As you know, I had a friend visiting. I met Wouter in Luxembourg in 1996 when he was just a wee lad. He’s Dutch, and now lives in Spain. He speaks Dutch, German, English, French, and Spanish fluently. But I’ve got him on Japanese! Enjoy his guest blog.
Hereâ€™s a little guest entry to Jonâ€™s Yosoko blog â€“ as Iâ€™m in Nagoya at Jonâ€™s place, thought it would be fun to add something to this blog. So Iâ€™m having my first experience of visiting Japan, it had been a while since I last saw Jon as well (2006 I was in LA with a friend from Spain for a wedding). Iâ€™m spending almost a week out here, so I got to see all that Nagoya has to offer. Mind you, my (Spanish) guidebook makes no reference to the town other than that it has a castle, which has had its weight in Japanese history. Also, there is no reference to the impressive amount of industry in and around Nagoya â€“ many big Japanese names are based in the area, probably the biggest being Toyota. Iâ€™m a bit skeptical about my guidebook nowâ€¦
As you can see below, for the people of Nagoya, Japan is the center of the world:
Jonâ€™s apartment is really nice, itâ€™s perfectly located in the central â€œNaka Wardâ€ and he did a great job decorating (picking the necessary furniture items). From here itâ€™s very easy to stroll into town, there are many many many small restaurants around and the area has a very friendly atmosphere. Actually the Japanese all seem very friendly, always willing to help and explain things. Of course if you donâ€™t understand a word (like me) â€“ itâ€™s kind of hard and sometimes not so comfortable to have people just speak at you without being able to respond. Thereâ€™s the castle to visit, the pottery factory of Noritake, several temples and shrines, shopping galleries, the Toyota museum (youâ€™d have to book in advance to do the guided factory tour, see the Toyota web pages for all the detailed info.
then thereâ€™s the tv tower and the parksâ€¦ As for my guidebook, itâ€™s good for the really touristy places. Nagoya is more â€œthe real thingâ€, which to me is just as interesting as hundreds of temples, castles, etc.
In any case, while in Japan there is more to see of course, I took a high speed train to see a bit of Kyoto and will be traveling on one of those to Tokyo tomorrow.
Not a cheap, but a very smart way to travel; and as Japan is not a very wide island all the main cities are connected on one and the same line. This means there are trains every 5 to 10 minutes!
In previous blog entries youâ€™ve been reading about the fireworks festival. Apparently there are numerous festivals now in summer. They donâ€™t need much of an excuse to build up stands with all kinds of food and a podium for live music to get the party moving. We dropped by one of the festivals here in town on Sunday â€“ hereâ€™s what happens when Jon gets his hand on some of that icecreamâ€¦yummie!!! [Ed. Note: It wasn’t ice cream, it was shaved ice with lemon. Sort of lemon. More like yellow colored sugar instead of red colored sugar (otherwise known as cherry).
Oh and before I forget â€“ the truth about the guest bedâ€¦itâ€™s quite alright, Iâ€™ve been sleeping long hours (more than I wanted to), but it is a bit hard of course as itâ€™s on the floor ;-). Well I hope loads of more guests can make it out here, to appreciate not just the bed and the apartment, but rather the truth about life in Japan. Itâ€™s really something that is hard to explain, probably more so as I donâ€™t speak a word of the language. Pictures may give an indication, but youâ€™d really have to live it to make sense of it. For example, when entering a store â€“ any store â€“ youâ€™ll be greeted in words and by a little nod of the head. After a while you start doing it yourself as well. Friendly but distant, mysterious but all commerceâ€¦youâ€™ll have to figure it out yourself â€“