Monday, April 16, 2018

Charms of visiting Nagoya

 The city of Nagoya, the capital of Aichi Prefecture, is located just between Tokyo and Osaka. Nagoya has a history as a homeland of "samurai" warriors who had fought to unify the country in the 16th and 17th centuries. In fact the first political leader in history, called a "shogun, " came from this region. Nagoya Castle and Main Palace are part of our influential heritage and show the achievement of outstanding samurai in those days.



Present Nagoya is the fourth largest city in Japan and the leading city of the manufacturing industries across the nation especially in the automobile, aviation and iron & steel industries. Over the years, this success is still greatly owed to the samurai rulers. These rulers encouraged skilled craftsmen to move to this region to promote the local industry while the central samurai government had failed to protect them due to strict economy policies.


Nagoya is a hub. Nowadays, many tourists from abroad see the advantages of visiting Nagoya. We have Chubu International Airport which is a 40-minute train ride to and from the center of Nagoya. The Shinkansen Bullet train from Nagoya station connects the city to many destinations nationwide. Furthermore, accommodation is more reasonable in regards to price compared to any other big tourist cities like Kyoto, Tokyo and Osaka. Please make the best use of your JR Pass to go back and forth. While you are in town, you will surely feel at home, too. It's easy to get around with public transportation such as the subway, buses, and private train lines.

For tourists visiting Nagoya for the first time, Nagoya Castle including Main Palace should be top of the list. You may also like to visit the popular temple in downtown Nagoya and also one of the three main great shrines in Japan. Aside from these, you may like to visit Toyota Museum of Industry and Technology, Tokugawa Art Museum or one or two Japanese gardens. Depending on how long you will be in Nagoya, I will customize the best tour for you accordingly so you can really get the most out of your stay.

Let's explore Nagoya! I hope you find the city charming!

Saturday, April 07, 2018

The theater is back



The new Misonoza Theater in the city of Nagoya opened after five years of rebuilding. A kabuki play put on by one of the prestigious families of actors is now being performed every day to celebrate the grand opening of the theater. April 25 is the last show.

I love kabuki.

For one thing, I am fascinated by the gorgeous stage, which follows tradition, and also by how it is performed, which has been passed on for generations. And for another, my friend plays a leading gidayu; in other words, a narrator who chants stories with his powerful and emotional voice.

Watching kabuki gives me a chance to leave my routine life behind and get lost in a unique and magical world.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

The cutest maching only in spring

It was a beautiful Sunday in the midst of spring.

I could easily imagine that the highway to my mother's was busy with cars--sightseers on their way to see the cherry blossoms. I didn’t want to be trapped in a bumper-to-bumper traffic jam on the way. I gave up on driving and took a train instead.

Soon after the train left, my eyes were caught by the breathtaking view of cherry blossoms in full bloom out the window in the distant mountains, along the riverbanks and the railway lines. I was glad that I had made a good decision.

The nearest station to my mother’s is called “Sakura”, namely “cherry blossoms”. I was most happy when I stood on the platform and saw the sign saying "Sakura" with beautiful sakura at their best in the background. The name of the station perfectly matched the cherry trees that bloomed beyond.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Retired Hina Dolls

For the last few years, you may have seen some small hina dolls in unexpected places or in unusual postures.

At the Chubu International Airport, I saw hina dolls sitting casually along a sidewalk into a building. They didn't sit neatly on a tiered stage, just like you would expect with a regular set of hina dolls on display. 

Rather, they were placed in many spaces and on corners, and they were in some vivid, realistic poses. Some are reading newspapers or books, and some talking over a cup of coffee together; some hoist a flag of welcome to tourists, and some look happy with shopping bags in their arms.

They are happily "retired hina dolls".

When their outfits got worn out over the years and were not suitable to be displayed at home, people handed them down to various public communities in towns and cities across the country. People arranged those dolls to entertain visitors, so as to energize communities during the hina doll festive season.

So they are called “fuku-yose-bina” in Japanese, which literally means “good luck inviting hina dolls.”


Friday, August 04, 2017

A complex of three tea rooms and a reception room

This building is a landmark at Shirotori Garden.
It consists of three tea rooms and one reception room.
The whole complex is called “Seiu-tei”, which literally means “a pure feather house”.
It's fascinating because the overhead view of the complex depicts a white bird spreading its wings to touch down on water.


