Nagoya Trip 2015 (day 2).

Sunday started early, especially since I wanted a shower before they shut it down. I had the entire set of rooms to myself; I imagine the other guests either took night showers or were really early risers. My first stop for the day was Nagoya Station to meet my old kendo friend Konan, the only friend who actually responded to my messages. We walked around the station neighborhood, since he wanted to check the otaku shops (e.g. Animate, Lashinbang). He’d never been to La Vamo Sasashima, so I showed him where it was. He’d also never been to Pepper Lunch, which is where we ate once we got back near the station. It was good to see him again and catch up: he’s in his last year of college, he’s dating one of the kendo club girls, and he’d like to learn Italian. Before we parted ways, I mentioned that the best and cheapest way to travel internationally was to study abroad while in college. He said he’d mention it to his folks.

I’ve never seen so many caricature artists in one place.

After seeing Konan off, there was still plenty of time left in the day. Since I hadn’t had time to go everywhere the day before, I boarded the subway to revisit the rest of my old haunts. First up was Nagoya Dome Mae Yada and the massive Aeon mall. I didn’t recognize anyone there, either. Next was Oasis 21, the underground-yet-open-air mall. There was a caricature event going on, and there was no shortage of people waiting to get goofy pictures drawn of them. The biggest change there was that the Pokémon Center had vanished, replaced by a Yahoo! phone store.

There used to be a dormitory here.

It was mid-afternoon when I finally went to visit my old neighborhood. A college friend had already told me they’d torn down the old dorm after finishing the new one on campus, and I had to see it for myself. I took the subway to Hoshigaoka, then hopped a bus headed to 梅森坂口. Where there was once a large, three-story building with a spacious parking lot and several buses in storage, there was a fence. Behind that fence was… nothing. Not a trace. Mildly put off, I started down the road. Again, most everything seemed to be the same, though the Lawson Plus in 新宿 was now just an empty building. Takabari looked the same as well, until I saw ドラゴン, my old barber shop. The old 1700円 haircut was now 1800円, and when I asked about Mr. Tsuge, I was told he quit some time back. I poked my head into the Seiyu and was disappointed to see that the Sugakiya was gone, and in its place was a takoyaki stand.

My nostalgia somewhat dampened, I caught the bus back to Hoshigaoka and figured if I wanted Sugakiya, I knew exactly where to go: Akamondoori. First, though, I did another quick run-through of Mandarake, and then stopped in Urban Square. Imagine my surprise when I spotted one of the guys who used to work there, made double when he pointed at me and called out, “Brad!” I was embarrassed to admit I’d forgotten his name (though to be fair, I’d only known their names right at the end), but he reminded me it was Oozaki. He told me most of the others had long since gone, and when he finished his last year of college, he’d be doing the same. We caught up briefly, and at one point I even recognized another of the old employees who’d been less talkative. To finish my evening, I had some ramen at Sugakiya, picked up some fries at Mega Kebab to eat on the way back, and went back to my room. It being Sunday, I listened to the broadcast of an old American Top 40 from a hometown radio station and unwound a little. I made one last trip out due to hunger, and confirmed something about Nagoya I’d seen evidence of the night before: bars and restaurants close early. Not just compared to Tokyo, but even my old hometown. I managed to find a place near the hotel called Hakkenden that was still open (but nearly dead), and grabbed a quick bite before finally crashing for the night.

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