• 26 . 05 . 05
  • Nagoya Port and Italia Mura, a mildly amusing diversion for the day.

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Italian Whine (And Port)

I’ve found guidebook descriptions pretty varied in their accuracy when it comes to Japan. Sometimes they’ve been great, putting me on to some difficult to spot places, Othertimes you wonder whether they’ve just copied the area’s local propaganda. So, in the case of Nagoya Port, which i visited today, I wasn’t sure what to think when I heard that Lonely Planet had labelled it “mildly amusing”. As it turns out, it was probably the most accurate description, of any place, ever (not counting if Carling wrote about it, of course).

Newly developed in the area is Italia Mura, a Little Italy of sorts. It draws on the ancient culture and splendour of Rome, Venice and elsewhere and reproduces them in plywood and plasterboard in the name of the favourite Japanese pastime, shopping. To be fair though, it did have a bit of fake marble as well. Comically, all the signs were only in Italian and English, and I got some sadistic pleasure out of watching groups of Japanese peer at them trying to decipher where they were headed; welcome to my world! Not that they could have got lost though. The entire village was really quite small, with the majority of shops in the “San Marco” plaza, a three story arcade dressed in the obligatory red, white and green. The shops themselves were mostly clothes boutiques with some of the most ridiculous prices I’ve ever seen; ¥65,000 for a Dolce & Gabbana polo shirt made ¥43,000 for a belt seem cheap! We would have tried the gelato, but there was a huge queue, and we weren’t too fussed about taking a gondola ride, especially as the gondoliers didn’t even sing. On the other hand, the pizza there was the best I’ve had all year and was pretty cheap as well, considering the prices in the San Markup.

We also had a look round the port itself, which, if you discount the brown water (literally brown, like miso soup) and factory filled horizon, is actually quite cool to walk around. There are a few big ships moored there and some interesting architecture. In addition to some giant propellors randomly strewn about the place there is also the mildly amusing Port Authority building, shaped like a ship. They do seem to like doing that!

We made it over to the Aquarium as well, which looked cool, but we decided to give it a miss. I’ve since heard that it’s actually pretty good and not as expensive as we thought, so maybe I’ll go back again in the future. All in all, it’s a pleasant way to spend a few hours in Nagoya, if you’ve got nothing else to do. Don’t go to Italia Mura during Golden Week though. My mate did that and he had to pay to get in! People paying to go into an already overpriced mall for a taste of European Culture™; now that’s mildly amusing.

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