AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Nagoya to Kanazawa

Nagoya to Kanazawa


Posted on Jul 15, 2014

After visiting the Toyota factory the day before I decided that our hire car should be a Toyota Prius. I’ve never driven a hybrid car before and everything I’ve read about them has convinced me that while they are a good idea in practice they are not much more efficient than a new diesel engine car. Time to see if I was right… Picking up the car was easy but driving away wasn’t so easy. The woman showed a few buttons and pedals, assumed I knew what they meant and left me to drive off. I’ve only driven an automatic once before and never one with a park button or the handbrake as a pedal near the clutch rest. The gear stick selects which mode to go into then pops back into the middle and the park button is used to stick it into park once stopped. Figuring that out in the city centre at traffic lights was fun! Also it won’t go into drive unless the brake pedal is pressed, I found that out when revving the car to pull away from the lights and going nowhere… Our first destination was Inuyama Castle. This is on the outskirts of Nagoya and is one of the four castles that are classed as a national treasure. We parked in the castle car park and walked up the very slippery slope to the castle. We were offered an English speaking guide to show us around the castle, for free, obviously we said yes. Our guide offered to take a photo in what is supposed to be the best photo spot, but the trees covered most of this tiny castle. Inside, the bottom floor, which was used for storage, was tiny. Along its ceiling is a huge wooden beam supporting most of the next floor. It’s original and over 400 years old. Up the steep stairs was the first floor. This had the usual windows to fire arrows out of. There were also boards at the edge of the room to allow rocks to be thrown down onto enemies climbing the walls. We went up another floor and saw where the lord of the castle would sit, on a raised section in the middle of the room. Surrounding him would be his warriors. On display were a number of samurai suits of armour. They were brightly coloured and very decorated making suits of armour in Europe look very plain and boring. On the helmet of each warrior was the family crest. This could be a flower, or horns, etc. Our guide told us about the family crests and how everyone in Japan...

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Nagoya & Toyota

Nagoya & Toyota


Posted on Jul 13, 2014

We were staying in Nagoya for no other reason than to visit the Toyota factory in the nearby city of Toyota. Nagoya has a castle, but we’ve seen many more which are better, and that’s about it. There’s nothing else there of any real interest. We arrived by Shinkansen from Hikone, which we’d visited on the way from Kyoto to Nagoya and it was an easy subway ride to the hotel. Near the hotel therr was a restaurant chain which we have eaten at a few times since we discovered them in Kyoto, it’s called Curry House CoCo Ichibanya. The curry and rice with battered chicken is very filling and pretty good tasting, but best of all is the price. For two curries, a salad and chips we usually spend about £12, not bad in a country where food costs a fortune. And that was our evening, a trip to the curry house and then the convenience store to buy breakfast for the next morning. We were up rather early to go to the Toyota factory. Although it wasn’t far out of the city it would require taking the subway to Nagoya station, then getting on a local train for about half an hour, followed by changing to another local train to Toyota city, followed by a half hour walk to the head office. To get there for 10:30am meant leaving the hotel not long after 8am. We entered the subway and walked onto the platform to join the few people standing around waiting. It wasn’t long before the train pulled up. It was packed, absolutely packed to the brim! There was almost no space on it and this is by far the most crowded train we’d ever been on. We stood in a tiny gap by the door and hoped we’d be OK. Luckily it wasn’t too bad and after a few minutes the train pulled into a station and almost everyone got off. We had one more stop on a now nearly empty train. At the train station we had problems finding where the line we wanted was. It turns out Nagoya Station is one of the largest in the world (although the 55 story tower blocks which are considered part of the station are a bit of a cheat). We finally found where to buy the tickets and where the platforms were and went to wait for the train. We weren’t the only westerners on the platform, two Americans were also there and obviously going to the same place we were. The rest of the journey went without a hitch and we arrived in Toyota city....

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