Monday, 10 June 2013

Japan: Week 13

13 - Ayana and Hana

This week was rather work-heavy but luckily I had a most interesting weekend to make up for it. On Saturday I had the unique experience of meeting up with two girls from Tokyo who I originally met in England and giving them a tour of Nagoya, where they had never been before. Ayana and Hana are both fabulous frisbee players, so naturally we're good friends.

We visited Nagoya Castle, of course
First stop was the castle. I felt proud of all the knowledge I've managed to pick up about Nagoya, and the castle specifically, so that I could keep coming out with Japan facts which genuine Japanese girls didn't know. Luckily my head was saved from becoming too over-inflated by my stumbling attempts at Japanese versus their fluency in English, which extended to topics such as the social comparisons between the two nations. Their conversation skills are exactly as impressive as that sounds.

Possibly because it was a Saturday, and possibly because it was a beautiful day, it was all happening in Nagoya Castle grounds, with food stalls, tombola (we won a packet of Nagoya Castle tissues each!) and some sort of play involving historical figures. As Hana and Ayana were unsure of exactly what was going on, I didn't feel the need to worry about it either.

Free theatre!

A new part of the castle was also open, the palace, with incredible replicas of the sliding doors it would have once contained. Art which encapsulates Japanese culture, in my opinion.

After a brief stop for a lunch of famous Nagoya chicken, we headed back out, this time to the Orchid garden which I've been dying to see for a while. Aichi prefecture is Asia's leading producer of orchids, explaining the existence of this gorgeous flower garden displaying many varieties (I'm afraid I didn't count) of orchid.

It was peaceful and relaxing, and enjoyable to see people who probably lived nearby, sketching and even reading the newspaper. We continued to explore Nagoya on foot, and I had some minor epiphany moments when I realised how different places I'd visited previously joined up when the right path was taken. We window shopped in Osu and took purikura (the hilarious photo booths which give you bigger eyes and rosier lips), but unfortunately all good things come to an end, and I had to say goodbye to the wonderful girls after one final stop at a cafe.

But time will fly, and I'll be back playing frisbee with these two at uni in no time. Thank you so much for visiting, you two!

Japanese photo booths. I'll be building some in England.

Sunday's weather allowed us our third hike, in Nara this time. The walk was slightly different from the previous two, which were very mountainous and through forests. This one was much less hilly, and is apparently one of the oldest paths in the prefecture. It was the sort of trail where you're walking through forest one moment, a rural village the next, and all of a sudden you're at a shrine with cockerels in trees.

Okay, so maybe that's not really a type of trail, but you see my point here. It was interesting and full of surprises. The feeling of accomplishment upon completing a walk makes these excursions delightfully worth the effort.

So it was back to I-House after an exhausting weekend, where I'm almost scared to add up the miles I walked. On with a week of work, as deadlines are fast approaching, and what will be another exciting weekend...


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