Some observations from travels

Archive for April, 2013

12 Chapters of Nagoya Tour: Chapter 7 – Funtown Osu Course

Osu Shopping District is one of the oldest and most popular shopping districts in Nagoya.  Welcome to Chapter 7  of the 12 Chapters of Nagoya Tour.  This course takes us through both history and shopping experiences.  This is in my immediate neighbourhood and a nice place to walk around.  So let’s go for a walk.

1.  Fureai Park.  Central to this park is the huge Maneki-neko, known in Japan as a welcoming cat, good luck or money cat and happy cat.  This small Fureai Park is a famous relaxing area, meeting area or entertainment area.  During weekends and special festival days this little park would be packed with audience enjoying a variety of entertainment.  On quieter days people like to meet up here, have a snack and relax.


2.  Nanatsudera Temple.  In the olden Edo period days this temple was bustling with festivals and many events.  Built in 735 and moved here from Kiyosu and became a place of worship for the Owari Tokugawa family.  Today, the temple is quiet but still popular amongst local residents during market days and Osu festivals.


3.  Osu Kannon Temple.  Built in 1324 at Nagaoka Village and moved to its present location by Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1612 in conjunction with the construction of Nagoya Castle.  Osu is popular amongst local residents and tourists for a traditional Japanese shopping experience, during many festivals and bimonthly flea markets.  The temple is central to these experiences.


4. Osu Entertainment Hall.  Opened in the 1960’s as one of the “Osu 20 Theatres”, but only the Osu Entertainment Hall remains.  Famous for a variety of entertainment including comedic story telling, stand-up comedy and magic.


5.  Akamon Myooden.  A small and quiet temple tucked within one end of the Akamon-dori on the Akamon Myouo-dori.  Akamon means red gate and affectionately nicknamed Temple Myoosan amongst locals.  This small street comes to life on the 28th of each month with stalls during its monthly street fair.


6.  Nagonoyama Park.  The park was Nagoya’s first park way back in 1879 until Tsurumai Park opened in 1909.  What remains of the park is a gentle hill, which is an authentic burial mound, a remnant from a group of burial mounds in Osu.


7.  Bansho-ji Temple.  A former place of worship for the Oda family.  The site had a “famous” event wherein the young Nobunaga threw incense powder during the funeral of his father Nobuhide.  Formerly located near the Nagoya Castle then moved to the current site which occupies the whole of east Osu in the past.


8.  Shintenchi-dori Akamon-dori (Electronics Marketplace.)  Known as one of Japan’s three largest electronic shopping areas.  There is a large concentration of electronics stores along these streets which is frequented by electronics lovers.


If you have missed the previous chapters, here they are again:

Chapter 1: Nagoya Castle Course

Chapter 2: Course covering region of the Owari Tokugawa family and the Cultural Path

Chapter 3: Oda Nobunaga “Owari’s Foolhardy Youth” Course

Chapter 4: Course Covering the Birthplace of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Kato Kiyomasa

Chapter 5: Course for Experiencing Nagoya Manufacturing

Chapter 6: Nagoya Stroll Course


Weekly Travel Themes: Benches

I love taking photos of benches, preferably when they’re empty however, I do not mind when someone is enjoying their comfort.  In last week’s Travel Theme challenge benches are on order.  So here is my (rather late) contribution to the many others who have already shared their beautiful benches as well.

I hope you all have a great week.

The Historical Town of Takayama

We had the chance to visit another part of the what is known in Japan as the Central Honshu.  Described by tour books as the region that shows the contrasts of present Japan – with its densely populated coastal cities whilst in the middle the highest and wildest mountains can be found.  Whilst the region is very accessible to travel it has kept its traditional rural lifestyles, architecture and festivals.

Last Sunday, the 14th of April was the first day of Takayama’s world renown Spring Festival – Sanno Matsuri.  The festival is a celebration of the guardian deity of the southern half of the ‘old town’ Takayama to welcome spring as well as pray for good harvest and peace for the year.  The main event of the festival is the parade of 12 yatais (festival floats.)  Later in the year after the hot days of summer Takayama then celebrates the Autumn Festival where there are 11 of these yatais on show.  They are believed to date back as far as the 17th century.  The current Takayama spring festival in the Ishikawa Prefecture have been celebrated for the past 40 years.

Every float has its own unique design with very intricate details.  They were very beautiful!  Here are photos of the floats but I haven’t named them individually as I do not wish to misquote their names.


Walking through the old town we experienced the beautifully preserved Edo period merchant’s businesses and private homes.  Takayama is not only known for these festivals.  The city is also well-known for the numerous sake breweries and gourmet restaurants.  The old town was awarded the highest 3-star Michelin travel award as a destination worth travelling.


