From Mountains to Beaches – Westin Nagoya and a meal of Hitsumabushi

Yokohama to Nagoya is about a 2 hour journey by Shinkansen, given that I had taken the high-speed rail in China that was based on the same technology, I was similarly impressed. Taking the Shinkansen is perhaps the next best thing to travelling in First Class, because on the Shinkansen the journey is fast, hassle-free, drops you right in the city centre and you are unlikely to encounter any turbulence. While there wasn’t any luggage rack, I had no problem placing my luggage on the seat next to me since the Green Car cabin is pretty empty. For those travelling with lots of luggage, choose a seat at the end of the carriage for some space at the back to store luggages or ask the train conductor to store it inside a room for you. Otherwise hand-carry items and bags can be placed on the overhead rack.

Twin Bedroom and Couch 威斯汀雙人房

Guests staying at the Westin Nagoya Castle hotel can make use of a free shuttle service which stops just behind the Meitetsu department store beside Nagoya Station. However I forgot about that fact and instead chose a more convenient transport using the taxi. As the name of the hotel suggests, Westin Nagoya Castle is perhaps the only hotel that provides a beautiful view of the famous Nagoya Castle since it is just opposite the castle which is a short 10 minute taxi drive away. The fare thus wasn’t that expensive and I was helped with my luggage upon arriving at the hotel immediately.

Bathtub and Sink 浴缸和水槽

Arriving in the evening at the hotel, there was no queue for the check-in even though I thought the hotel was pretty booked up during the dates I was due to stay. The check-in took quite long compared to the other SPG hotels I stayed at and while there wasn’t any problem, it seems that the receptionist was just taking a long time to assign a room for me. However I did receive a Club Room with a view of the castle, but it was a Twin Room once again. Again no luck with a suite upgrade in all my Japan hotel stays so far with SPG.

Christmas Tree at Lobby 酒店大廳的聖誕樹

However by the time I finished the check in and settled down in my room, it was a bit late to try out the Club lounge, and I never did try the breakfast at the lounge as well since I chose to have it on the lobby restaurant, so there will be no photos of the lounge. The room I was assigned was pretty good in my opinion since it has a very spacious bathroom with both a tub and a walk-in shower. The bathroom was also very brightly lit which I appreciated and had amenities including a set of hair tonic set for men’s and skincare set for ladies. They came in a miniature transparent pouch and this set was also present in the Sheraton Yokohama where I spent the night.

Nagoya Castle at Night 名古屋城夜景

While the bathroom was spacious, the room was not as large but the furnishings were much better compared to the Sheraton in Yokohama. There was a couch by the window to admire the view of the castle which was lit up very beautifully even at night. Upon ensuring that the room was in order and that my luggage was sent up, I headed to the concierge desk to enquire on what Nagoya is known for. I was then provided with a map of the city and directed to some specialties and the grilled eel or Unagi caught my eye. Turns out Nagoya is famous for cooking the eel in a special way called Hitsumabushi 櫃まぶし and apparently there is a Japanese ritual to consuming this dish. For this dish, I was directed to the Meitetsu department store beside Nagoya station and that meant taking the shuttle bus back to where I arrived earlier. This particular store I headed to for Hitsumabushi is located at the top floor of the building where several other restaurants could be found as well, and the restaurant only serves this specialty dish with no other choices.

Hitsumabushi Set

Unagi in Japan isn’t exactly a cheap dish and the tradition of eating Hitsumabushi makes this dish particularly expensive. There are apparently 3 methods to consuming this dish, first is to enjoy the unagi as it is without any condiment, the second way is to mix a portion of the eel with the rice and the accompanying condiments that includes green onions, perilla, seaweed and wasabi. The amazing burst of flavours at this second serving is perhaps my favourite method of consuming the dish. It was just a unique flavour that I had never tasted. And finally we could also pour green tea or broth to a portion of the unagi that has been mixed with rice and the condiments. This creates another different texture to the dish. Due to the various methods of eating this dish, the unagi and rice are usually served on a wooden pot, with a separate ceramic bowl for us to scoop a small portion of the unagi and rice into so that we can try out the best method to enjoy Hitsumabushi! It was an amazing experience to enjoy just one particular dish and thankfully I managed to figure it all out even when the menu and servers do not really speak English! In fact this dish was so good, I returned to the same restaurant the very next day for lunch before leaving Nagoya.

Midland Square at Night, outside Nagoya Station

Since I only had one night in Nagoya, I took the time to explore the city after dinner and visited Sakae area after dinner. This particular area can be referred to as the downtown of Nagoya and it was still crowded at night. Visitors just need to use the TV Tower as a point of reference for this area along with the ferris wheel which marks the top of the Sakae subway station. This would definitely be the place to go for nightlife in Nagoya, but as I had an early day tomorrow, I just walked around to explore the area before taking the subway back to the hotel for my tour of the Toyota factory tomorrow.

Sakae Area at Night
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