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Japan November 2015 - Tokyo - Nagoya - Hiroshima - Shimonoseki - Fukuoka - Page 5

Day 13 - Saturday, 14 November 2015

Looming rain

As I correctly predicted, rain was not just looming, it was actually raining.
So I thought I had better go see some looms and find out why Toyota went from making fabric on automated looms to making cars.

As it turns out, Toyota started in Nagoya, there is actually a large suburb called Toyota, but the original factory is quite near the main station, and is now The Toyota commemerative museum of industry and technology.
Turns out this is an excellent place, with most of the exhibits being demonstrated by highly excited presenters.
Toyota, stareted by Mr Toyoda, got rich by making the worlds first fully automated loom. They still make these today, I know cause I saw lots of them.
At some point, one of Mr Toyodas sons went on a study tour to look at looms, and was surprised at how many cars there were on the roads compared to Japan.
Basically at the same time he returned to Japan, the great Kanto earthquake occurred and destroyed all the railroads, and Toyota saw their opportunity.

The museum goes into great detail about quality, safety, innovation and all those other buzzwords. I thought it was great.

I might add to this, that Paris is the only place I have ever been to in my life where I was concerned for my safety whilst wandering around the streets.

This is the original Toyota factory where they made their first looms.

And here it is, the worlds first fully automated loom for turning cotton balls picked by slaves into fabric.

We now get a history of looms. I learnt of water wheel powered ones, mules that walk around in a circle, steam powered.

The little old men that show them working love their job.

Room full of looms, dont worry, we are nearly finished saying loom.


Between the loom museum and car museum, I was treated to a brief steel forging presentation. This had actual red hot molten metal pressed into a conrod.

The robot band played me off.

Now we get to learn about the history of the car part of the Toyota company.

This included examples of every engine, transmission, steering rack, brake system and suspension system they have ever produced.
The surprising thing is how long engine designs last, some that were first used in the 50's were still in production in the late 80's.

The giant thing in the glove box is not a cd player, or a laserdisc player, its a fax machine, in case you need a fax whilst out on the road.
If you read about westerners working in Japan, they will usually tell a story about how they cannot believe their office still sends and receives hundreds of faxes each day, with a girl employed whos job it is to run around distributing them as they come in.

This is the first ever Toyota car, the model A1. They employed efficiency techniques even with the naming.

I got to see automated welders.

Then robotic welders. At which point I learnt that Toyota also owns Daihatsu and Denso.

I was excited, thats for sure.

The gift shop features a series of Toyota themed curry mixes.

Back outside, and its still raining, slightly.

So I headed into Cafe Pronto for a toasted sandwich and cup of tea. This was really nice, and very cheap. I think one half was peppered pork, whatever that is, and the other was potato salad which was delicious.

And then as I arrived back at my hotel, right over the road a kind of massive flea market was underway. Hordes of people were busy staging an umbrella fight.

This is the local fashion runway catwalk extravaganza. There was lots of clapping and jumping up and down in time with Lady Gaga.

Traditional Japanese costumes.

Presumably, the highlight of todays festival. At some point shirtless men will push this through the streets and run people over to appease the earthquake gods.

But first, an actual band of clowns. Their goal, to play as out of tune and out of time with each other as possible. They truly were masters of their craft.

Cactus in a cube was pretty cool.

The local school band however, were terrible. They had 3 false starts at the one song. As in they actually stopped and apologised and tried again, 3 times!

Throw everything on a plate

Now, for a urinal story.
The urinals in the train station, have a target to aim at, and the longer you stay on target, the more LED lights inside the urinal light up.
I have been drinking gallons of tea to try and get all 10. So far 7 out of 10 lights is the best I can do. I have let down Australia.

Tonight is my last night in Nagoya, so 2 cities down and 3 to go. It is still raining, just slightly, not enough to need an umbrella, but everyone has one.
I liked being in Nagoya because I had not been here before. It was new and there were new things around most corners.
I also enjoyed the many opportunities for day trips to mountains and nearby cities with real castles.
Its wide streets and perfect grid like arrangement are what makes it different from other Japanese cities I have been to. Dont think of it as a small place, the metro area is just over 9 million people!

First up this evening, I got to appreciate a giant cat. Along with about 1000 other people. You could line up to have one on one time with the cat.

Then I happened on a peace protest. Out the backside of the station there were police everywhere and the streets were all closed off.
I dont think it had anything to do with France, more to do with Japans wish to return to pre imperial times and expand globally via force.

The tops of the big buildings were ascending into the cloud.

Nagoya has plenty of vending machines.

These 3 dogs were annoyed the giant cat was getting all the attention.

I finally found some guitars to buy.

