Valentines in The Nag

Like most gaijin in Nagoya, it’s likely you will be keen to spend Valentine’s Day keeping to your own traditions.

Much in the same way that you eschew karaage in favor of KFC; izakaya for Irish bars; and sitting comfortably for squatting awkwardly with burning, aching thighs whilst vacating your bowels, many of you will ignore the way the Japanese treat Valentine’s Day and keep to what you know. Now, back home, you would know the perfect spot to take your loved one: your favorite restaurant, a lovely park, a secluded spot that only you know. However, here in Nagoya you may not be too au fait with where to go on this most romantic of days.

Now, most magazines would be offering helpful hints on where to take the object of your affections on this day of love. Well, as helpful as that is, and while we wouldn’t be so remiss as to neglect our duties altogether in this service, we shall also be including, so as to avoid any ambiguity, the places to avoid like the plague. Seriously, keep away. They are as romantic as gonnohrea of the eye.

The best place… for a sunset picnic
As the sun sets in the west and its light dances upon the undulating waves, there can be no better spot for a late night picnic than Utsumi Beach. While a place of revelry and fun in the summer, the beach is all but deserted in winter, making it the ideal getaway for romantic solitude. Admittedly the beach in winter may be chilly, but turn this to your advantage. Now there’s no need for an ice bucket for that bottle of bubbly and, as you cuddle up cosily under a blanket, as the last of the light dies in the distance and a small fire flickers at your feet, what could be more beautiful?

The worst place… for a sunset picnic
As the sun sets behind the trees, the shadows of Ikeda Koen come out to play. Unless your idea of a perfect valentine is to be hassled by scumbags, threatened with katana swords and propositioned by Filipino “masseuses”, keep away at all costs.

The best place… to go shopping
With Christmas behind us, Valentine’s day affords us a chance to focus on that one special person, an opportunity to splash out on something romantic, something beautiful, something sexy, and where better in Nagoya to do just this that than Midland Square in Nakamura-ku. With such luxury brands as Dior, Louis Vuitton and, for that truly special gift, Cartier, you are certain to find something just right for the occasion.

The worst place… to go shopping.
Should you, when exiting Nagoya Station, turn left rather than right, there is a chance that you could end up at Sexxy World in Nishi-ku. Now, don’t get us wrong, NAGMAG likes a bit of skin, but butt plugs and nurse uniforms for Valentine’s Day? Get some class for fuck’s sake!

The best place… to have a laugh

“If music be the food of love, play on, give me excess of it.”

Thus spoke Orsino in Twelfth Night and, if anyone knew a thing or two about how love and laughter went hand in hand, it was old Billy Shakespeare. That said, were he to write a new romantic comedy set in Nagoya, there is no doubt that there would be a scene set in a Joy Joy karaoke bar. Take your partner to a booth, load up on the nomihoudai booze and laugh yourselves to love as you vocally trip your way through Meatloaf’s I’d Do Anything For Love, Celine Dion’s travesty My Heart Will Go On and Sonny and Cher’s eternal duet classic I Got You Babe.

The worst place… to have a laugh
Sticking with the theatrical theme, perhaps one of the least funny places for lovers in Nagoya is the Misonoza theater. Every year in February, the Misonoza theater puts on a prize-winning performance of the Japanese art of Kabuki. Whilst beautiful, moving and inspiring, Kabuki is about as hilarious as a golf ball down a urethra and, every time you get up to sing along, so-called aficionados shout you down and drag you out by your hair. Not even the most avant-garde of you could crack a smile at this pretentious ‘entertainment’. No chance of a Moscow Mule, either.

The best place… to propose
Picture the scene: night has fallen and all of Nagoya spreads out below you, the neon lights dance and sparkle like your own private galaxy. As your carriage in the Sunshine Sakae carousel slowly reaches its zenith, you drop to one knee, pulling out a little box purchased earlier from nearby Tiffanys. Her eyes are caught in the light of the immense diamond in your hand, and in that moment you know, you both know, you are meant to be, and will be forever. “Yes!” she squeals in delight, you embrace and, as the carousel slowly arcs groundwards, you hold each other close, whispering sweet nothings, watching Nagoya dazzle, before updating your relationship status to ‘engaged’ on your smartphone. Pure romantic bliss.

The worst place… to propose.
Picture the scene: night has fallen and all of Nagoya spreads out below you… As your carriage in the Sunshine Sakae carousel slowly reaches its zenith you drop to one knee, pulling out a little box. Her eyes are caught in the light of the immense diamond that you hold. “Gomennasai,” she says. “I like you and all, but… oh fuck, no, not a chance in hell.”

You climb awkwardly to your feet and, as the carousel slowly arcs groundwards, you start to wonder, where did it go wrong, was it something you said, something you did? Oh Christ, you spent six months’ salary on the ring. Does Tiffany’s have a return policy? Oh god oh god oh god! It’s then that you realize that you are not even halfway down yet and, oh Christ it’s awkward, and you are going to be up there forever, and now she’s Facebooking, oh she’s updating her relationship status to ‘single’, and still it is an eternity before you get to the bottom.

Fear not though, for at the bottom, you can join all the other pitiful nanpa guys chasing women up the street, you sad, sad individual.

The best and worst place… to be alone.
And let’s face it, you are alone, aren’t you. Who would want to spend Valentine’s Day with you? Ugh! Well, get yourself down the pub lads and lasses. In any gaijin bar you can drink away the blues with all the other losers and loners. And who knows, maybe you will find someone just as pitiful as you. Maybe you will look across the smoky bar and there they will be, your eyes will meet, that special someone, your true love. But, judging from the state of you, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Happy Valentine’s Day readers!

Anyone wishing to send Mark a Valentine’s card or gift can do so at the usual NAGMAG address. What, no one? Really? Sod you then!

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