphic in the car to show you which direction you were going and what stops were ahead. I never sat close enough to any of them to get a good picture, but if you're new to catching trains, it would definitely be useful! We got off the train about 11 minutes later at Nagoyako. We were headed for the aquarium! There were plenty of signs to help us along the way, so we didn't even need to use the GPS.

The ticket line seemed a little bit long but it moved quickly and without much issue. Because we had purchased the subway pass, we got a small (200yen) discount on our aquarium admission!

It seems  like they were celebrating the 25th anniversary of the aquarium but I'm not sure if there was anything particularly special for it on the day we went.

When you enter, you're first greeted by a giant dolphin tank!

It was really crowded there so we made our way further in and saw the large beluga tank as well!

I feel like the marine mammal exhibits are almost always the most crowded part of any aquarium (especially in Japan). My bf and I aren't much for them, so we took a quick peek and moved on.

We went up the escalator to the outdoor portion of the building. You can see the surface of the large tanks that we had previously seen for the dolphin and there was also an outdoor arena of some sort where they would later be a dolphin show. They also had an indoor area with the belugas and a further surface view of the killer whales.

The north building of the aquarium is primarily focused on the dolphins, belugas and killer whales. All the exhibits were crowded (as expected), so once we saw the essentials, we moved on to the south building! The first area had tanks featuring sea creatures with land (animal) names. I guess almost like a pun. I can't remember all of them but it was things like cactus algae and camel shrimp, elephant nose fish, lion fish, giraffe-spotted snake eel, butterfly fish, panda cory etc.

Next was the giant sardine tank!

And we continued exploring the aquarium! I don't remember the names of all the exhibits, so I'll just let the photos do the talking -

Interrupting the photo dump to attempt to explain the picture below. It looked like many of the other large tanks except this one had a seating area and there was a speaker with a narrator. This is actually somewhat of an "illusion" exhibit. There's no actual water on the other side of the glass and the sea creatures are all simulated! It's because this one is focusing on deep sea animals that otherwise wouldn't be able to be kept. It's really cool because we're still able to learn about them and see how they would interact in a realistic way. In person, it was really hard to tell there wasn't actual water there and if you look closely you can see all the amazing details they put into it!

[photo dump cont.]

This penguin exhibit was also super cool! There were TONS of penguins in there. Many of them were in the water but there were so many who seemed content to just stand around and wiggle a bit. I really enjoyed watching them. This was one of my favorite parts of the aquarium and I usually don't pay much attention to penguins.

Last stop - gift shop!
I managed to make it out with just a small garden eel magnet for my desk and some small omiyage purchases. We still had to be out for the whole rest of the day, so I made sure I didn't buy anything huge I'd have to carry around lol.

We were hungry at that point so we said goodbye to the aquarium and headed back to the subway station. There are a lot of places to eat in the area immediately surrounding the aquarium but my boyfriend had something specific in mind.

We got off the subway at Yabacho and navigated our way to a Misokatsu Yabaton restaurant! There was quite a wait (all the chairs outside the restaurant were taken), but since eating at one of the Yabaton restaurants was one of the most recommended things to do in Nagoya and any of the convenient ones would probably also be crowded, we decided to wait it out.
I got a bit nervous while we were waiting because some restaurants have you sign in and some restaurants just seat you in the order that you were waiting in the line of seats. I didn't see a sign in sheet but I had seen that there were number cards and some waiting in line had menus. At this particular restaurant, there is no sign in but they do distribute the menus in advance and when you get close to the front of the line, a staff member will ask how many are in your party and take your order. By the time you are ready to be seated, you only have to wait 3-4 minutes before your food comes out! So actually the wait was not that bad I suppose. I think we waited maybe 1/2 hour total outside the restaurant.

Even though the specialty dish is miso katsu, I really don't care for sauce on my katsu so I chickened out and just got the katsu curry dish. My boyfriend ordered the miso katsu on a sizzling platter which was the recommended item.
Not sure if our expectations were too high, but this wasn't one of our favorite meals on the trip. I think I'm glad I didn't go with an entire miso katsu dish because it really didn't seem like something I would personally enjoy, but my bf also didn't think it was extraordinary unfortunately. Sorry Nagoya!