And now my dinner. Which was awesome, but so very very unhealthy.
It comes from a place that is somewhat famous in Nagoya, but now I forgot the name! It is actually a pasta dish, but they pile everything else Japan likes on top of it.
Squid, a burger and an egg.
I lined up for this, and it was worth it. Once I got to the front of the line I still had to negotiate my way to a spot at the bar.
They found an English speaking waitress, and we discussed that I would still pay for the food even though the spicy version of the sauce would be far too spicy for me and I wouldnt be able to eat it.

mother on 2015-11-14 said:
Glad you enjoyed Nagoya. Is it Hiroshima tomorrow? Must try Hiroshima style okonomiyaki. Good places upstairs in the station or even all the convenience stores sell it and will heat it up for you. they will ask itatamimsuka and you say hai onegaishimasu.

David on 2015-11-14 said:
didnt feel any earthquake

the museum is about the history of Toyota, it barely touches on the Prius which seems to have been added as an after thought.

The new sportscar I think you speak of is the tiny little thing called the S-FR, which I did take a photo of at the Tokyo motorshow. Thats only a concept currently.

mother on 2015-11-14 said:
No photos of the latest Toyota sports car! You can bring me one home. Did you feel the earthquake this morning - off Kyushu Magnitude 7.

Day 14 - Sunday, 15 November 2015

My room is old

Now I am in Hiroshima. I will be here until Friday.
It seems very colorful, and large. I dont really understand, as it supposedly has a population just slightly bigger than Adelaide, yet somehow all the city bits look larger than Nagoya which is 9 times the size of Hiroshima.
The city is surrounded by and even built on some nice looking hills, I took note for later.
The train ride here was a couple of hours, going through Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe etc. The view out the window for once, was great, sunshine.

Between Nagoya and Osaka I was sat in amongst a bunch of old guys off on some kind of adventure, or perhaps returning, they were drinking at 11AM in the morning, and making inappropriate comments about the ass on the girl pushing the food cart up the aisle, complete with suggestive hand gestures.
Other people on the train were appalled, I paid close attention to this.

Once I got to Hiroshima, I decided to walk to my hotel, which took an hour, but was a nice walk, lots of rivers and parks along the way, and so many colorful looking streets to explore.
For whatever reason I always seem to foolishly walk great distances dragging my suitcase with a heavy backpack.

My room as todays title suggests, is ancient. Its a Sunroute plaza, which I have had luck with before, but this one must have survived the bombing.
Still, the internet is super fast, the location good, and it has everything every other hotel room might have, apart from sufficient powerpoints in useful positions.

Where is my train? On days when I move between cities photo opportunities are few and far between cause I have my hands full, so boring photos like this appear.

Here is my train. Its the same as every other bullet train still operating in Japan. I think they have completely standardized the fleet, apart from a single new one I saw on the news recently.
This one was a Nozomi service, which means it stops slightly less, and costs slightly more, and you cant use a rail pass on it, and strangely it has no vending machines.

It was time to wave goodbye to the Suzuka mountains. I was just thrilled to be able to see out a train window for once.

And now, my room.

The bathroom is the shower over bath style, sure to flood the floor during my 3 showers a day.

I thought I would have some fruit for lunch. 3 tiny slivers on creme caramel, cake, custard.
Also, no door key card here, instead you get an old fashioned key, with a 2.3kg solid gold tag attached. I put it in my pants pocket and my pants fell off!

Too many places to eat

Hiroshima is chock full of tourists, which means its much better set up for shopping and eating than Nagoya.
A short walk from my hotel is the main covered shopping street of Hon Dori, which on first impressions, is probably 75% of what the one in Osaka is.
Much like most of these shopping locations, eating places extend outwards and in the side streets. However, theres tourists, by the thousands. I think more than 25% of the people on the street were not Japanese.
A lot of the Japanese people looked like tourists as well, studying maps etc. This will explain why I cant stay here on a Friday or Saturday night, exactly zero accommodation was available when I booked a month ago.

It was busy, and everything was open. There are also trams, or trolley buses, or street cars, whatever you want to call them. These go up a similar number of streets as Melbourne.
There is a full range of old and new ones, apparently there are still 2 going around that survived the bombing. Maybe I will get to ride on a glow in the dark tram.

Now for the room key saga.
Earlier I showed a photo of the huge key chain thing. On this it says I MUST leave the key with reception whenever I leave the hotel. It also says this on the back of my door, and in the lift, and on the door as you leave the hotel.
I have encountered this before, but ignored it. Not today. The door man asked if I had handed over the room key. So I went and did that, reluctantly, after standing in line for the privilege.
As I returned from wandering around and having dinner, I had to stand in line for my room key. 15 minutes later, I get to the head of the line, room key please, room 2519.
The girl asked for my passport. I dont ever carry my passport around the streets despite the risk of jail and deportation, but I have a photo of it on my phone.
She wasnt having any of this though, and I thought she might call the police because I didnt carry my passport with me at all times.
So next thing the manager comes, and in broken English tells me its illegal to not carry your passport, to which I responded, yes.
This confused him greatly, some discussions were then had in Japanese just out of earshot.
He came back and told me to never do this again, and to always ensure I leave the room key and take passport.

