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With the rest of the week after New Years Day off and some hotel points to use, we booked a room for two nights at the Mariott Hotel in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture South of Tokyo. We drove, which was nice through Nagano but kinda sucked in Nagoya proper. Then again, when is city driving ever all that great anyway?

Our first night was spent getting dinner and walking around the hotel, while the next day we headed to Nagoya Castle via the sightseeing tour bus in the morning and then to the Toyota Museum in the afternoon. We went to the shopping center for dinner and massages. The third day in the morning Kenji headed back to the Toyota Museum while I went to the next prefecture over (Mie) to (unsuccessfully dammit) buy postcards I missed the last time I was there. Then we headed home.

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Driving through Nagano is of course very snowy in January. This is at a rest stop along the highway.

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And we picked up my favorite flavor of Kitkat, Ichimi! Ichimi is a kind of hot pepper. The spice plus the dark chocolate give it a really awesome kick. Spicy and sweet at the same time!

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So we used points to get a free two night stay at the Mariott, which is literally in the same building as the trains, which was handy if we were actually taking trains anywhere.

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We decided to just eat in the station building, which had a nice Italian restaurant. After that we got some snacks and beer at a nearby beer bar. They had Stella so I was happy!

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Decoration for winter in the lobby of the mall attached to the station

Day one was mostly spent driving, checking in, and around the hotel. Day two was our main sightseeing day. We started out getting tickets for the hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus and went first to Nagoya Castle.

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Bus and guide

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A replica of the giant… whale? dolphin? fish? (every translation had a different animal…) on top of the castle.

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We met a cat.

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The castle and a close up of the stonework

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View of the fish-orca-dolphin things

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And a break-down of the castle

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We got someone to take our picture

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We had to take some pics with the orca inside the castle too!

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As we went outside there was some sort of samurai battle performance thing going on… I dunno, I kinda tuned it out after a few pictures

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We had a late lunch at the castle. This is one of Nagoya’s specialties: Katsu cutlet on rice covered in a sweet miso sauce. It was different, but pretty good!

After that, we hopped back on the bus to the Toyota Museum. Toyota originally started out as a textile and loom company, and got into mechanics etc. by making electric looms and weaving machines before making the jump to an automobile company. Apparently a lot of the Japanese car manufacturers started as textile companies! So the museum was really cool and very hands on, documenting the progress of the company as much as the processes of manufacture beginning with looms and ending with cars. We didn’t have a lot of time before they closed and missed some demonstrations because of the time, but what we were able to see was REALLY interesting. Definitely my kind of museum!

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Looking and touching different kinds of fibers and what is made from them

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There were SO many kinds of looms and spinning etc. machines on the floor, it was a bit overwhelming. We started with the basics and learned how cotton is woven into thread and then into fabric, and then went through the many technological breakthroughs. Many of the looms still work and were actually making thread and fabric as we watched.

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From there we went into the demonstration area, where the guy was closing everything down, but still gave us these little wrenches and the mold that came with it, which was nice. Kenji was super excited about them, anyway!

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Then it was onto the cars, from then very early ones with a wooden frame and handmade parts, to today’s production line. I didn’t take a ton of pics and honestly forgot what some of them were actually of, but you get the gist of things.

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That evening I insisted on trying the OTHER famous Nagoya specialty, unagi! Eel is one of my favorites, and there are three traditional ways to eat it, all of which were delicious. I want to go back to Nagoya just for this!

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The view from the hotel room #2

The third day Kenji and I split up. He wanted to go back to the Toyota Museum to watch the demonstrations, while I thought it was a good chance to take the train to nearby Mie prefecture to pick of the JP Postcards I collect. Unfortunately, it was a Sunday, and while the counter at the post office I went to was open, they wouldn’t sell me the postcards. So it was a total waste of time and a train trip. I went back to Nagoya in time to meet Kenji, then we drove around trying to find an eating place but just gave up with all the traffic and got back on the highway heading home. We ate at a highway rest stop again, and I finally tried my final Nagoya specialty, a kind of thick udon noodle with soup and tons of katsu flakes, which I picked off and gave to Kenji.

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And that was the end of the trip!

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