One of the most popular things for visitors to do in Tokyo is go up the Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku for free views across the capital city and way beyond. It is also possible to do a similar thing 175 kilometres west in Shizuoka city but this one has the added bonus of having much better views of the iconic Mount Fuji which is always a welcome sight.
Our trip to Hamamatsu was admittedly the main focus of our day but that was bookended by spending the morning and evening in Shizuoka city which was our base for this short trip within the prefecture of the same name. Having stayed in the area for a couple of days in January 2018 we had already done much of what the city had to offer but one thing we never did before was go up to the 21st floor of the Shizuoka Prefectural Office Annex (9-44 Otemachi, Aoi-ku, Shizuoka-Shi). This building offers glorious views in all directions and is a good place to get your bearings in the city.
Having actually arrived too early for the opening we had to kill a bit of time so wandered the short distance round the corner to Sumpu-jo Castle Park which is a nice area to walk and relax. Momijiyama Garden is located here and the park is a pleasant enough place for an afternoon stroll but sadly there’s not too much actual castle to see.
There’s just a couple of re-stored turrets (below) which served as defence, lookout posts and as a place to store armoury such as spears.
Shizuoka is one of 12 host cities for this years Rugby World Cup with four matches being played at Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa which was used back in 2002 for the FIFA World Cup held jointly in Japan and Korea. The matches are Japan vs Ireland (Sept 28), South Africa vs Italy (Oct 4), Scotland vs Russia (Oct 9) and Australia vs Georgia (Oct 11) and I will be present at one of those games.
I saw a couple of displays (below) as we wandered round the city which was quite nice as I am still not certain of how well this competition is being promoted in Japan which will be the first time the Rugby World Cup has been held outside the traditional heartland of the sport. I’m sure that with most games selling out it’ll be a success but I do wonder whether any lasting legacy will be left behind.
After our afternoon in Hamamatsu at the Museum of Musical Instruments, we arrived back in Shizuoka and had a quick look around the shopping district en-route to our hotel. What was actually of most interest to me was this derelict building (below).
Just round the corner from there was the ice cream shop (below) that my wife wanted to re-visit having been there last year. Nanaya (2-3-1 Ryogaecho, Aoi-ku, Shizuoka) boasts the world’s most intense matcha taste gelato. There are seven levels of ice cream with the matcha content increasing as the numbers get bigger. The colour also gets deeper and naturally the flavour becomes stronger too.
It’s actually an extra 200 yen for the privilege of experiencing the strongest tasting one but as we did that last time we were both happy enough to only have the sixth strongest one! Although I like matcha as a drink, I’m still not such a fan of its use as a flavour in chocolate or ice cream. The taste is extremely bitter but still very edible and yet again I polished it off in no time at all.
Later that night we went out for dinner but along the way I couldn’t resist a little starter in the form of a gyoza burger (below) which was on sale at one of the places along the main shopping street. This is a weird and unique concoction and I’m happy to say, as a gyoza lover, that it was better than expected but I really can’t see it catching on.
Our actual proper dinner was a delicious sushi bowl at a very local restaurant.
The hotel we were staying at had a hot spring bath on the top floor (different times for men and women) which I wanted to try. To be fair, I was expecting a slightly bigger bath but as I didn’t have to share it with anyone else it didn’t really matter.
Click here to read ‘One Of The Best Views From Any Station In Japan’