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Japan November 2015 - Tokyo - Nagoya - Hiroshima - Shimonoseki - Fukuoka - Page 4

Day 10 - Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Osaka castle - Nagoya branch

Today I did the touristy thing and went to Nagoya Castle.
It is newly constructed, and still under construction, I took great care to ensure I hid the photos of the cranes, sheds, giant sheets of plastic, men in space uniforms waving orange sticks.
Why is every Japanese castle under construction at all times? I have a new theory.
This castle in Nagoya is identical to the one down the road in Osaka. I believe they are one and the same. Even the inside has the same art gallery stuff to see.
So I am here to tell you that the Osaka castle has been relocated to Nagoya, or 50% of it is in each location permanently under construction.

The view from the top is great, all I could see was mountains in every direction. But you cant stay there for long, as my mother has noted, it is heated to about 40C at all times.
If you have been inside any Japanese castle, you will know theres 2 staircases, one to go up and one to go down. DO NOT GO DOWN THE UP STAIR CASE.
I saw some German tourists do this today, and the amount of panicked yelling in Japanese was hilarious. A small female guard was running whilst on the walky talky, yelling and bowing all at once to try and regain control of the situation.

The local NTT Docomo building needs a lot of antennas, so they stacked a heap of platforms on top of each other to make a delicious earthquake platform sandwich.

I passed city hall on the way to the castle, which of course had a few vans with huge speakers out the front screaming obscene political messages.
There is something about the way the commentators speak when they do this, I think they are mocking politicians by deliberately speaking as if they have mental issues. They change the pitch of their over a huge range of octaves and deliberately stutter.
It is hugely annoying and can generally be heard all over every Japanese city at all times.

The moat around the castle has no water.

Instead its full of plastic bags of rubbish. Welcome to landfill castle, 500 yen entry.
I guess the cleaners just lob bags over the wall.

There is of course a flower show on, and WHAT A FLOWER SHOW. I looked at this for longer than the castle.

I was amazed by these bonsai flower things.

So much so that I kept taking pictures.

I thought I better include the castle also.

One more particularly amazing example. I will be pissed off if I find out its an old log with flowers glued to it.

Castle time.

There are people everywhere ensuring you do not sit down. They have a few decoy chairs and benches around to see if you dare ignore the sign.
I hung around for a while to see if anyone was stupid enough to do so, but no one was.

These are the famous Osaka fish, now in Nagoya.

The view from the top was great, lots of color, very clear day.

And so many mountains.

Last one of the castle.

Except for the deer swimming in the moat. Yes, Nagoya has deer in the centre of the city.

This samurai guy is wearing a smurf hat and eating an ice cream. Thats worth a photo.

Someones wedged a ball in the street.

Homeless people here have elaborate set ups. You can pay for a tour of their pile of crap, but I was out of 100 yen coins.

Lunch was a delicious vegetable curry, apparently distinct from the others due to it being Kanazawa style. It was identical to all others, which means it was great.

And heres a post box. Somehow it doesnt get vandalized.

Also theres Oso

I found the covered pedestrian area of Nagoya, so it does exist.
It is further South of the big department stores and is called Oso.
It is largely second hand shops, which I thought was fantastic, old toys, cameras, electronics, guitars, but also clothes, bikes, swords, shoe horns and tooth brushes.
It seems to be more of a day time area, as a lot of stores close at 6pm, including strangely the restaurants.
You must however, be careful of bikes, they come from anywhere, at top speed, they dont care that its a pedestrian mall. I nearly got run over twice, but someone else got hit and then yelled at the guy who hit him who ran off wheeling his bike.

Since most of the eating places were closed or closing, I retreated to top floor of department stores for dinner, Mitzukoshi had the best selection, but also the highest prices. Often the price wasnt clear and there was no choice but to buy the set meal with all kinds of stuff no one wants to double the price.
For whatever reason, Japanese restaurants are showing part of the price in Chinese (they presumably share numbers with Japan). Now I can read this, but I dont really understand why they dont show the whole price using the characters, perhaps Japanese people dont know the character for one thousand?