We had stopped at Yabacho just to go to that restaurant, so when we were done, we jumped back on the subway and went three stops up to Shiyakusho station.

Again, we didn't have much trouble navigating/exiting the station because there were plenty of helpful signs. We were headed for Nagoya Castle!

There's a standard 500yen admission fee just to get onto the grounds (we got a small discount thanks to the subway pass but I can't remember how much), but the grounds are quite expansive and really nice imo. We first went to look at the sakura map. Most trees didn't have full or even partial blossoms, but we knew that anywhere we saw a crowd of people, there was bound to be something lol.

Most of the sakura were just outside of the main grounds and we were able to just take a quick walk around and then took a short closer look at the castle.

This tree at the east gate entrance was probably one of the nicest! But since it was right there, there were always so many people surrounding it lol.
The castle grounds are much bigger than what we were willing to explore but I do think it was worth the admission fee. It definitely would have been worth it if all the sakura was blooming! It must be so nice right now :O

We made our way back to Shiyakusho station and then caught a train 1 stop to Sakae and then transferred to ride 1 stop to Fushimi,

so we could go to the Science Museum! I have to say that the exits were labeled appropriately in this station but it was somewhat hard to figure out the exact exit we wanted. It's like the signs were telling you you were going the right way until after you had already made the decision if that makes any sense. Even though the Science Museum is this huge weird building, it's several blocks away from the station, so we did end up using Google Maps to navigate to it but we knew instantly when we were on the right street lol.

The museum closes at 17:00 on Tuesdays and I think we got there just shortly before 15:30 since we were a bit behind my anticipated schedule due to the long wait for lunch. We paid for our tickets for just the museum (no planetarium) (with a 10% discount thanks to the subway pass) and were given a museum pamphlet in English.

The first floor had all these different interactive exhibits with air, sound, water, etc. It was really popular and there were tons of kids and families there!

Every floor had two different themes. One was more focused on life science and the other side was more technical. We took our time going through each of the floors but kind of sped up at the end because it felt like we were running out of the time and the museum was closing.
None of the exhibits were in English which is why it's not super popular with foreign tourists, but with the cheap admission fee and the time we had, I thought it was worth it to go! The planetarium is one of the best features of the Science Museum but since we had showed up late in the day and it costs extra + I had read reviews that it wasn't as worth it if you couldn't understand it, we decided not to pay for it. I think that it was the right decision because you kind of have to reserve tickets for the shows I think. The next best feature of the museum is supposed to be the Large Exhibits (Exploring Water, Tornado Lab, Electric Discharge Lab and the Deep Freezing Lab) but again, you have to get tickets and return at a certain time for them so we didn't get a chance to see it. I think if you visit with children and can understand Japanese + can commit a full day to it, this is certainly worth it if you can fit a couple of the Large Exhibits in there. If you just need to kill a few hours and want to see some cool stuff, I think the cheap admission fee is still worth it.

When we were done with the Science Museum, we caught the subway to Sakae station because I wanted to go to Oasis 21 which I had seen a few other people talk about online. There were signs with where to exit and I think we used 4a but 4 should also work. The big draw for it is this water feature! You can also see the TV Tower as well.
I have to say that I'm not sure if this was really enough to visit on its own and my bf was not impressed at all lol. It probably didn't help that it was close to 17:00 by the time we got there, so the sun wasn't in the optimum position for photos. I think probably the most fun thing was all the static electricity.

I had initially planned to do some casual shopping in Sakae, but I felt kind of over just randomly walking around at that point, so I figured we should just go back to Nagoya shopping so I could go to Liz Lisa. I thought I had properly looked up where both locations were earlier but apparently I misremembered -__-. It wasn't until I was on the train headed back towards Nagoya that I realized that the Nagoya Maruei Liz Lisa store was actually in Sakae. I was just going to forgo it because I didn't feel like back tracking but since I wasn't sure when I was going to be in Nagoya again, in the end I got off at Nagoya station and went back in the other direction to go right back to where I had just left. I believe the best exit is probably exit 9 from Sakae.

I navigated to Maruei with Google Maps and it's just a few blocks away.

Liz Lisa is on the second floor next to Cecil Mcbee!

I decided to try on a few things since I made the trouble backtracking to go specifically to this store lol. The shop staff in there was really nice and patient with me!

