Japan Day 5, July 7th
Last day in Nagoya, and certainly a memorable one. Most of the items on my to do list were completed, so the day was mostly focused on shopping and wandering. I was determined to find some good engrish t-shirts at yen=g, so we headed back to the Osu Kannon shopping area.
The men’s selection at yen=g was a bit lacking, especially of anything in engrish. I was able to find a few shirts I like and get away with them for only about $7 a shirt. Only wandering the shops later did I find some good engrish at LAX clothing outlet. The summer sale means prices are low and options good. I snatched up instantly a shirt that read “Where does love come?” and I lament not buying a shirt that read “I We’ll show us them all” I saw as I exited the store. There’ll be plenty of time to engrish hunt later in my travels.
After shopping, we ate lunch at Kana’s cousin’s pizzeria / tratorria. He recently competed in an Italian pizza competition and came in third. from the three course meal, including two pizzas, I can say that he deserved a higher ranking. This pizza could hold its own and wreck some places in North Beach. While we ate, Kana and I discussed languages, and how we both wish we more of the other’s respective native langauge. She then taught me two phrases I requested. “Shinu made ni nihonjin no you ni nihongo wo hanashimasu,” before I die I want to speak Japanese like a Japanese person and “Koko ni surette kitte kurutte arigatou gozaimasu,” thank you for bringing me here. I’m doing pretty good with remembering these phrases, so it seems I learn Japanese best while eating and waiting for a good meal. I think I have a new study plan.
Finishing our meal, we embarked for Sakae, the upscale shopping and night life area. Sakae is like any other downtown shopping area in Japan, and reminds me a lot of Yamagata and parts of Shibuya. Nothing too exciting, and after walking around a bit we had enough. Given the heat and the four hours of walking we were ready for a break. We stopped off at a chocolate store on our way to the subway, and made our way back to the hotel for a brief nap.
Having finished all the main to do’s on my list, the rest was of no consequence. Lonely Planet had a glowing review for Heaven’s Door, “[B]y far Nagoya’s best bar,” so I wanted to check it out. We headed back to Sakae and made our way to where the bar was supposed to be. Kana led the way, and looked around, but couldn’t find it and quickly decided it wasn’t there anymore. Up to this point Kana took the lead on all of this, and I wasn’t ready to give up so quickly. We wandered a little bit, asked someone, returned to the original place, and I stopped to read my directions and the description. Kana was upset that I didn’t trust her that the bar wasn’t there anymore, but it wasn’t that I didn’t trust her, more that I wanted to be sure for myself. In the end, she was right. The bar closed down, as happens often with business in Japan and two year old travel guides. I made my apologies, and we took a brief walk around Sakae’s central park and entertainment districts.
We returned to Nagoya Station, both a bit hungry. Kana actually asked me earlier if I was hungry, and I was not. I think she was and it was her polite way of saying so, but after saying I wasn’t she refused to eat unless I said I was hungry too. She asked what I wanted to eat, and it took a while to convince her that I wanted whatever she thought was best. The authentic, Kana experience in Nagoya.
The destination took a twenty minute walk to an out of the way yakitori izakaya parallel to the train tracks. I suggested a few bits I would like, but for the most part forced Kana into the driver’s seat for ordering. Everything was delicious, with a large range of chicken parts, pork, beed and some veggies. We shared a bottle of sake and relaxed, talking about the our time and I thanked Kana profusely with the new Japanese I had learned. I asked Kana about the name of the restaurant and it’s meaning. The name she was able to tell me, but the meaning she didn’t know. She was curious, but didn’t want to ask the owner, so she forced me to ask him. She taught me how in Japanese “Omise no onamae no imi wa nan desu ka?” What does the name of this restaurant mean? Towards the end of our meal, I thanked the chef/manager and asked him. Kana was used as a translator, as he explained that the name is a Okinawan phrase roughly translating to “Upon this, our first novel meeting, we have become like brothers.” The sentiment is similar to ichigo ichie. The conversation grew from there, and began to encompass the table next to us. The chef explained that this July 7th was a full moon, and legend has it that July 7th marks the meeting destined by the twins of the star festival. The moon is an opening, a gateway to the heavens, and this opening of the heavens on a day of destiny happens only once every hundred years.
For Christmas, my mother gave me a nice, small note book that I brought on this trip with the resolve that any new friend or acquaintance I met should sign it and write something. Kana was kind enough to ask the chef to write something for me, and I now have a very nice message from him. As we departed (we closed out the restaurant) the chef and staff thanked us, and requested I suggest his restaurant to anyone I know coming to Nagoya. I certainly intend to.
A fun and unique night like I couldn’t have anywhere else, this is what I hoped for this vacation. That is exactly what I had. Returning to the hotel, I asked Kana to write a message in the notebook before I left the next day. As my time in Nagoya comes to a close, I feel both excited and remorseful. The one thing I do not feel is regret. I could not have a better time than this past three days.