Saturday, September 26, 2009

¡Mamá tú no mires! - TV interview

During my Summer holidays, a TV program from the Spanish channel Antena 3 NEOX came to Japan to interview some Spanish students. They were kind enough to make a stop in the underrated city of Nagoya (the best!) to interview me as well.

The name of the program is "¡Mamá tú no mires!" (Mum, don't look now!)and its about Spanish students around the world. The different episodes and promotional videos will be available through their website for free.

People from the TV consisted of a cameraman and the interviewer, who also was the boss of the program. The usual presenter couldn't come because she got pregnant. Basically, I was taking them to different places and they were filming it in the street and asking me questions.

After showing them around Nagoya station, I took them to my home where I explained them how to classify the garbage and other daily-life stuff. I also showed them the neighborhood and the manga shops around my house.

Then we went to my University and I showed them the campus, my laboratory and I explained the details of my grant and what the 'hell' I am doing here :D.

We also went to the cafeteria where I usually have lunch and dinner. They recorded me washing (lightly) the dishes after eating and explaining the system to make suggestions for improving the service.

After filming around the University I took them to Osu Kannon, where there was a flea market, which make the visit to Osu's temple more interesting.

Some people were showing interest in us, specially groups of young girls and children, and they used to say "hi" or smile to the camera and wave their hands. I even heard some of them wondering if we were from the ABC television :). It was like being a movie star hehe

Finally, during the evening I took them to see a dancing festival called Nippon Domannaka Matsuri, which I believe, rounded the interview!

Fortunately, Maria was there to report about that day and she not only took fantastic photos of the interview but also about the places and people that we passed by.

I specially like Maria's pictures of people. Normally I would just take pictures of buildings (or tomatoes) because I'd be too shy to take a photo in front of the person.

This one for example is lovely and she took it just two meters from them and very fast!

Note: all the pictures are copyrighted by Maria.

Iga, Mie prefecture (伊賀, 三重県)

Traveling to Iga, in Mie prefecture, is an easy though interesting one-day trip from Nagoya.

Iga was famous for being one of Japan's leading ninja schools. Ninjas were basically spies and assassins that were able to use lots of techniques and tools.

The town of Iga itself was quite nice. A typical Japanese village with Japanese style houses, boys going to high school, just like in the Anime Captain Tsubasa ;).

The village is crossed by the river Hattori, which is a name of a famous Samurai (Hattori Hanzo) and also the legendary sword maker in Tarantino's movie Kill Bill. By the way, it is also the surname of my Japanese sensei hehe.

And we also enjoyed a plentiful lunch, especially Maria hehe whose dish looked bigger than her! :)

When it started raining we went to the Iga Ueno Castle. It was not that interesting after having seen the one in Himeji.

The main attraction of Iga is its Ninja museum where they explain the tricks that Ninjas used to do, the tools they used, etc.

At the end of the visit there is a show where some actors throw shurikens and other Ninja tools.

Check Maria's post about our visit to Iga!

Nagoya with Maria

After seeing Himeji and its castle we went back home to Nagoya.

However a big city, Nagoya is safe for riding a bicycle and its quite common thanks to its wide sidewalks. It was a great way to see the city!

Nagoya Castle, which may not be as valuable as the one in Himeji and yet interesting enough to pay a visit. We contemplated it from Meijo park.

The sunset light was perfect for a photograph session and we took some nice portraits of each other.

I did not carry my camera so I could only take some crap pictures with my phone. Next time I should carry mine as well because it's not fair for her :).

We went back to Sakae (downtown) and watched the TV tower from the Oasis21 complex at night. Probably one of my favorite views of Nagoya.

Just behind Sakae's famous big wheel there is a manga shop called Tsutaya where Maria and I discovered a great manga called "Saint Oniisan" (eng. "Saint Young Men"). Check Maria's post about it here.

And also very close to the TV tower there is a very nice restaurant called Saizeria. Although it claims to be Italian, they have also Spanish food like paella or jamon. But the main point of this place is that it offers a nomihoudai (drink as much as you can), which means that for 180 yen you can drink coffee and soft drinks without limit.

Talking about food、 I took Maria to the cafeteria where I usually have lunch in the University everyday. In Japanese it is called gakushoku 学食 and it is very convenient because you get a lot of food for a more than acceptable price. We also enjoyed sushi in restaurants called Kaiten Sushi, check Maria's post about sushi here.

And to put an end to this post, check this interesting photo that we took near the University showing the words Gaza, Love&Peace :)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Himeji Castle - 姫路城

After visiting Kyoto, Maria and I took a train to Himeji in order to see its famous Castle. Perhaps the most interesting castle in Japan.

Once again we used a Juu-Hachi-Kippu ticket for the trains which made the traveling expenses much cheaper. Trains in Japan are very punctual and I could plan all the train routes very easily thanks to the website hyperdia (click English) and my mobile Internet :).

I love trains since I started using them to go from the village of Renedo to my University in Cantabria (Spain). Back then, I got used to reading and studying during the journey and it seems there are habits you never lose completely.

Himeji Castle was really interesting. Even for me who likes more the traveling part rather than sightseeing buildings or monuments. We entered inside the different departments of the castle, imagine what the rooms were like in the past, etc.

As we didn't have enough time, that day we ate o-bentou in the train.

The views from the train back to Nagoya were very relaxing. Finally some rice crops and fields instead of so much concrete and urbanized areas.

Note: Pictures by Maria-chan

Monday, September 7, 2009

Rediscovering Kyoto with Maria

It was a bit more than two years ago when I visited Kyōto for the first time.

We used a ticket called juu-hachi-kippu to travel to Kyoto from Nagoya.

The previous time I visited Kyoto, I rented a bicycle to get around. But this time we decided to use the complex Kyoto Bus system with a one-day ticket. I guess I am used to Nagoya's subway and that's why I found urban buses in Kyoto slow and messy.

The first temple we went to see was the Kinkakuji (golden temple). Thanks to the pond in front of it and its nice colors, it is not difficult to take pictures that look great here.

Then we head for the famous Zen garden of the Ryoanji temple. Although maybe not that amazing, I think it was relaxing to watch it.

In the city center, we entered to a Game center where Maria pretended to be playing a drums game which looks similar to the one that appears in the movie Lost in Translation.

Finally, we visited the famous Kiyomizu temple which had great views of the city and it was probably the most interesting temple in Kyoto.

After watching the Kiyomizu temple, I showed Maria a fantastic cemetery that nobody seemed to have interest in. I found it by chance two years ago when I was trying to get to the mountain to have a nap! :)

We saw lots of people wearing the traditional kimonos and at night we saw for a few seconds what looked like two Geisha apprentices. There is this kind of service where you can rent a kimono and wear it around the temples, or even get photographed by professionals.

We spend the night in Ayado Gyon hostel, which had nice surroundings. The hostel was a nice place to stay, clean and friendly.

One of the places I liked the most was the Gyon district. It was especially interesting at night when the narrow streets where full of open restaurants and lights and there were couples sitting by the riverside.

Note: Pictures taken by Maria-chan