When I was done in Liz Lisa, I immediately just made my way back to the station and caught the same train back to Nagoya station.

And actually exited Nagoya station so I could go look for Kintetsu Passe! It was my first time actually looking at the area outside the station and it was really neat haha,

Eventually made my way to Passe.

Liz Lisa is on the 5th floor.
Even though I didn't end up buying anything, the solo shop staff there was also super nice and patient! I'm glad I decided to stop at both stores.

I went straight back to JR Nagoya station and started running around trying to find something to eat for the ride back and also figure out what other Nagoya omiyage to purchase. I ended up being really indecisive in Takashimaya because there were too many choices. I met back up with my bf in the waiting area - we were both done with more than enough time before our reserved train and we had no trouble making it to the right tracks. turns out that the cucumber maki I had finally decided on from Takashimaya had generous amounts of wasabi in it (I'm used to it being on the side as an option) and I didn't enjoy eating it on the train at all. I ended up getting off at Shin-Osaka (while my bf transferred to get to Umeda for last minute shopping) and stopping at Matsuya just outside the East exit for dinner instead. Much more satisfying.

Looking back at it, this was actually a pretty full day and I'm not surprised we were so tired and were willing to call it a day so much earlier than usual. Plus my bf had an added incentive bc he wanted to make it to his fishing store in Umeda before it closed. I had a lot of fun in Nagoya and I enjoyed Nagoya Aquarium and Nagoya Castle much more than I thought I would. I wish I had a little more time/energy to explore the Sakae and Nagoya (station) areas, but other than that, I felt like it went reasonably well!

🌸 Japan trip Spring 2017 🌸
    Part 1: Arrival and Day 1 - Liz Lisa shopping and Ueno Park
    Part 2: Day 2 - Liz Lisa x My Melody Shibuya 109 release and Yokohama Ramen Museum
    Part 3: Day 3 - Tokaido Shinkansen to Osaka and meeting Mintkismet/Rilakkuma cafe
    Part 4: Day 4 - Hiroshima Peace Museum, Hiroshima Castle and Miyajima/Itsukushima Shrine
    Part 5: Day 5 - Nagoya Aquarium, Nagoya Castle, Science Museum and Oasis 21
    Part 6: Day 6 - Tokaido Shinkansen back to Tokyo and MariCAR Street Go-Kart Tour
    Part 7: Day 7 - Kawatsura Strawberry Farm, National Art Center, Rikugien Garden Illumination
    Part 8: Liz Lisa purchases/coordinates
    Part 9: Travel Notes - Airbnb, JR Pass, luggage & Pupuru pocket wifi
    Part 10: OOTD breakdown

Japan trip Winter 2017 posts
Japan trip Spring 2016 posts
Japan trip Autumn 2015 posts
Japan trip Summer 2015 posts
Japan trip Spring 2015 posts
Japan trip Summer 2014 posts


  1. Wow, it looks like you had a super packed day + did lots of fun things in Nagoya. Shame the food wasn't super enjoyable but at least it wasn't the main focus of the trip, I guess? The blossoms also look super pretty!

    1. I guess for my bf the food is really important but for me, I like the food to at least taste decent lmao.

  2. Looks like a super fun trip day! Aquarium looks fantastic and I'm a huge fan of science museums, park looks fun too. You managed to do so many things (and at a discount too!) in one day, I'm sure you were exhausted.Shame the miso katsu didn't taste too good, hopefully the place just didn't make it too well? And ofc, got to finish the day with some LIZ Lisa shopping. :9

    Also, what do you use to take pictures? Just your phone or an actual camera?

    1. For most of the recent trips, I've just been using my iPhone camera. I used to ALWAYS carry around a point and shoot when I was in high school and then I got obsessed with carrying around my DSLR but it's heavy and bulky and sometimes I want to take pictures more discreetly anyway lol. Many of my photos aren't poster/print-worthy but they work well for blogging I think.

  3. You must have been exhausted! But this sounds like an amazing day! One that I'd probably do too xD I LOVE museums and aquariums♥ And of course the Liz Lisa~

    1. Definitely recommend a Nagoya visit in that case! It was pretty easy to get around, esp with the 1-day pass and discounts!