On November 14th, I flew out to Japan to hang out with my friend Steve in Nagoya, listen to some music, eat some good food, and watch the new Evangelion movie.
This time I was armed with a smartphone, so I can take more pictures. This also means that all my photos will end up on my Google+ account so I'll just host
pictures from there. Made sure to turn off all roaming data so as not to get charged with the insane $15 per megabyte roaming fee.
Got a ride to the airport from the car service and made it to La Guardia, first time I've been here in forever. Made it to my terminal with plenty of time to spare and on top of that, flight was delayed over an hour. The terminal had a long bar that provided an ipad interface for ordering food and browsing the web, it also included this neat little thing where you can put in a flight number, and it'll continually check the flight status and give you notifications on delays and when it's time to board. After some time, the flight finally got on its way arriving at Detroit International Airport in plenty of time to make my flight. I took a lot of pictures out the window of the 747-400S:
After my arrival, which was about 30 minutes early, I was met by Steve and we headed back to Motoyama, the part of Nagoya where he lives. On the way, we picked up some Shouchu (Kurokirishima potato Shochu), and mixed it with hot water while we listened to music. It was getting late and I had a long flight so we turned in relatively early.
I slept in the "studio" room that had some art hanging up, as well as some old sketches by Chris Craychee. The night before, we managed to sign up for some internet service that I could barely pick up on a somewhat nearby access point. Signing up was a success but I couldn't stay connected unless I was out on the balcony, but at least I was able to keep up with email and upload pictures and run other maintenance, even if it is ~$6 USD per day. Later in the day, we went over to where Steve taught an after school class so I wandered around the area and took some pictures:
And since I had a bit too much to drink the night before, I had a late start. Steve rented the second Evangelion movie (2.0) and we watched a couple of episodes of the TV series then 2.0, then headed to a theatre that had like 80+ seats left in the 5pm showing that was kind of in the outskirts of town. Unfortunately, after getting there, they were just sold out. So we went to another theatre that had available seats. (Theatres here work off of a reserved seating system, so you buy tickets then reserve a seat.) We went to a 7:30pm showing and I got to see the new Evangelion 3.0 movie on opening day. Suffice to say, it was quite an experience: my spoileress review, my VERY spoiler synopsis. Here's a picture of the only movie poster in the entire theatre. We also got funny pictures taken in an Evangelion picture booth. We then had to drive around for a bit to look for a place to eat that late at night and went to a familiar izakaya called Nanya (Steve took our other friend Cheryl there earlier this year). The place had autographs of people who came to play shows at the place all over the walls. The next day we were going to go into the mountains in the Gifu prefecture so we retired early.
A somewhat unsuccessful attempt at an early start, we packed the car and left for the mountains where Steve's band had a show to play. In order to eat on the go, we stopped at a McDonald's. I had a cheeseburger and a chicken sandwich. I took a lot of pictures on the car ride up:
Since we had such a long day and Steve didn't have to go to work, we spent the day at home, ordered pizza from Dominoes, and watched the Ken Burns "Jazz" documentary. Chihiro came over after work made some food and brought some wine. We have some bean sprouts with onions and chicken as an appetizer and salad and curry for dinner. The curry was pretty spicy. Some more wine and a few more episodes of "Jazz", and we called it a night.
