Gosh, has it been so long since my last blog entry? Time does fly, and I’m pretty sure it is going to take a couple of days to actually get this entry posted. I’ve been very busy the past few weekends.
Two weeks ago, Tomo was visiting and we visited Joel Robuchon’s La Table again. It was very good. Tomo took really nice pictures and I was going to do the whole foodie thing and narrate the meal. But I realize that I am not really a foodie. I can say that we enjoyed the meal and the wine course very much.
On April 1, Ben and Carrie arrived from LA for a visit to Japan. Tomo came down to Nagoya again on Thursday, I took Friday and Monday off, and I got to go sightseeing with friends.
Aichi-ken, the prefecture that Nagoya is in, is home to Toyota. Mondays through Fridays, Toyota offers a plant tour. I have always wanted to go, and thought this was a perfect opportunity to visit the factory. You have to reserve months in advance, and there is only one English tour a day. Cameras are not allowed inside the factory so I don’t have any pictures of interest. It was interesting to see the Toyota factory in operation, especially for geeks like us who have all studied the Toyota Production System in one way or another (three engineers and Tomo worked briefly at Hino). We were all impressed by the welding robots. They looked like animals! We were also impressed by the parts kit carts and their automatic delivery from the stock room to the assembly position. The more I think about it, the more interesting it is.
We went to dinner at an Okinawan izakaya called Nanpu with a colleague from work. She is well known at the restaurant and I am somewhat known, so we always have a good meal and a good time there. The group picture is fuzzy, so unfortunately no picture of that as well.
Tomo had to leave on Saturday, and the weather was icky, so there’s not much to report. I think we wandered around a little bit and watched a movie (Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist) on AppleTV. Basically we hit department stores in the afternoon and did something in the morning that I cannot recall.
Sunday though was an absolutely gorgeous day. The temperature was warming up, and the sky was blue. We, or I guess more correctly, I, decided that we would go to Seto and visit a ceramics town. Seto is still in Aichi-ken but is a little bit out in the country. It turns out a lot of places, but not all places, are closed on Sunday.
Ben and Carrie enjoy the fine ceramics in a shop.
We wandered around, and discovered an older Japan compared to Nagoya. We found a shop where you can buy gakuran.
And we saw a restaurant (I think) with some precariously stacked empty crates. This is NOT an optical illusion, the crates were nearly defying gravity.
I saw something that I had not seen in a long time in Japan, an alcohol vending machine, jidohanbaiki ,自動販売機. I’m not sure why the machine is so poorly framed, I promise I did not sample its wares.
Luckily, Ben and Carrie timed their trip just in time for さくら (sakura - cherry blossoms). Here’s a nice shot from a temple in Seto.
We left Seto in time to go to Tsurumai park in Nagoya to see the さくら and enjoy 花見 (hanami – the tradition of enjoying the blooming of the blossoms). People celebrate hanami mostly by putting out blue tarps, bringing in food and alcohol, and getting rippingly drunk.
Of course, hanami is open to all ages to enjoy, year after year after year.
Monday we went to Kyoto. The weather was fantastic, and the cherry blossoms were great. We visited Ryoanji, Kinkakuji, Ginkakuji, The Philosopher’s Walk, and Kiyomizudera. It was a very full day. I’d love to share some pictures from Ryoanji, but unfortunately I discovered shortly after our visit to Ryoanji that I was shooting without a CF card in my camera. In other words, a camera with no film. What is the biggest shame though is that it was the first day of school in Japan for the new year. We passed a kindergarten just as the students were released when we were walking from Ryoanji to Kinkakuji. The mothers were very dressed up as were the kids. I took a picture of a mother in a a kimono and her child. I was interested to see how it turned out, to I tried to review it on my camera. At that point I realized the photo was not recorded. That’s too bad! Oh well. I reconfigured my camera so it would not shoot without a card now. What follows is a fairly traditional set of tourist pictures in Kyoto. But since this is a blog, I see absolutely nothing wrong with tourist pictures. After all, we were tourists.
A look at Kinkakuji, or The Temple of the Golden Pavilion. This was the setting for a famous Yukio Mishima book titled, you guessed it, “The Temple of the Golden Pavilion.”
We then took a taxi across town to the area of the Ginkakuji, or the silver pavilion. We ate lunch at a famous udon restaurant named Omen (which always makes me think of the movie series). From there, we went down Philosopher’s Walk which was surrounded by sakura. We continued to walk to Kiyomizudera. It was quite a haul.
The ginkakuji was also undergoing renovation, so I took more pictures of the grounds. The gardens at the ginkakuji are beautiful. Here are a couple of shots of the rock gardens.
There are also luscious moss fields on the hillsides.
What is interesting is to see the variety of clothes people will wear to the temple. The shoe choices always get me. I don’t think there is any such thing as “sensible shoes in Japan. But are heels really the right idea for such a rough road?
It is always nice to see people out walking in traditional clothes, although the practicality can be debated as well (photo cropped).
The Philosopher’s Walk, or 哲学の道, is lined with cherry trees. I have megabits of sakura photos. That can get a little, well, boring after a few pictures of white-pink blossoms. So I sampled just a few.
We finished up the evening in Higashiyama where I took a picture of a shrine near kiyomizudera.