Before I get to the Nagoya Castle trip, an update about classes at Yamasa. My elective classes started a few days ago, and I think they’ll be useful in getting ready for the JLPT N1. I couldn’t get into the writing class, which was a bit of a letdown, but having two extra grammar classes will be a lot of work, anyway.
So, on to the topic at hand. Cherry trees, their blossoms, and why I wanted to go to Nagoya today.
Sakura, Sakura, Do I Know You?
I have never seen a Cherry tree in bloom up close and personal. That’s mostly because I have never been to Washington, D.C. in Spring, nor have I ever been to Japan in Spring.
I suppose I could find them around North Carolina, but to me, most flowering trees look the same. Having grown up in the South, I know of two important spring flowering trees/shrubs: Dogwoods and Azaleas. Really, that’s it. Wisteria, I suppose I can recognize, too, but not much more than that.
So please excuse me if I can’t tell the difference between a cherry and a pear tree in bloom. It hasn’t been in my cultural wheelhouse.
There are times when cherry trees get confused, and bloom out of season. Sometimes when it happens, it makes the news. (Well, it does in Japan.) I’ve seen it twice on the NHK News. Once when some trees in Tohoku bloomed in September, and everyone took it as a sign of hope after the Tsunami, and I saw it again on Monday, when they ran a story about a cherry tree blooming near Nagoya Castle in the park on the grounds.
Since I have never seen such a thing in person, I wanted to go and see it up close.
A Tree Blooms In Nagoya… Right?
Class ended early on Friday, and afterwards, I immediately high-tailed it back to the apartment, grabbed the big, heavy camera (the 60D), and raced to the train station. The castle closes at 5 p.m., but they stop letting people in at about 4 p.m. or so. I got on the 3:00 train, which meant I was really under the gun to get there in time. I got to JR Nagoya at 3:30, then had to run to the subway, change trains, then run to the castle. I got there right at 3:50.
I did the castle tour, because I might as well. The Google reviews on Nagoya Castle are mixed, and for good reason. It’s kind of… plain, to be honest.
An outbuilding near the main gate:
I saw some deer and crows chillin’ in the dry moat as I crossed to the main gate:
And here’s the castle, with attendant souvenir shop. (The building that says おみやげ on it.)
The good thing about Osaka Castle is that when you get to the top, there’s an outdoor viewing area.
No such luck in Nagoya.
The top floor is enclosed, the windows are tiny, and they were very, very dirty. To top it off, the scenery wasn’t much to look at, either. It was kind of a disappointment.
Instead of crying over getting lemons, I decided to try to make lemonade. So I used the vantage point of the top of the castle to try to find the out-of-season cherry tree, but I didn’t have any luck.
There is a very large park with a lot of trees on the grounds of Nagoya Castle, and I suppose that that area is really pretty in Sping and Summer, so that’s probably worth checking out. It’s fall now, but there are no fall colors yet, so it’s kind of plain.
As I wandered around, I kept looking for the tree.
Here’s the back of the castle from outside the walls:
And this canal looked kind of cool. Lightroom helped pick out some details:
Another shot of the castle from behind:
A few shots from the top of the castle walls, overlooking the lake:
The Name of this Song is “Please Leave. Now.”
I walked all over the castle grounds, and just didn’t have any luck. Finally, I started to hear music, which could only mean one thing in Japan: “Get out.”
I asked a security guard or two if they had seen a blooming tree, and they told me to come back in March. Translation: “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.”
On the way out, I stopped and took a look at some of the Chrysanthemums being prepared for the big exhibition tomorrow. They looked nice, but I didn’t feel like taking any pictures.
Right by the exit, I saw the mascot character. Of course I took a picture:
After that, I was starving, so I set out to get some food.
The first order of business was to find a post office ATM. Thanks to Google Maps, I found one about a kilometer away. Then it was back to the subway, and off to Nagoya Station.
I finally got back to the station, and headed up to the 11th floor, where there were a ton of people (because it’s Friday), and a ton of restaurants to choose from. Picking just one restaurant was difficult, because each one had so many delicious things to try.
I wandered around for about 15-20 minutes before settling on a soba shop. I had one of my favorite dishes, zaru soba, which is chilled soba noodles with a dipping sauce. You get a little pot of hot water to pour over the noodles to get them to unstick from each other, but I made the mistake of pouring too much hot water over it and made a mess. That’s one of the joys of travel: learning new ways to embarass yourself and generally make a mess of things.
But it was all good. The noodles went great with a beer.
Revived, I headed back to Okazaki.