Okazaki City

Miso Factory Museum

Okazaki is a mid-size city located in the Aichi Prefecture, 30 minutes from Nagoya. The city has a population of approximately 350,000 people. My first impression of the city was a rather funny one because the first landmark I encountered was actually a Denny’s restaurant. It’s not exactly the kind of building that one associates with Japan. But since I was hungry and was too afraid of entering other restaurants, I went to Denny’s and ordered a Flower-topped hamburger (just because I’ve always wanted to try it – Thanks, Rozen Maiden!) and a dessert containing Nata De Coco.

Next to Denny’s there is a 100-yen shop called ‘Daiso’. I would eventually peruse this store many times to buy several things from notebooks to buckets because everything was so cheap (generally only costs 100 Yen). Looking back, I really miss these two places. I often went to these places with my friends either by bike or by walking from the student accommodation. We often stayed until late or came really late at night (1 am) just to study at Denny’s. The place was open until 4am so if we felt hungry, we could always order something there.

My first major trip within the city was a visit to the Miso Factory. Apart from fireworks, Okazaki is also known for its Hatcho-Miso. There is actually a Miso factory not far from the Okazaki Castle. So one day, my friends and I decided to give the place a ring and see if we can take a look at the factory/museum. It was quite memorable for me because it was the first time many of us knew each other. It was quite awkward at first but we really had fun cycling together and tasting some unusual Miso products such as Miso Ice cream (it was really good actually).

Denny'sFruit IceGyoza restaurant
Japanese houseMini ShrineRainy day

I also like some of the houses that we got to see in the city. These houses are not exactly traditional houses but they retain some of the Japanese characteristics that made them look different from houses in other countries. For example, I often encountered this small mini shrine in front of a house. I’m not exactly sure about the function of the shrine but it’s really beautiful to look at. I noticed similar shrine in front of the Miso Factory and in some other places. So maybe they serve as some kind of protection for the place.

When we’re not busy studying at the school, we often went out and explored the city. Some of the unusual building we encountered includes a place called ‘Wedding Plaza’. Apparently it’s a plaza where people go to shop for their entire wedding needs. I thought it was quite amusing because here’s this one big plaza and it sells nothing but wedding supplies. There is also a church next to the plaza and at one point I did see a wedding took place inside the church. So all in all, the area is one handy location for people who want to get married.

Okazaki also has some small temples scattered all around the city. The nicest one, in my opinion, is this small one located not far from Okazaki Castle/Park. I accidentally stumbled upon it while I was looking for Okazaki Castle. It’s such a small and quiet temple. At a glance, it looks deserted but the temple was in a rather good condition so I think it’s simply not used that often. But other than that, it is quite functional. I tried to take a panoramic shot of the temple and you can check it out below after I stitched them using photo manipulation program.

Wedding PlazaTempleFunny Car

I have so many memorable moments of this city. One of the moments was this one rainy night where we all went to an all-you-can-eat restaurant to bid farewell to two friends who were leaving earlier than the rest of us. It was a nightmare walking to the restaurant in such heavy rain. But we all had good fun even though the event itself was a reminder that many of us would soon leave the city as well. I also still remember going to Karaoke with these guys or going on a 5+ hours bike ride to somewhere outside the city.

These days, I can’t help but missing the city every now and then. Every time I open my Japanese textbook, for some reason I’m being reminded of the time I spent together with the friends that I made in that city. I actually try not to remember it as much because doing so makes me a bit depressed. I know that none of us who came to this city will ever have a similar experience like the one we had a few months ago. All of us are now living in a different country and doing different things. I even wonder if some of my friends still remember about it.

I often think it’d be nice if we can see each other again. But even if we plan some kind of a reunion, the chances that all of us can make it to the city within the same time frame is quite small. I mean some of my friends are now busy studying at University while others are interested in going to other countries to do working holiday. Oh well, I think it was one of those rare experiences that most of us don’t get to experience more than once and besides, I’m still in contact with some of those friends. I do want to go back this city again one day just to relive it all over again.

17/7/08 Addendum: I just read the whole article through again and realized how sappy the whole article sounds. Having said that, it really was one of the best times in my life and I was lucky to have had the chance to experience it. It’s hard to believe that 3 years have passed since I last spent my time there.


3 Comments so far

  1. Mianah November 12th, 2005 10:09 pm

    Hi Menouthis! ^^

    Thanks for the the update, it was an enjoyable read :D It’s as if I’m touring Japan through your posts lol

    Compliments to the nice and vivid pictures, as usual =]

    Ahh…I want to see the inside of those kind of houses. They look so nice… it looks like an upper class kind of house though =_=||

    Hmm… who knows, maybe seeing all of your friends again won’t be as impossible as you’ve thought it was. Life’s a big pot of surprises after all =]

    Well, thanks again for the post! Hope you’ll make more memorable memories as you go, whereve it may be ^^

  2. sweetcake November 18th, 2005 2:42 am

    wow your so lucky, i always wanted to go to japan! I’m so gald you wrote these posts, now i can almost see how japan really is. I am saving up enough for a trip of my own, i think by june of 2006, i will be able to go. until then its collage and work all day for me :).

  3. Pauline December 3rd, 2005 7:50 am

    Wow, that was deep. It’s nice to think about that kind of stuff and reminisce about it. That Nata de Coco looks scrumptious!

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