Aside from the beautiful festival and old preserved streets, it was the spirit of the locals that I loved the most.  These festival participants were very proud of their heritage.  The police and volunteers were very helpful, considering there were many lost (tourists) souls with their guide books and cameras.  Here is my tribute to the lovely people of Hida Takayama.


We truly enjoyed our brief day in Takayama.  Our only wish was if we could have stayed to watch the night festival when the floats were lit and went around the city streets once more.  But…there’s always next time.  I look forward to visiting the city again to explore the many temples and I can’t wait!

When you do get the chance to visit, It is really worth it!  And stay the night if you can.

Hida Takayama’s detailed website is here.

12 Chapters of Nagoya Tour: Chapter 6 – Nagoya Stroll Course

6 down and 6 more to go! I reckon I’m going to finish this course, which is a bit of a challenge for me, starting something and going for it every week.  I hope you are still enjoying following these courses as some of them are a bit boring, but I’m counting on the bigger picture to knowing the city I am in at the moment to be more than just what it seems in touristy brochures.

This course takes us to the modern side of Nagoya – “that continues to modernise; a profound city that combines modernity with human warmth.” That’s the intro quote from this week’s Chapter 6 of the 12 Chapters of Nagoya Tour.  When I read through this week’s course I thought – easy! it’s my immediate neighbourhood!  So I took advantage of the power of editing and took this course leisurely.  So, here we go for this week’s stroll.  Enjoy!

1.  Nagoya Station Mae.  The station Mae is famous for the number of skyscrapers in a small area around the Nagoya Station.  Originally opened in 1886, surrounded by marsh, in what was then considered an outlying area of the city.  Formerly a wooden station building reformed in 1937 to what is now a modern structure.  After WWII the area became a commercial area with the city’s first underground commercial facility in 1937.

The station is complex and crowded.  When walking around to find something I have lost my way here many times, but my trick was to keep walking around and it seems to just take you back around where you first started.  Eventually, you will find what you were looking for in the first place.  I have included Nana-chan in the photo gallery as she is considered one of the main meeting points when you get to Nagoya Station.


2.  Yanagibashi Central Wholesale Market.  Markets in this area started as a group of wholesalers in the late Meiji Period (1868-1912).  This area is famous both with the local and international tourists.  A short walk from the Nagoya Station in the city centre and a rarity in Japan.

When I arrived at the market street around midday the whole area was clean, quiet and closed.  Only when I listened to the podcast did I learn that this market was mostly opened during the morning.  There were still some stalls closing up, but I did not miss taking photos of the life after the rush.


3.  Nayabashi Bridge.  Nayabashi Bridge spans the Horikawa River, which flows from the north to the south through the center of Nagoya, both believed to be built in 1610 in conjunction with the building of the Nagoya Castle.  The current retro bridge was re-built in 1981.  Recently, restaurants and cafes are popular around the bridge and along the river.


4.  Nagoya City Science Museum.  Opened in 2011 the dome belongs to the Brother Earth Planetarium of the Nagoya City Science Museum, one of Japan’s finest comprehensive museums and the world’s largest.  Once inside one may experience standing in an artificial tornado as well as being in an aurora laboratory in -30 degrees celsius.

Unfortunately, I have not been inside this museum as all the tours and instructions are in Japanese.  I just enjoy the changes it goes through the year.


5.  Sunshine Sakae.  The Sky Boat ferris wheel is the first sight that stands out of downtown Sakae area.  The building is known for various entertainment venues, restaurants, pubs and cafes.  Popular amongst the younger Japanese crowd as well as those who want to experience a little bit of Japanese pop culture.


6.  Oasis 21.  Another icon in downtown Sakae area is the Oasis 21.  This facility consists of a park, bus terminal, connections to the subway, underground shopping and the Aichi Arts Centre.  The Milky Way Plaza/Galaxy Platform on the basement level hosts many events throughout the year.  Visitors can enjoy a grassy area to rest and enjoy a day in Nagoya on the Field of Green level and provides a quick access to the Aichi Arts Centre.  One can enjoy walking along the periphery and enjoy the sights of the city of the Spaceship Aqua on the rooftop level where water flows along the glass surface of the roof.


7.  Nagoya TV Tower.  A symbol of downtown Nagoya since 1954 the Nagoya TV Tower stands 180 meters tall.  One can enjoy relaxing in the cafe and beer garden on the ground level; banquets and parties on the upper level; and 360-degree view of the city at the top level.  The tower was designated as a Lover’s Sanctuary in 2008.

This is an interesting tower at towards one end of the Hisaya-odori park.  It holds open air markets, special event at the beer garden and popular for weddings.  I will be back one night to take night photos of the city as this is highly recommended.


I enjoyed this course even though I have walked through these streets and sights many times.  I hope you have as well.  Here are links to the previous chapters if you are interested.  Have a great week everyone.

