8 years in Japan and I finally made it to Nagoya, the third largest (4th most populous) city. Up until now Nagoya was just a stop on the shinkansen (hereafter lovingly referred to as the shink) that I passed through countless times during my days of long distance love with the hubs. He lived in Tokyo, while I worked in Kobe, for my first 3 years in Japan.
The shink is pretty awesome. Leg room for days and a smooth, comfortable hum to lull you to sleep. If you ever find yourself on the shink, be sure to grab a beer and an ekiben (station lunch box) before boarding. It’s tradition. As the countdown to India slowly draws closer, I opted for a meat bento–3 kinds of beef packaged together for your stomach’s pleasure. At over 1500 yen (nearly $15 US) it was a far cry from the convenience store bentos of everyday life, but the taste reflected it. Sadly, five minutes into sweet meat heaven, my chopsticks broke! ショック! (Shock!) I’m not too proud to say that my two-year old and I enjoyed digging in with our hands, literally. C’est la vie.
We stayed with friends from university and their nearly one-year old. They are master hosts–pretty sure I came home 3 lbs heavier and my phone’s data nearly full of freshly taken pictures.
Tsurumai Park– where the above pic was taken. 10 times larger than any of the parks near our house in Tokyo, with 3 times the play structures. *Elsa liked climbing the concrete mountain in the middle of the kid’s play area and sliding down the rainbow roller slide. The trip was especially well timed as it is hanami (cherry blossom viewing) season in Japan and Tsurumai park was decked out in lanterns and food carts.
Port of Nagoya Aquarium– First impression, wow, you can walk around and see exhibits without bumping baby cars (Japanese for strollers…) or people elbowing you out of the way. How refreshing! *Elsa was particularly fond of the penguin statues and finding Nemo (get it, Finding Nemo, ha!). We ate at the food court outside of the aquarium. I had the Nagoya Hungry Special, or some equally ridiculous name, which consisted of two of Nagoya’s staples: fried porklets covered in a sweet red miso sauce, and kishimen which are flattened noodles made from flour, similar to udon, in a sweet soy sauce broth. Our fabulous friends added a plate of chicken wings too, another Nagoya specialty, so things got messy, but oh so tasty.
Sea Train Land– A 2 minute walk from the aquarium. We paid 700 yen (about $6 US) to ride the huge Ferris wheel, much to my chagrin. About 1/3 of the way up I really had to focus on our cute sidekicks rather than the fact that I was stuck in a little plastic box overlooking a port, on an island famous for its earthquakes. etc. etc. But oh to be young again, the sidekicks loved it. To appease *Elsa’s hands on hips, foot stomping cries of “No!” we also had to do the carousel and an Anpanman ride, for a measly 500 yen ($4.50 US) total.
Japan’s first ever outdoor Legoland themepark just opened in Nagoya, but we opted out after hearing that tickets are nearly 7000 yen (almost $70 bucks) for adults. It even costs 5300 yen (about $52 US) for kids 3-12! For Lego enthusiast, yeah, maybe, but we’ll save our money for Disneyland.
The highlight, by far, was getting to see our friends’ little one take his first steps and reflecting on when my sidekick was taking her’s. My how the time flies. If you’re reading this, thanks again friends, we are missing you already! ❤