Come and think of it, it is still kind of a mystery why Stan and I wanted to visit the Toyota museum in Nagoya. When we were planning our itinerary, we did plan to visit a planetarium or science museum but not the Toyota museum. Perhaps, it was something we stumbled upon while browsing trip advisor. The reviews for the museum were pretty good. We started the day fairly early so that we have sometime to explore Sakae, one of Nagoya’s main commercial districts, after our visit at the museum.
But be warned, there are 2 different Toyota museums and if you would only like to visit one of them, make sure to double check the name and the location. Stan initially wanted to visit the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology. However, we ended up at the Automobile Museum instead as we did not bother to double check the location.
Stan and I only realised that we were in the wrong museum when we set foot at the entrance. Our realisation came a tad too late so we thought we might as well make the most of it. The museum was quite empty and quiet, only with a handful of visitors around. Neither of us are car enthusiasts, though Stan does have a little bit of interests and occasionally watches Top Gear. Despite being non-car enthusiasts, we still find the museum quite interesting, especially the displays of cars from bygone eras such as the Victorian times. We managed to spot a Reliant Robin and contrary to one of the episodes from Top Gear, the car did not topple over at corners as demonstrated from the video display.
As you can see, this post is not going to be lengthy in terms of words, since Stan and I are not very knowledgable when it comes to automobiles. I could tell Stan was a bit disappointed and frustrated that he did not make sure we were going to the right museum. Without wasting much time, we quickly wrapped up this visit and rushed to the one we wanted to visit, that is the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology, just an hour and a half before it closes. To my surprise, Stan and I never knew the Toyota company started out as a textile industry before venturing into automobile. Perhaps we visited the museum during off peak, so it was relatively quiet. To be honest, this museum was more interesting than the previous one but then again that would just be our personal preferences.
A few of the staff members were stationed at different displays to demonstrate how the textiles or spare parts were made, using old and new technology. There were also some displays that were interactive. By a push of a button, the displays automatically demonstrate how the machines operate.
Another area of the museum was dedicated on showcasing the step-by-step process of how the cars were made, which was pretty cool and eye-opening too. The displays, of course were interactive and some of the displays had videos to provide more detailed information.
Alongside with the car-making process exhibitions, there were also other displays featuring the Toyota’s ever evolving automotive technology and innovations. We made our way out when one of the staff members announced that the museum was closing in 5 minutes. As we made our way out, we noticed the Toyota robot had a Christmas hat on, which was a festive and cute touch. Stan and I did not eat much throughout the day. We only had McDonalds for our lunch and shared a strawberry custard mochi taiyaki (fish shaped cake/pastry), which I regretted not asking Stan to take a picture. It was a unique take on a classic taiyaki, that is why I still remember it. The taiyaki retained its fluffy outer texture but on the inside, it was chewy and the custard cream was warm, and it was just the perfect snack since it was very cold that day.
During our research when planning for the itinerary, we found out that Nagoya is well-known for their hitsumabushi, which is grilled eel (unagi) on rice. Out of all the delicious Japanese foods out there, grilled eel on rice is my ultimate favourite. It all began when I first started living and studying in Perth, and I went to this restaurant that offered reasonably priced Japanese foods, mostly donburis, called Takas. Yes, it was not from some fancy restaurant and since I grew up in a hometown that was not as exposed as the other states of Malaysia, good Japanese food was hard to come by. Anyway, I ordered the eel because I was just curious and after taking my first bite, I never looked back. I have come across people expressing their disgusts on the idea of eating eels but they have never given me any valid reasons on why. I guess maybe it’s due to the fact that eels resemble snakes or they work for evil undersea witches, like Ursula. But seriously, people! Those slimy, wriggly bastards, who used to spy on Ariel, taste awesome! What makes it even more awesome is that you can enjoy the grilled eel 3 different ways!
The restaurant we went to is called Atsuta Horaiken, which is located inside a departmental store. There was already a long line forming outside the restaurant but it took us about 30-40 minutes to get our seats, which was not that bad. When the food arrived, the waitress patiently explained to us on the 3 different ways to enjoy the dish. First, the first portion is scooped onto a small bowl and enjoyed as it is. Then, the second portion is enjoyed with some seasonings such as nori seaweed and wasabi. Lastly, for the third portion, it is similar to the second one, but with hot broth (sometimes tea) poured over it. Any remaining portions can be either enjoyed in this order or any method you like.
Personally, I prefer the first method as it is but Stan prefers the second method as he finds the condiments enhance the flavour of the grilled eel. The eel had this soft, buttery texture and the sauce hit the perfect balance of sweet and salty. A small bowl of suimono (clear soup) was served alongside the grilled eel. It was the first time Stan and I had suimono. Unlike miso soup, which we are accustomed to being served in most Japanese restaurants, suimono is a type of clear broth, which is not overpowering in taste. At first, we thought there was a colourful fish ball in the soup. It sort of resembled those traditional balls made of paper. However, it sort of ‘deflated’ after I poked it with my chopstick. Curious, I did a little Google search (imagine all the funny keywords that I’ve keyed in) and found out that it’s called Temari Fu, which is made of wheat gluten to resemble those balls made up of scrap kimono cloths.
After a satisfying meal, we headed back to our hotel and enjoyed some of the free facilities and services offered. For 40 bucks a night, we got to use the public bath, gym, and massage chairs for free! Well, Stan, went for the public baths and I am too shy to be naked in front of other strangers, so opted to use the massage chairs instead. He did make interesting and entertaining observations though. Let’s just say, some of the people there treated the public bath like a private one. Anyway, this is the end of this post and not a few paragraphs ago, I’ve said that it isn’t going to be a lengthy one. Sure, is lengthy when it comes to food!