I wont be.
I am going out the fire escape tomorrow.

Voltron was standing to greet me at the start of the shopping street. The real Voltron, not the stupid secon generation one made up of only lions.

It was very busy.

Random street. Reminds me a lot of Kyoto (which is also a tourist Mecca). The streets all have a little roof covering the footpath.

Apparently, this is the place.

This is the place for Okonomyaki, its a veritable Okonomyaki theme park. Multiple levels of near identical stalls all serving the same thing.

It hasnt really been tourist-a-fied at all. Its quite dirty, you can smoke at the counter whilst eating, noisy, hot, only stairs, plastic stools.

I asked for the traditional Hiroshima style. I was sat next to some Chinese people who insisted they put it on a plate for them.
The Japanese guy making my dinner spoke some English, and was amazed when I told him I was from Australia and travelling alone for a month.
This seemed to raise all kinds of suspicions from the two chefs and the other Japanese customers.
Perhaps they called my hotel for a passport check?

And here it is. Theres some bacon in there somewhere, but its mainly noodles, egg, cabbage and presumably fish flakes of some kind.

David on 2015-11-16 said:
I have had it before, I think I had a Hiroshima style one in Osaka, because it seems healthier.

I dont mind it, whatever those fishy bits they add to it kind of ruin it. I watched the guy add them, they look like fish food, I assume its dried fish of some kind.

Sitting at the bar whilst they cook it is fun.

mother on 2015-11-15 said:
So how did you like Hiroshimayaki?

mother on 2015-11-15 said:
I'm excited that you are in my home town. To view Hiroshima go on the roof of the ELEL department store at the station. You can see my old apartment from there as it is just over the bridge in the back streets. If you wander round the station area at night by the pachinko parlors you might see some Yakuza action. Look for buildings with security cameras pointing at the streets. The night life area is near the main shopping mall in the back streets going back to the station. I could go on, but I will desist. You could however take a two stop train ride can't remember the name of the line to Mitaki Temple which is in the foothills and survived the bombing. Very beautiful with lots of red maples at this time of year. Might also be some hiking trails going from it up higher.

Day 15 - Monday, 16 November 2015

Not a bad view

Theres not a lot of mountains near Hiroshima, but I found them anyway.
Todays mountain of sorts, was called Mount Noro, which is in Kure city south east of Hiroshima on what they call the inland sea.
This area has one of the greatest views of all time.

Getting there, required 3 forms of transport, first the old streetcar to the main station, then the Rapid Express to a place called Hiro which is just past Kure, not sure whats rapid or express about it as it seemed to stop at all stations, and then finally the local single carriage train to a place called Kawajiri, which has a supermarket.

This area of Japan is famous for ship building, in Kure itself there is a Yamato museum as they built it there before it did a titanic and sunk on its maiden voyage, and also a submarine musuem, and a whale meat museum because apparently the navy popularized eating it.

There is very little information online about how to go up the mountain, I just decided to head up hill and see where that went.
I took a series of wrong turns which probably doubled the length of my adventure, but the view was excellent for much of the day.

My hotel is on this corner. As you can see, Hiroshima is very picturesque.

One of the older, but not the oldest kinds of streetcars still in operation. Apparently Hiroshima is a living streetcar museum, and they have bought up others from cities all over Japan as they are retired.

The inside of this one has a wooden floor, and absolutely no suspension. I thought it was going to jump the tracks. The announcements tell you to hang on, listen to them.

About an hour later, I arrived at Kawajiri, after what must have been the most impressive train journey I have ever been on.
The rail hugs the coast, which is mountainous, with a series of cities, islands, bridges and tunnels. At times the train slows to a crawl due to the tightness of the curves.
Most of the line is only one track, you have to pass the train going in the other direction at the stations.

Most buildings in Japan tell you how much further to go to escape the Tsunami.

I was never sure where I was going, this road went up hill in the direction of the mountain peak, according to Google. The view was already good but I didnt want to walk along the road.

As soon as I found a path, I took it. I wasnt sure if it was an official path as it was very overgrown, and went through some abandoned small farm areas.

So I detoured again and went up through the forest. This part was fun!

Eventually I came to another path, and started to appreciate the view.

Still appreciating. This mountain wasnt very high, but the way I went up it made it exhausting!

My overgrown unmarked path met up with this. That would be the real path then.

I knew you could drive to the top around the back of the mountain range, so its no surprise theres chalets, vending machines, toilets and lookouts to greet me once I haul my sweaty self up the last bit of the ascent.
There was no one here, and I saw no one all day on the trails. The chalet was closed, there was one car in the car park. The vending machines were working fine though.

