SCMaglev and Railway Park Nagoya

The SC Maglev and Railway Park is a museum owned but the Central Japan Railway (JR Central) which opened in 2011. The park has 39 full sized railway vehicles, including a Shinkansen carriage and the shiny new Maglev train. It’s a pretty swish building – with SFA in parking… the public parking is across the road but is literally a 4km drive in a massive spiralling loop to get to said car park.
Anyway once inside, it felt kinda like the NASA centre where they display the Space Shuttle Atlantis at Cape Canaveral… all dark and the trains are lit up – whaaaa! sHiNy tRaINs!

“This is a train, there are many like it, but this is the one I got to see.”
So quoth Mr K. Right before he reverently whispered… “Ssshinkansen…”. Yes, he is a proper train nerd. Gotta admit they are super shiny and riding them is very cool. You don’t feel like you are going that fast at all but the landscape speeds by.
I had to admit, I didn’t know the Shinkansen was capable of doing 443kmphr… I thought they topped out somewhere around 300kmphr as they tend to operated somewhere around 280kmphr… I dare say this is for safety reasons and designed to allow for the conditionals and/or possible weather impacts along the least optimal parts of the track.
Then of course is the Maglev trains that everyone can’t wait to see roll out in some time in the next five years, as it is currently not quite expected to meet the 2027 opening date. (Though can you really ‘roll out’ a Maglev train?) 🙂 Sleek! The first track is 296km from Tokyo to Nagoya and had a budget of 7 TRILION YEN. The extension through to Osaka is scheduled for 2037..

And this thing goes so fast it could nearly fly. Oh dear lord, all I think of when I see this is: humans are not designed to stop suddenly at that sort of speed… just let that one stew a little.

The Great Hall of the museum is full of rolling stock from the last century – pretty interesting for train spotting types.

The museum also had plenty of interactive exhibits where you could buy tickets and use them in train station ticket machines, you could switch tracks, lift and lower cars and stuff and heaps of interactive fun stuff for kids to get amongst.This was one of the kids play spaces upstairs above the Great Hall – all shoes off an it was hard to get a shot with no one’s kids in it. They were running around like squirrels all hyped up on catnip.

In the back of the Great Hall:

Also beside the Great Hall were some cool exhibitions relating to the history of railways in Japan. The Kanto Regional Development Bureau built the first railway in Japan in 1872 and offered the first services between Shimbashi and Yokohama. It’s kinda crazy to think that this was barely five years after the end of the Edo period and the decline of the Shogun’s which we think of as being late medieval in a lot of ways.

This piece of rock was part of the Takanawa Embankment was part of a 2.7km track that was laid for the first railway line in 1870. The embankment was discovered in April 2019 when JR East was excavations to lay foundations for improvements to the Shinagawa Station.

There were also some nods in the history section to some of the men instrumental in conceiving and bring the Shinkansen projects to fruition back in the 60s… Shinj Soga and Hideo Shima. Unfortunately most of this section was in Japanese and I didn’t get much out of it.

Other than these and a pile of work related gobbets – the other impression I took away from the train museum was somewhat social or anthropological in nature. I saw Japanese children behaving badly! For the first time ever – and there must have been about five of them… throwing tantrums, screaming, crying, refusing to walk, talking back to their parents and basically behaving like little brats. I figured it was because they were hyped up; trains! Woo-hoo! And perhaps some of them didn’t want to leave and their parents were having difficulty getting them to cooperate.

But Mr K had a different theory… you see to get to the train museum from the aforementioned car park that is very inconveniently located across a very busy four lanes in each direction highway, you also have to walk right past the bright and colourful entrance to Lego Land! He thinks the kids were chucking a wobbler because they *didn’t want to go* to the train museum, not because they didn’t want to leave! He might be right!
Literally, their parents are walking them straight past this massive bright looking toy shop, to go look at trains… lol.

Tokugawa Art Museum and Garden

“The Tokugawa Art Museum houses over 10,000 artifacts, with the bequests of Ieyasu Tokugawa comprising the core, and holds daimyō family treasures collected and inherited by many generations of the Lords of Owari, starting with Ieyasu’s ninth son, Yoshinao Tokugawa. The collection includes 9 National Treasures, including the Tale of Genji Illustrated Scrolls, and 59 items designated as Important Cultural Properties. The museum takes great pride in the rich variety, quality and level of preservation of its collection.

Or so reads the description of the facility on the museum’s website – however, it is one of those curated collections that 1) won’t let visitors take any photographs, and 2) has very few descriptions of objects in languages other than Japanese. Which makes for a very superficial and sad visit over all.

Honestly, I don’t mind the no photos thing – especially of delicate objects such as 800 year old scrolls or ancient paintings, but please, please, please, sell us a guide book at the end if we can’t photograph any detail. And for the life of me – why can’t we photograph things that notably all have ‘reproduction’ on the plaque beside them? :/

Two sets of armour that greet visitors at the front door… reproductions.
Traditional feudal map of the Nagoya area… could not ascertain from the description when it was created or by whom.Ooh, pretty garden visible from one of the internal passage ways between exhibition halls.

