Storms bring out the playful side of Nagoyans!
We were caught right in the middle of the recent Nagoya storms and it was quite an adventure! We were at Red Rock which is an "Aussie bar and Grill" in Sakae (which is no longer owned by an Aussie but by a lovely American who is a lecturer at the Universities here and a member of the writers group which I will join and post on when it resumes after August hols.) We were there for the Thursday night quiz, which I highly recommend along with the steak, and we could see that it was pouring down but since the bar is on the first floor we didn't quite get the extent of it till we left - the streets were streaming! The water was lapping right over our shoes anyway but the speed with which it was running meant it easily drenched your trousers up to the knee - this was fine, though, as it completed the outfit because the rest of you was drenched anyway - umbrellas did very little but protect your face a bit. Gutters and any depressions in the pavement were fast moving lakes and the thunder and lightning really made you wish your umbrella wasn't made of metal!
We tried getting a taxi but they either didn't see us (totally possible) or didn't want the wet people in their pristine cabs (also totally possible) so we headed for the subway. Except for the people, the subway was blissfully dry and once again I marvelled at the utility of these subways with their exit tentacles reaching out under the city. If it had been before 11:30pm when the outer exits are closed we may have barely been wet at all getting to the train! Unbeknown to us, some of the outer lines were already closed and Anonymous Car Concern put a bunch of Superman's colleagues up in hotels overnight because they were on the closed line which I thought was interesting, I'm not sure who would pay for that in Australia. Luckily, the line was fine to Kakuozan.
What was really lovely, though, was the reaction of the everyone. The streets, even at that time of night, are usually so quiet in Nagoya, even the groups of drunken salarymen lower their voices when they pass another group, but everyone was giggling and panting and some even shrieking with laughter as they dashed for cover or shared their useless umbrellas. Down in the subway people were actually smiling and sharing a giggle with strangers instead of just avoiding each other's gaze - even with we gaijin!! Maybe it sounds as though we had all gone mad but there really was something just so funny about being that wet and I'm sure I'm not getting it across properly. On the way from the station I stopped at the convenience store for milk and such and the bag was half full of water by the time I reached the apartment! I spent the next couple of days carefully drying out my wallet, PDA and mobile phone which were snugly in their pockets in my bag... we're talking WET here, people!
But the adventure did not stop when we got to the apartment block. The noise of the rain nearly drowned it out but the fire alarm in the apartments was wailing and the fire brigade was there! No spectacular truck though - they arrived in the rain on push-bikes!! No one else in the block had their lights on or came out to investigate so the poor guys were left with the non-Japanese speaking gaijin to help them get into the building (kind of odd to me that they had no way to get in, I mean they are the fire department!!) Once in the property they found that one of the sprinklers was dripping and had a short which was causing the alarm but they couldn't get into the cabinet to turn off the damned alarm!
I ran inside to find the folder with our emergency numbers in it and I was too wet to run through the house without drenching the floorboards so I just stripped off my jeans in the entrance, ran through half naked, found the folder with the numbers and pulled on some dry trousers to go back out. At this stage I didn't even bother with the umbrella - there was just no point! At last they made the call and the fireman used the dictionary on his phone to find the phrase "entrust to us" and said thank you very much and finally, at 3 am, we managed to get inside and have a shower and dry off. It took another hour before the security team arrived to turn off the fire alarm but that was fine because it took as long to wind down.
So there you go, even a storm is a happy adventure for us here - though several people did die, including a fireman washed down the river not just people doing silly things, and some of the outer train lines were still closed the next morning so it wasn't all fun and games.
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