My long march home went through the park in the middle of the road, where I got to see lots of small dogs, really bad skate boarders, pop star dancing idol practice, homeless people city, an area closed off by police, and strangely, blind people painting.
There was a bunch of what I am sure were blind people having the scene described to them as they painted squiggles onto their easel.

On my way to Oso I went past an entire street of xmas decoration shops. Litreally 20 stores in a row. What do they do the rest of the year?
Perhaps xmas is year round in Japan now.

The temple suggested the start of shopping streets.
Wherever theres a temple, its to pray for a bargain.

Theres a network of 4 or 5 covered mall areas.

I tried on a maid outfit.

Then I waved at the giant cat for a while, whilst smoking teenagers got uncomfortable by my presence and left.

Crazy cyclists.

This second hand guitar shop was awesome. Its a shame I dont need or want anything.

I wasnt particularly hungry, so ordered what appeared to be a small meal in the plastic window version.
It was however quite large, and came with some flower petals, clear noodles that may have been potato or possibly tapeworms, and 3 green beans. Perhaps they are magic beans.

mother on 2015-11-11 said:
Well you did a good job taking photos that didn't show the renovations. Chrysanthemum displays all over Japan at this time - usually in castle grounds.

David on 2015-11-11 said:
Castle is under renovation, and inside the inner wall there are entirely new buildings under construction. See this link

mother on 2015-11-11 said:
Castle is not under renovation and for some reason the moat never has water in it. Never seen deer in it though. n So how come the mountain you climbed yesterday had not temple or shrine on it? I thought they were required.

Day 11 - Thursday, 12 November 2015

Monkeys castles and fighter jets

Today I went to Inuyama, which is near Gifu, north of Nagoya.
Inuyama is a town famous for its castle, which is a real castle, built around 1500, and still as it was then, no escalators or reconstruction.
It is one of only 5 remaining pre Meiji period castles and a national treasure, whatever that means. It seemed pretty important to the town.

However before I go to the castle, its monkey time.
Based on the popularity of the castle, and the need for breeding of monkeys for research, a monorail was constructed to an area a few km east of the castle, where theres a monkey only zoo and laboratory and a monkey adventure theme park over the road from one another.
Some time ago, the theme park and laboratory / zoo decided to build a bridge over the road, and offer joint tickets for the two neighbouring attractions.
The bridge was completed, but the respective owners couldnt agree on splitting the money, so it was never used.
Soon after the monorail broke down and they couldnt afford to fix it.
The theme park had absolutey zero people from what I could see, and the monkey laboratory park was all school kids, and me.

Now, I have said its a lab a few times, and apparently it is. It originally existed to breed monkeys for medical experiments, and they had all kinds of monkeys so decided to expand into being a zoo also.
They are closed for a few months of the year and every Tuesday and Wednesday which are 'testing' days.

After seeing enough monkeys, it was quite a confusing hike over a hill back to town through a graveyard to find the castle.
This was clearly the best castle I have ever seen in Japan, very steep dangerous ladders to climb up, the entire thing was made of wood and its amazing it hasnt burnt down.
All the while fighter jets buzzed low overhead, as theres a nearby airbase, I think they follow the river in case they need to crash land.
I took about a million photos, and much like the monkeys themselves, culled them down to whats left below.
I highly recommend going to Inuyama.

I wasnt sure if I had got off at the right place, its a tiny station.

My walk to the monkey park was with this cat. My loyal feline friend followed me the entire journey. I never saw a person!

I saw lots of solar cells like these though.

One of the only other adults in the monkey park, this guys is recording monkey noises. It was really very noisy in here, and when a fighter jet went over they all went crazy.
Thats when our friend with the microphone got really excited.

The enclosures werent too bad by Japanese standards.

I was on high alert.

The park had a lot of elevated walkways like this, and they seem to move the monkeys around the park to different enclosures using them.

This was absolutely fascinating to the amassed children below. Every school group had a different colored hat. I dont know if they all agree, or if they distribute them to kids at the gate. I did not get offered a hat.
I did get yelled at a lot 'HELLO!' the best answer is, 'Ni Hao Ma?'.

Some monkeys have a great view.

But they mainly prefer the ground.

Two will enter, one will leave. Also, high school kids wear dental assistant uniforms.

