Where on earth is Nagoya?

I have to confess, I'd never heard of Nagoya before I came to Japan. It's a not so little city on the south coast of central Japan (west of Tokyo, east of Osaka). It's a major industrial center and home to Toyota, Honda and other major players in the automobile world, as you can tell by the car-friendly wide streets.

 We came here from Osaka on one of the Willer Express buses. I know everyone in Japan gets a JR rail pass and uses bullet trains, but we are on a serious budget, and so we opted for the even cheaper option of a Willer bus pass. It gives you 5 trips over a 2 month period for JPY15,000.  The longer validity of the pass was another reason we chose it,  since we will be in Japan for more than the 21 days that the JR rail pass is valid for. We plan to just take a single bullet train for the experience (between two relatively close cities!). To be honest, the buses are pretty posh with tonnes of leg room and other nifty features like this one with a PS3 built-in to the seat:

 

PS3 Willer Express

 

OK, it wasn't quite a PS3, but still...not bad for a bus!

We stayed in Sakae region of Nagoya, which is smack bang in the centre of lots of things you'd want to see as a tourist, but also smack bang in the centre of the red-light district! I wouldn't worry about that too much though, as being Japan it still felt very safe, and unless you are bringing a family there's really no reason not to stay in this district. 

 

Hunt for ChickenWe'd heard from a Japanese guy we met in Osaka that Nagoya was very famous for its chicken wings, so as we walked around on the first evening, we made it our mission to find these mythical wings. We didn't have to walk long until we saw this sign. I can honestly the say the chicken wings were delicious and did not disappoint. At the same place we also tried misokatsu,  a breaded pork cutlet in a rich red miso sauce. Not to be missed if you're in Nagoya.

 

 

 

Not exactly haute cuisine, but one day in Nagoya we also found ourselves in our first Subway restaurant of Japan. The varieties of filling are quite different here than the usual offerings. We had Smoked Raw Ham and Mascarpone and  Shrimp and Avocado, which I'm unashamedly going to say was very nice. 

Given Nagoya's industrial heritage, it's not surprising that there is a great science museum here. They offer a free downloadable app English guide for your smartphone, which is supposed to give you voice-overs when you get near to the designated places, however it did not work on either of our phones unfortunately. Nevertheless it's a very good science museum, and there is plenty of interactive things to do even if you don't entirely understand what you're doing.

Robot plays trumpetIn the same vein, we also visited the "Toyota Commemorative Museum".  Before we even got to the Toyada's circular loom or the heavy-duty machinery of the auto-industry, we stopped to marvel at the umbrella locking station at the entrance (they really have thought of everything in this country). The museum itself was interesting,  as far as yarn/car museums go anyway. Toyata is such a household name, it was interesting learning about the family, the state of the business and the state of their technology today vs their humble beginnings. You also get to watch an Asimo type robot play the violin or trumpet, so who can complain.  One warning: make sure you've eaten before you arrive here. We were starving and kept trying to sneak a bite to eat inside the complex, much to the annoyance of a security guard who seemed to pop-up wherever we where with almost comical timing. Even after we left the Toyata museum, we half wondered if he was going to pop-up and tell us "Food, Drink, No!" as we munched into our Sushi pack down the road.

 

TheWorldOnASpoon

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do --- Mark Twain

Flickr stream