Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Fourteen

IMG_4115

It seems to be getting just that bit harder to get going in the mornings…

Today hubby and I decided to go to Nara. This was on our places to visit last time but we just never got around to it.

 

I’m so glad we got to see it this time!

What a gorgeous quaint town that has so much history!

I was quite uptight when we got there as the whole way on the train I was fretting we’d caught the wrong one and were either going to have to pay a whole lot more, or even end up at a place no where near Nara.
I worried for nothing but even so, stepping off the train into the tranquil place would have eased anybody’s tensions!

I can’t remember the stops but we did look online and found a vague self guided walking tour that we almost followed. We ended up just going in directions that seemed interesting to us and we did get to see a LOT of things!

 


I do love looking at these religious shrines and temples but, and I hope it’s not insulting to anyone for me to say, they do get to be a bit boring after a while. I’m sure if I knew the history behind each one I’d get into it more but there seems to be so many of them. You could be going to them all day and they all sort of blend into the next one after a while.

Deer park was pretty special!!

This sign was a bit disturbing though so we didn’t feed any, just let them walk freely past us….

IMG_4134
I had actually been reading on someone elses blog, how one had bitten her when she was here because she’d been feeding it, and her food had run out… The deer wasn’t impressed by that and thought he’d check for himself if she had some more and bit her!

I saw them being a bit, not aggressive, but forceful with some people. Still, so very cute. It is Bambi after all!

 


Before going into the “old” area, we watched these men kneading dough. At least, that’s what I assume they’re doing. How cool is this!!!

Now tell me, would you like to be the one hammering, or the person sticking your hand on the dough???

 


Oh I should also show you what we ate for lunch. Hubby’s is on the left. It was an omelet on rice and other things. Honestly we don’t know half the things we’re eating. He had to pick a sauce out of about seven and he went for bechemel. Personally I didn’t think it matched and I thought it had quite a sweet taste.
You not be able to tell but these serves were really big! And they were quite “comforting”. We really enjoyed what we ate.

Mine was a baked omelet and besides the (what I assume was) seaweed on top, I really loved it too. Mine had mushrooms in it. I had to not look at it because some of the mushrooms looked like the wild things that grow wildly in the streets. The ones that your mother always said were poisonous!
They were delicious though!

Ok… and now the “old” area. What I loved about this was there were so many shops/displays/museum type places were you could go in and learn about the old culture for free.

We went into a traditional Japanese house (shoes off please!) and there was a group doing a concert there. I don’t normally enjoy the Japanese voice but this was SO amazing!!! It brought tears to my eyes. It was melodic and soulful. I wish I’d taken a video of that but somehow it almost felt disrespectful.
Here are some pics from inside the house.

 


The bottom left picture is of a staircase (Steep!!!) and NOT a book shelf. I went up one on the other side of the house and it was not so easy coming back down!

We also walked by the lake and enjoyed some treats from the local vendors. This area is so beautiful and we found another woman singing opera in an open area.

 


They love their soft serves here. We got a couple before getting back on the train.
We also bought these “fish” desserts. The shape is a fish but the taste is sweet. There was custard in mine and hubby had chocolate in his.
I’ve seen these moulds about the place. You can buy them and make these desserts at home I guess! I think they’re cute.

 


Sorry for the half eaten icecream… It’s always too late by the time I think to take a photo!!

We walked the streets and malls of Dotonbori once again tonight.. Ah the sights you see!

We cooked some local marbled meats, pork and a beautiful stir fry tonight!!
I could spend hours in the supermarkets here!

IMG_4162.JPG
And to finish off, here are a few interesting signs I’ve seen about the place from today

IMG_4138IMG_4113

IMG_4158.JPG

Advertisements

Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Thirteen

Well today was extra special because it was hubby’s birthday!
I had a special day planned in Kyoto for him.

IMG_4047Last time we were in Japan we really messed up because when we went to Kyoto, we didn’t have any idea what we were going to see. We just hopped on a train and got here and really saw nothing.
Everyone raves about how beautiful Kyoto is so I really wanted to make sure we saw something in the small amount of time we had.
I researched self guided walks in Kyoto and came across a site that had 11 points of interest in the Higashiyama area. Click on the link to read more
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/higashiyama-area-walking-tour-2454.html

So I’ll just name the site we were at and add a couple of photos I took there.

1) Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art

IMG_4049

IMG_4050

Just outside this museum there was a market happening.

So many people!!!

And so many really interesting goods and foods on sale.

We couldn’t even get to what we wanted to look at because there were just too many people.

2) Shoren-in

 

3) Chion-in Temple

4) Gion District

We went here during the day – It comes alive at night!!! Very interesting place though.

