Nagoya. Shopping

Emails are sent, pancakes downed, that pack so heavy.
Wandering back to the ryokan in the milky morning low angled sunshine, last night’s corner flower shop looks renewed. It’s $7 mandarins look tempting, especially to bowels which haven’t seen a fruit in a week. Last fruits I recall was a kilo of cherries for $5.99 from good old Fresco. Here, when in season, ¥490 for six cherries (AUD 6) might be the price, and each individually wrapped, so far I can’t recall seeing a naked anything, well maybe not quite everything, those ladies and gentlemen in the mags at the entrance to the Internet cafe were all smiling, I was shocked!

The chill air of the morning had brightened me right up. A waxed lidded Florida Paramount oranges box to the left of the flower shop entrance caught my eye. Sliding round the corner I eyed it off, it was clean though holed for orange breathing,
“Why not just nick it?” I thought.
But I picked it up and entered through the spotless centre opening glass doors.
“Arri..something or other, saga…more words not understood, hosaku … Less understood said faster, namen Sakai …. And so on with a bow to finish”
I offer the box forward, point at me, then make the “speed bonny boats like a bird on the wing over the sea to Skye” motions I’d learnt in primary school. It’s a wavy motion so that the box appears to float whilst rocking on waves towards the door, I smile all the while.
An amazing mime performance, for which I am awarded a smile from the owner and a grin from his toothy assistant, more likely his wife, his open hands pointing to four and eight with slight upward lifts to indicate.
“Please take with our gratitude, thank you”
I back out, soft smiling my way into the street, and take my prize to the ryokan.
Earlier I’d tried the shoe man. Eying off stacks of empty cardboard boxes outside his corner shop I asked with the same gestures as at the florist later for a box, please
He said this with his back half turning from me, Addidas written on his jersey.
Using more words like
“Excuse, me may I have an empty boxo?”
He turned to me repeating for my benefit
this time with facial expression. I finally got it, and learnt my first japanese word
He has risen from his squat and makes the five and seven hand semaphore signal, with the push away motion.
“Arriegato” I say not wanting the police called.
Though this means thank you or so I thought, he then uses the well known two ten signal with arms opening forward combined with multiple finger flicks.
I take take this to mean,
“Go! Leave! Piss off!
I do, shooed by the shoeman.

4.4 kg of things fit in nicely into the Florida box, so a quick trip to the Family Centre convenience finds tape and a marking pen.
At the PO the service is a delight tho not in English, the box is despatched simply, after many forms, the counter lady chases me down the street to give me a small cellophane bag of nuts, for what I take to be an award for the first person to send a box of personal effects to Australia from her post office.

Down town I wander towards the spiral tower, the shape reminiscent of the top peak of a soft serve ice cream. Food who mentioned food! I descend into the bowels of the subway where Nagoyians live, acres of food, the shops would shame the most upmarket in Oz. I’m marvelling, a new level of sensation multiplied by something. Can’t work out the multiplier for senses taken to another level is yet. But it’s all too much , everything is so perfect and still the buyers prod poke and inspect, when any of whatever is stacked before them is perfect. Heading for the underground exit into the subway, I thought I knew how to get a day pass for the subway trains. No matter how many times I pushed the English explanation button I was no clearer than had I read poor instructions to make a video recorder work. Maybe I go see someone, the stationmaster? There’s no information booths and all the literature and machine signage is kanji. I go back to the machine and stand watching but all that happens is folk getting regular thickets or adding value to their cards .
I try to ask a man and two women, but they are rushing, and I am ticket less. I slip aside the silver metal disc cover of what looks like an alarm switch and press the enclosed button. All hell breaks loose, the screen shows a very very red sign flashing and some sort of alarm starts to ring from the back of the machine. I think I have set off the fire alarm. Shit! From the office behind a ticket inspector appears , pushes his head around to see the problem on the screen face, then indicates
“What fare type”
A minute later I possess the prized day ticket, savings after two trips for the day. Simply not having to buy another for the day is worth a few bucks!
I ride the lines to Komehyo, then get totally lost walking 90 degrees and a kilometre from where I was meant to go. And this with a compass, or thank god for it.
The streets are so different, a rag trade area and street after street of department stores. In an up market store the sixth floor is given over to sale by weight. ¥1 or 2 or 3 or 4 per gram. What a way to go. 1.4 kg heavier I have managed to net my pack by three kilograms at about AUD 30, the likes of which would have been AUD 150+, though the irony isn’t lost.


