I rode the 新幹線 (しんかんせん/bullet train) for the first time to get to Nagoya, which was a lot of fun. The ride is very smooth and it was a beautiful day so I got to see a lot of the countryside and 富士山 (ふじさん/Mt. Fuji)!
When the class arrived in Nagoya, we headed straight to 名古屋城 (なごやじょう/Nagoya Castle). This is one of the many famous feudal castles in Japan. This one is the first of a few I get see in Japan. However, Nagoya Castle was destroyed during the bombings of World War II, so the castle I saw was not the original but a reconstruction of it. The architecture of Nagoya Castle is quite spectacular and it offered an amazing view of Nagoya from the top.
The 金鯱 (きんしゃち/golden dolphins) that adorn the roof of the castle are seen all over the city as the city’s mascot! They’re based off of a mythical creature from Japanese folklore with the head of a tiger and the body of a carp. It is believed that these creatures could summon rain, so they are put on the castle roof as protection from fire. Also, while I was at Nagoya Castle, I got to try green tea ソフトクリーム (soft-serve ice cream) for the first time. おいしっかたです！In Japan, soft-serve ice cream is a common treat and it comes in a variety of unique flavors. Being the adventurous eater I am, I’m tempted to try them all!
Later that night, the merry band of adventurers assembled and we went exploring around 栄 (さかえ/Sakae) district. We had dinner at a curry shop called 金沢ロイヤルカレー創 (Kanazawa Royal Curry Sou) that had some really great オムカレー. Close to our hotel was サンシャインサカエ (Sunshine Sakae) where I found and bought the PS3 version of テイルズ オブ ヴェスペリア (Tales of Vesperia) released only in Japan. Then we rode its giant 観覧車 (かんらんしゃ/Ferris wheel) called Sky-Boat (スカイボート)which provided a great view of Sakae’s night life.
The next day in Nagoya, the class met some students from 中京大学 (ちゅきょうだいがく/Chukyo University) and traveled with them to the トヨタテクノミュージアム産業技術記念館 (Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology). I had a great time talking with and getting to know each of the students: Sonoka, Kyoka, Shodai, and Rinko. At the Toyota Museum I learned that originally the company specialized creating automatic looms and later evolved into the automobile company is known as today.
After the museum, we went to 大須 (おおす/Ōsu), home to the Buddhist temple 大須観音 (おおすかんのん/Ōsu Kannon) and the shopping district which surrounds it. I spent most of my time exploring this area with Shodai and two other students Alex and Jason.
The real fun began after the day’s itinerary was over and we had free time. Along with some other students, we traveled back to Sakae and went nearby shopping center called オアシス２１(Oasis 21). I remembered seeing this place on a YouTube channel I follow, “Rachel & Jun,” so I was quite happy to see it in person.
While we were there, we checked out a store dedicated to Studio Ghibli goods and we ate at a 回転寿司 (かいてんずし/conveyor-belt sushi) place. After dinner, we visited Oasis 21’s unique “Water Spaceship” roof and had a wonderful view of Nagoya TV Tower. Since the night was young, myself, Alex, Shodai, plus other students: Danielle, Janelle, and José, decided to go out for some カラオケ(karaoke). I’ve been out for karaoke before, but I this was honestly the best karaoke I’ve ever experienced. I had so MUCH fun! すごく楽しかった！
The following day we went to visit Chukyo University. We attended a class designed to help Japanese students to think logically about situations presented to them in English. I thought the scenarios presented them was a bit challenging, especially since it was a freshman course. One pair of students attempted to tell me the story of Momotaro in English. Luckily, I am familiar with the story, so I was able to help them along pretty well. It was a big challenge not to speak to them in Japanese though!
After a tour of the campus, we were treated to a curry lunch where we were also reunited with Shodai, Sonoka, and Kyoka. It was great seeing them again! Then we all went to Dibble-sensei’s printmaking class, where we work together with Japanese students. Afterwords, we said our sad farewells to Shodai, Sonoka, and Kyoka. I apparently gained the reputation of being ladies man. I’m not sure about that, but it’s an amusing thought.
For our last night in Nagoya, I showed my friends the wonders of ユニクロ(Uniqlo), a Japanese clothing store I’ve come to love when I was in San Francisco for GDC. I bought myself two pairs of jeans and even got them hemmed (complimentary) to my size! They’re made of “powder-soft” denim and they feel great! Plus, I got coupons for a future sale, so I’ll probably buy more Uniqlo clothes in the near future.
I’ve been told before that Nagoya is a boring place, but I found that far from the truth. I loved my time in Nagoya. I’m sure my time with the Chukyo University students made a huge difference. I’m actually a bit sad to leave this city, but Kyoto, our next destination, is bound to be lots of fun too.
Nagoya really proved to me that years of Japanese language study has been paying off. It has been especially useful on this trip. I’ve often been designated the impromptu translator for the other students. While I’m far from perfect, it inspires me to learn more and more. もっと日本語を勉強したいです！I can’t wait for the CLS program this summer, where there is an emphasis on Japanese language study!