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Nagoya at night

OK… I am totally done.  Tired.  Trashed.  Sleepy.  Physically kaput.  I likely covered 30km earlier…easy.  It was a beautiful day and we finished all of our work Monday, so I walked from our hotel to the Nagoya Castle. Hung out there for a couple of hours, then walked over to the Toyota Museum of Industry and Technology. Walked back to the hotel, had dinner with Robert (sushi with the best oyster and mackerel I’ve ever had).

After dinner, I went out for another five hours just walking around the club scene photographing people and things.  Oasis 21 was a completely different place with amazing color from the lights on the water and glass and the buildings around were lit up with neon. Tokyo, and in particular the Akihabara district apparently has an unbelievable display of neon, so I’ll consider this a little taste for a trip sometime soon to Tokyo. The other thing is that the culture also changes at night here and you see things that challenge your preconceived notions of Japan. It is a total riot and I could spend much time here just watching.

It was raining pretty hard at one point and a couple buttons on my camera had stopped working, so I ducked into a doorway to get out of the rain and shake/wipe the camera dry. It turned out to be a noodle house and initially was rebuffed when the man at the door shook his head and said “No Europe people”…   Whoa I thought…..  So, I said “But, I’m American” to which his eyes got wide and he said “please, please forgive me… please follow” as he wrapped his arm around my shoulders and guided me through a door to a counter with very serious men in suits slurping noodles loudly and signs saying “No Personal Handy Telephone Inside. Thank you”.  Nobody was talking or saying anything to anyone in the place and the only sound was slurping, slurping, slurping.  I handed the man the card Akira gave me that said in Japanese, “Hi, my name is Bryan and I want misonikomi udon”.  The man smiled widely, bowed then came back ten minutes later with some very tasty noodles in a strong miso soup with chicken, kamaboko, vegetables, potatoes and a cracked raw egg on top which I quietly and eagerly slurped while the two girls and guy behind the counter practiced their English on me.  “Have you been to Los Angeles?”  “Have you seen any movie stars?”  “What is New York like”  “Have you been to Kansas?”?!!??!??!!  “What do you work?”  The answer to the question/statement “You are a Professor?” brought the kitchen out to meet me and say “hello Dr. Bryan”.  I guess Professors have a bit more street cred here than in the US. It was all very welcoming, gracious, fun and delicious. Thank you.

Walking back out onto the streets revealed that the rain let up a bit and some folks were coming back out onto the streets. The young kids around here have wild fashions.  I am hoping to get a few pictures of them tonight.  They are not really taken serious by adults here apparently, but the newest fashion apparently is manga with wild haircuts on both the young men and young women.

Halloween has also made it to Japan as evidenced by the various smiling pumpkins placed around town at coffee bars and the like. But the Halloween party has also apparently made it here as I saw a fair number of folks dressed up in costume going and coming from various parties around town.

Now, onto the titillating stuff… I have to say that Japanese culture simply does not understand the West’s seeming prudishness when it comes to sex and while it seems discrete, these issues are far more open than they are in the West.  While I did not understand what was going on the night before, it turns out that I was being propositioned a number of times last night and saw far more propositions on Japanese men as there appears to be a bit of a prejudice against non-Japanese in matters of sex.  Additionally, there are young men dressed up in suits who stand on the street corners and proffer appointments.  It is wild.  There are also a number of sex clubs around right in the middle of restaurants, clubs, karaoke bars and the like.  I even got a photo of one place called “Mothers” where you apparently are babied, but was not bold enough to actually photograph the photographs in the front window.  Tres, tres, tres weird.

The cars here are also quite exotic.  I saw two Ferraris, unbelievably a new Audi R8 (with the Lamborghini engine) and more weird automobiles than I ever knew existed.  Little custom bizarro motorbikes and pimped out ATVs are also driven here on the street and everyone else is on bicycles which makes for a substantial presence.  Bicycles are everywhere and very few people ever worry about locking them up.  Last night walking through the club district it really did feel like Blade Runner, only cleaner.

I also had an interesting experience while standing in a doorway in an attempt to get out of the rain… A customized Ferrari pulled up and a young man with tattoos all over his back and arms pulled up. He got out of the car, saw me standing in the doorway with a camera and waved with a hand missing two fingers…. I could feel a chill as I suspected he might have been Yakuza, but he smiled, knelt down next to his ride and ran the outline of his wheel in the air next to the tire while saying “Custom wheels!”. I smiled, but could not muster the courage to actually take his picture while thinking to myself…. “even organized crime is pleasant here…but I will not push my luck”.

It was an exciting night and I just wish I had the time to continue to explore Japan, especially at night. Had I been more comfortable with the language and the culture, I might have taken more photographs of people or even asked to take photos instead of taking them almost surreptitiously. Perhaps I can arrange to come back in the not too distant future with a camera better suited to low light photography (like the Canon 1D Mk III) to capture more night photographs of Japan.

Categories: Travel.

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9 Responses

  1. Very nice site and photos, Dr. Jones. I lived in Japan for about a year, I taught at a university near Tokyo. I’m in China now, but want to go back to Japan for a bit of travel, there is so much I didn’t see while I was there, and your site has piqued my curiosity and interest.

    James ZaworskiJune 6, 2010 @ 8:26 amReply
  2. Thank you James. Japan was an absolute riot and I need to figure out how to get back sooner rather than later. Where in China are you now?

    bwjonesJune 6, 2010 @ 4:46 pmReply
  3. I love these pictures. I’ve just started college, and I’m thinking about majoring in Japanese language and literature. After seeing these, I’m sure that I’m making the right choice. =)

  4. Wow, great shots, especially of those hot wheels! ;)

    I hope you get your chance to go back to Japan soon, there’s a lot of novel experience in store for you, I’m sure. Japanese culture is a weird combination of ancient and modern sensibilities, if I may say so…

  5. i am leaving to Japan tomorrow and found your site interesting.

    am leaving to Nagoya.


  6. Nice photos. i am leaving to Japan tomorrow.

  7. no time for love, dr jones

    you die joeSeptember 12, 2011 @ 7:43 amReply
  8. Those pictures are just amazing. I studied in Nagoya 2 years ago, and your blog made me fly back over there for a lil while… best time of my life in Nagoya, and I still have the “Japan blues”… planning to go back this summer…
    Congrats for the photos, and thanks for sharing!!!

    EdouardMarch 6, 2012 @ 3:13 amReply

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