My name is Lisa and I'm a crafty girl with wanderlust working as an engineer by day. My blog chronicles projects in my home as well as pictures and stories from my travels.




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Entries in Aichi (3)


Nagoya Oktoberfest (名古屋オクトーバーフェスト)

When I was in Japan last week my trip would not have been complete without an evening at Nagoya Oktoberfest. I know that you are likely thinking 'German beer in Nagoya?' 'Oktoberfest in July?' but honestly it is a really fun time and a great place to hang out and relax with friends.

Nagoya Oktoberfest began in July 2011 and my first time going was in 2012. The pictures in this post are a combination from that summer as well as this one. Stretching over two plazas in Nagoya in Sakae, Oktoberfest consists of huge tents filled with picnic tables ringed by German beer and food stalls and a stage for some German entertainment.

First off, I have to say that I love the logo. Oktoberfest in Japanese is "オクトーバーフェスト" and they turned the "ーバー" into two hands clinking beer mugs. Very cute and very Japanese!

If you are at Oktoberfest you can get wine or soda if you would like, but why would you when there are over 40 German beers available from 10 different breweries. All the beer is served in glassware individual to the brewery. To get a beer you pay for the beer plus a ¥1,000 (about $10 USD) deposit for your glass. If you go back to that same brewery's stall for another beer they will swap out your glass and you just pay for the beer. At the end you return your glass and get your deposit back. The tricky part is that you have to return the glass to the correct brewery stall since each one has different glasses. It's not a big deal but wise to make a note of before you start drinking.

In addition to beer there is a wide variety of wurst, sauerkraut and other German food that you can enjoy. I did also see among other things available edamame and churros, which I thought would make for quite an interesting pairing with wurst.

At the far end of the plaza, a stage is set up with dancing and music that is fun to watch and enjoy made up of both German and Japanese performers. You haven't seen anything until you've watched a Japanese guy dancing in lederhosen.

Both summers that I went to Nagoya Oktoberfest I had a great time catching up with friends who still lived in Japan as well as other friends who happened to be back in Japan at the same time as me. With the laid back atmosphere and German beer you can't go wrong on a summer evening in Nagoya.

Nagoya Oktoberfest is held in Nagoya at Hisaya Odori Koen Hisaya Plaza (久屋大通公園久屋広場) and Angel Plaza (エンゼル広場) which you can access by a short walk from either the Sakae Subway Station on the Higashiyama Line or the Yabacho Subway Station on the Meijo Line. Oktoberfest lasts for two and half weeks in the middle of July, open from 11:00-21:00 on Saturday and Sunday and 15:00 - 21:00 on weekdays. This information was accurate at the time of writing, but please confirm prior to visiting in case time or location has changed.


Osu Kannon Flea Market

Things have been crazy busy for the past few weeks. Two days after getting back from New York and Connecticut I headed out to Japan for a business trip just getting back this weekend. Even though I was tired, I always make the most of my weekend time when I am in Japan and this trip was no different.

I am a sucker for flea markets and lucked out that the Osu Kannon flea market was being held the Saturday while I was in Nagoya. The market is held on the grounds of the Osu Kannon temple on the 18th and 28th of the month. Since it often falls on weekdays I only ended up being able to go once during the time I was living in Japan, on the day that I was moving back home to the US.

Last Saturday I arrived at Osu Kannon about 8:00 am and it was already bustling. With the temple in the background and trees lining the courtyard the flea market setting is quite pretty. Just about everything under the sun can be found as you walk around the stalls from used modern goods to antiques.

I loved this carved wooden roof ornament but it was enormous so there was no way for me to take it home.

This basket was super cool and I thought it would be great in my laundry room as a hamper but again there was no way for me to possibly take it back with me.

These children's learning blocks with hiragana (Japanese syllabary) were adorable and if I had a little one I would have loved to pick up a set of blocks to spell their name. 

These glass light fixture shades were really neat and taking a pair home would have been great but I thought they were too fragile to make it back in my luggage.

Now that I've shared the items that I loved but couldn't buy I'll move on to what I did end up buying to take home. My first purchase was a bamboo vase that has a copper lining so that you can put flowers in it. It was a little scuffed so I talked the seller down from ¥500 to ¥300 (about $3 US).

Next were a set of mid-century glass Japanese baby bottles from Kobe. I already have an antique Japanese milk bottle with red writing on it and I thought these would be a cool companion to it. 

Ever since I got my first SLR I have been a Canon camera lover so when I saw this old Canon camera with a leather case I had to get it, especially since I was able to talk the seller down to ¥800 (about $8 US). 

