Bye-Bye Balls: Part One
I’ve lived in Nagoya now for approximately five years, but today I realized that there are many parts of Nagoya that I have yet to explore. I’ve probably spent most of my time out of that Nagoya than in recently, with countless business trips to various parts of Japan (mainly Aomori, Okinawa, Yokohama and Tokyo). I have had little opportunity to go out in my ‘hometown’ (a place that gets harder to define as I spend more time away from home, i.e. Lincolnshire), which I suppose that is normal for most people as one becomes more used to living somewhere, there is less of a reason to out and explore.
Today, however, was a little impromptu adventure. As Winston and Charlie (our cats) are getting older, we’re finally going through the process of giving them the snip. While I am sad that they will have to say sayonara to their little cat balls, I’ve heard that male cats tend to wee all over the place as they go through puberty and become sexually active. This is something I can say with confidence that I do not want.
After visiting the vet yesterday to get their blood tests done (did you know that there is such a thing as cats AIDs?), we were instructed to visit the Animal Welfare Centre to receive a discount coupon for their castration. The discount is only available to owners who rescued cats from the street, not to those who buy one from a pet shop. It was a bit upsetting to see cats in cages, but I was very happy to find out that such an institution exists that helps animals on the streets find a new home. I’d have taken one in had I not two already!
It just happens that the welfare centre is located right next to what I thought was one of Nagoya’s larger parks, Heiwakoen. I say I thought it was a large park, as if you look at it on Google maps, the green it covers is such a large area anyone would be forgiven to think it was that big. However, as I soon found out, it mostly consists of a military cemetery. Heiwakoen itself means ‘peace park’, with the cemetery serving as a reminder of results of mass conflict.
The park itself is still very nice and I didn’t get round to seeing all of it, but with the Nekogahora lake and Kanoko park right next door, it makes for a very good day out to play and relax. Going by bicycle made it a bit difficult to get around once we arrived (as well as all the hills we had to go up to get there!) despite having a bicycle lane, so I think next time I’ll take the train and I’d advise anyone to do the same.
There are a number of towers dotted about in the park out of which we went to probably the tallest one that is actually a water tower with an observation deck on top. Entrance is free, so if you’re going to the park there is no reason not to go up and have a look! From the top you can see over the mass of gravestones and all around the Nagoya cityscape with viewable landmarks such as a Higashiyama Zoo observatory tower and Nagoya train station.
After ambling around the park for a bit, our appetites got the better of us and we decided to go to Kakuozan for lunch. Kakuozan is a very small area of Nagoya that is well-known for its cafes and small restaurants. Oshare is a word that the Japanese would use for this area, which can be roughly translated as ‘stylish’ or ‘chic’. We went to a little café restaurant called Zarame and got a cheddar cheese burger and some rather nice doughnuts.
Afterwards, I bought some tea from a lovely little tea shop called Eikokuya (translatable as ‘British shop’) and got some hazelnut flavoured ‘Autumnal Tea’ and some real biscuits.
Before coming home, we were suggested to check out the Yoki-so in Kakuozan, which is an old house that was built by the then-president of Matsuzakaya (a famous department store in Japan) around 100 years ago. After getting home and reading up on it a little bit more, it looks like we only went to the southern park area and not the main area, so it looks like I’ll have to go back! The building we did look at though was a nice house with many of its design taken from British architecture, as so many buildings were during that time. There was a really interesting-looking tunnel that ran from underneath the house that unfortunately visitors cannot enter, but the walls in the basement were adorned with some intriguing fresco-like paintings telling the story of Buddha’s birth with added nudity.
Now to put my feet up and relax a little bit with some tea and an episode of Our Planet. Lovely.