View from the top.

I went down the more official route I spotted earlier, which was a mistake. Here I am at one of the many lookout spots. In my shorts. Its hot here!

There were a lot more opportunities to appreciate the view on this path. I now realise this photo is almost identical to the one I ruined above with me in it. I am proud to offer both options.

And there were bridges made entirely of recycled plastic.

And a hut made of plastic too. Unfortunately, this is where the path ended. I had to follow roads for the rest of the way down.

It was a 12km journey! Every now and then I would step off the road to let a motorbike go past whos rider was attempting death by riding off a cliff at 150kmph.

Once I rounded a bend and spotted the town, I realised I still had quite a way to go, so I jogged the rest of the way. The view remained amazing.

Once I got back to the station, I had 40 minutes to kill. Not to worry, the towns only store is a supermarket. I had so much fun looking at everything I nearly missed the train!

With the sun now at my back, it was a good opportunity to take a photo of the mountains that gave me such a good view all day.
The main peak I went up is near the right edge, but the road down snaked around various valleys and ridges all the way to the left edge of this photo.
Mount Noro is excellent, not sure why there isnt more info on the internet about this day trip.

I found them

Not a lot of photos tonight because I took enough earlier and got back late.
Instead, a lot of text.

I went downstairs this evening to go out, and the entire lobby was filled with retired Germans. All had on HUGE puffer jackets, like they were about to climb the matterhorn.
The general look of absolute confusion on their faces, and the staff, was enough to make me pull up a chair.
Picture 40 people, each with a German version of a Lonely planet guide book, competing to speak Japanese phrases. Some were playing translations from iphones to the staff, and all were yelling. Yelling in a way that one might speak to a retarded child to make sure they hear you and are serious.

I watched as they checked in, now I dont speak a lot of German except swear words, but if you show your passport, they give you a key, it has a number on it, check in complete. Thats how it goes for me, sometimes I dont open my mouth at all.
These people had folders and folders of documents, like a bad world war 2 movie, your papers please! They insisted on showing these to the staff. Then they all wanted to change money, at the hotel? And each and every one of them was then doing a calculation to check the exchange rate, in great detail.

Then for the first time in my life, I saw people insist on handing over various things for the hotel to keep in the safe, which I last saw on an episode of Fawlty Towers. There are room safes, but this is Japan, they arent needed. One person handed over some jewelry and before long everyone had something to hand over for storage. Exactly why someone had brought a silver platter with them on holiday I am not sure, but its in the safe downstairs right now, preumably along with a heap of nazi gold.

With all this commotion and drama, I was able to slip out the front door undetected with my room key.

Its a giant Sogo. I was reminded of the one in Taipei which is hugely popular. This one is bigger, but older, no roof garden either.
Underneath it theres a whole area of underground shops I didnt realise were there also.

Horse meat restaurant. Could have had whale and horse today.

Heres the oldest tram I have seen yet. I intend to find out if its one that survived the atomic bomb.....
No, its actually an older tram, but was not in Hiroshima at the time, trams 651, 652 and 653 are the 3 that are still in use that got bombed.
Amazingly, the Hiroshima tram service restarted just 3 days after the bombing! Not sure how that could have been possible.

My dinner was rather predictably, curry. I feel like it after a long day of exercise. Tonights version wasnt that great, I had high hopes as it was an independent store with old women serving. The side salad was a welcome addition, except it was one piece of lettuce on top of spaghetti.

On my way back to the hotel, I realised I could have had a far more interesting curry.

But more importantly, I found them! Since getting here 2 weeks ago I have been looking for chocolate covered potato chips in every convenience store, and none have had any.
Tonight I went into a family mart, and there they were, but they only had one left, which I just ate. 120 yen, so about $1.50. Royce (which is Japanese) charge about $15 for them in Adelaide.

David on 2015-11-16 said:
I am already planning to go to Iwakuni, thats a day trip, as is Miyajima, which leaves only one day for the tourist things in town, peace park, bomb dome, castle.

Rain is most likely to be tomorrow of the 3 days, so that will probably be the stick around town day.

mother on 2015-11-16 said:
Forgot to tell you that my main school that I used to work in was just down the road from your hotel.

Mother on 2015-11-16 said:
I used to work in Kure 2 days a week - a 15 minute walk from the station each way. The train ride to Kure is nice as it goes all the way along the inland sea. Brian came with me once and was picked up by a news photographer while I worked. This guy took him onto the naval base and he got to tour a Japanese war ship and meet the captain. Don't forget to go to Iwakuni and climb up to the castle on top of the mountain there once you go over the oldest wooden bridge in Japan. Also the view from the top of Miyajima is even more spectacular + you can fight off the deer on the way up and down. I once got lost coming down a different route and only made it back to civilization as it was getting dark.

On page 6 its raining in 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

Hi Resolution Panoramas