5) Yasaka Shrine

IMG_4074

6) Kodai-ji Temple


We then walked up hill for quite some time passing glorious shops and women/girls dressed as geisha’s. This was the best part of the walk for me!

7) Kiyomizu-dera Temple

IMG_4084

8) Kawai Kanjiro Memorial Gallery

This looked closed so I only took a photo of the front.

IMG_4085

9) Kyoto National Museum

Saw this sign in front of the museum… and there really has been a LOT of police about these last few days.

IMG_4086

10) Sanjusangen-do

11) Kyoto Tower

And just before we got to the Kyoto Tower, we passed the side of Kyoto we saw last time we were here… and you may understand why our impression was not so good..

IMG_4091IMG_4093

 

After that we explored Kyoto Station which is quite an interesting building. So much to see!! And there is a peaceful garden on top. This is really really high!! High for a building you don’t expect to be high. You can get to the top mostly by escalators and I think if you have a fear of heights it might unnerve you a bit.

 

IMG_4071

And seeing as I write about food, here are pictures of what we ate today!!

First a “sandwich” at Tully’s. It was a bit disappointing. Three slices of bread with a bit of stuff inside. It was nice and fresh though, I think I just wanted more.

For hubby’s birthday dinner we went to Hard Rock Cafe and got some nacho’s to share a couple of burgers and more Sangria!


While this has been our most pricey meal, it was really good!! And the service was pretty amazing too!!
We had been sitting there a little while and one glass of Sangria had already been drunk. I said to hubby “Honey it’s your birthday, you can have whatever you want!”
“Oh now you tell me” he replied, “We’ve already ordered!”
Whoops

On the way back we had to stop at Hommachi station. I was busy trying to work out the ticket machine and trying to work out how much it was going to cost us to get from Osaka to Hommachi. Hubby was still trying to work out what our route was going to be. He came up to me and said “Hommachi”? I said “180 yen”
I thought he’d said “How much?”
And as he normally does make that kind of joke, I really thought he was being clever but he was genuinely just confirming what station we were getting off at…

And to finish off this entry, have a look at the cute little socks I bought here!
I feel adorable with these on!


Tomorrow, we’ll eat local, I promise!

Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Twelve

We definitely got our steps in today!! And enjoyed a gloriously sunny day in beautiful Osaka. There is always something to see and do (and taste!) here.

 

I was a bit annoyed because we were going to the downtown area and hubby wanted to take the train. I wanted to walk it.
We ended up taking the subway and it was probably just as well because when we got to the downtown area, hubby decided he really really needed a Starbucks coffee.

IMG_4016We walked and walked and walked and walked. We walked more than if we’d walked from our apartment directly to the Starbucks in the downtown area.

We asked at an information booth and were given vague directions… we tried to find it using google maps but who knows what floor it was directing us to. We couldn’t find it.

Finally we looped back and found one in the Hep Building (where the giant rollercoaster is located) but it wasn’t open until 11am so we had to wait a little while.

Was it worth it? Well it was nice to sit down for fifteen minutes or so!!

After Starbucks we continued higher in the Hep building and found ourselves on a floor where we had no idea what was going on.
IMG_4020

There were pictures of girls on the wall and some kind of sign saying two girls were ok.

(I wish I’d taken a picture of that one!)

On the right is a picture I DID take while we were up there….

Oh and while we were walking around on those streets outside, we passed a guy who was actually using a rechargeable shaver as he walked! That’s being time efficient I guess.

I said in my last post that I didn’t want to eat local today. I could have been swayed but hubby and I walked past this Italian place that we didn’t get to go into last time we were here. The line was just too big!! Today there was no line although it was quite busy inside.

I’m glad we went there as we got a decent amount of food and it was not bad.

I was quite proud of myself too as although I couldn’t understand what the server was saying, I knew what she was saying and was answering accordingly. The only time I was stumped was when she tried to tell us that we could help ourselves to Miso Soup and water.
There was a nice gentleman sitting in the table next to us who translated (his English was very good!)

Hubby got some hamburger steak dish and I got pasta. We also got a small salad and “pizza” and a 250ml carafe of house wine. All of that came to 1700 yen!! (About $21 AUD) What a bargain!

 


I felt like I’d eaten quite a bit after that!
Hubby let me try some of his meat and it was really nice!
I asked in a quiet voice “Do you want to try some of mine” and he said “Rest easy, I’m not interested in yours”
He knows me well…

Next stop was Osaka Castle. I was surprised when hubby said to put it into google maps, to see how far it was. Usually that means he’s considering walking it. As it was about four kilometres, we did walk.