The tea room on your right is the head of the bird. The corridor symbolizes its neck and the reception room symbolizes its body. The two tea rooms are its wings.
Another unique point about Seiu-tei is that it was built on the edge of the pond, which is not such a common location for a tea house.
When you attend a tea ceremony and sit in a small tatami room, the pond comes into view through the window.
You may feel as if you are attending a tea gathering on a floating boat as you can feel a nice breeze from the pond.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A view from Yuhintei Arbor



As it is generally true for many Japanese gardens, Shirotori garden also depicts the landscape of the central Japan, which is so crucial in talking about the history of this region.

The big fir tree and the stand of trees in the far distance represents the Kiso mountains in Gifu prefecture, which produces good quality of Japanese cedar lumber.
Pine trees along the river banks in the middle distance portray a fertile riverside district of rice paddies called the Suigo area in Aichi prefecuture.

With the woody hills in the far distance and the pine trees in the middle, the view from Yuhin-tei Arbor becomes much alive and dynamic as it is in real life.

Watching the colorful koi (carp) fish swimming and approaching gracefully is a special treat and is very relaxing.

Visitors are always fascinated by the grand view from here in every season, such as the cherry blossoms on weeping branches in spring, the hydrangea flowers in early summer, the autumn foliage and the pine trees tied with rope in winter.



Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The main gate to Shirotori Garden


Take a look at the entrance gate to Shirotori garden.
An interesting point to notice is the curve of the roof just above the entrance.
It is traditional Japanese carpentry work called 「唐破風」(karahafu).

Since elegant shapes were very much favored by feudal lords, it added more value to the building when this style was used.

There is another factor why it was often used at the entrance of traditional buildings such as castles, temples, shrines and palaces.

On rainy days, a curved line lets falling rain run to both ends of the curve, which prevents guests from getting wet from water running of the roof edge above the entrance.
So, the designer of the garden used this style for the benefit of visitors on rainy days.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

The way we name this little plant


 These flowers are called "lizard's tail" in English. Isn't it a "lovely" name? 
It was named so since the drooping flower depicts a lizard's tail, they say.


On the other hand, 半化粧 (はんげしょう)is a Japanese name for these white, slender and drooping flowers. The most beautiful part of this plant is that some leaves have white splashes on the surface as if a woman were putting powder on her face to meet her loved one. That is why we call it "han-ge-shou", which literally means " putting makeup on halfway" in Japanese.
So romantic, isn't it? They delighted my eyes this afternoon at Shirotori Japanese Garden.

Monday, July 03, 2017

To my favorite blogger ☆Sapphire

Her handle name is ☆Sapphire and her blog title is "Through the Sapphire Sky".

Dear ☆Sapphire,

If you happen to see this post,  please contact me.
I have been a fan of your blog for years and while I was away from blogging, it seems that you had changed your privacy setting only for bloggers with permission.
If possible I would like to get your permission.

Thank you in advance.

Mekkan

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Kabuki at a temporary theater in the Nagoya Castle grounds




The Heisei Nakamura-za, the most renowned troupe of kabuki performers, came back to the Nagoya Castle grounds for the first time in 8 years!
Tickets were quickly sold out.

That just goes to show how people have been waiting for their next performance at a temporary theater, especially after the troupe had lost their main actor to cancer. His name was Kanzaburo Nakamura XVIII, and he was just 58 years old at his death. He put his all his energy into revitalizing the traditional atmosphere which a temporary theater brings to an audience; just the way kabuki used to be.

Unlike many modern kabuki theaters with advanced technologies, this type of theater is a temporary one, and after a run, it will be taken away. This was common in the olden days when a troupe visited rural towns and villages for a performance.



In general, a temporary theater is small but it has an advantage! You find yourself much closer to the stage. Your eyes meet your favorite actor's eyes when he stops on stage for an exaggerated, dramatic pose. It is very particular in kabuki performance.

Kabuki has a very unique style of stage performance, and has a long history of more than 400 years. Historical stories based on the era of the samurai warriors were performed by men-only troupes (they take the women's roles as well). The actors grow up and are trained in notable families of kabuki performers, as it has always been over the generations.

Dynamic stage settings and colorful, traditional costumes are eye-catching. The style of performance is elaborate and bold with lots of motion and sound. Kabuki actors, with their strong attachment toward Japanese traditional arts, have been entertaining people for centuries.


Now the Heisei Nakamura-za troupe is back again with Kanzaburo's two adult sons following in their father's footsteps. That day, in the temporary theater in the Nagoya castle grounds, the whole audience gave a big round of applause for the passionate kabuki performance.