Photo Barrage 2 (Part 1)- Nagoya and Ise- 名古屋と伊勢の写真攻め

Currently: Can’t sleep after taking a long nap. Watching the news.

I think I nailed down my photo issues, which pretty much came down to ‘too much of something is a bad thing’. The pictures should load faster now, and I’ve increased the size of the thumbnails on the page per popular request.

Last weekend was my first real outing since being in school. It was a nice (but of course cold) weekend. I went up to Nagoya, which is kind of the hub for any real trips around this region unless I were to go back up to Tokyo. I was there Saturday, and then went to Ise Saturday night and Sunday. These pics are of Nagoya, and I will hopefully get the Ise ones uploaded tomorrow. In terms of photogenic stuff, this last weekend was a bit of a bust since in Nagoya we have ‘pictures of rocks’ and  in Ise the main shrine I went to doesn’t allow you to take pictures of the main shrine area. Next weekend should be a little more impressive.

I spent a bit of time on Saturday in Nagoya. It’s so close that I pretty much just wanted to hit the highlights before heading down to Ise.

First stop was the shopping district called “Sakae”-

IMG_2410.jpg  Stepping out of the Nagoya subway, there’s this giant building, which is the Sakae bus terminal. Pretty fancy.

IMG_2414.jpg This is the Nagoya TV Tower- there’s a ‘central park’ sort of area in this part of town, and there were some plaques comparing this area to the Champs Elyses.

IMG_2431.jpg Apple Store in Nagoya. Of course. It’s pretty sizable, and was busy but not overwhelmingly so. A little bit of a surprise, especially for a Saturday.

The rest of my time in Nagoya I spent at Nagoya Castle, which is one of the larger and more famous castles in Japan. It was built in the early 1600s, and for being a 7-story structure (not to mention all the tall stone walls), a pretty impressive architectural feat of the time. Much of the castle and grounds were destroyed and/or burnt to the ground during World War II, something that the signage in the area repeatedly made clear to visitors.  Although much of it has been rebuilt, and accurately so, the inside of the castle is a museum than internal reproduction of castle life. It was still pretty interesting.

IMG_2530.jpg This is the subway entrance next to the castle. They’ve even accurately reproduced subway station entrances of the 17th century.

IMG_2442.jpgOne of the turrets on the approach to the main keep (donjon). One thing to note is the huge stone retaining walls around the castle. This particular wall had to have been at 20 feet or 30 feet in height.

IMG_2448.jpg Here’s another shot of the same wall (on the  left. Compare with the structure against the wall on the right.

IMG_2518.jpg  Apparently the way they were able to build walls of such size before the miracle of reinforced concrete was to build a ‘spine’ of alternating stones on the corners of walls, as you can see below. Wikipedia tells me this is called ‘fan sloping’.

IMG_2451.jpg This stone (the Kiyomasa Stone) is significant because of how huge it is- about 7 feet high by 18 feet wide. When building the castle and surrounding walls , different lords (daimyo) were given responsibility for building certain sections, and in this case it’s believed that a guy named Kiyomasa was responsible for this stone (although he was probably responsible for ordering the guys around that actually moved the stone).

IMG_2505.jpgOther sections of the castle walls have stamps engraved in the stone to the day, such as these stones, which show which team was responsible for placing these stones.

IMG_2456.jpg This is the main keep of the castle with the inevitable souvenir shop at its base (おみやげーomiyage is Japanese for ‘souvenir’). On the top of the castle there are two gold-plated dolphins that are rather famous in this prefecture. I’ve seen them used in commercials and the like. IMG_2460.jpg  Here’s a close-up of the castle sitting on a 20 foot perch of fan-sloped walls.

IMG_2478.jpg As I said before, the inside of the castle was rebuilt after WWII. instead of using the elevator, I hoofed it up all 7 flights of stairs. Here’s a shot looking down the stairwell.

IMG_2480.jpg As I’ve pointed out before, I’m a sucker for various signs, but this has to be one of my all-time favorites. I think sometimes I find something funny partially because I can actually translate it. This one says essentially “Won’t you try riding in the palanquin?”

There was a large wooden box next to this sign with the side missing, and a TV screen that  inside the box, giving a ‘virtual palanquin’ experience. As I think I mentioned in one of my Okazaki history bits, larger vehicles were forbidden in pre-modern Japan, so nobles that didn’t want to walk or ride a horse had to be carried in palanquins. IMG_2488.jpg The 7th floor of the donjon was an observation deck, and you could see pretty much the whole of Nagoya from there. A very nice view indeed. From the castle I headed back to Nagoya Station and with a little difficulty got on a train to Ise.

I hope to get my Ise pictures notated and online tomorrow, since I’m going to Osaka (mainly just for dinner on Friday) and Kyoto (Saturday and Sunday).