My trip to Nagoya

On March 1, after 4 years in Japan, I finally made it to the country’s third-largest metropolitan region for the very first time. As far as tourist destinations, Nagoya ranks pretty low due to an almost total lack of old buildings or noteworthy landmarks, but like anyplace else there is a certain local quality, the experience of which is itself worth the visit.

In retrospect, I had perhaps one of the most peculiar two-day visits to Nagoya that anyone has ever had. The first day began with a brief Shinkansen ride from Kyoto Station to Nagoya Station, at which point Aceface picked me up in his car, took me briefly by Nagoya Castle, and then drove over to the heavily Brazilian Homigaoka public housing project. (I did a separate post on this part of the visit which you can see here.) After seeing Toyota City’s Braziltown, we made a brief stop at the Toyota City Hall on our way back to the Nagoya, where we joined Aceface’s Mongolian wife and their son, as well as Younghusband and his wife, for a Tsagaan Sar, aka Mongolian New Year, party. (Younghusband blogged about this party.) Much lamb was involved, as well as Mongolian karaoke, being made to dress up in traditional Mongolian robes, and the drinking of Chinghis (Ghenghis Khan) brand vodka.

Here is a Flickr-Flash slideshow of the Mongolian party, in which you can see me and Younghusband being dressed up (although photos with his face are left out for his blog anonymity).

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The second day pretty much consisted of my and Younghusband biking around central Nagoya and was not as dramatic, but was a fun time. I continued to play with my new camera (Canon 50D) and the ultrawide 11-17 2.8F Tokina lens that I hadn’t gotten much use out of before and got some neat photos. For dinner, we were once again joined by his wife, and we went for “Taiwan Ramen” at Misen, the Chinese restaurant (now) chain that invented the dish, which combines a kind of noodle actually native to the Taiwanese city of Tainan with a spicier Szechuanese style. It is excellent.

Here is some large ostensibly Buddhist temple, but with a clear syncretic Shinto/Buddhist orientatin, which is a rare sight in most of Japan following the Meiji era policy of forcing all temples/shrines to clearly identify as one of those two categories.

For a lunchtime snack I grabbed a “KonoPizza“, which I am going to pretend is an ancient Nagoya recipe so that I can say I had some authentically Nagoya food.

Then there was some park.

And I got some rather cool shots at the “Spiral Building.” I can’t quite decide which of these four is my favorite. Any suggestions?

Then of course there is the planetoid, or as YH called it, the “The Little Prince Monument” located just outside the Midland Square shopping center.

I had to wait and watch the elevators for about 10 minutes to get this shot.

Nagoya has been a center of industry for quite a while.

But it is not well known as a center of fashion.

And there’s even a tourist attraction!

8 thoughts on “My trip to Nagoya”

  1. Nagoya has some good stops for people interested in the late Sengoku Jidai – the Tokugawa Museum, for example, is very nice.

    Some random comments –

    I really like the way that the Coming Anarchy crew do their anonymity as a partial role-play.

    Roy, you take some damn fine photos. How long have you been into it?

    The first of spiral building photo is by far the best IMO. The banality of the konbini contrasted with the ambition of the building…

  2. Why do you have a photo of Nagoya Castle over the “And there’s even a tourist attraction!” comment?

    (Being snarky – it’s not that bad. No, actually it is.)

    I do like your elevators shot.

  3. At first,I was thinking about offering much more authentic tour of Nagoya to the places like M-Bone mentioned.But you just don’t have much place for a Kyotoite to see here…..

  4. Oh, we’ve been several times to the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology and hit the Aichi Expo in ’05, but have never made it to the castle… yet.

  5. Wow, you do take some fine shots. Mongolian food looks awesome.

    I’ve mentioned it before, but if you are into modern Japanese history and you want a bit of touristy kitsch, then you can’t go wrong with MEIJI-MURA!!!!

    In addition to a whole load of generic bakumatsu/Meiji architecture, they have the houses of both Natsume Soseki and Lafcadio Hearn (complete with cardboard cutouts of Hearn in the latter), Francis Xavier’s cathedral, the lobby of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Imperial Hotel AND a fricken panopticon! All original! It’s a bit sick that there are what should be important national monuments housed at a theme park, but if you can turn off that particular critical lens, it is a more than pleasant place to spend an afternoon.

  6. Meiji Mura is a fair hike out from Nagoya though. It’s not really a theme park or at least wasn’t when I was there (whil Hearn was still living in his house) – there aren’t any people dressed in silly costumes or anything. I visited with someone who got married in the Wright Imperial Hotel, which was interesting. Apparently, like a lot of Wright’s work, it looked really cool but wasn’t very good at being what it was supposed to be.

    Incidentally, if you visit the house of Natsume Soseki in Kumamoto, you can pull a string on a mannequin to get him to pat his “wagahai ha neko”-chan. Trouble is, it’s a bit screwed up, and the cat seems to be attached to his hand, so intead of patting his cat, you actually end up making him whack the cat on his desk….

  7. You are right. Open air museum is probably a better description. Still a little strange, though.

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