Chapter 1: Nagoya Castle Course

Chapter 2: Course covering region of the Owari Tokugawa family and the Cultural Path

Chapter 3: Oda Nobunaga “Owari’s Foolhardy Youth” Course

Chapter 4: Course Covering the Birthplace of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Kato Kiyomasa

Chapter 5: Course for Experiencing Nagoya Manufacturing

12 Chapters of Nagoya Tour: Chapter 5 – Course for Experiencing Nagoya Manufacturing

This chapter’s course takes us through the origin of the ‘Manufacturing Kingdom Nagoya.’  Nagoya’s manufacturing industry contributes to the core industries that help build the modern Japan.  So let’s go for a bit of walk around the manufacturing side of Nagoya.

1.  Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology.  Established in 1994 by the Toyota group utilising the red brick factory building built in 1911 and preserved as an important industrial asset.  The importance of manufacturing is shown here as the birthplace of Toyota group.

The museum is quite detailed with both textile machinery and automotive pavilions.  These machineries are manned with live demonstrations.  Unless you are an automotive buff or have a passion for machineries, this museum was rather too technical for my taste.


2.  Noritake Garden.  Since 1904 Noritake started as a manufacturer of porcelain tableware for exporting.  The garden was established to commemorate Noritake’s 100th anniversary. The garden has various facilities including a museum of porcelain production history, a craft centre, showrooms and lifestyle shops and cafe.  The garden itself showcases many historical features such as The Six Chimneys which shows the remains of old chimneys as a testament to Noritake as one of the world’s leading tableware manufacturers.  Along the garden walls a retaining wall was made using old bricks from the foundation of the original factory building.  Attached to the wall, known as the “Kiln Wall” are plates inscribed with donors to the Noritake Garden Foundation.  Around the garden an old single kiln can be seen, an old factory gate, and a relaxing fountain plaza lined with trees and flowers.

This is a beautiful garden covered with seasonal trees – which can be enjoyed at different times of the year.  You do not need to be a big fan of fine porcelain tableware to admire the beauty of this museum and garden.  Unfortunately, cameras were not allowed within the museum areas.  I spent more time just sitting outside admiring the flower beds and trees.


3.  Bean’s Confectionary/Mamefuku Main Store.  Famous for manufacturing confectionary in Nagoya since 1939.  Their main products are traditional soy bean snacks made from large soybeans harvested in Hokkaido.  These types of snacks are popular in Japan for their rich nutritional values.  The store runs classes as well as tours.



4.  Candy and Toy Wholesale Stores Street.  The street is lined with wholesalers displaying boxes of traditional sweets since 1923 whilst the Nagoya Castle was being built.  The construction people would visit the street to purchase their supply of confection.  After WWII air raids the area recovered quickly and became known to supply confection and toys.

This was a nice street to walk through as the colourful display of confection and the collection from simple to the weird-looking toys on sale here are quite enticing.


5.  Nagoya Japanese Fan (Suehirodou).  Alongside Kyoto, Nagoya is known for producing traditional folding fans.  Kyoto’s folding fans are more luxurious used by ladies in their traditional Japanese dance.  Nagoya’s folding fans are used more for ceremonial events such as weddings and fans designed for men.



6.  Japanese Kite (Takomo Original Store).  Nagoya is famous for producing traditional Japanese kites.  The original Takomo building and precious materials were burned down during WWII air raids.  However, traditional techniques are still used to make these kites until today.  Their designs are popular as interior decorations for many homes.  The store offers tours and workshops such as taking your own photo or design and making an original kite.


7.  Nagoya Black Kimonos with Crests (Yamekatsu Senko).  The traditional black kimono with crest are unique to Nagoya.  These black-dyed kimonos are worn during formal occasions and for mourning are dyed with family crests using traditional time-consuming process.  Since the Edo period in the 17th century the Owari clan designated a dying expert to design flags and banners that later on extended to the dyeing of formal kimonos.  The present Yamekatsu Senko offers tours and workshops to experience the black dyeing process.



There was a part (Shoes Design and Craft School) that I skipped and decided to miss out during this walking tour.  My overall experience during this chapter’s tour was that it was quite technical, except for Noritake Garden which I thoroughly enjoyed and will visit again.  The course distance was quite long but it was interesting to walk through the small streets and discover another side to Nagoya than the ones I am familiar with.

I hope you continue to enjoy exploring the 12 Chapters of Nagoya Tour with me.  If you would like to have a peek at the previous chapters they are here:

Chapter 1: Nagoya Castle Course

Chapter 2: Course covering region of the Owari Tokugawa family and the Cultural Path

Chapter 3: Oda Nobunaga “Owari’s Foolhardy Youth” Course

Chapter 4: Course Covering the Birthplace of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Kato Kiyomasa

Enjoy your spring time wherever you are in the world.  Until next time.