After a fairly uneventful trip over, our friends Jon and Taka picked us up at the airport, and took us back to their house in Nagoya.
The house is beautiful, with an amazing koi pond and beautifully manicured trees. Unfortunately it has been raining, so we haven't been able to spend the hours I would like enjoying the sights and sounds of the garden.
We have super comfy accommodations in a room covered with tatami mats and a nice futon bed with a warm comforter. We stayed up late in a futile effort to beat the jet lag, waking up at 5a. After laying in bed for awhile we woke up to a home cooked breakfast from Jon. Traditional breakfast would be rice and miso soup, but Jon fixed bacon, sausage and tamago (egg). After a tasty breakfast, we started out on our tour of Nagoya visiting a Buddhist temple and the Nagoya Jo (castle).
There was a service starting in the temple, so we got to see a few monks reading and the beautiful gilded shrine. Walking around the shrine grounds we found another smaller room with a smaller shrine, fille with older women. They were very kind and invited us into the shrine and encouraged us to take pictures :-)
After the temple we headed to downtown Nagoya to see the castle. It rained pretty much the whole day, and we were lucky to have good umbrellas. The most notable thing about the castle was that it was nearly entirely destroyed by US bombing during WWII. The castle, including the famous golden dolphins have been rebuilt and the castle currently serves as a museum. They are also in the process of rebuilding the palace that was also destroyed during the war.
Matasuzakaya is a high-end department store, unlike anything that I have ever seen in the states. This place rivals the massive stores on Chicago's Michigan Ave, and the likes of Sachs as well. Each designer had it's own specific area, with it's own service people and fitting room. Burberry even has two different labels blue and black, both in the same store. There was more Hugo Boss in their area than in the whole city of Indianapolis. The mens section floor was pretty impressive; especially the underwear. Instead of the Hanes and Fruit of the Loom varieties the shelves were littered with designers like Paul Smith.
What was truly astonishing though was the huge gourmet market that had miles and miles of fruit, fish, preserved mushrooms, Kobe beef, the list goes on and on. Almost all of them were stored under glass like jewelery or an expensive watch. The picture above just doesn't do it justice.
Click on any of the above pictures to see more other pics on flickr.