We left Kyoto after checking out of our hotel and took the three trains to Nagoya. It was only $25 one way, compared to the $100 we would have paid for the shinkansen. And since we didn’t have any plans for the day, I decided to save the money. It took a lot longer though and required going through a couple of the local stations but I had looked up the route before and knew what to ask for. Otherwise, we would have run into some problems, I think.
(Travel Hint: When going to destinations that require train changes, go to the train route finder at www.jorudan.co.jp before leaving, decide the cities and routes you want, and write or print out and bring with, so it’s handy to show a train conductor if in doubt.)
After getting off the train at Nagoya though, it was apparent we weren’t in Kyoto anymore where they have signs directing tourists to ‘Tourist Friendly Taxis This Way, No Extra Charge’. There was no English-speaking, tourist-friendly anything here. It took a couple tries before The Professor was finally able to get a cab driver to understand which hotel we needed.
After checking into our hotel, the Hotel Trusty Nagoya, and picking our weird breakfast choice for the next day (we chose the least weird set of potato soup, green salad, sausage, scrambled egg, cheese/ham sandwich, and yogurt combo), we walked around our neighborhood to see what there was to see. We ended up finding some great deals on random stuff. I bought a $200 Jean Paul Gaultier leopard print-in-a-black-basket-base purse in the classic basket style that goes with a Kimono marked down to $5(!) from a kimono company, and a made-in-Japan kitchen spatula for $7 (all of them in the US are made in China!) at a small local department store. I said it was random stuff.
Clutching my prizes we were ready for dinner and after walking around some more, we decided to try a very cute, New York-style, modern bistro called Meat (or something similar). Though really wanting pasta, I figured I better try their meat since I assumed it was their specialty. And it was delicious.
Our day in Nagoya, after a rather rocky start at our station arrival, turned out to be a smashing success.
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
The next morning we met up with our friends Mayumi and Alani—our reason for being in Nagoya.
They took us to lunch at a very old restaurant that is famous for its eel, called Ibashou. The specialty here is the Nagoya style of eating unagi called Hitsumabushi which refers to the four ways to eat eel.
The four ways to eat eel: first, with the rice; second, use the spices, wasabi, and green onions; third, pour tea over it; and finally the fourth way is to repeat your favorite way. My favorite was with the condiments as I have always been the Condiment Queen when it comes to eating anything.
We had to take our shoes off and I had to slide myself under those low, traditional Japanese tables, but except for a slight twinge or two and my leg starting to fall asleep, I made it. And the eel was worth it.
After finishing our delicious lunch and getting the blood moving again in my legs, we took the cab in the pouring rain to a nearby covered shopping area filled with all types of stores. It looked to be something from the 60s. We walked through the mall to get out of the rain and exited on the other side to see their shrine with its impressive lantern at the entrance.
After checking out the shrine, we took the cab to the Hawaiian restaurant, Makapúu, to hang out until Alani’s gig later in the afternoon. Alani is a slack-key master and we were going to enjoy an evening of Hawaiian music.
The restaurant was quite a ways out in the outer reaches of Nagoya City and was a nice, long drive in the rain.
We had more good company once we arrived with another friend, Leila, who was managing the other musical act, Herb Ohta Junior, a well-known Hawaiian ukulele player. We had a relaxing afternoon, listening to the rain pour outside while Herb discussed his disappointments of Godfather III with The Professor, and they set up for the concerts later in the evening.
The first set started at 5:30 and went for an hour. The second set started at 7:30 and also went for an hour. The music was beautiful and at the end of the evening the restaurant served us all a Hawaiian specialty of freshly made, delicious Loco Moco, (handmade hamburger patty on rice with a fresh egg on top)! It was like a quick trip to Hawaii.
And the whole time it rained.
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
After another weird breakfast of potato soup etc at our hotel, we were met by Alani and Mayumi, and an old friend of Alani’s who lives in Nagoya and had a van.
We were going to get a quick visit to Nagoya’s other tourist destination, their castle, before departing on the shinkansen at 12:30pm.
It had stopped raining thankfully, so we had a pleasant walk through the grounds.
They are updating parts of the castle so we had to don hardhats for part of the tour. The main castle however has been remodeled because it had an elevator (!) which we took to the top for time purposes, of course.
We walked down and discovered that each level had some fun thing on it—the view from the top, followed by souvenir shops, and photo ops along the way. It was a nice way to spend a couple of hours and it was not as crazy busy as Himeji. Also, not having to walk up the five flights: Priceless!
Out on the grounds again, we ran into some ninjas and feudal lords. All in all, it was definitely worth the visit if one is in Nagoya.
We made a mad dash to the train and made it with only a couple of minutes to spare.