Taiwan/Japan 2018 – Day 13 – Nagoya

Breakfast

We took breakfast in the hotel. Dormy Inn Premium offered a buffet for 1500 JPY per person that included both western and Japanese items.

It was…okay. There is enough there that you can certainly get your fill before starting the day, but I suppose as you’d expect from a hotel breakfast, the quality of individual items was nothing to write about. So I won’t.

Coffee Break

After breakfast, we headed to the Atsuta Shrine by way of the Meijo subway line. Due to an error in navigation on my part, we ended up a stop short of our desired destination. Since we had a little bit of a walk, we stopped for coffee along the way at this little JBCcafe.

This cafe had no menus in English, but the hostess spoke a little English and helpfully explained the menu items. An understanding of Katakana is useful for understanding menu items such as these. Japanese use Katakana characters primarily for phonetically writing out words of foreign origin.

The third menu item, カフェオーレ, is pronounced “ka-fu-e-oo-re”, which is as close as you can get to “cafe au lait” (French for coffee with milk) as you can get with Japanese characters. Just for fun, the one above, アメリカンブレンド, is “a-me-ri-ka-n-bu-re-n-do”, or “American blend”.

Atsuta Shrine

Near the entrance of every Japanese shrine is a communal sink for purifying yourself before approaching the shrine, in a ritual known as “misogi”. First, use the ladle with your right hand to pour some water over your left hand (over the ground, so not to pollute the water). Next, use the ladle in your left hand to wash your right. Finally, pour a little water in your cupped left hand and use it to rinse your mouth (drinking or swallowing not recommended).

The Atsuta shrine is quite large. To the right of the main shrine is an office where you can obtain a mark for your book. To the left of the shrine is the entrance to a path that circles clockwise around the back of the main shrine and gives access to a number of other, smaller shrines. Note that this is considered a sacred space. Keep your voice to a respectful volume and there is signage discouraging photographs on the trail that circles the shrine.

Lunch

The shrine park does have a small restaurant near the west entrance. However, we exited south and headed across the street to Atsuta Houraiken. Established in 1873, this charming restaurant specializes in the same grilled eel dish, Hitsumabushi, that we enjoyed yesterday. We could not pass up an opportunity to have it again at this beautiful restaurant.

This restaurant is quite popular, so do expect to wait before you are able to be seated. At the time we went, the restaurant would assign you a time (in our case, 2:20 pm, 40 minutes wait) to return. There is a small park to the south with benches, trees, and a view of the canal.

When we returned at 2:20 pm, the staff took everyone with a 2:20 pm time in at once, seated us in a waiting room, and then showed us to our tables one by one. The restaurant has a mixture of western-style seating and traditional Japanese furniture, though we did not have the option to choose.

The eel was delicious. I also had a beer with my meal, and Yuling a plum wine with soda. Similar to the last place we tried Hitsumabushi, the price was about 3000 JPY per person, plus extra for the drinks.

Osu Kannon Buddhist Temple

After lunch we took the Meijo line clockwise back to Kamimaezu Station. From here it is about a 10 minute walk to the temple. For that walk, however, you’ll want to exit from the station through exit number 8, and head north 2 blocks before heading west toward the temple. That will take you down Banshoji Dori, a pedestrian shopping street.

The temple itself rises mightily above a large courtyard. The courtyard hosts hundreds of pigeons. There is a small booth where you can purchase food for them for 50 JPY.

The temple itself is a spectacular sight from the ground and equally impressive up close, once you climb the steps.

Be sure to look up at the large paper lantern just inside. If you’d like to purchase anything as a souvenir, or you need a mark for your record of shrine visits, the staff are very friendly and accommodating.

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