When the All Blacks play Italy, in a RWC pool game on October 12 in Toyota City, Kiwi supporters should make time to check these out. Toyota City, formerly Koromo, is named for its massive Toyota manufacturing plant. A two hour Toyota Plant Tour offers insight into the production of 16,000 new cars every day, achieved with the help of welding robots. The Toyota Kaikan Museum also focuses on the future; on safety in cars and the development of hybrid technologies for the ‘eco car’. The game venue is the 45,000 seat Toyota Stadium, a striking new design by famous architect Kisho Korokawa and voted by football and rugby players as the top pitch in the country.
In Nagoya, centuries-old design endures at Atsuta Shrine, built in 119AD and regarded as one of the two most important shrines in Japan. Visiting shrines and temples offers valuable insights into Japanese history; the Emperor and Shogun dynasties; the traditional culture that persists in modern Japan, the protocols of walking through the Torii (gate), water purifying then praying at the shrine (should you wish), and understanding of how Japan’s two main religions, Shintoism and Buddhism, happily co-exist. Atsuta is also beautiful for the peaceful park-like surrounds, and ancient (1000 year old) camphor trees. In 1610 powerful Shogun Tokogawa, instigator of Japan’s national isolation policy, built Nagoya Castle.
After WWII bombing, the four watchtowers were quickly rebuilt however Hommaru Palace, regarded as a masterpiece of samurai-style residential architecture, has just this year re-opened after a nine year, incredibly detailed restoration. The wooden transoms, golden gables and screen paintings are stunning. Change of pace: Japan’s latest Bullet train prototype, the superconducting Maglev, has this year reached a record speed of 603km/h. You can see the Maglev at Nagoya’s Railway Park Museum, along with older Shinkansen bullet trains (try the train driving simulator!), diesel and steam locomotives from throughout Japan’s railroad history. The Great Railway Diorama, representing 24 hours of Bullet train operations between Tokyo and Osaka in 20 minutes, is worth the visit on its own.
- By Kathy Ombler in Japan