Nagoya, Japan is an exciting historic city of contrasts where tourists are welcomed to discover their culture and choose from the ancient and modern attractions. Seeing the Nagoya Castle was the highlight of my trip! They have exhibits recreating the lives of the Shoguns. Within the castle’s grounds, the winding paths around the Ninomaru Garden take you over hills, bridges, and through 5 rock gardens of the Momoyama Period (1573-1602). One of the few remaining castle gardens in Japan, many of these type of rocks were used in the construction of the stone walls around the castle. The north section served as emergency shelter for the lord of the castle in case they were raided by an enemy.
I enjoyed the ancient tea making and tea drinking Ceremony, at the Ninomaru Tea House, in the center of the gardens. We removed our shoes and looked at the two rooms- one with traditional Tatami mat Japanese-style seating and the other with tables and chairs. For a total experience, we all sat on the Tatami mats on the floor and watched a Kimono clad woman prepare the powdered green tea in front of us. After bowing, the hostess followed each step until she handed each person small green sweets to offset the bitterness of the tea. Then we balanced the tea bowl on our hand and slowly turned it around a few times. The host commented, “If you drink tea here, 5 years will be added to your life.” So I drank two bowls of tea! Historians have recorded that the samurai’s loved tea and the tea ceremony. We expressed our thanks to our host by bowing slightly, then walked around the castle’s grounds.
While we were at Nagoya Castle, our group took the bridge crossing the moat and were at the Westin Nagoya Castle Hotel in time for lunch. We chose from several all-you-can-eat buffet tables with Asian, Japanese, Western-style cuisine, and a chef cooking steaks and tongue on a grill. Waitresses in kimonos served guests who ordered from the menu. Sandwiches, pasta, pizza, salads, jumbo prawns, beef curry, crab croquettes, tenderloin steak, and stew: $12-25.
They have 4 restaurants: Boulogne Buffet Coffee Shop, Nishinomaru Japanese Restaurant, Ryujo Chinese Restaurant, and the beautiful Windsor Tea Lounge decorated with wall tapestries around large couches. The Westin Hotel mixed modern, luxurious touches with those of the Japanese culture. www.castle.co.jp/wnc www.starwoodhotels.com/westin
Our next stop exemplified the best that science could invent, a close-up look at robots! Yes, robots. We entered the Robot Museum to see hundreds of different types of miniature and life-sized robots. I was amazed to see so many in one place and happy to be able to interact with them. When I moved the remote controls, one of the robots laughed, jumpeds, and turned it’s head. During their demonstration, the man makes them turn summersaults, flip backwards, and practically dance around the table. The museum had fascinating exhibits showing the history of robots starting from the Edo period (17-19th. century), the movies, and to the present. We all tried to pick up heavy objects by manipulating a robot and then saw the robot’s tea ceremony. The pet robot makes noise when it is touched. In Japan today, businesses use robots as security guards which have sensors to tell when burglars are there, as well as for jobs in factories. Simulated human like machines were known as “Androids” at first, then the word “Robot” was introduced in 1920, in the play “R.U.R.”. The Robot Museum acts as an information center for information about international and domestic robots. Their store offers a great deal of its merchandise for sale. www.robothink.net www.robot-museum.net