Don't miss Bernie's travel diary, and some more photos, here

Bernie's Diary

On arrival at Nagoya Station we were met by our Private driver. Getting out of the airport took a bit of time however we made it through. The experience was not as bad as Dubai, but still time consuming. The trip from Nagoya to Komaki took around 40 minutes so it was approximately 10.30-10.45 by the time we arrived at the Hotel. Komaki is quaint city with some industrial some farming and some retail. The hotel is close to the river and Judy and I were able to go for a short walk later in the afternoon to have a look around. It’s a very pretty place. Unfortunately the cherry blossoms have bloomed here however we will probably see them further north. There were a couple of trees in bloom in the hotel gardens but they were not the real cherry blossoms, they look beautiful all the same. After a very light lunch an a coffee we had to wait for our rooms to be prepared so we just sat in the foyer as the three of us were very tired. I didn’t sleep at all on the flights. The manager of the hotel was really helpful although his English was limited and had our rooms ready by 2.00 which was an hour earlier than normal. Very accommodating. Judy and her mum were on the 5th floor overlooking the grounds and they could see the castle. I was on the 3rd floor overlooking the river. The rooms were lovely. We rested for a bit and then Judy and I went for a walk and checked out our surroundings. Most of the homes are traditionally Japanese and there are some new homes but very different in design to our homes and the are built very close together, just like what is happening on the coast. It was a bit of a dilemma choosing what to do for dinner. The hotel has 3 restaurants but quite expensive and the couple of restaurants Judy and I found whilst walking we closed on Tuesday night. So we ended up doing the buffet at the hotel which in the end cost nearly $50. It wasn’t that great!

Then we just made it to our rooms as we were all exhausted.

Wednesday morning after our complimentary buffet breakfast. I did try a couple of different foods but I didn’t like them. So it was just coffee and soda water to wash down the taste. We met up with Genta, Mai and Mark at breakfast as well and were given a time to be ready to be escorted around Komaki and Nagoya for the next 2 days by the rotary club of Komaki. Fumi Suzuki and and Mr Kotani were our guides for today.
You wouldn’t believe it it was overcast and rainy periods but that wasn’t going to spoil our day.

Firstly we were taken to Uraku-en Garden and Jo-an tea house which is one of Japan’s National Treasures where we were guided through the gardens and then served tea in a traditional tea ceremony, sitting or kneeling on the floor and no shoes on. They showed us how to use the bowl and how to drink from it. The traditional drink is green tea. We then strolled around the beautiful gardens. I have many photos.

Next it was a leisurely stroll to the Inuyama Castle. It was built at its present location in 1537 by Oda Yojirou Nobuyasu an uncle of a great samurai warrior. The castle is the oldest standing castle in Japan. It has 4 storeys and I climbed to the top although the stairs were very steep. I am paying for it now. It was just lovely to see.

Next it was lunch and we went to a little restaurant called the Swan which wasn’t far from the hotel, were were driven there. A quaint little place where the menu looked quite delightful. I had beef tacos but it wasn’t the same as our tacos. It was a bed of rice covered with a savoury mince lamb bed with lettuce and salad vegies with a poached egg on top. I also had a mango juice. It was very nice.

We were then taken to the Museum Meiji-Mura. Even though it was raining we walked along with the tour guide. This is one of the worlds largest open air museums and is devoted to the Meiji period which started about 150 years ago, the time when the modernisation of Japan began. The idea was to collect, along with other historical artifacts, valuable buildings which otherwise would have been destroyed.

Reconstructed here they demonstrate the great advances and significance of the Meiji period. Period costumes were worn by the staff. Because of the terrain Merle and Judy with her moon boot were pushed around in wheelchairs. We then returned to the hotel to prepare for dinner.

Next we were taken to City Hall to meet the Mayor of Komaki he spent almost an hour with us. Thank goodness we had Genta as he could only speak Japanese but he asked many questions and we of him. He is only in his 40’s but has many positive ideas for his city. He presented us with a gift, the Japanese love giving gifts.

We were given a window view of Komaki Castle. Photos of us with the Mayor were taken
We were then transported to The Okura Restaurant for our official dinner with the Komaki Club. Plenty of bowing and handshaking and giving of business cards. The dinner consisted of 7 courses some traditional. Plenty of beer, wine and sake was handed out. A very happy jovial meeting. I was asked to give a speech and I presented our clubs gift to Mr Horii and his wife which we soon found out that he doesn’t have a wife so he in turn presented it to the only female member of the Komaki club. She received the gift with pleasure and put it on immediately. The gifts that Genta and I organised went down very well with the club and they In turn presented us with gifts. A bottle of sake and some information on Komaki. After many bows and handshakes we were taken back to our hotel.
On Thursday morning we departed the hotel for Nagoya Castle but beforehand we visited Komaki Winery. The Komaki club applied for a grant through the Foundation to purchase 200 vines so that they could be established and tendered by a group of disabled young adults. A very good project. After a little wine tasting we then proceeded to Nagoya Castle. The original castle was constructed in 1615 by Tokugawa Ieaysu to be used as a residence and government offices of the first lord of Owari Province. Both the palace and the main castle were designated as national treasure in 1930 and is well known example of masterpiece architecture. It burnt down in 1945 during world war 2. Work to restore the palace started in 2009, the entrance hall and the main hall opened to the public in May 2013 and the reception hall and the serving preparation room opened June 2016. All should be opened to the public in 2018. The wood that is being used is cedar. It’s just beautiful.

We had a lovely lunch at a restaurant close by. All pork dishes. Very nice.

We then visited the Atsuta Shrine where we prayed and made offering to Buddha, the head monk was the District Governor in 2003-2004. We spent quite a bit of time with him and we had a tea ceremony where he explained the meaning of the tea ceremony. He was very interesting to listen to even though it was through translation.

Then on to the Tokugawa museum. We walked through the gardens which were so peaceful and then going through the museum was such an eye opener their is so much tradition in everything they do.

From there we were transported to the Outback Steakhouse in Nagoya which is owned by a Komaki Rotarian. We had great steaks and and a beer. It was very tasty.
We then went for a little shopping trip to the Osu shopping district. It was very interesting to see. I needed a plug to charge my laptop and camera battery so Mai found it for me and it was the right price and quite small.

Then it was back to the hotel to prepare for our second part of our trip on Friday.

It was a wonderful experience and I will remember this wonderful experience.

Please wait for the next chapter of the great trip.