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Hello. I'm Sean and I live in Japan. I'm glad you've come because I need you to do something for me.

Help me get up to no good by reading this > Challenge Mode! <

Friday, May 11, 2012

Challenge Completed: Italia Mura!

"Visit the Italia Mura and explain to me why its called "italia" it italian themed...its near the port so is it safe to consider it the "jersey shore" of Nagoya?"

I chose this challenge as my first one because I thought it would be a fairly easy task in which to get my feet wet.  As with any time that I set out to be an intrepid adventurer, I decided to start my trek to the Italia Mura with a little bit of research.  I was interested mostly in where I could find the place, but also was curious as to whether it was a shopping center, or a market or perhaps something else entirely.

With these questions in mind I swiftly opened my browser to google, and  hastily typed 'nagoya itali-' before the autofill function relieved me of the need to say anything further.  A click later and I was on a Wikipedia page, having to come to terms with some rather harsh news.  It read:

Italia Mura (イタリア村) was a mall located near the port of NagoyaJapan. Its main attractions were a reproduction of one of Venice's canals and the San Marco Square along with its cafés and orchestra."

The first thing you notice is the use of the word was.  Italia Mura was a mall.  Next you notice the word were.  Its main attractions were a reproduction of one of Venice's canals.  The article summarized with this:

"On May 7, 2008, Italian Mura was closed due to financial difficulties, as the management claimed."   

I was no longer dealing with the concept of a bustling, fast paced Italian market.  What I had signed on to explore was instead, an extinct Italian homage, four years to the wind.  With this new found knowledge I decided to break my challenge into the important questions.
  • Does it even exist, and if so, in what capacity?
  • Why is it called 'Italia', is it Italian themed? 
  • Is it the Jersey Shore of Nagoya?

Does it even exist?

With this question first and foremost, I set out this morning by bicycle, and managed to get to the port within a reasonable amount of time.  I would have been quicker, but I had to make a necessary detour to one of the many Mr.Donuts found in Japan.  I used my rest stop as an opportunity to feed my coffee addiction and do some people watching.  

Nagoya Port is really nice, and especially so today because the weather was exceptional.  The Aquarium sat stalwartly to the far right of the large paved shorefront, and to its open doors streamed countless children.  However, this time around I wasn't interested in that inverted Ocean, and instead turned my bike to the left side of the large jetty, where there were very few people to be found.  

Nagoya Port is actually quite incredible and diverse.  Besides the aquarium, there is a maritime museum, a docked Arctic exploration vessel and a park, which is beautifully maintained.  The park was what lay between me and my destination and on this particular Friday, contained exactly two people:  a man on a bike, presumably without a home, who had a penchant for collecting cans, and another man, who was very far from home, and looked an awful lot like me.


After a brisk ride, and a brief stop on a bench to snap a couple photos and enjoy the salt air of the Ocean, I managed to get to the other side of the park, and found myself face to face with a rarely bland facade of what turned out to be the Italia Mura.  I was rather fond of the palm trees that were planted in rows, and they made me feel like I was back in San Diego again.

My next question was whether or not it was abandoned.  The parking lot outside the building seemed rather empty, save for a few cars, and it certainly didn't have the bustling feel of a place in use.  However, it was by no means in great disrepair, as it looked like the vegetation had been regularly groomed, and the main building kept pristine.  So it still existed, but in what capacity?  I'm not sure I ever found this out.  The main area of the Italia Mura had about five people in it, and they all had the air of maintenance me, carrying tools and ladders.  When I tried to park my bike close to the center, the man with the ladder actually said to me quite loudly 'Not!"

As for why it is called Italia Mura, and whether or not it is the Jersey shore of Nagoya, to those questions I can provide more definitive answers.  As for it being the Jersey Shore, that is a solid and definitive no.  This place had about as many Italians as it did French people, and about five times the number of Japanese to Canadians at that.  

As to why it's named Italia Mura, I guess it translates to something along the lines of 'The walls of Italy" and as said earlier in this post, the mall is supposed to be recreation of some of Italy's finer sights.    However, because of the whole abandoned feel of the place, and the absence of any people, the whole Italia Mura embodied this feeling of post-war 1940's sadness.  Besides a small field close to the area where some retired locals laughed and played weird golf, the whole Mura took on an atmosphere of forgotten tragedy and abandonment.  

So ends my adventure to the Italia Mura, and with it I call this challenge a success.  I do really wonder what will become of this place, as it has this latent beauty that sits untapped next to one of the nicest areas of Nagoya.  The port is a beautifully designed area of the city, and this part of its history and development is wasted and forgotten.  I take heart in the presence of the maintenance people, and hope they are working towards something great.

Thanks for reading, and as a bonus I will give an extra picture of a restaurant I saw while biking home from the coast.    

Much love,


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