Saturday, November 15, 2008


I've now been in Japan for almost two and a half weeks. I started off playing tourist, seeing Tokyo, Mt. Fuji, the Japanese Alps... This past week, however, has been back to work, trying to figure out to get the car from Japan to the US.

Fortunately enough, Lott and Cyrus met Joel and Elmer in Ukraine during the rally, who were also driving their vehicle from London all the way to Japan and worked for a company that exported Japanese vehicles to North America. Not so fortunately, the company (Japan Car Exports) has been forced to largely shut down its operations a few weeks ago, which means they aren't able to offer very much help with the shipping at this point.

Joel and the car here in Nagoya.

So, I've been in Nagoya for a week now, the mini is still here as well - right outside of Joel and Marina's apartment (where I'm crashing on a couch at the moment). Trying to figure out shipping involves making contact with customs services in the US and Canada (it's easiest to ship a vehicle to Vancouver from here) and waiting for enough responses to show up to make some sort of a decision (time difference doesn't help, since these people do work strictly 9-5). I think we're getting closer, so hopefully I won't be in charge of a car much longer and will be able to actually go out and see the rest of Japan shortly.

As for Nagoya, it's sort of like a smaller version of Tokyo. It's still a big Japanese city, with all of its neon-lit, technologically-enhanced technology on every corner. But, the subway system, while quite extensive, is actually somewhat comprehensible and can fit on a single, two-dimensional sheet of paper (much unlike Tokyo's). The streets are still brightly lit up by neon at night, but it's just a bit quieter than the Tokyo metropolis. And the crowds here are mostly Japanese business people, not tourists - people keep telling me there's not really all that much to see in Nagoya as a tourist. Unfortunately, this also means there's a bit less English spoken here, but that stopped being an issue for me back in India somewhere.

So, what have I been doing here? Well, a couple of days after I arrived, it was Joel's birthday, so I got to meet a bunch of their friends. Ironically enough, the day I arrived in Tokyo was Dave's birthday (Dave Fries and his wife Megumi being the only people I knew in Tokyo...)

Random shot from the birthday festivities

Joel and his girlfriend Marina are working on opening their own cafe (since losing their jobs at JCE), so I've gotten a chance to watch the preparations of a small business getting ready to open. They seem to be well on the way - Cafe Cornelius is scheduled to open on the 24th and will serve food and drinks, as well as offer English lessons - seems like a nice fusion of concepts to me. When not busy getting the cafe up and running, we've ventured out to the nearby mountains to hang out with all the local tourists watching the leaves turn colors:

Joel, Marina, and the leaves turning red in the background

Sun starting to get low behind the trees

No idea what that says, but it seems like a purely Japanese site

There's also been a trip to an onsen (Japanese mineral bath), a coneyor-belt sushi restaurant (better than the American version), and an extended process of clearing out my car - customs regulatsion explicitly state that I'm not to transport personal things in the car when shipping it...

And then, there's Nagoya itself - it's not a tourist mecca like nearby Kyoto, which I'm anxious to finally get to, but it's got a few sights worth seeing:

The Nagoya castle

The Osu Kannon temple

A very arte nouveau fountain

And a building that very clearly appears to be trying to spiral itself way into outer space

Well, that's about it for the sights, really... There's also famous shrine, but all the inresting bits of it are currently closed for renovation!


dlott said...

Glad you finally got a hold of Joel! Sucks about JCE, but cool that they're starting a cafe. Guess I should roll up a post or two on my recent adventures.

b mathew said...

Yes we need a new post from Lott!