Aomori was like a dream. Quiet, calm, and picturesque.
But we left that dream behind and rode straight into a nightmare known as Nagoya.
Here’s a quick rundown of the last 10 hours. It might just be the lack of sleep, but it’s hard to imagine that the day started in a different city over 400 miles away:
- 04:40 — Wake up and check out of the hotel in Aomori
- 05:00 — Walk 1km to train station
- 06:46 — Leave Aomori on Shinkansen
- 07:30 — Eat our last 2 Aomori apples for breakfast
- 10:36 — Arrive in Tokyo to transfer to a different train
- 11:04 — Leave Tokyo on Shinkansen for Nagoya
- 13:08 — Arrive in Nagoya
- 14:16 — Check into hotel
- 14:30 — Head out and look for something to eat
Hungry in a Big City
Unfortunately, despite being in one Japan’s largest urban centers, many restaurants here in Nagoya are closed in the middle of the afternoon. We walk on in an ever-widening circle from the hotel looking for somewhere to eat.
It’s not just the restaurants that seem less welcoming here in Nagoya either. As we walk down the sidewalk, we are constantly bombarded from all directions by bicycle riders who whiz by within inches of hitting us.
Though it might sound strange, it seems like pedestrians have a much greater chance of getting hit by bicycle than car here in Japan.
Automobile drivers are orderly and controlled on the roads, but it’s like the wild west here on the sidewalks. Of course, there are signs indicating where pedestrians should walk and where bikes are allowed, but it doesn’t seem like anyone obeys them.
There might be some rhyme or reason to this all, but I’m just not sure if I’ll be able to avoid getting run over by a bicycle long enough to figure it out.
Saved by the Udon Shop
We dodge bicyclists and wander the streets of Nagoya for another half-hour before finding an empty udon shop. The restaurant looks closed, but we go in anyway and the hostess thankfully shows us to a table.
The restaurant has a cool modern vibe, but due to a splitting headache from a lack of sleep and food, I’m not really paying attention. For now, all of my energy goes into deciphering the menu and ordering some lunch. We order some roast pork, pork sukiyaki (thinly-sliced stir fried pork), and a small bowl of udon.
While we wait for the food to come, my mind wanders and I find myself wrestling with thoughts that catch me off guard.
I think about how strange it is that we have our own place back home, and yet for some reason we’ve decided to spend months on the road paying others good money to stay in much smaller quarters (i.e. hotel rooms) with far fewer amenities and comforts. The beds are stiff, the rooms are cramped, and the walls are thin.
The more I think about it, the more I begin to question the sanity of that decision. Why would anyone do that?
Dulled by fatigue and hunger, I can’t really come up with a good response. There is one thing I take comfort in though– when you’re on the road for months on end, there will be ups and downs just like normal daily life. Not every day will be like a dream vacation.
I take solace in this. As tired as I am, I know that things will look a lot better after a hot meal and a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow is always a new day.
Then, as if on cue, lunch arrives.
The roast pork is perfectly tender and full of flavor. A soft-boiled egg on top compliments the rich thick slices of meat nicely.
The thin slices of stir-fried pork sukiyaki simply melt in your mouth.
The hot broth of the udon is calming and soothes my aching head.
After lunch, we brave Nagoya’s sidewalks and wander around the city for a bit before heading back to our hotel and turn in early. We started our day over 400 miles to the north before the sun did, so we are ready for a good night’s rest.
Nagoya may seem a bit bleak at the moment, but I look forward to waking up tomorrow to see this city with fresh eyes.
- Arrival: Roast Pork & Udon
- Nagoya Station City
- Nagoya Underground
- Epic Mashup: Nagoya’s Miso Katsu
- Hands in the Air: Street Sculpture in Nagoya
- A Moment of Peace in the Park