So instead – here are some images ripped off the internet of things we saw:

“This room recreates the study (shoin) and preparation area (kusari no ma, literally “chain room”) of the Ninomaru Goten, Nagoya Castle. It shows the tea utensils, hanging scrolls, and calligraphy implements that were handled there. In the case of the Owari Tokugawa, the shoin was an official space for governance. The exhibition space thus replicates its various formal, magnificent displays such as the board-style alcove (oshiita), the staggered shelf (chigaidana), and the desk (shoindoko), all of which testified to the status and authority of the Owari Tokugawa. With this history, the museum holds one of the leading Japanese collections of Chinese-style lacquerware, inks, and incense.”

Below: The Hatsune (First Warbler) Troussseau

“Princess Chiyo (1637-1699), the eldest daughter of the 3rd Tokugawa shogun Iemitsu, received this bridal trousseau in 1639, when she married Mitsumoto, the 2nd lord of the Owari clan. The motif on the matching ensemble comes from a poem in “The First Warbler,” chapter 23 of The Tale of Genji, which reads: “The old one’s gaze rests long on the seedling pine, waiting to hear the song of the first warbler, in a village where it does not sing.” The poetic design is elegantly embedded in the lacquered furnishings with scattered letters and pictorial motifs. Designated a National Treasure, the Hatsune Trousseau represents the finest example of the decorative lacquer technique of maki-e (sprinkled metal decoration) in Japan as well as the power of the Tokugawa shogunate.”

There you go – some actual information cadged straight from the museum’s website… sigh.

Hina Dolls: The Hina Dolls were special ordered for the daughters of the Owari Tokugawa family.

Sword mounting for a Tachi long sword – Edo period, late 19thC.

The black armour picture in the back of this image was an authentic extant suit from the Tokugawa family collection… can’t remember exactly what period because, no photos of information plaques. 

A Daimyo’s tea room – this thatched building is a reconstruction of the Sarumen Tea House from the Ninomaru residence in Nagoya Castle. Tea ceremony was an integral part of the social and cultural life of the Edo samurai, and their teahouses constituted a measure of their social standing. This room is a recreation of the Sarumen Tea Room at Ninomaru Goten, Nagoya Castle. It was a national treasure, but was destroyed by fire during WWII.

“The National Treasure Illustrated Scroll of The Tale of Genji (early 12th century), the oldest surviving pictorial representation of The Tale of Genji.” Below are presumably images of the originals from the museum’s website – what we were able to view in the museum were recent replicas to protect the delicate originals from light.

All up, the Tokugawa Art Museum seems to house some very interesting objects… somewhere? But most of them don’t seem to be on display, just replicas. The lack of ability to take pictures of the replicas and the lack of guidebooks at the gift shop were disappointing.

The Tokugawa-en Garden on the other hand is an oasis of serenity in the middle of the busy city of Nagoya City. The garden is a genuine of traditional Japanese garden design. It was created as a leisure and entertaining space for the demanding generals of the past. It is expansive, beautifully maintained and exquisitely designed. There are plant and flower species arranged to make each season uniquely enjoyable all year round. It was quiet even though there were quite a few visitors.

Multiple beds of irises that must look amazing in the spring.

Chasing Autumn in Gifu

Today we had a short drive from Takayama to Nagoya via Gero which was going to take us through the Gifu prefectures. I was hoping for a chance to spot some of Japan’s famed autumn colours and it turns out we were in luck. Children crossing warning signs here are slightly more fun than at home: “Be careful; jumping out!!”

Ujo Park in Gero…

I thought this would be the highlight of the autumn colours today.

One of the things I have noticed here on Japan’s roadways is the total lack of ‘lookout’ points. In Australia there are spaces on highways and roads to pull over and see nice scenery all over the place – they are quite often marked on maps as scenic or photo-worthy stops. Here, there is rarely anything like that, even though the scenery is quite often spectacular.

This was us, and several others, all stopped in a long and somewhat precarious row on a stretch of highway that followed this gorge… it really needs a handful of places where people can stop and take in the view of the beautiful trees, the still river and the mountain as. The autumn colours were simply stunning against the deep blue/green of this lake/river.

The sun is shining, the birds are singing… how’s the serenity*?*if we ignore the fact that I’m standing on the side of a highway and cars are flying past us at breakneck speed.

Just beautiful…

Made it safely to Nagoya without any navigation mishaps. Checked into our hotel, did some prep for work stuff, and went for a quick grill/sushi dinner that turned out to be quite the most ordinary meal we have had since we got here.

On the way back after dinner we stopped in briefly at ‘Liquor Mountain’… I sent these pics to the Whisky Wankers group at home. Just to taunt everyone with the selection and the prices – omg the prices! Australians really are getting reamed on island tax, and WET tax. :/