Sunday, March 09, 2008

Walking through Nagoya

Today, Maiko and I decided to go for a walk through Nagoya. We started in Meieki (the area around Nagoya station) and walked through Fushimi to Sakae. If you take the subway you can get from any of these stations to the other within 5 minutes, but on foot it takes a lot longer, especially our way.

The Midland Square building is celebrating it’s 1st anniversary and they invited a Tuna to play for their Japanese customers. A Tuna is a musical group made up of university students playing traditional Spanish music. It’s an old Spanish tradition and many universities in Spanish speaking countries have their own Tunas. They have interesting costumes and go out to play to earn some money as university students are notoriously broke all the time. Usually these groups are made up out of men, but there are also some female Tunas out there, for example in Maastricht. I was actually part of that Tuna for about a year. That’s right, I used to sing and play Spanish songs on a guitar in public, and it was fun. I joined the Tuna when they were just starting and I left before I ever got to wear a cloak and a medieval looking costume. Anyway seeing a Tuna here in Japan was very surprising and a fun blast from the past.

The Japanese (like the Dutch) like to ride bikes

Fish market, but I didn't see any fish because apparently they only come out in the very early morning.

Interesting looking Chinese restaurant

Deadly water

For some reason all the fish in the river in Fushimi are dead, makes you wonder...

Pretty Japanese park with actual non-dead fish in the pond

Maiko after a Rock Paper Scisssors battle on the square stone path in the pond

The Japanese love uniforms

Kodomo no hi (Children's Day) decorations

Another windowless building (saw one in New York City before), imagine having to work here

Obviously, we didn’t forget to refuel, we made several stops for food and coffee, of course... First stop was the Tiger Café for lunch. It’s a French café so the menu was in French and Japanese. Finally a menu in Japan I could understand without the constant translation of a Japanese friend at the dining table. There were many interesting things on the menu and I associated every menu item to what I would be served in Europe. So I chose a Croque Madame, which at home is loads of melted cheese and ham in between two pieces of toasted bread with a fried egg on top. I love tosti’s (which is what we call them in Dutch), but the Japanese version was very dry with dried up melted plastic (instead of cheese) which smelled badly and tasted very bland. So lunch wasn’t very exciting, I should really stop trying to eat Western food in Japan, it’s always a disappointment somehow. Of course the Japanese excel at cooking Japanese food, but sometimes it’s hard to resist the promise of Western food… I’m not sure I’ve learned my lesson yet.

It’s no secret I love Starbucks, and what I like most about it it’s that it’s takeout coffee. It may sound strange, but it’s not something I’m used to. Nowadays you can get a cup of take out coffee at a few places in the city I lived, but something remotely like Starbucks we never had. Since my departure to Japan Starbucks has opened 3 stores at Amsterdam Airport though, so it’s a start, but so far it’s just one airport and it’s just way too far from my hometown. Like the States, Japan has many coffee chains: Starbucks, Tully’s Coffee, Doutor, Excelsior Coffee and more. I love to walk around the streets of the city sipping some kind of tasty coffee concoction from a paper takeout cup. Yasu also loves Starbucks, but for very different reasons, he likes to drink his coffee inside while reading or studying in the nice coffeehouse atmosphere. I often join him but I don’t really see the point of sitting in the store for a long time (unless you’re tired), I’m just doing it for the coffee. And Yasu doesn’t see the point of just buying the coffee and taking it out, so he won’t do it. But Maiko is like me, she loves to take out her coffee too! So that’s exactly what we did, got ourselves a nice cup of iced coffee (it was quite hot last Sunday) and continued our walk through the city.

We saw a little yatai in the shopping streets of Sakae selling taiyaki. A yatai is a small mobile food stall, usually just selling one kind of food, and they open up shop anywhere and everywhere. At home I would seriously avoid these kind of shady places, but here they seem quite accepted and the as a foreigner the food can be very interesting. This one sold taiyaki, which is a couple of dry pancakes pressed together with red bean paste in between and then disguised as a fish. Red bean paste is sweet, so this would be some kind of Japanese pastry. It’s a little bit dry, but not bad, and it’s always great to try something Japanese.


Our walk through Nagoya was great. It’s the best way to discover a city, just walk around without a real goal besides enjoying yourself with whatever comes your way. I especially enjoyed our impromptu Rock Paper Scissors battle in the Japanese garden and our takeout coffees!

More pictures

4 comments:

Aaron said...

Good old Nagoya and Inuyama. I taught English in Konan at ALS (now closed) in 00-01. Also interviewed at AEON but the guy gave me the creeps; like a used car salesman. You ever seen the big buddha either just before or just after Hotei station? Been to Inuyama a couple times for fireworks and all you can eat yakiniku... good times good times. It's cool to find someone out there like I was....

Louana said...

Yes, I have seen that big Buddha, I'm planning to get off the train one of these days and check it out, it's so big!
All you can eat yakiniku in Inuyama?? Where?

Louise said...

Leuk die onverwachte reacties van mensen all over the world! Ennuh, wat is yakiniku??? XXX DVK je moemie

Louana said...

Yakiniku is Koreaanse barbeque aan tafel. Wat wij hebben gedaan in een Koreaans restaurant in Japan Town in San Fransisco, weet je nog? Was lekker he? xx