You can go onto islands filled with smaller monkeys such as this Bolivian squirrel monkey. They are super fast.

I could have been killed.

The common Japanese monkey gets a really poor enclosure, these ones are getting injected with aids next week.

The view was pretty good though.

I was alone at this point and couldnt see any monkeys, they were above my head all along.

OK, thats probably enough monkey photos.

My walk through the forest was good, I could see various roller coasters and this huge ferris wheel, but none were operating. The distorted music piped through the forest made it somewhat surreal.

Not only was it a theme park, but also a graveyard. Possibly from the monorail. Maybe thats why it stopped running.

Every time a jet went over, I tried for a photo. This is the best I could do.

I have no idea whats going on here.

The other side of the river is another town. I thought about walking to Gifu but it was too far (20km).

I had to time my run across the bridge because trains came quite regularly.

I spotted the castle.

Kyoto does this better.

Behold, a real castle. It may be small, but its not constructed from pre fabricated concrete.

You had to remove your shoes to go inside so as not to damage the wooden boards.

The view from the top was rewarding. I took a nice panorama shot too which I might upload later.

I think those huts on the bridge are used by fishermen, I recall seeing a sign in the town about it.

Last photo of view.

Oh the shame. I could feel the gaze of disapproving Japanese grandmas. Every sock I own has holes in it about 30 minutes after I put them on.

At first this shot might be superfluous, but I was surprised at all the blossoms on trees. I am here for leaf season not blossom season. Must be El Nino.

The walk back to the station, along the official tourist route, all looked like this. I avoided it on the way to the castle due to my excursion to the monkey park.

For one no sorry

Twice in a row tonight, I walked into a restaurant, not a fancy restaurant, a place in a station with bar seating for travellers, held up a finger and said 'for one?' only to be told 'no sorry'.
I looked quizically at the spare seats at the bar, those which were taken were all salary men, some with suitcases, as my look turned to suspicion, on both times the girl guarding the joint would repeat long and drawn out 'sowwwwy' and motion me towards the door.
I had showered before I left, and was wearing jeans and a jacket and am clean shaven, so I dont get it. Maybe some white guys caused trouble here at some point in the last 50 years.

Anyway, I spent the whole evening wandering around the huge number of stores near, in, under and above the station. This was very confusing, and every now and then I would come outside to the street to get my position relative to a tall building.
In particular I enjoyed Tokyu Hands inside Takashimaya, I noted that Zippo now make more than just lighters, they have a range of gas powered hand warmers.
In one of my remaining nights here I will probably go to the restaurants on top of Takashimaya, there seems to be about 50 of them, perhaps they will seat me.

When walking from my hotel to the station, I kept seeing what I thought were pedestrian underpasses to cross the road.
Turns out theres the saddest mall of all down there. Most of the shops are old man hairdressers, used book shops, fortune tellers and best of all was a place that sells old fishing gear, presumably salvaged from the bottom of a river.

Japans version of the twin towers. Actually quite impressive. Theres another very tall building too, which has double decker lifts like they have in Dubai.

The malls under the twin towers are a lot more modern and shiny, with a whole heap of starbucks stores.

I settled for some kind of eggplant surprise stew, because they would seat me.

Underneath what I think was called midland is an entire row of high end chocolate shops all serving high tea. A triple stack of little cakes and sandwiches was only about $20. Too bad I had already eaten.

This Maserati would have to be a special order color, the same dental uniform green that high school students wear.

Christmas decorations in Japan are out of control. Inside every shop, on every street corner, in every tree.
In this alternative version of the nativity, Joseph is looking for a place to land so Mary can have baby jesus.

The canal through Nagoya is not quite as impressive as the one in Osaka.

And this is as close as I have seen to vandalism on these little statues that are everywhere. A person nearby seemed annoyed that I wanted to photograph it.

David on 2015-11-13 said:
I really only spent one day in Nagoya, the other 3 days I have been here I went a long way out of town.

adriana on 2015-11-12 said:
Are you all Nagoyad out yet? I've never been there for more than a couple of days. Didn't know about all the underground shopping malls except the main one.

mother on 2015-11-12 said:
Nice castle - maybe you better stop at Himeji on the way to Hiroshima to see the biggest real one.

