I have trouble believing that my trip to Japan is now almost 3 years ago. I used to be able to say I visited Japan this year, then I had to say last year, then year before last now In May 2014 all I can say is I visited Japan a few years ago. I reminisce and relive many of my experiences and emotions of my September 2011 trip to Japan a lot, its a constant source of inspiration and one of the achievements in my life I am very proud of. Looking back at my trip and the many cities I visited such as Tokyo, Nara, Osaka, Kamakura, Kyoto etc I always wish I could go back to visit again but one of the top locations I will want to return to is Nagoya… which when I mention this to Japanese persons I meet in Jamaica they always have a puzzled look. Apparently Nagoya is seen as boring and bland to many Japanese but I still wonder… Why did I fall in love with Nagoya?
A random though sparked my interest in Nagoya again and after a short Twitter conversation with @Gavinvz and @Petchary I decided to dive through the thousands of pictures I took while in Japan. Maybe if I relive the days I spent in Nagoya and retrace my steps/experiences through those pictures I can try to discover what clicked while I was in Nagoya? Join me.
Leaving Yokohama for Nagoya was exciting mainly because I was going to be taking the Shinkansen (bullet train) for the first time.I snapped pictures of any and everything while absorbing the stares of the Japanese commuters. Signs, platforms, escalators, snack counters and most importantly trains
I tried my best to be creative in my shots but the mixture of excitement and nervousness often resulted in blurry pictures but every couple shots produced something interesting. To this day the shot above is one of my favourites from my time in Japan.
Sitting on the train felt surreal. I can’t believe I was actually riding a bullet train, that was another thing off the list of things I have to do while I was in Japan. Getting off the train in Nagoya I surfaced to find a neon lit world not unlike Tokyo, the air filled with a mixture of sounds that included street performers, traffic and what I guessed to be a very angry police officer shouting through a megaphone
My Japanese friend picked me up and before I knew it I was absorbed into the Nagoya stream, staring at every sign, trying to decipher every conversation and sharing my adventures in Japan so far.
A celebratory meal was planned, a meal of “Hitsumabushi“. I remember being told that Nagoya does it best but I was nervous, because of course at this early stage of my Japan trip I was still a VERY picky eater.
When I found out hitsumabushi was actually barbecued eel, I had my reservations, but it smelled and looked so good. The long train ride had caused me to work up quite the appetite.
A few tentative nibbles later and I was ready to take the plunge. Hitsumabushi was one of the tastiest meals to have passed my lips while I was in Japan and will be one of the first things I eat when I make it back to Nagoya.
Driving and walking from the restaurant in the night I was still observing and absorbing life in Nagoya. I liked passing convenience stores and trying to read the Hiragana/Katakana signs
Then there were times when no translation was necessary
Looking at Nagoya Castle at night provided the last mental workout of the evening as I imagined how magnificent the real castle must have been in the past overlooking the valley below.
Bright and early the next day I was heading back to the Nagoya station, this time via the subway, what was the destination?
Shinkansen! Another ride on the bullet train was imminent but with my JR Railpass there was no need to join long lines to purchase tickets
Nagoya Station is fancier (and larger) than some airports and malls I have been to
I can’t remember what these two fish (dragon?) statues meant and I can’t read the kanji up top. who wants to read what it says or to tell me about the statue in a comment below or via a tweet to @Jamaipanese.
A pre-departure meal/breakfast while I waited on my train to arrive as I read up about attractions in Kyoto and Nara I would be visiting over the next 2 days
10 minutes before my train arrives and my Japanese friend and I make our way to the platform, I think I can still remember how to write the Kanji for “Nagoya”
I joined in with a decent crowd of Japanse train otaku of all ages snapping pictures of trains passing by, not surprisingly I was more enthused by the Shinkansen. Then there was an uproar among the train enthusiasts as a duo of train drivers/conductors (I think) emerged from one of the trains and sound of 2 dozen cameras snapping away filled the air. Its as if they were celebrities.
Then my ride to Kyoto arrived, a super long and sleek N700, another ride on a Shinkansen was about to happen
2 days and one night in Kyoto, a half day in Nara and another half day in Osaka and I was on my way back to Nagoya, this smiling train conductor was easily the coolest person on the train.
The ride back was much more relaxing, maybe its because of all the walking I had done between attractions over the past 2 days.
Kirk is a proud Jamaican who started Jamaipanese.com in February 2006 and now lives in rural Japan. He enjoys sharing his experiences learning about Japan, personal milestones in life as well as interests such as photography, gaming and travelling.