I also bought one of these large Japanese spools called itomaki (糸巻き). I have several already and love using them as stands to display items in my house.

My final purchase was a small flat handwoven basket that I thought would be cute for the house.

Overall, I am super happy with my Osu Kannon purchases and can't wait to find homes for my new treasures.

Although my favorite flea market in Japan, the To-ji Flea Market (held in Kyoto on the first Sunday of each month), is much bigger, if you are in Nagoya on the 18th or 28th of the month I would definitely recommend a trip to the Osu Kannon flea market.  

To get to the flea market take the subway to the Osu Kannon station (on the Tsuramsi line). Leave out of Exit 2 and continue walking on the street, turning left at the Seven Eleven convenience store. The flea market is on the temple grounds right ahead.


Autumn Leaves in Korankei Gorge

Japan is famous for its maple trees with tiny delicate leaves and in the autumn the trees put on a wonderful display turning amazing colors. The autumn leaves can be referred to in Japanese by either momiji or kouyou. Both words are written with the same kanji, 紅葉, which literally means "crimson leaves".

The Japanese love their four seasons and what hanami (cherry blossom viewing) is to Spring kouyou-gari (literally meaning autumn leaf chasing) is to Fall. Websites will give reports about the status of the kouyou front letting people know when the colors are likely to hit their peak in places famous for autumn colors. It is a popular activity in the fall to travel to see the changing leaves.

Lucky for me, one place known for beautiful fall leaves, Korankei Gorge (香嵐渓) in Asuke (足助), was not too far from where I lived in Japan. The gorge stretches just short of a mile upstream of the Tomoe River and is lined with maple trees. I had visited the gorge earlier in the spring and had found it a lovely place and promised myself to come back in the fall to see the leaves when they changed color.

I actually made more than good on my promise by visiting not once, but twice in the fall. The first time I visited after work when it was already dark. That may not sound interesting, but in November when the leaves are at their peak color, the trees are light up by spotlights at night for evening viewing.

I wanted to see the leaves during the daylight as well, but it was hard to make time with me being at work during the daylight hours during the week and the weekends quite busy. The first Sunday of December I was taking the JLPT (Japannese Language Proficiency Test) and when I was finished with the exam I headed to Asuke to visit Korankei Gorge as a little celebration and to relax. It was late in the day and already dusk, but I did have a little time before the sun set.

I'll start by sharing my pictures from the second trip first, since it makes more sense to see what the gorge looks like in the light before seeing it all lit up at night. The gorge has two red bridges spanning it and a typical visit would find a person doing a loop, crossing over the main bridge, walking along the paths along the river and then crossing over the smaller pedestrian bridge to circle back. 

The paths along the river are quite lovely with the large maple trees seeming to create tunnels of leaves. It is hard to tell in pictures just how lovely it is. 

The variegation of the scarlet leaves was really amazing and so flamboyant looking.

Along the main path were scattered some moss covered lanterns and some stepping stone paths.

Since it was the end of the season, many of the leaves had fallen, carpeting the ground in a sea of red with a few patches of moss still peeping through.

I especially loved how the fallen leaves crept right up the the river bank, half burying the stones along the water's edge.

At some points the river was quite still providing lovely reflections of the moss, stones and leaves.

In other areas the river rushed by creating tiny little rapids among the rocks.

I didn't have much daylight and by the time I crossed the pedestrian bridge the sun had set. Of course, there happened to be some yatai stands (festival street food stands) set up on the town side of the river so I grabbed a treat (or two, or three) and headed home.

Going back in time, on my first autumn trip to Korankei Gorge, as I approached the view looking at the small pedestrian bridge was stunning.

The lights made everything an amber colored wonderland that was reflected in the water. The leaves that were scarlet during the day now looked different shades of yellow and orange standing in stark contrast to the night sky.

There were a number of visitors to see the leaves, especially scrambling along the rocks along the bank to see the leaves better.

Taking pictures was hard since the light was low and I didn't have a tripod, but I didn't think about that too much because I was so enchanted with the spectacle of the illuminated foliage. It was quite surreal looking.

Here is a view looking up at the night sky and the leaves above me. Beautiful!

The small pedestrian bridge was popular with several people posing to take pictures there.

Both of my visits to Korankei Gorge were lovely (that's why I went twice!) and I would highly recommend visiting if you are in Central Honshu or Aichi in November.

Do you have a favorite memory of seeing autumn leaves? Where was it? Do you have a place you recommend to see fall leaves?