A couple weekends ago, I went to visit my cousin in the Aichi prefecture in Nagoya. I took my first shinkansen or bullet train ride, which took a cool 50 minutes to get from Osaka to Nagoya. This was the longest trip I ever took by myself in Japan, and I almost got lost twice, but I made it!
My cousin and her boyfriend picked me up from the train station. Previously, we had been talking on facebook in English but I decided that this would be a great opportunity to practice my Japanese. Furthermore, my cousin’s boyfriend didn’t speak any English and I figured as a guest if anyone was gonna be scrambling for words it should be me.
The day before my cousin asked me what I wanted for dinner, to which I said anything was okay. They decided this anything would be a Domino’s pizza and nuggets and fries from McDonalds. It was endearing to me that they wanted to get me food that I liked, though. Also, I learned that in Japan if a food place like McDonalds forgets something out of your order, they will take down your address and deliver it to your house. We spent nearly the whole night up sitting and talking; I hadn’t seen my cousin since I was a small child. We had been talking about regional language differences / dialects (Kansai-ben vs. Nagoya-ben) and my cousin told me my use of Kansai-ben made me sound “like an old woman”. Ouch!
The next day, we went out for breakfast before setting out on a major day jam-packed with sightseeing. The first place we went was Nagoya-jo or Nagoya Castle.
The weather was beautiful, and though it was a little crowded since it was a weekend we still walked around for a couple hours. First we went to the palace, where we got to gaze upon beautiful 17th century painted sliding screens. Many were lacquered with real gold, which had a kind of shine you just can’t get in photos – at least not on my cellphone.
Next up was the castle itself, which was remodeled to accommodate a museum of four accessible floors. The view from the castle was wonderful, it seemed as if you could see the entirely of the Nagoya city from it. I also got to read about the history of its construction. Thanks to the history class I’m in, I was familiar with two of the figures who lived there, Odu Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu, two of the three “unifiers” of Japan.
After the castle was the Nagoya TV tower, which wasn’t too far away. They had a 100 yen student discount and we got to go take pictures at the top of a small tower. The view here was even better than from Nagoya castle, naturally.
We then traveled to Osu Kannon, and the easiest way to get there was by walking through a busy roofed passageway full of shops and restaurants. The temple itself was quite small since you couldn’t go inside, and by this time we’d been walking for about 9 hours.
We finished the day off by going to my cousin’s favorite yakiniku restaurant in the Aichi area. Arguably we over-ordered (they don’t do to-go boxes in Japan) but left happy and stuffed before the 3 hour long car ride back to Osaka.