Steve had the next day off as well, so after some miso soup for breakfast, and a few more episodes of the Jazz documentary, we walked over to the local sandwich/coffee shop called Cafe Nishihara. We've gone to this place frequently the last few times I was in Nagoya. The interior is covered in dark wood and all the china is unique. We had the usual coffee and sandwiches (ham and an eggplant salsa sandwich). Then we walked over to Alphaville for a little while and had Yuki (who runs the place) call Hiromi to see what her schedule was like. Hiromi said she'd be done with work at 8:30 and we should meet at her subway stop in Ozone. While we tried to get her laptop to communicate with this firewire recorder, I saw some funny Che tobacco products. Yuki and her husband played a set at the Shiva Paradise Ascension Festival. With some time to kill, we watched more Jazz, then went to the 3 Bottles Bar which was right around the corner from the sandwich/coffee shop. We had a sampling of Caol Ila, Talisker and Lagavulin. Only stayed for 30 minutes though because I needed to get on the Meijo line to meet Hiromi. I took a picture of the circular Meijo line to use as a reference in case I got on the wrong train going the other direction, but it was super easy and I didn't need it (it's strange because the maps at the NGO airport didn't have English at all). When I met up with Hiromi, she took me to this izakaya and we had some dinner there while I tried to bring up wedding pictures on my phone. We walked down the street to what she called a "standing bar". It was essentially just a liquor store that had some tables set up and served drinks. There was also a trio playing some jazz, they played a jazzy version of Give me wings which was the song used at the end of the 2nd Evangelion movie (a fact which they noted). There was a shelf with some manga on it and Hiromi showed me her favorte chapter of Black Jack, "Where are you, my friend?". Some pictures of me and Hiromi (another) and a picture of Hiromi and the place's owner. After a few glasses of local sake, we walked back to her place to say hi to Kazuichi, her dad. Was good to see him again and he remembered me from my first visit. He still drinks bad whiskey and smoked Cabin cigarettes. I think we maybe drank another bottle of sake there then somehow, I managed to drag myself back to Motoyama. It was great to see Hiromi again and I'm glad we got to meet up before I left Japan.
The next day, Steve was already at work so I spent some time on the internet, grabbed some coffee and Fanta, and got caught up with email and stuff. There was this place nearby that had a pomegranate tree, though they were all pretty small. I also saw one of those pink Honda Fit's that are targeted toward women. Steve came back for lunch and we had curry at a nearby Indian place. It was ok and pretty cheap. After we got back we played an incomplete game of Go (forgot to grab a picture of board positions) before Steve had to leave for another teaching job. It wasn't long before getting back and with Chihiro, we went to the local Sushi place. I've been to this place 2 other times, once for each time I visited Japan, and the owner of the place never recognized me. We got set meals that included:
My last day in Japan was going to be a short one. We had to get up around 5am in order to catch the first (or second) subway trains into Nagoya station, where I could catch a train to the NGO airport. I got everything packed up and ready to go pretty quickly, then it was just a matter of getting there. I've seen many of these I Love NagoYa ads all over the place (it may be hard to see in the photo, but the a, g, and o letters are really small). The NGO airport had an installation Aichi Prefectural University Fine Arts and Music student design exhibition, that mostly consisted of paintings and sketches. After I checked in, we got some coffee while I waited for my boarding time. I went through security and Steve sent out a goodbye G+ post with a picture of the CBS memorandum Teo Macero sent to CBS executives concerning what Miles Davis wanted to call the album they were working on:
The 747-400S that I was going to spend the next 13 hours in was full. There were a lot of seniors on the flight, at least sitting around me, and seeing as how I had an isle seat with 2 on the inside, I opted to leave my laptop in my backpack instead of having to deal with it (it's rather large) when I inevitably needed to get up to let the 2 people on the inside get out. I watched this Chinese movie "The Great Magician" (IMDB page), it was pretty terrible overall but was entertaining enough. I was surprised at how many movies were actually available, later on I also watched "The Hunger Games", and not having read the book it reminded me of "Battle Royale" with a slightly different premise. Somewhere in the middle of it all, I listened to 3 episodes of "Car Talk" and took a nap. Skymaps:
Japan is always awesome, the culture there is sufficiently different that I'm always learning something new about it when I'm there. The food is great and the trip out to the mountains was pretty cool, though it seemed like there should have been a lot more drinking involved. Glad to have met Chihiro and also glad to have had the chance to hang out with Hiromi while I was there. And extra thanks to Steve for everything.
Filed under: Travel & Events