Nagoya remembered

Nagoya remembered

Into the night I find a ramen noodle place I think it’s the one in the lonely planet guide its up enough lanes and it seems to be a block beyond the Design Centre which was where it’s should have been when I located it.
The noodles look sumptuous, swimming in a hearty broth young green spring onions drifting between pork strips and a little tofu. The reality in the store is better when the aroma floats out to meet me as I open the door.
The menu is extensive, yum! I look and look. Wow what a choice and point at a picture, but my finger slipped and I got a bowl of rice and meat.
The darkness envelopes me I walk north and turn onto a busy main road striking out into the chill for the Oasis 21, the futuristic landmark bus station. When I get there it’s beyond belief. Sitting over the forecourt of the terminal is an ovoid glass pool floating the air
I walk up and onto the periphery of the pool, on a glass walk way. There’s a fine breeze slicing into my face, rouging my cheeks and stinging the bare legged beauties here with their beaus. We promenade left from the entry, the allemande right to the view. My fingers freeze setting up for the shots, but having taken the time, I have some memories digitized to bring the moment back to life, maybe even a video of the ripples across the water.
Walking back to the subway I realize that the salary men who allegedly work all these hours, have spent probably six or seven till after eleven carousing. I see some of the giddy lurching of inebriation on the trip back to the ryokan. Wonder how they are doing to arise at five am to go again?

Heimiji Castle

The homeless man I saw yesterday isn’t in fact homeless. He has an address. It’s Exit one, Kuramasui, S01, Suko-dori line, Nagoya. I know that, cos he kinda welcomes me to his place in the morning half light where he is lurking at the base of the stairway in exit one. We look at each other furtively, he has spotted me and we know that we know each other.

Made of sterner stuff I try to get a pic with him in the side background but settle for a shot of the subway exit maps so that I will have his address. Almost as good as an email address which I suspect he doesn’t have.

Shinkasen, speeds south west, most are sleeping and those who aren’t are playing with themselves, on their iWhatevers. Might be commuting or maybe a day or two at a regional office, or travelling sales folk, much like the suited folk who inhabit the Melbourne Sydney air corridor.

The castle city railway station for Himeji slides into view. Soon I am jamming the pack into a coin locker, and then walk right past the information information office. It’s worth finding though cos there are free bikes to ride all day, and the cutest six inch wide rubberised conveyor belt escalator running up the side of the stairway into the underground parking station. By applying the bike brake on the upward journey the bike is carried up the rubber path. So so damn smart, make it easy folk will use it. Starting to sound like one of those clowns on Top Gear here.

Heimiji castle is a real. Not bombed in the war in which apparently there was no protagonist some seventy years ago, the rest of the place was sent to smithereens. There’s a surprising lack of much to do with that time, especially when considering that the majority of the built environment I am seeing is barely seventy years old. Maybe that’s why there are only japanese tourists and I could safely say that in five days to date I have seen maybe three gajin ( foreigners ) of the non Asian type. There have been more ladies in traditional kimono, five.

Hemiji castle main tower is cloaked in an enclosed scaffolding, a masterpiece in it’s own right, echoing the camouflage netting draped over it to make it less visible to night bombers. They say it was miraculously saved. I guess more prosaically it wasn’t worth wasting bombs on when Gemini was a major industrial fabrication centre for the war effort. It’s a miracle wrapped around the bleeding obvious.
As I can’t go inside the castle, it’s exterior suffices, this world heritage site is very different to the forests and stuff which are listed in Oz. Something to think on I suspect, later.

Hemiji castle, the long corridor 300 meters long, home for a time of a princess, with a cosmetic and vanity tower, a projecting corner turret facing the low green hill on which her child and husband were buried some five kilometres distant.

Inside also proof of the Japanese contribution to the early history of cricket. There are some highly decorated bats on display. Being shorter than the British these are smaller in size, about the size of a rounders bat, but clearly cricket bats. I had sensed a clue to this historical fact when in the subways I had seen central, east and west wickets. A shelfful use of the word to indicate a barrier to in or egress. With so many wickets I figured there must be a bat, clearly balls and now for the search for bails.

Nevertheless, the convex outer roof of the corridor shows close up the finished result of of the skilful application of three layers of differently formulated plaster. Thirty years making plaster, leaves me in awe of how little I know. Up close the effect on the dark concave roof tiles is to make them look like a chocolate log cut ready to eat. From afar, it’s different. This could easily be winter snow laid heavily in regular stripes, it’s devastatingly beautiful.