This may or may not have happened November 23rd. >.> (And mid December too.) So why bother to write about it? It's going to bother me if I skip something that we actually went out to make effort and do, so...everyone follow me into the time machine as we go back to the end of 2013...
So November 23rd. A movie that my friend wanted to see was coming to Hamamatsu instead of Shizuoka. Hamamatsu is another large city in Shizuoka Prefecture, about an hour away by normal train. So since we were going to go there anyway, I figured hell, let's make a day of it! Yay! So we get on the train in the morning and head over there for merriment. (Here's some pictures if you don't have Facebook) So we arrive in the train station and it (creepily) looks identical to Shizuoka station, which we just left. Weeeird.
First order of business is to head to the tourist information so we can figure out what to eat later (and get a map as well.) Hamamatsu is famous for it's gyoza (potstickers) so we wanted to make sure we got the best. It was a b-e-a-utiful day; super blue sky and awesomeness. Next, we wanted to go to the movie theater and make sure we had tickets for the film that night (because the ultimate fail would be to miss the movie that we came for). Tickets acquired, we trolled around in the mall that the movie theater was in (they had a Toys R Us that had plastic food sushi XP) for a little while.
Then, we wanted to go to the observation deck in Act Tower, which is the harmonica shaped building in the city that has a great viewpoint. (Hamamatsu is known as the city of music) So we hit the elevator button and wait. And wait. And there's a sign like off to the side of the elevator entirely in Japanese; we pay it no mind. People are looking at us as we wait. On another, hidden sign, we discover that the freakin tower is closed on the weekends.
Good job Hamamatsu.
So that waste of life done, grabbed some lunch (gyro! And I had turkish ice cream which was ridiculously sticky) and headed over to Hamamatsu Castle, where there was a beautiful park with fall leaves (mostly) still on the trees to take pictures of. Hamamatsu Castle is small to begin with, and with half of it under construction at the moment there was precious little to see. Still, was cute. Beautiful day and beautiful park that we explored for a while. On the way back towards the station we stopped at a shrine we passed (and you know, I keep forgetting to bring my damn stamp book with me, so I picked up another loose leaf one) and took some pictures.
Then we lingered in the mall in the station for a while before heading to the movies! On the way to the theater, we ran into Ieyasu-kun himself. (Tokugawa Ieyasu is honored at Hamamatsu Castle, and so the mascot of Hamamatsu is a cartoon plush version of him). We were very excited and took a picture with him ^.^ Then we saw the excellent movie (and I ate real popcorn yes). The movie theater by my house took away actual popcorn; they now only sell pre-made super teeny containers of stale crappy popcorn and I am depressed.
And then we came home. So Hamamatsu! Woo!
Next, flash forward to December. Seeing Illuminations (Christmas lights) is a big deal in Japan around Christmas time, so I wanted to make sure to see some. We had heard wonderful things about the Illuminations in Gotemba, a short bus ride away, so my friend and I jumped on a bus to Gotemba Illuminations!
They were weird and not Christmas-y at all! I mean sure, they were okay, but we were just surprised at how...un-Christmas like they were. As we walked through the lights we kept looking for the actual light display. And we found a place you pay for and we assumed that's where the actual lights were, and then...they handed us an umbrella.
....? So we went up the path and found not Christmas lights, but a fountain show. Because yes. Fountain show. We were a bit taken aback to say the least. So we went back through the lights and did some more shopping. In order to not wait around for 2 hours for another bus, we left very soon after.
Adventures!! Look how often I leave my house lol.