Finally came the long-awaited day of taking the “shinkansen”, commonly called “shinka” (the bullet train), I was quite euphoric. I went from Odawara to Nagoya (282 km to the west) in just 1h13m! There is a timetable with constant trains to anywhere in Japan, it was much better than taking a plane, without check-in or queues, nor the need to arrive hours earlier. Although, if you want, it was possible to make a reservation or even choose a bed.
Nagoya is the fourth largest city in Japan, with 2.3 million inhabitants, and is the capital of Aichi Prefecture, being well industrialized and commercial, fully rebuilt after being destroyed by aerial bombardment by the Americans during World War II. Its also has a large port which is a large economic driver.
I met Nestor, another “dekassegui” friend, at Nagoya station and we went to visit Nagoya Castle below the rain. This beautiful castle which has white walls, a stone base and a greenish roof, was built around 1612 AD and rebuilt after World War II in 1959. The moat was transformed into a green area, where I saw were some deer. Looking at some pictures it looked like Osaka’s castle.
There was a sumo tournament in the city, the most comical thing was to see a sumo wrestler dressed in a kimono squeezed under a colorful umbrella!
In the afternoon, I said goodbye to my friend and left for Iga-Ueno, a small nearby town in the countryside with a population of 105,000 people. Iga-Ueno is a city known for having a castle that was in the past a training base for ninjas, and the result of the merger of smaller cities of Iga and Ueno. Unfortunately, I didn’t visit the Ninja Museum. Ninjas were warriors who used disguises for espionage, murder and sabotage, some were mercenaries and others were allies of feudal lords. Over time they were incorporated into the armed forces and police. Ninjutsu, the martial art practiced by ninjas, is practiced until this day around, including in my home country of Brazil. It has its origin in China.
I took the “milk-run” train to Iga-Ueno, not the bullet train, but I preferred to take it despite being longer than buses, because it was the Japan Rail (JR) line, so I could use my train pass. Maybe I should have bought the two-week pass instead of one week only.
I arrived at the end of the afternoon at Iga-Ueno station, after a few “norikais” (connections), and Danilo came to pick me up. We passed quickly in a Brazilian mini-market. I stayed at his house, in his little boy’s room. Danilo was blond, very young and a hard worker, as was his mixed-race wife.