Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Leaving Nagoya

Nagoya Castle viewed from my hotel

My last morning in Nagoya. I slept well, had a buffet breakfast at 7.00am and decided to try out the Subway. Nearly getting the hang of things now. Although it was early, I decided to go up to Nagoya Castle, expecting it to be closed (it was). I found the subway, ticketed, and made my way to the Sakura-dori line. The subway was very crowded, but the people from Nagoya seem rather more disciplined than the Tokyoites and everybody was formed up on the platform in diagonal queues two abreast within the painted lines indicating each door. Once the train arrived there was a certain amount of persistent pushing by some passengers to make sure they weren't the ones left behind! I even managed my usual spot at the front of the train. Three stops to Hisaya-odori and then change to the Meijo Line. This is a circle line and a had a bit of trouble finding the platform for the right direction but a local with reasonable English was at pains to assist. I've been impressed numerous times with the casual kindness of ordinary Japanese, even if they don't speak your language. Only one stop to Shiyakushyo and I come above ground with hundreds of girls making their way to the secondary school just next to the Castle. They're all dressed in the same design of white shirt with blue, wide, sailor collar, short pleated skirt and white short socks but, like children the world over, they all manage to be individuals. The massive moat and stone walls encloses not just the castle keep but the modern secondary school as well. I see the keep rising above the trees but cannot get closer until they open. Most of the castle is now a reinforced concrete reproduction because it was fairly comprehensively demolished in the second World War.

There are a number of Civic Buildings nearby so I quickly checked them out then returned below ground to make another subway trip, this time to Nagoya Port. That's Meijo Line anti-clockwise to Kanayama, change onto the Meiko Line, six stops to the terminus at Nagoyaka. It's a glorious day but Nagoyaka is, as yet, quite quiet. The area seems to be a sort of Coney Island. I'm intrigued by the Italian Village. This is a couple of blocks of Venice lookalike buildings with canals and gondolas! None of it open yet, but I see most of it by wandering around the outside which takes me right onto the quayside. They clearly entertain cruise ships here but the only thing moored at present is a large Japanese Coastguard vessel. I wander through the deserted Peoples Park, past the tall and, to my mind, ugly observatory building. There's a Maritime Museum and Aquarium too - closed but I didn't want to visit. More interesting is the Antarctic Exhibition. Parked on the grass is a Snowcat - the tracked vehicles they used for exploration - and moored adjacent is the former Japanese Antarctic survey vessel 'Fuji'.

Back to the subway and return to Kanayama. Here, I change to the Japan Rail tracks for an above-ground local trip on the Chua Line as far as Ozone - wonderful name. I toyed with the idea of going again to the Castle but then decided to get a Japan Rail local back to Nagoya and the hotel to get ready to leave. That's about it for Nagoya, because last night I made a reservation to travel on the 13.07 HIKARI 409 Shinkansen to Kyoto today.

On with the adventure!

Pictures of Japan's modern railways
Pictures of Nagoya and Inuyama