Well, what did we have for lunch? We tried something that instantly became my favorite—Kyoto style ramen. The thing I liked about it was that there was a layer of very fine green onions—or maybe chives?—cut up into rounds, I mean literally a thick layer, and then there was the meat slices, the ramen itself, and more onions.
Can you tell I love onions?
Don't come too close!
Kyoto style ramen 京都ラメン is the bowl on the right in the picture. The price? Only 380 円, about $4. The food at this place—おいしかった oishikatta!—was delicious!
What else can I say? Read it and weep!
I know where I'm going for lunch when I get back…
行ってきます—Ittekimas’—I'll be back!
After lunch, we walked around downtown. There are lots of trees, and Nagoya Central Park is right there too. The wide sidewalks were thronging with people, walking or on bikes, of all ages and aims. Many were probably on their lunch breaks. Despite the sheer numbers, everyone moved in an orderly fashion, and it never felt crowded. A thickly-built Japanese elder with full beard and whiskers twinkled his eyes at us, as he passed us on his bicycle. Beards and moustaches are rare in Japan. Only some elders, and some youngers, sport them. "An ally," he seemed to be thinking. Behind us rises the Nagoya version of the Eiffel Tower. It's the 名古屋テレビ塔, Nagoya Terebi-tō, the Nagoya TV tower.
Here we are at the Aquapark on top of Oasis 21, a concrete and glass shopping center, outdoor park and the entrance to Sakae bus terminal. The Aquapark is a shallow lagoon with a glass floor that is supposed to act as a giant humidifier. We went below to the mall, which was quite interesting with the sun shining through "the waters above the firmament."
Here's some closeup shots of myself and Brock with our best friend, host and guide, Taka. We didn't get too many shots of the three of us together, because one of us had to take the picture!
Here's Brock taking a look at Japanese comics at one of the shops in the mall. If you didn't know, everyone in Japan reads comics—avidly! It's like the national pastime, along with playing pachinko.
In coffeehouses I often saw men older than me settled in with a comic book, the result no doubt of Japan's high literacy rate—100%—wow! reading kanji and three different alphabets!
Midland Square Sky Promenade
Another place that Taka wanted us to visit was the Midland Square Sky Promenade. Funny, isn't it, how Japan names its modern buildings and other landmarks with American names?
Even the signs are in romaji or Latin letters. That's what I meant when I wrote that their 100% literacy is quite amazing, seeing as how they have to be able to quickly read a minimum of 2000 Chinese characters, two sets of Japanese alphabets with 46 letters each, and then Latin, English really, with our 26 letters. Learning the alphabets is a snap, but the characters, well, they learn 10 a day while they're growing up. And the 2000 characters are like the bare minimum. Most educated adults know even more. The total for a college graduate is something like 5000. Getting back to the topic…
It's good viewing from the top of this tower, and both Taka and Brock are photographers. Brock also shot video footage up here. The whole city of Nagoya was spread out before us, and it was awesome. In the panoramic view you can see Nagoya Castle in the distance.
The admission charge to go up to the top of the Sky Promenade was 700 円 per person, kind of steep I thought, until I actually made the ascent. The admission ticket shows the "rules" for visitors. I also wanted to give you a sample of the Japanese alphabet, which I took from the ticket and added the pronunciation in romaji, so you could see how easy it is! The alphabet Japanese use to write non-Japanese words is katakana, like the one in the sample below. That is, when they don't just use English letters.
In Japanese, syllables can only end in a vowel or in "n"—so, this is what they have to do to write our weird language!
Tomorrow, Taka goes to work for half a day, and Brock and I hang out and catch our breath. Then, later in the evening we get "dressed up" and go with him to visit his corporate "boss" at the main company. Stay tuned. More to follow…