Nagoya

Autumn in December: Nagoya Castle

Three months after my first trip, I returned to Nagoya. This time, with a special travel buddy: my younger sister Ebany. The day of Ebany’s arrival in Japan was the first snowy day in Toyama, and man does Toyama know how to snow. We were both entranced by the blankets of white and crisp, chilly wind, made even more festive by the abundance of lights and Christmas decorations that fill the city. Our train ride in the morning was a perfect way to see the snow topped mountains and trees, seated comfortably  and with plenty of leg room in our heated JR train.

_DSC0007Upon arrival we spent a few hours wandering the overwhelming luxe JR towers, a 15 story behemoth of fancy restaurants and fancier stores.

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Sunday morning we payed a visit to Nagoya’s famous castle, originally built in the early 17th century during the Edo period and has since been demolished and reconstructed in the mid 20th century. Like most attractions in Japan, it’s surrounding area is an essential element to the experience. Winding paths, stretches of stone walls and lush foliage are a serene introduction to the extensive castle. Unlike Toyama, Nagoya hasn’t realized that it’s December, and so we were delighted to find fall leaves and warm sun.

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Every floor of the reconstructed castle features a different exhibition of history and the building’s construction. The top floor  offers a panoramic view of the extensive city and visual evidence of its ranking as the 4th most populous city in Japan. Of course there are plenty of cheesy photo opportunities, my favourite being the large golden Dolphins which pay homage to the castle’s architectural history.

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Nagoya

My first long-ish venture into Japan travel proved to be surprisingly stress and hassle free. About two weeks before departure I booked a hostel online and bought a bus ticket at the train station in Toyama. I’m no stranger to bus rides, having been a student traveling home or to Toronto and back countless times. The three and a half bus ride to Nagoya was amazing. Yes, amazing. The highway from Toyama to Nagoya cuts directly through the Japan alps, and so I was treated to a spectacular and seemingly endless view of mountains and small villages tucked between them.

Impressions of Nagoya… A large, lively city. I was only there for a brief time and in the major areas, but from my experience it would be a good place to go with friends or family. There are countless stores and shopping malls, and restaurants. One of the highlights was the Ossu Kanon Temple, where we received our fortunes and tied them to the ropes for good luck.

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We also spent an hour and a half waiting for Hitsumabushi, a Nagoya specialty of eel cooked over a bed of rice. The long wait was completely worth it for this amazing meal.

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Apparently Nagoya is also the coffee hub of Japan (who knew?). The absence of cafes is something I noticed quickly in Japan. There’s a breakfast chain in Nagoya called “Komodo”, which we ate breakfast at on our last morning.

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