Typhoon stopped play

Typhoon stopped play
Nagawa-machi, Japan

Nagawa-machi, Japan

Today, Nagoya will be mostly closed for a typhoon. After a quick trip to the castle – closed -I  found myself at the main station for a ride to the railway museum. But that (museum) was also closed; at least I found out before getting there, thanks to a member of staff jumping on my uncertain pause in front of the Aonami line. That was actually due to my subway day pass not working there, since that’s not a subway line, but it saved me the journey and the expense. The station has wifi, so I could check the list of sights and spot that the JR (Japanese railways) towers, built in 1999, were right above my head, with restaurants and beauty parlours on the panorama deck, floor 51.

Two people eating, view from high up over the city behind them
JR Tower.

I took a ride. The lift goes straight from floor 13 to 51, and I emerged feeling slightly nauseous. A ride in itself. The floor itself is small, and you can only get a peek at the view through the windows of the businesses up there. I decided I wasn’t coming without a look, so went for lunch. Lunch is generally the reasonably priced meal – seen as the time when people pay for themselves rather than on expenses – so although more expensive than other restaurants, it was perfectly okay at ¥2400, including fizzy wine, though this is nouvelle cuisine rather than a hearty fill. I amused myself halfway through, realising that it felt a little odd. I noticed then that the places were set with cutlery – I did just use it, but I double-took as I did so. After a burger (Japanese, but still) and now a meal with cutlery I probably owe my Japanese karma another pick at random from a menu I don’t understand. As for lunch, good food plus the view – totally recommended. After another ride down in the lift to floor 13 had left me a bit discombobulated, I let the escalators take me down through 2 floors of restaurants, French, Italian and more, and more shops. Nearer to ground are the ladieswear ones, though unlike Tokyo I managed not to ‘explore’ an entirely female floor, which had left me looking like some kind of Western lunatic. The basement, just like a mall I’d browsed in Asakusa, is full of food stalls selling weird, wonderful and fabulous smelling foodstuffs. It’s a sight to see all of its own.

In the afternoon, with most museums shut, I took the subway down to the port. Or it took me, potato potato. Cricket seems to be big here, every station pointing the way to the South and North Wicket. A big port, big ships, big container area, and all quite festive. Sea train land had a Ferris wheel-another one for me to eschew – as well as zombie panic and other rides. I pondered the wisdom and freshness of the ‘global seafood restaurant’, wondered why McDonalds was hidden behind the aquarium and looked at the pictures in the maritime museum. I watched a video, too, which combined with the large map of the port area to show me where everything was, and pictures too, and told me loads more about the sport fishing area, golf course and container port, none of which I understood. The weather had brightened, at least, so the wind that kicked up was only blowing odd bits of sand at me, not rain and everything else. I followed a tsunami exit route to find the subway and head back into town, feeling I’d had a day by the seaside, though the only beach is a long way from the subway, in the maritime park. It is a big port.

Tall, and thin, the castle rises behind trees
The Castle.

I still had a couple of hours of daylight left, so headed for the central shopping and eating district, Sakae. The (old) TV tower is here, offering elevated views, but I settled for photos after my 51st floor vision. The tower is set in a parkland strip (Hisaya Odori) that runs between two roads (and is itself crossed by other roads, so it’s not quite the running paradise it might be) which is lovely, and the usual stealth shopping rules in Japan apply. Above ground, shops, glitz and glamour of Gucci, Apple et al. Below ground, a mall, leading off the subway station. And tucked away on the 2nd, 3rd and other floors; other shops and restaurants. No suggestion they’re hidden, but there seems to be a virtue in putting your business wherever and then they will come. Shopping on a budget is a bit futile, so I rode back out to the castle and park. The park has an obvious running route round and was covered in runners of all speeds, but also plenty of sights for a non runner-even a windmill. The castle looked glorious with sun on, and I realised the day had become a lovely, by my standards that can’t cope with 30 degrees, sunny day thanks to the earlier rain and wind. I walked some of my running route from last night, glad to see it in daylight, before heading back, footsore and better disposed toward Nagoya than I had been the day before.

Bonus, dude

Bonus, dude
Nagoya, Japan

Nagoya, Japan

Shinkansen! I met a Japanese traveller/staff member (hi Takumi!!) late on last night, and we’d compared notes. He’d been to the UK this year, London and Liverpool, and European mainland, but also travelled though Japan, giving me some useful info along with leaflets on Hiroshima. When I mentioned my train ride and potential destinations we got bogged down in fares, and the pity of not having a JR rail pass for a while before he turned and gave me a grin, commenting on my upcoming journey – “and you get to travel on the Shinkansen!” He was right to emphasise it, it’s a fabulous way to travel.

Red with white detail, a large multi-storied pagoda style temple
Osu Kannon Temple.

So I did. The standard tickets had sold out, so I’d paid an extra ¥1000 for the green car-sort of like first class – which was very roomy and very empty with only two other people in it. The train fair whizzes along, and this is the older kodama version which I think must be slower as well as multi-stopping, judging by the extra time it takes. Heading out of Tokyo I noticed it had leant right over; smoothly, like, this isn’t a ******* pendolino. Acceleration and deceleration are also smooth, the latter accompanied by nice shhh noises from the brakes. I snoozed and before I knew it we were at Nagoya and I could stroll.

My sense of direction hasn’t improved by being used more, and I confused myself as to which side of the station I’d come out, not helped by attempting to use the grand hotel as a landmark and there being at least two. I worked it out without walking too far and then, as per the directions found I “can watch our hotel on the left hand side”. There are apparently other hostels in Nagoya, but none that made Hostelworld so I was left with what reviews assured me would be a spot in a hotel room converted to a dorm. The smiley receptionist, though, told me I was the only one so was on my own. I wondered what a large room would be like on my own. When I got to 705, though, I found they had put me in a single room to myself. Hotel rooms can be a bit isolating, but I’m bang up for this – a quiet night, and I’ve the chance to chill out in what looks an unlovely city, and book some of my onward travel.


An overcast sky, seen from a grey railway bridge
Weather looming, leaving Tokyo.

Hotel Ohsu plaza is right next to the Osukannon temple, itself next to a sprawling district that seems to contain a fusion of mall and flea market. Not the spartan, air conditioned malls elsewhere, more like a British market but with fixed shops. I wandered, discovering as I browsed the running shoe bargains that I am outsize here – I think he even used that word, though it was in isolation rather than a sentence so I may have misheard. Certainly they only have up to uk size 9, though, so I’ll need a better stocked shop to replace my now ageing fast Sauconys.

Sign says What Does Seria Mean in English, but the explanation is in Japanese
Glad to have that sorted out.

I ran later, in the dark-the sun falls below the horizon as if someone has cut its strings, on a nice day it can be sunny and glorious at 5.20 and have the sun setting 20 minutes later. As a result, if you lose track of time, you’ll have to run in the dark. Nonetheless it was straightforward to find the castle and the edge of Meijo park. The park is apparently lovely, but I skirted the edge in the dark and rain, sticking to the paths, many tree shaded/protected, doing three laps before heading back to another lap of the smaller park in which the science museum sits and then back.

The steps leading up to another temple. Open-fronted, the inside is lit and looks cosy even in daylight
Temple Town.

My evening took in dinner from the local 7-11, though even shopping there is a pleasure here, with the cashiers smiley and polite and with a range of foods I have never seen before (though that becomes a little less true as time goes by). A bit of telly, sumo, baseball and some football, and I flaked. Nagoya is nice enough, too many things to see even a few in one day but I’m helped by the fact that Monday is the day many attractions close for a rest after the weekend.

Casino Royale, Ian Fleming.

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