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Sunday, September 17, 2017

And so, here we are.

As I get down from the flight, I am immediately facing the proverbial Japanese courtesy: at the immigration gate, a couple of gentle airport employee help me completing the filling of the immigration card (where you declare you're a good guy and how long is your visit). Also, the policeman at the immigration gate checks the card and reads the destinations I set as "address". He is a bit confused, (should be just one address, the one of the first hotel you stay in), but he compliments with me for both my Japanese and my list of destinations, and lets me pass in less than one minute.
At the customs gate, I present another card declaring I am not importing drugs or the like in Japan, and a little and cute policewoman with big glasses informs me I forgot to indicate what is my address in Japan. I get my well organized container filled with the reservations for the hotels and ask her which of those nine addresses I should write. She smiles gently and tells me "you're fine, just go".

The car service where I pick up the rental car is as gentle as that: they are all smiles and helping, and the girl completing the car inspection with me compliments me about the fact that I have both a good English and a good Japanese.

I never drove an automatic gear car, and the brakes are extremely sensible. At the first toll gate I kinda brake 1mt before the gate, and the old lady collecting the money sees my difficulty and comes out of the gate, informs me that I can use cash only, waits patiently for me to pick up the money under a light rain and then she gives me my change, all with a big smile.

The exit of the highway in the center of Nagoya is on the right side of a 5 lane street, just 100mts away from the traffic light where I should turn left. This makes me more than nervous, as I know is impossible to change one lane so close to the traffic light in a western city, but changing 5 lanes is just a driver nightmare. But seemingly, Japanese drivers are aware of that and very empathetic, as the moment I turn on my direction indicator, the cars on the left lane stop and let me pass five times in a row, with no exception.

I arrive at the hotel's automated parking lot, where a gentle old man helps me with my car, and then, when he tries to pronounce my name without success, and then I give him my credit card, he apologizes for knowing Japanese only.

And now, here's the moment you all were expecting. The photos. This is the view in front of the hotel:
Not very interesting, but at night it gets much more colorful.

First thing first, I need some Japanese plugs and charger for my PC. I find a store in a "commercial center" on the map, and head there. The workd "commercial center" doesn't prepare me for what's this thing: it's a small city dedicated to shops only, called "Osu".
The place is about 8 very large blocks wide, includes many galleries and open sky streets and the nearby blocks are packed with shops as well, albeit not being fully dedicated to commercial services only.

The place includes a maid cafe... but I am not feeling like spending 30,000 yen for half an hour of being called goshujinsama by a schoolgirl (not even an adult dressing as a schoolgirl), so I don't think I'll be their customer.

Instead, in the techno area of the market, there's a place where you can ask for the local kamis to bless the electronic devices you just bought and protect them against the mysterious breakages those devices are so well known for:
Even the look of the jinja is technological, and here you can ask the powers of the newborn kamis of this era to descend into your devices. For a small fee,of course, that you're supposed to pay at the technomiko in a little box on the side who I didn't shot in the photo for privacy reasons.

But the Buddhists have always been a step ahead the Shintoists in the competitions for giving blessings. This is the message I read in the metro stops as I wait for a train to take me back to the hotel:
If it's not clear enough, this temple offers to store the cinders of your departed ones in golden boxes, mystically linking them to light-up Buddha holograms-in-glass boxes, over which a priest will pray for a few minutes every day, for the rest of the eternity. I am basically tempted to hire the service, just in case I die in this trip, or maybe send them my CV now that I have le physique du role of a bonze, but I decide to just shake my head and step in the train.

At night, I meet up with my long time pen pal Yoshi-kun, and we go out after he gets off of work (at 21:30) to drink a coffee at Starbucks. Not a normal Coffee at Starbucks, but a green tea frappuccino -- you won't find it elsewhere!

We make a fast plan for the following day: visit the Nagoya Castle, the Tokugawa (the Shogun) permanent exhibit and the Asuta Jinja, where the mythical sword called Kusanagi is said to be held. Not necessarily in this order.

But first, he shows me the suspended pool called Mizu-no-uchuusen (literally "water starship"), and the TV tower:
The photo doesn't give justice to the changing colors and light effects on the two constructions.

And so, I get back to my hotel and, still pondering that option of becoming a techno-Buddhist monk, I get asleep so fast I don't even have the time to write this blog...


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