Day 12 - Friday, 13 November 2015

Grey day on a bald mountain

Its Friday the 13th. I cant quite provide a night on a bald mountain to celebrate, but I can instead go up a bald mountain on a very grey day.
I set out early for the Kintetsu line again, this time changing to the Sangi railway at Tomida.
I didnt miss my connection, but was the only person on the train, which I took all the way to the last station, for about 50 minutes.
This was quite an experience, as we went through mine sites, some very unusual chemical smells, saw mountains that were half missing due to quarrying, and were passed by many freight trains pulling chemicals of some description.

The train stopped at a few of the 20 or so stations for a couple of minutes for the driver to get out and perform a series of heads and shoulders knees and toes stretches.
All the time, it was just me, no one was on any of the stations we stopped at, apart from my personal train driver.

I got off at the last stop, and couldnt work out how to get out of the station, there was no IC card reader for my ICOCA. Instead I had to wake a sleeping old man behind a window, who thought I was hilarious, and greeted me with laughter.
We negotiated the price and agreed on 400 yen, not bad for a personal ride of nearly an hour. I could still hear him laughing as I walked out of the station.
Then it was a walk through the super quiet streets to the mountain, Fujiyama. Just one of about 1000 mountains in Japan called Fujiyama.

The station I changed at had no convenience store! Just a vending maching on the platform with cakes. I had a pink custard filled something. It was my only fuel for the day other than bottles of Pocari Sweat.
Should probably ensure I have something for breakfast on mountain day, its often a rush to get to the trains and transfer, and then I end up at the end of the line greeted by nothingness.

Just me and my train.

Getting off at the last station and theres no one there to stop me wandering around the tracks to look at their locomotive graveyard.

This photo is deceptive, as the actual peak is behind this and to the right, I think. Shame it was so hazey today.

I had no problem finding the start of the trail. Thankfully it was only concrete for a few metres, then became an excellent path of varying composition. Tree roots for a while, then gravel, then jagged stone, then slippery mud.

There were not a lot of colored leaves today, mainly big green trees.

Thats not to say there was nothing to look at of course.

Mainly these very tall cedars, blocking the view, and the wind.

Suddenly I arrived in the fernery.

It was a rare opportunity to see a view of sorts, about half way up here.
This used to be a looping course, but an avalanche destroyed the alternate way down.

Time to head into the cloud. It was actually cold when I stopped long enough to realise.

The first summit of sorts, has an emergency hut. Theres a couple of choices from here, I chose the one that goes to the highest point, about another hour away across a fantastic plateau.

Still have to go up the top of the bald mountain.

I greatly enjoyed the relatively flat plateau area. Being between 2 peaks it was shielded from the wind.

The view was excellent. By the way, I did not see another person, at all, the entire time I was on the mountain.
The internet warned of extreme crowds during autumn. That must only apply to weekends and holidays.

And after only a few moderately exhausting hours, I was at the summit.

Its a different sort of a view due to the haze. Either I am getting fit fast, or this mountain was a lot easier than the one from a few days ago.
There were no chains or ropes to pull myself up, and no water running down slippery rocks. The scenery was a lot different despite being only 50km away.

Here I am! I dont need any fancy gear, jeans and a long sleeve tshirt.

Aeon ozone dome walk

After climbing a mountain, I thought maybe I would go for a really long walk.
It threatens to rain all day tomorrow, and indeed, as I returned to my hotel this evening, it was just starting to drizzle. So there may not be much opportunity for wandering tomorrow.
Thats not before I walked another 10km at least to a shopping mall far off in the distance, and clocked 40,000 steps for the day according to my snazzy watch.

The walk was however, quite boring, there really wasnt much to see along the main roads to get there. A few car dealers, a lot of chain store restaurants, and basically no people apart from lots and lots of cyclists on the footpath with no lights.

Once I got to the mall, there were quite a lot of people, and at least 50 places to eat.
Over the road from Aeon Ozone at the Nagoya Dome, there was some kind of expo going on for the male version of AKB48. I found this very confusing, as you could get some kind of credit card based on your favourite member.

The most interesting thing on the walk was this old mall, which has a statue clearly stating 1989, probably its peak year. Despite all the harsh lighting, nothing was open here.

