Nagoya: Don’t Mess With the Viking

Back in Japan again a year later doing my annual Tokyo/Osaka/Nagoya rounds of marketing appointments and — horror of horrors — my go-to hotel in Nagoya was booked up. Moment of panic at the thought of change. Then I found an alternative, Chisun Inn on the other side of the tracks, two blocks from Nagoya Station.

I was advised by a friend that he had been told this is the “seedy side” of the tracks. I’m not sure how seedy Nagoya can get. Pachinko joints? I did wander down a short street near the hotel in search of the restaurant with the most attractive plastic food models in the window and found several clubs or massage parlors that appear to be marketing to, er, well, infants who are nursing maybe? Ahem.

The Chisun Inn is actually cheaper and better than my old standby, cleaner and with a pretty nice breakfast buffet included. And with the added bonus of some amusement…

First, the room is — as expected in Japan — super small, but notably the smallest one I’ve ever been in, even here. In fact, the doorway from the hall isn’t even 6 feet high. I am 5′ 11″ (OK, actually 10 and three-quarters, I’m a liar!) and it rubs the top of my head if I’m wearing shoes. I duck slightly to go in as if it was a cave. The usual sack of something vaguely resembling rice for a pillow. The one piece plastic bathroom and the super-deluxe toilet with remote control buttons I don’t dare touch. A small flat-screen TV on a shelf hanging over my feet at the foot of the bed.

But the great start to my day was the warning at breakfast (which they allowed me to eat before 7 a.m. so I could catch my train into Tokyo today).

“I have you refrain from the take-out of the viking because there is the danger such as the food poisoning. Because I cannot take all responsibility, please understand this hotel about the unexpected accident.”

Indeed, beware the viking. Good advice for all. But to be honest I am often more concerned about expected accidents. I think it comes from spending a lot of time in Thailand. You can always see it coming a mile off.

I think there is a haiku in here somewhere.

Tomorrow I hope to find the giant marionette of Osaka and record its surprisingly catchy Franco-Japanese theme music. Then I’m off to Hiroshima for a visit to the Peace Park.

4 thoughts on “Nagoya: Don’t Mess With the Viking

  • March 4, 2010 at 5:35 pm
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    Hmm, that sign makes me second guess the letters I send home for students with spanish speaking parents. How good is "google translate"?

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  • March 4, 2010 at 9:05 pm
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    True, but Google probably does a pretty good job with Spanish as it bears at least SOME similarity to English. I did a Japanese homestay (see the archives for March/April 2009) and they spoke not one word of English and my Japanese is at the Mr. Roboto level. (Domo. Domo.) And when the daughter typed into the translator, what came out wasn't anything NEAR as coherent as the take-out viking. I should have written some of it down because it reminded me of Steve Martin's old standup routine where he suggests a trick to play on small children. "Whenever you are around them, talk wrong! So like it's the kid's first day of school and he raises his hand and says, 'Mayo mama dogface in the banana patch?'" That's about right.

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  • March 8, 2010 at 7:27 pm
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    "Viking" means "smorgasbord" in Japanese-English.

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  • March 9, 2010 at 1:28 am
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    No kidding? How did that come about? Ill-mannered foreigners marauding breakfast buffet tables? "Rice?! Where's the BACON!?"

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