Although it’s the fourth biggest city in Japan, Nagoya always feels incredibly peaceful to me. Even on the weekend and in some fairly popular tourist spots. It’s a nice three and a half hour drive by bus from Toyama, winding through the Japanese alps. I’m a big fan of sleeping on buses, and that plus Nagoya’s laid-back atmosphere means it’s a nice weekend (or even day) trip. A few weeks ago I went to Nagoya and ended up spending the Sunday by myself. I didn’t have much of a solid plan, but I wandered around and went to Ohsu Kannon, the science museum, and the castle. Not bad for a Sunday. Although I like traveling with friends, spending time alone in a city like Nagoya can be a nice escape.
Twelve months have gone by faster than I thought could be possible (time flies, and all that). Looking back at all the pictures I’ve accumulated brings me back to so many great memories and experiences I know could only be possible in Japan. I’ve pulled some of my favourites in a sort of visual memory of the past year.
I left from Toronto arrived in Tokyo // sweat alot // drank 2L bottles of water sitting on my tatami floor. Obon happened and the office was empty. I went to a festival in Kamiichi Town, went to a beach party and (sortof) climbed Tateyama.
September: Osu Kannon, Nagoya
I started to figure everything out a bit more. I started teaching and meeting students. I took my first trip, going to Nagoya. I have this very distinct memory of being half awake and watching the Japanese Alps from the bus window as we drove through. I spent a lot time after school helping students prepare for a speech competition.
While my family was eating Thanksgiving dinner I was in Kyoto for the first time, eating burnt Ramen and visiting a cat cafe. I went to a Halloween party and to the speech competition. I learned that Kit-Kats are given for good luck.
The seasons changed later than I expected. I went up to the Kurobe Gorge in a rainy, cold, and fantastic train ride up the mountain. One of the most beautiful places I’ve been to in Japan.
In December my sister visited Japan. We went to as many places as we could from an English camp in Toyama to Nagoya, Tokyo, all over Kansai (Nara, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe), and finally Maibara. It was strange to suddenly have a piece of home in Japan. I went about 4 weeks without classes and missed it a lot.
I shivered at work and shivered in my apartment. I went to Nagano to go snowboarding and loved every minute of the breathtaking mountains.
March: Dohtonbori Osaka
The school year ended, and it was really sad. My first fully-fledged trip to Osaka was incredibly fun, I ate a lot, walked a lot, and saw a lot. Omiyage was weirdly difficult to find. I saw sumo. I lost a contact lens. It was great.
April: Sakura at Matsukawa River
May: YG Concert in Tokyo
Golden week was four days of pure awesomeness, the most “Tokyo” experience I’ve had, by going to a concert, the robot restaurant, and getting swept up in the energy of the city.
June: Uozu Port
It became summer, like fully summer with high humidity and blue skies. I spent a lot of time getting sunburned and riding my bike around. I don’t mind the cold winter, but summer is the best for exploring the city and feeling re-energized.
July: Tatemon Festival
TECHNICALLY this photo is from August but I’m using for July for the sake of relevance. I participated in the Tatemon festival, which was an absolute blast. High energy, lots of people, and a really wonderful culmination to the long season of festivals and fireworks of the summer and to the year in Japan.
I had the pleasure of seeing the Nagoya/Boston Museum of Fine Art’s touring show of Hokusai prints in Nagoya. The exhibition features many early works as well as his most well-recognized The Great Wave off Kanagawa, 1832, and Red Fuji, 1832.
It was really interested in the use of dimensions in the prints. Art History education (at least in my experience in Canada) tends to emphasize (and praise) the use of light and dark, like the flickering light of French Impressionist paintings or the deep contrasts of Italian Renaissance chiaroscuro. It’s a shame that this emphasis results in overlooking a lot of really important art, like Hokusai’s, as my classes barely touched on anything outside of Europe. Print makers like Hokusai use light and dark in an entirely different way: creating shapes, areas, and outlines of different shades. I was really intrigued by his portrayal of clouds: flat white space with almost rigid black outlines. Not necessarily the image that comes to mind when thinking of fluffy clouds. Yet these images don’t leave any confusion as to what they are and, to me at least, offer a strong sense of cloudiness.
The museum itself as a partnership between Nagoya and the Boston Museum of Art- which sends pieces from its collection for two exhibitions a year. This was actually the first time I’ve been to a museum of this nature, where a permanent collection was not he focus of the museum, but rather dedicated to traveling exhibitions. It seems like a great way to give people the opportunity to see art they might not otherwise have. Although, I can’t imagine the stress these curators experience transporting so many works halfway across the world.
The exhibition will continue to travel to Kobe, Kitakyushu, and Tokyo. The official website can be found here.