So I thought I'd use this weekend to explore the city in which I am living, and buy some Christmas presents while I'm at it. Therefore I went back to the district of Sakae in the heart of Nagoya, which is one of the main commercial districts. By the time I figured out where I wanted to go, it was late afternoon and the city was already bustling with shoppers, diners and party goers (Sakae also being the place to go for most things). The skyline is dominated by multi-storing department stores and bright lights down most streets. There are also extremely extensive shopping malls underground near the central subways stations. I was rather dumb-founded by the extent of it all, with the confusion of the Japanese language rounding things off nicely.
I did not get to half the places on my list, but did enjoy wandering the streets on an incredibly mild night in my t-shirt and jeans. I did see a bunch of youths practicing with samurai swords under a bridge, but they were wooden swords and no one else seemed to mind; they were just enjoying their evening amonst some bmxers with not a bottle of booze in sight. There was one thing that frightened me though... first, a KFC restaurant, and then a life-size Colonel Sanders wearing a Santa outfit in front of it.
It turns out that Christmas is very popular in Japan now: the cities are decorated with Christmas lights, department stores have whole Christmas sections, there is even Christmas music playing in some stores! I thought that I had escaped the madness for a while (and bloody Cliff Richard)! I even saw a Japanese women on TV singing "Silent Night" to celebrate the erection of a large tree. This is Japan, and moreover it is the middle of November. Of course this is not for any religious regions, but it is not too ridiculous when you realise how much the Japanese love giving presents; it is engrained into their culture.
Anyway, I wandered south (apparently) and stumbled on something I did want to find: The district of Osu, which is much more how Nagoya used to be before modernisation. In the area surrounding a historic Buudhist temple there is a sprawling covered shopping arcade that feels like a mix between a flea market and county fair.
There are many a bargin to be had, and cuisine to be sampled. I'll definitely be going back when it is earlier in the day to experience its full glory. Also, I found this guy: