This was the boys earliest morning so far, I had them booked to take the 8:45am Shuttle from our hostel to the train station to catch our 9:20am bus to Mishima Station to grab a train to Nagoya. We arrived with plenty of time to grab breakfast from the station (they got hot dogs!) and catch the bus. At Mishima Station where we were able to catch a bullet train to Nagoya just a few minutes after we arrived. We had a couple hour ride ahead of us so we got some lunch and snacks for the trip and settled into our seats.
As we arrived in Nagoya, we had to figure out what we were going to do with our limited time because we were only there one night. Due to a Typhoon hitting the southern part of Japan, the weather was awful and pouring out! That made our decision to find something inside. I wanted to try and see a park that had an old pottery factory on it so I made the boys walk with me a couple blocks to the Toyota Museum because that was on the way. Unfortunately with the rain we missed seeing it,
so kept walking on by. Eventually we ran into the museum (me surprised since I expected to see the park first), but that worked out fine because we were soaked through and ready to be inside at this point (despite the jacket I had, jacket Fred had, and Tyler's umbrella).
The Toyota Museum was absolutely amazing! It walked you through the start of the company when it originally made looms. The first product for the Toyoda family was a circular automatic loom that changed the world of looming. Since making cloth is a long standing process, the museum walked you through the history of how it works and all the technical advancements included with it up to the current automated process Toyota uses today. It blew all three of our minds because while how we talked about the cotton industry in history class we never went into the mechanics behind it so all us engineers were in heaven. The fact that cotton is an amazing enough material that you can pull and twist it out to make a thread then just spin it to make it tight enough to become a string is incredible. There were a ton of
live demonstrations of real live old school looms that we were able to fully understand the details behind them. (Engineers in heaven). Then it moved on to the automotive section of Toyota and talked about how it got started and the process. Back in the 1930's the son of Toyota started reverse engineering American automobiles to learn to make a car. He started with a truck and moved on to a personal vehicle. In just a few years, he had a fully operational production line set up to produce these cars. At that time the company renamed itself from Toyoda to Toyota to clarify the sound, separate the family from company, and make the strokes from 10 to 8 (8 is a lucky number in Japan meaning good fortune and future success - guess it worked). Then we walked into the candy store part of the museum. They had broken down the components of the car to the point where you could see into the engine, transition, etc. They had moving demonstrations and videos that clearly outlined how everything worked (best part is the demonstrations were with real components not just plastic replacements). We spent the rest of our time
jumping from thing to thing and then walking through their mock setup production line. We could push buttons that ran live operating machines like those on the operation floor forging drive shafts, stamping out doors, painting the car, welding the body, and assembling the pieces. SO COOL! There were some completed cars on showcase that were exciting to see. That included the original car and truck. The truck had brushes covering its wheels to clean off the mud from the unpaved roads of the 30's/40's. We could have spent another hour in the museum but unfortunately it was closing time. The end of our tour was with a Toyota robot that could play the violin (there seems to be a big competition between companies to come up with the first real life helpful robot - the one at the Innovation Museum in Tokyo was from Honda).
We headed back out into the pouring rain to catch a train back to Nagoya Station so we could redirect ourselves on a subway line to Luke's apartment. Luckily he lived a short 10 minutes walk away from the subway so while we were wet, it could have easily been worse. Unburdening ourselves
at Luke's and changing into dry clothes, we headed into the weather (in a car this time!) to go to a nice restaurant. Luke told us this would be an 'experience dinner.' The dinner was in multiple courses and we got two different types so we could all share the food to try everything. We ate through maybe 8 different sets of dishes with everything from sushi to soup to dessert. Luke ordered us a special roll to top off the meal - he quietly warned me to just hang back and watch the boys eat it. The laughing staff tipped us off that it woudl be something different. Fred saw it was green and made a comment about it being mint. One bite later his face was hilarious! A special roll is just rice and seaweed rolled around a bunch of wasabi. Tyler didn't seem as surprised since he went second but it definitely hit him too! Somehow the three of them finished the entire thing off. Overall it was a beautiful dinner and we were all surprised by the impressive amount of Japanese that Luke knew after only being in the country for 8 months. Not ready for
the night to end, the boys convinced Luke to bring us to a bar nearby.
Luke was obviously a regular here because all the bartenders knew him and came right over to help us out. Of course, the guys wanted some Japanese whiskey so the bartender hooked them up with some really good stuff. I enjoyed my little cocktail while they raved about the whiskeys they were trying. Fred had to compare to the stuff he tried at the Tokyo bar Nemo. We proceeded to regail Luke with our crazy stories from the trip so far. Meanwhile Fred was munching away on the nut mixture the bartender provided us (I have no idea how they were hungry after that huge dinner). Fred acidentally ate one of the pistachios thinking it was a cashew with its shell on. One of the crackers was wrapped up as well. Fred somehow misunderstood that it was chocolate so popped the whole thing in his mouth. Next thing we know he's practically on the floor crying! It was a wasabi cracker and even worse than the special roll! Lucky to have Luke along, our bar tab only totalled 1000 yen!
To close out
the night, Luke took us down the street to a video game bar to challege Fred to Golden Eye. He destroyed us all at the game. So instead we had to challenge him to something different. It took Fred awhile to find something since it was all in Japanese but we ended up playing Smash Brothers! I was excited because I hadn't played that game since college but actually knew what i was doing unlike some of the other games. I did a pretty good job holding my own but Fred wiped the floor with us on that one. Soon we were all exhausted (especially since we had another early morning the next day). However, Luke had too much to drive us home so we had an adventure with Tyler trying to drive us back to Luke's apartment. It would have been fine but all three of us were backseat driving the entire trip back. It took no time at all for all of us to crash.
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