Even though I have been to the Osu shopping street area in Nagoya several times I only recently noticed the huge and fun wall paintings showing tourists the way to the Osu Nioumondoori, or the Osu Nioumon Street (大須仁王門通り). It almost looks like they started with a big neon sign, and when that wasn’t enough, they added a glaring demon face on the building next to it, and then an even bigger demon! I say it’s good use of a blank concrete wall, and the painting is great, especially since the area is famous for their big Setsubun festival in the beginning of February every year, when kids throw beans to drive the demons away. If you are in Nagoya in February there’s no better way to spend an afternoon than to go see it! Use my tags to find other posts about Osu, Nagoya, Demons or Setsubun!
In one little corner store on one of the many shopping streets in Nagoya’s 400 year old Osu district, lies what is supposedly the best pizza in the world. The thing with pizza though, as my old friend used to say: “even bad pizza is pretty good”, so I imagine it would be difficult to judge the quality of it. In Italy, there is a body of professionals that are dedicated to ranking the best pizza in the world every year, and in 2010 the Margherita of this little restaurant won first prize. I had to try one on my second visit to Osu (you can read about my first visit to the area here), and it was indeed, fantastic. The most fantastic thing though, was maybe the prize. Being used to the astronomical sums of pizzas here in Asia (I never did find a decent pizza in Hong Kong for under 200 HKD), and especially in Tokyo where even the most modest pizza is 800 yen, the pizzas at this remarkable little restaurant, despite the hype were even cheaper, for less than 800 yen I got this pizza plus a drink. Not bad for the best pizza in the world I think! The restaurant is divided in two parts, one is a proper restaurant while the other, the larger is more like a fast food eatery. The proper restaurant is often fully booked and there’s always a crowd in front trying to get a table. You can either book in advance, or you can go to the drop in eatery to the same which serves the same pizza but in a more basic style. The second floor is better, if you can pick a seat by yourself, but I enjoyed the first floor and watching the cooks putting all their effort into making the pizza in the big oven. All in all, this food experience reminded me of the old saying about Japan: “all food here is good”. You’ll be hard tested to have a bad food experience in this country! And personally I think it is fun that a little eatery in a run down shopping arcade in little Nagoya could beat all the best chefs of Europe!
Naturally I didn’t pass up on any chances to visit the “it” temples of Nagoya when I was there earlier this month. One of the most famous buddhist temples in Nagoya must be the Osu Kannon (大須観音), a large temple located in the middle of the famous tourist attraction, Osu Shopping Streets. If you haven’t been to Nagoya it’s roughly similar to Asakusa in Tokyo, but more like the covered arcades popular in most cities in Western Japan, like Osaka and Kyoto for example. The temple building itself is from the 1970′s, but the history of the temple goes back to the 14th century. I took some very touristy photos, and made sure I went there early in the morning to avoid the afternoon tourist rush. More about the Osu area later!