Nagoya Days 2 and 3 (Just a week late...)

My Nagoya trip was a week ago, and despite having some free time during the trip I never got around to writing about two-thirds of my trip!

After my fun two-park day on Saturday, I made it in to Nagoya late in the evening, quite exhausted. So I went straight to the station my hotel was at and had dinner at Wendy's. This was my first time visiting a Wendy's in Japan, which features mostly Japanese favorites instead of a Western-themed menu. I splurged on the hamburg plate that also included chicken and sausage (plus plenty of vegetables) before taking the short walk back to the capsule hotel.
I used the capsule hotel both nights I spent in Nagoya during my September trip and due to the low price, convenience, and familiarity, I reserved my little coffin for both nights on this vacation. By reserving at least a few days in advance, I was able to save 500 yen per night, meaning I had my hotel "room" with spa included for under 2500 yen per night! As I said during my last trip, staying in a capsule isn't too bad. I had a top "bunk" this time which was interesting to climb into and out of but at half the price of any other hotel room I didn't mind. This particular hotel is a bit old and certainly looks it, but the pillows and mattresses are clean (and look relatively new) and it's quiet and comfortable.
I was in bed pretty early Saturday night since I had awakened fairly early and had to be awake before sunrise on Sunday. I headed off to Shima Spain Village, a little more than two hours by limited express train with a 7AM departure. As you may have guessed, the park is themed to look like Spain. There are three coasters at the park, plus several other attractions themed around Spain.
I enjoyed the shooting dark ride in which you fight a bunch of evil animals and dragons. I must have gone dragon hunting half a dozen times, and my last time through I scored the second-highest of the day. I would have had first place if there weren't people in the vehicles next to me shooting at the same targets, slowing me down a little!
The park has a few other ride-through dark rides and museum-like exhibits which were enjoyable. The park forms a giant oval, which if traveled in a clockwise direction makes for a nice downhill walk through a recreated Spanish village street, and an easy ride back uphill on the musical lightshow-included escalator. Actually, the light show is pretty fun.
I left the park in early afternoon, just a little too late to make the trip to Mikimoto Pearl Island, so I headed back in to Nagoya. I visited two baseball card shops I hadn't visited on my prior trip before grabbing dinner and retiring for the night back in my little box.

Monday was my last day in Nagoya, and after spending the prior two days at theme parks, it was time for a little bit of culture. Of course, by culture I mean visiting Toyota's headquarters for a look in their Kaikan museum and a tour through one of the assembly plants.
Toyota is a city of its own, an hour or more from Nagoya Station. The city is home to the car manufacturer's offices and all of the Japanese stamping, welding, and assembly plants. I'm sure most of the employees live either in Toyota or the surrounding towns given the shift timings (about 6AM to 3 PM, and 3 PM to midnight). Taking a train at those hours is probably quite difficult. Also in the area are many of Toyota's suppliers, so if parts are needed they can easily be delivered in a short period of time.
The Kaikan museum, found at the headquarters complex, contains one floor of exhibits around a few themes (i.e. eco-friendly hybrids, safety, the manufacturing process, racing, and a showroom). There were some historical cars on display due to Toyota's anniversary celebration. Upstairs, there were a few interactive exhibits for children and a gift shop with vending machines for food. There's also a theater and (I'm told) a cafe with a Starbucks downstairs. The plant tour takes you to one of a few plants, where you'll use a catwalk to view everything out of the way. I saw how all the parts are delivered to the plant, plus a video on the welding, stamping, and painting processes. Then I could witness the actual assembly line, watching cars being slowly put together before being lucky enough to notice (off in the corner) an engine assembly being put into a car. After that I saw the engines being assembled, then caught a glimpse of the auto bodies arriving to the line and seats moving along the line. Along the way, we had a chance to try to do some of the tasks autoworkers might need to do and see some of the tools invented to make their jobs easier. Finally, we saw the inspection area before taking the bus ride back to the museum.
Of course, if it took one hour to get to Toyota, it would take one hour to get back to Nagoya. By early-afternoon, I grabbed a quick lunch at the train station (cochin chicken - a Nagoya specialty of fried chicken wings with a sweet-spicy sauce) and headed off to the two Nagoya card stores I had visited on my last trip. By the time I was finished at the card stores, I had enough time for dinner and a couple hours in a karaoke booth to practice my crooning (which isn't very good regardless). Then, I was on my way home via overnight highway bus. I really enjoy them for the low price!

I had a pretty good (and successful) trip to Nagoya. Though this was supposed to finish my "planned" sightseeing for the area, I still want to return for Toyota's technology museum (which was closed when I had time to visit), Mikimoto Pearl Island, a return trip to Nagashima Spa Land, and a Chunichi Dragons game. A properly planned weekend could make that happen!

Until then...

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