Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Nagoya : Atsuta Shrine

Today I visited the Atsuta Shrine with a friend. We wanted to visit Kami no Ondo, a shop that specialises in all kinds of paper and paper craft supplies. Since the shop is close to the Shrine we decided to visit it as well. 

Atsuta Shrine is one of the important Shinto Shrines in Japan. Infact it is considered the 2nd most important shrine after the Grand Shrines of Ise in Mie Prefecture. The Shrine stands amidst tall trees in Nagoya's Atsuta Ward. The Shrine buildings are built in the Shinmei-zukuri architecture and are said to be modeled after the Grand Shrines of Ise.  

Many of the shrine buildings were destroyed in the World War II bombings. The main Shrine Building, the Honden and other buildings were reconstructed in 1955. 

The Atsuta Shrine enshrines the Sun Goddess Amaterasu and the Five Gods of Atsuta. The Shrine is also home to ' Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi', a sword which is one of the Three Sacred Imperial Treasures. It is believed that three treasures, Yata no Kagami (a mirror), Kusanagi no Tsurugi (a sword) and Yasakani no Magatama (a jewel) were brought to earth by Ninigi-no-Mikoto, the grandson of the Sun Goddess Amaterasu. The Japanese Imperial Family are descendants of Ninigi-no Mikoto. The three sacred treasures are considered to represent, valor, wisdom and benevolence. The Three Sacred Treasures find a mention in the Kojiki and Nihonshoki, the oldest Chronicles containing explanations about the origin of the Japanese islands and the Kami.Since these three treasures are legendary, the exact locations of these treasures are not disclosed but it is believed that the Sword is located in the Atsuta Shrine in Nagoya, the mirror is located in the Ise Grand Shrine and the jewel is located at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Traditionally these three sacred treasures can be seen only by the Emperor and certain priests and these treasures are presented to the Emperor at the time of his enthronement ceremony, which is a private affair.

The Treasure Hall, Bunkaden, houses about 4000 articles donated by the Imperial family, Shoguns, feudal lords and even common people. The collection contains articles like ancient documents, sacred garments, masks, furniture and even household items. 

There are many halls where various ceremonies like weddings etc are conducted.

We saw few Plum blossoms on the Shrine grounds. 

Address: Aichi Prefecture, Nagoya, Atsuta Ku, Jingu 1-1-1

Phone: 052-671-4151 

Nearest station: Jingu Nishi and Tenma cho Stations on Subway Meijo Line and Jingu mae Station on Meitetsu Line

Opening Hours: Shrine -Open 24 hours
                          Treasure Hall: 9:00-16:30 hrs 

Closing Days: Shrine - Open 24 hours 
                     Treasure Hall- Closed on last Wednesday of each month and Dec 25-31

Entrance Fees: Shrine: Free
                         Treasure Hall: 300 yen 

Parking: Ample Parking Available

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Coffee Crazy : Latte Art

These days Latte Art seems to be the trend in Japan. There are a couple of Coffee shops specialising in Latte Art in Nagoya.     

What exactly is Latte Art ? It involves turning the foam on top of a Cafe latte or Cappuccino into a piece of art, like a sculpture or a tile. 

My friends and I tried out a couple of Coffee Shops specialising in Latte Art.
One of these Coffee Shops - ELK Cafe, specialises in 3D Latte Art.
The other shop, Presto Cafe specialises in Latte Art. 

The owner also conducts workshops for those wishing to learn Latte Art. 

At another Coffee Shop - Air Cafe, the Cafe Latte had this cute girl image on top.

Many local Baristas offer Latte Art workshops for those willing to learn the basic skills. But trust Japan to come up with a gadget for anything ! Toy maker Takara Tomy has introduced a 3D Latte Art Making gadget "Awa Taccino". It is ideal for people who want to try making their own latte art at home. Its blender dispenses milk foam in a controlled manner such that it makes the foam easy to sculpt. 

So go ahead, Indulge !  

Monday, March 02, 2015

Ena Kyo Gorge

Lately I haven't been posting much stuff. Though  I have been wanting to write for long time, somehow I have not been able to. Hopefully I will post more in the days to come. 

One of our day trips in Autumn was to a place called Ena Kyo. Ena Kyo or Ena Gorge is a scenic place in the neighboring Gifu Prefecture. It is a popular spot among tourists during the Cherry Blossom season in Spring and for Foliage Viewing in Autumn. 
 Ena Gorge is located along the historic Nakasendo highway which connected Kyoto and Tokyo (erstwhile Edo) during the Edo Period. It is also close to the old Nakasendo posts of Nakatsugawa, Magome and Tsumago. 