The food court in the Aeon however, full of people. The restaurants on the other floor all had line ups, so I went for the food court.

My noodle soup with pork and beef was delicious. Also had lots of vegetables. There were no napkins anywhere to be seen, and I saw some other people were using chux superwipes they presumably brought from home.
Therefore I ate extra carefully.

Boring mall pic. Quite a large place for Japan, very modern.

Row after row of claw skill testing machines.

I spent all my money trying to win a small piece of mystery sausage in plastic.

And heres the Nagoya dome. The walk from there down to the subway had pictures of all the players form the local baseball team, the Nagoya Dragons.
They have more than 200 players. All of them are Japanese.

Part of the 2015 touring expo for the non touring 'band', Exile. They are nowhere near as good as GLAY, the greatest Japanese band ever, with the worst name.

And here they are, all 19 of them each with their own unique personality and hair style, but matching leather.
You can get the Exile card which is part of the mastercard network and gets you 5% off all Exile merchandise.
I got my card with a picture of Nesmith, the tough guy with a heart of gold and an evil sense of humor.

UPDATE: It seems Exile were made famous due to a collaboration early in their career with GLAY. Proof I know my stuff.

Back near my hotel, and there were thousands of people out on a Friday night. The local Don Quixote was packed out. There were lots more lights on than other nights.

adriana on 2015-11-13 said:
Sheer coincidence, or you must sit there waiting for me to switch on the computer and then put stuff on immediately. don quixote has many nice fingernail seals and other girly nice things. must see if they have a web site.

David on 2015-11-13 said:
you must sit hitting refresh waiting for an update, you commented within 1 minute of it being uploaded for today

adriana on 2015-11-13 said:
another mountain with no shrine at the top.

Page 5 is the next page, where I will start off in Nagoya but then go to Hiroshima.


Hi Resolution Panoramas

Latest Update

Day 1 - Monday, 2 November 2015
  Mile high typing club
  Mobile mucus dispersion unit
Day 2 - Tuesday, 3 November 2015
  Still alive
  Quietly confident
Day 3 - Wednesday, 4 November 2015
  Electric cubes and gap toothed models
  Need to step up my game
Day 4 - Thursday, 5 November 2015
  Sleepy train ride
  The dark temple
Day 5 - Friday, 6 November 2015
  Suburban Tokyo
  Not much has changed
Day 6 - Saturday, 7 November 2015
  Mosquito mountain camera failure
  Beneath the tracks
Day 7 - Sunday, 8 November 2015
  Much rain
  Soup in a can
Day 8 - Monday, 9 November 2015
  Not been here before
  And still it rains
Day 9 - Tuesday, 10 November 2015
  Long day at altitude
  Bare minimum
Day 10 - Wednesday, 11 November 2015
  Osaka castle - Nagoya branch
  Also theres Oso
Day 11 - Thursday, 12 November 2015
  Monkeys castles and fighter jets
  For one no sorry
Day 12 - Friday, 13 November 2015
  Grey day on a bald mountain
  Aeon ozone dome walk
Day 13 - Saturday, 14 November 2015
  Looming rain
  Throw everything on a plate
Day 14 - Sunday, 15 November 2015
  My room is old
  Too many places to eat
Day 15 - Monday, 16 November 2015
  Not a bad view
  I found them
Day 16 - Tuesday, 17 November 2015
  Rainy bomb day
  Get wet to go somewhere dry
Day 17 - Wednesday, 18 November 2015
  Mystery fair and bad pho
Day 18 - Thursday, 19 November 2015
  Raining tourists
  I got to wander
Day 19 - Friday, 20 November 2015
  Giant phallus
  Closed at seven
Day 20 - Saturday, 21 November 2015
  Under the sea
  The busy side
Day 21 - Sunday, 22 November 2015
  Final destination
  More than Shinjuku
Day 22 - Monday, 23 November 2015
  Other people
  Sudden downpour
Day 23 - Tuesday, 24 November 2015
  Sand castle
  Red lights dimmed
Day 24 - Wednesday, 25 November 2015
  No mountain
  It got cold
Day 25 - Thursday, 26 November 2015
  The shed

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