I always make the effort to meet up with friends wherever I am in the world, using those I’ve previously met travelling as the perfect excuse to visit a destination. I first met Sham in Hong Kong last year where we spent a day exploring the city after a couchsurfing meet-up at the Mid-Autumn (mooncake) Festival.
Sham was now teaching English in the Gifu region of Japan and kindly invited me to stay at his apartment in the city of Nagoya when he heard I was considering Japan as my next destination. After a highly organised AirAsia Japanese-style flight, far too regulated for me (ie: absolutely everything had to be stored in the overhead compartments!).
I met Sham at the station where I was greeted to a spectacular show of city Christmas lights and a row of swanky designer shops. We walked to the main entertainment district Sakae for dinner at a Nagoya chain restaurant Yamachan famous for their tremendously tasty chicken wings.
I was so tired after spending the past few nights in Fukuoka in a Manga cafe that I was thankful to curl up on the futon Sham kindly laid out next to his. I slept just four nights in a bed on my 25 day trip and I felt it.
It was the weekend so Sham had the day off and suggested we go to Little World Museum of Man, a theme park about world cultures a bit like Epcot World of Adventures in the USA. It was huge and we struggled to make it around the world in a day.
We ate pizza in Italy and had some fascinating stringy ice cream in Turkey and even watched the national circus of Ukraine. What I loved most was seeing the public walk their dogs dressed up in little winter outfits. You’ll rarely see a dog without clothes on in Japan, especially in winter!
It was a bank holiday that Monday which meant I got to spend another day with Sham. We headed to Nagoya’s first rabbit cafe called Usagito, a place I’ve been wanting to go to for ages. At a rabbit cafe you can spend time petting the little cuties roaming around freely and then enjoy some tasty rabbit-themed food. No, rabbit isn’t on the menu, but each dish is presented with a rabbit theme.
One of the reasons why Sham and I get on so well is our shared love of cake. We both went for bunny dessert with me having an ice cream sundae as it was the most well presented and therefore most photogenic. To be honest, the taste wasn’t amazing with the whipped cream letting it down but I loved the photo worthy presentation and spent more time taking pictures than actually eating it.
I highly recommend a visit to a rabbit cafe, it was SO Kawaii (cute!) and as soon as I have my place to live I will definitely be getting a bunny of my own. The afternoon was spent shopping for gifts and dinner at a local pork Katsu curry joint that I had read about online. Little did I know Sham doesn’t eat pork so I can only apologise at his lack of menu choice.
The next day was my birthday (yay!) but Sham had to return to work so I had to spend it alone which I didn’t mind as I love nothing more than taking the odd day out to spend in a cafe drinking good coffee and writing my blog. As it was my birthday I had to start the day with something special so went looking for some latte art which I first came across in Kuala Lumpur. As you may have gathered, I love taking photos of nicely presented food and drink and find the art of creating animals or flowers out of milk on a coffee incredibly clever. It was pricey but worth it for the presentation, the great taste and relaxed atmosphere of Elk cafe.
I wasn’t feeling great, struggling to cope with the change in climate again so I couldn’t be bothered to walk to some other cool cafés I read about online. Luckily I stumbled across Flow Lounge just around the corner to Elk. Free wifi, cosy sofas and a sublime honey nut Camembert cupcake, there are many reasons to spend the whole afternoon here.
I met Sham from work for dinner at a local yakitori joint, a real working man’s den. We then went on the search for cake, it was my birthday afterall, but struggled to find anything open past 9, unlike other cities Osaka or even Fukuoka. I suggested we go to Cafe Du Ciel on the 51st floor of the Nagoya Station Tower as I knew it was open late and had incredible looking cakes.
The city skyline view was just perfect along with the very warm service. I particularly loved the cup and saucers and as always, the spectacular presentation of the desserts. A visit is definitely worth treating yourself to.
A big thank you to Sham for having me to stay and telling me all about his life in Japan, teaching me so much about local life and enjoying many many sweet treats with me. It was time for me to head north to the Japanese Alps for some R&R…
Living life, loving birthdays,