The Kiso river, popularly referred to as Japan's equivalent to the Rhine, runs through the Gorge. Various rock formations can be seen along the Gorge. 

The best way to enjoy this scenic place is from a cruise boat which take visitors around a 20 km area to view the rock formations. 

The 30 minute cruise boat trips are especially popular in Autumn and Spring when the cliffs appear to be decorated by the seasonal colors. 

Visitors can also hike along a circular trail between Oi Dam and Enakyo Ohashi Bridge. 

Address: 509-7201, Gifu Prefecture, Ena city, Oi-machi, Okudo 2709-104 (Ena Kyo Jet Marine)

Phone: 0573-25-4800

Website: (English)

Fare: Adult 1280 yen and Children (up to 12 years) :640 yen
         (Discount coupon available on the above Website)

Closed: Cruise cancelled in Inclement weather

On our way back to Nagoya, we stopped by at the Michi no Eki- Obachan ichii. 

Michi no eki are stops on Highways with facilities similar to the service areas on Expressways.

This one featured a Huge Wooden Waterwheel and offered nice views of the Origawa Dam nearby.  

Finding Art and Craft Supplies in Nagoya

Recently my friends and I have been indulging in arts and crafts. Since the weather was too cold for outdoor activities, we took this opportunity to turn creative. Some of my friends are really talented and so creative ! They conducted workshops to teach us to weave baskets, make our own crystal jewellery etc. Few of us also participated in a Paper Rose Window making workshop. Few more workshops are on the cards but we sometimes find it difficult to buy craft supplies. 

Most of us know of the Tokyu Hands stores at Nagoya station or the Tokyu Hands Annexe store in Sakae or online stores.The problem with ordering online is that most websites are in Japanese. So, I started looking for stores selling craft supplies in Nagoya and came across quite a few. So I thought I should share whatever information I have with others who might be interested. I have been to some of the stores but am yet to check out the others. 

1. For Paper Craft  :
    Store name: KAMI NO ONDO 
    Address: 11-26, Jingu 2 Chome,Atsuta Ku, NAGOYA  456-0031
    Phone:  052-671-2110 
    Timings: 9:30-17:30 hrs 
    Closed on Sundays
    Website :  
    Access: 5 mins walking from Tenmacho Subway Station on Meijo Line
2. For Fabric, Stitching Material, Woolens :
    Store Name: OTSUKAYA 
    Address: 3-1-24, Aoi, Higashi Ku, NAGOYA 461-8603
    Phone: 052-935-4531
    Timings: 10:00-18:30
    Closed: Irregularly 
    Access: 1 min walk from Kurumamichi Subway Station on Sakuradori Line 

3. For Traditional Japanese Doll making Kits, Kimekomi Kits etc:
    Store Name: NINGYODO
    Address: 13-16, Nakata 2 chome, Chikusa Ku, NAGOYA 464-0074
    Phone: 052-846-8373
    Timings: 9:00-17:30 hrs
    Access: 5 mins walking from Ikeshita Subway Station on Higashiyama Line

4. For Beads, Swarovski Crystals, Jewellery making kits, Natural stones 
    Store Name: PARTS CLUB  
    Address *: Central Park Annexe Bldg  B1 Floor, Sakae, Naka Ku, NAGOYA
    Phone: 052-961-6582
    Timings: 10:00-20:00 hrs
    Access: Hisaya Odori Subway Station on Sakuradori/Meijo Lines or Sakae Subway Station  
               * Same Building as Tokyu Hands Annexe store, Sakae

5. Fabric and Stitching Materials, Other Craft Supplies and Tools 
    Store Name: YUZAWAYA
    Address: Sakae Skyle 6F, 3-4-5, Sakae, Naka Ku, NAGOYA 460-0008
    Phone: 052-238-3232
    Timings: 10:00-20:00 hrs
    Access: 5 mins walking from Sakae Subway station 

6. Various Art and Craft Supplies 
    Store Name: SEKAIDO
    Address: 5F, PARCO East Wing, Sakae, Naka Ku, NAGOYA 460-0008
    Phone: 052-251-0404
    Timings: 10:00-21:00 hrs
    Access: 5 mins walking from Yaba Cho subway tation on Meijo Line/ 10 mins walking from                    Sakae Subway station 

For now, this is what I have found. I will update this list incase I come across any more stores.