A Luke at Japan

Japan. The land of the rising sun.  These are the voyages of Luke Summerhayes. His one-year mission; to seek out everyday life and ancient history, to explore a strange new world, to boldly (and baldly) go where every nerd has gone before!

Part 63: Nagoya

My second week on the farm, I was genuinely loving life out in the remote Japanese countryside. With no internet to distract me, I actually found the time to finish a first draft of a novel about a samurai and a dancer. Nonetheless, I was missing the big city. So on my other day off, I headed south to the next prefecture and visited Nagoya.

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For the most part, Nagoya is a bustling, business-focused city. The Toyota corporation is stationed here, and although tours of the factory can be booked a month in advance, the city is primarily concerned with building things, not catering to slack-jawed tourists.

There is a big castle there though, which happens to be built on the birthplace of Oda Nobunaga, who I mentioned last entry. Again, the weight of history was heavy on my shoulders. I had perfect weather for visiting an old castle. Dreary rain kept the tourists away and also made the modern city outside the castle walls disappear, transporting me back in time.

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The castle had wonderfully recreated historical halls and painted screens, an exhibit on traditional handmade toys, a wonderful Japanese garden which recreates mountains in miniature and of course the big castle itself.

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I headed south through the shopping district, naturally making a point to locate the mall which had the Pokemon Centre inside. I passed by the art and science museums, although with less than an hour until closing time I chose not to pay to go inside.

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Instead I kept heading south to visit the large Atsuta Shrine nestled into the wooded park. After the jewels at the Imperial Palace and the Mirror at Ise Grand Shrine, this is the final alleged home to one of three imperial regalia which represent the power of that lineage. I say alleged as the mirror and the sword supposedly stored here were both lost to the bottom of a river centuries ago. Although they were then “recovered”, nobody outside the imperial ministry is ever allowed to see them. Were they really recovered? Did these legendary items ever really even correspond to actual historical artifcacts? Who can say!

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More interesting was the sight which greeted me as I stepped into the park around the shrine. Three glorious chickens were strutting around among the tourists, completely unbothered. There was no signage or imagery, and nothing was mentioned in the guide books, but these dudes were happily wandering about munching seeds from the floor.

They approached without any fear and went where they pleased. I can only assume they were supposed to be there? Are they holy chickens? Or were they unwanted intruders everyone was too polite to shoo? I genuinely had no idea, and couldn’t see anyone official I could ask. I think it’s more fun that way.

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