For my first post in quite a while, I’ll talk about my short trip to Nagahama, because I have pictures for it. It was, for the most part, pretty uneventful, but it was just what I needed. I chose the destination for just one reason, and what better reason is there besides ramen. The thing is, I don’t think there really is such a thing as ramen from Nagahama. What I mean is, there’s a really great noodle shop near my house that serves something called “Nagahama ramen”, and so I kind of assumed that it was some kind of famous food from this town. (What Nagahama ramen is from this place is a nice white tonkotsu soup with fine Hakata noodles and it seems to be characterized by whole sesame seeds, but that’s really beside the point). So I just went to Nagoya station, bought a round-trip ticket to Nagahama, and took off.
Nagahama is in Shiga-ken, which allowed me to add one to the number of prefectures I’ve experienced. It’s also on Biwa-ko, the largest lake in Japan, something I was looking forward to seeing. Like most “small” towns in Japan, Nagahama is still pretty large, with a population of 80,000. To compare, the town where I grew up - Elmore, Ohio, has had a steady population of around 1300 for many years.
On the way there, I spent the time doing what I’ve been doing in all my spare time for the last 8 months or so - playing my Nintendo DS kanji game. Last week I surpassed the 1300 kanji mark, but this application is relentless, in that even after you “get” a kanji by making a correct answer, if you get asked the same kanji again in any other test, you lose it and have to earn it back. So I’m hanging out around 1275 at the moment. That, and listening to random music from my 12,000 songs and various Japanese lessons. Anyway, I took the JR line through Gifu to Maibara, where I had to switch trains. I found out the train I had to switch to was sitting there early - a rare treat, so I was able to grab a window seat and chill out for a while. Of course, it’s never as nice as it first appears, because of course when another train arrived, this one filled up, and left me at my nice window seat in the middle of the train, realizing I needed to fight my way through a crowd of people in order to debark at the unpopular stop at Nagahama. It’s not really that big a deal, I guess, and I see sumo wrestlers all the time, but having to ask one to move aside in such a situation is a little disconcerting. Luckily, there was no violence involved.
As for Nagahama itself, there isn’t much to say at all. There’s a tiny castle there, maybe a tenth the size of Nagoya Castle, but with the same kind of fish on the roof. There wasn’t much in the way of interesting restaurants, so I didn’t even bother to eat there. (To be fair, it’s the New Year’s Holiday, so nothing is open). It was nice to get away for a bit to a quiet place on a waterfront, though.
That’s about all I have to say. Happy New Year everyone!