I love walking because I just think you get to see more. You see more of the local and not tourist areas and you see people doing whatever it is they do in their every day life.

 

We didn’t go inside the castle but we did get some delicious soft serve icecreams and had a rest under the shade of a tree. There are so many places you can get soft serve icecream from here!!!

IMG_4043As we were sitting there, we saw a guy all of a sudden drop to the ground. He seemed to be stretching. Hubby was just about to say “Look at that guy stretching on the ground. Why would he do that there?”

It seemed odd as he was in the hot sun.
Moments later a woman came up to him and asked if he was ok.

We couldn’t hear what he said but it seemed like he was saying he’d had a cramp. His shoe was off.

This woman proceeded to massage his foot and calf!!

I couldn’t imagine doing that to a stranger. He didn’t seem like he was in pain but I guess he was? I had to take a picture.

They walked off in different directions so they were definitely not together.

From Osaka Castle we walked back to our apartment near Namba Station. Yes we’ve done a lot of kilometres today!!

I decided I’d try to cook in this little kitchen in the apartment tonight as every time we go to the supermarket I see that beautifully marbled meat and I just wonder what it would taste like.

Unfortunately by the time we got there it was after 9pm and there was no nice marbled meat left… So we just got some pork and some other things and I still cooked but it was boring and not special so no pictures…

To finish things off I’ll just post a few pics and signs I saw about the place today.

IMG_4013IMG_4034IMG_4045

Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Eleven

IMG_3936
Thankfully the rain cleared and hubby and I were able to have a relaxed look around some of our favourite spots from last year.

We walked to our favourite Aeon Mall and once we were there, kind of wondered why we’d come.

I mean, there is a Starbucks there so hubby was able to get a coffee but apart from walking down the same shops, we didn’t see anything exciting.

Oh, actually I’m wrong, we did see a bakery with an interesting sign out the front.

IMG_3930
I keep forgetting to take photos of the interesting English translations that there are here.
I’m not having a go at the Japanese, after all, it’s not their language, I’m just having a little giggle. If I tried to speak Japanese I’m sure they’d have a big giggle!

After reading that sign I had to try some of their items and found that everything in that store was 100 yen!! That’s like $1.20 AUD! Bargain!!
I was so excited I forgot to take a photo of what we ate but here is a photo I took later. I wonder what they thought as they saw me come up and take photos shortly after purchasing and eating some of their goods.


The two things I photographed were savoury but they had amazing looking sweet baked goods too.

IMG_3934

We went to a liquor store and I took photos of the giant (four litre) bottles of alcohol.

I got hubby to hold a smaller bottle next to them for some perspective.

I’m sure you can get that kind of stuff in Australia somewhere but it’s not as readily visible as they seem to be in Japan and they’re a quarter of the price that you’d get it for in Australia.

After that we walked back to Dotonbori. This place is just amazing. Any kind of food you want and always stacked with people!!


And a couple of interesting pictures along the way….


Hubby and I tried to take selfies along the canal. I think I took about fifty seven but here’s two that just made the grade. I’m posting them both even though they look the same and are not really showing scenery because it took us so long to take them that I feel they both deserve internet space.


IMG_3973

And oh look, another sign that made us smile…

Lots of seafood here… if you love seafood you would be in heaven but unfortunately I don’t and was feeling quite queasy by the time we were walking out.


Look at all the people!! And this is on a Thursday morning. I think it was about midday…

IMG_3975

We really really really wanted okonomiyaki for lunch and had passed so many places that were doing it, but when it came time to eat, couldn’t find one place. Unbelievable!!

So we went to Red Rock. A place we’d visited last time we were here and had had a really yummy beef bowl.


One is a “sliced beef” bowl and the other is “roast beef” bowl. We couldn’t quite work out which was which but pretty much shared them anyhow.

IMG_3979OH….  and I had the worst Sangria I’ve ever had in my life in this place. The food was good, the Sangria was crap. It was like drinking cask wine.
I’ve had Sangria a couple of times since I’ve been in Japan and every time it’s been amazing!! Better than I ever expected so my expectations were high today. I was really let down.

I had to giggle though because I took this photo as soon as they were put down on the table and doesn’t it look like one has been drunk already??? I gave that one to hubby… after all, he’s not the wine person in this relationship!

IMG_3989

We went back to our apartment to recharge our devices (and ourselves) and set back out to see Dotonbori by night.

We walked and walked and walked. In fact we almost got to Osaka station!

Hubby was sorry he missed the AFL game last week and wondered if there was an “aussie” type pub here where he’d be able to watch it. Not only IS there a pub, but it’s pretty close to where we’re staying!!


The game is on tomorrow but we thought we’d check it out. It’s not traditional by any means by there were a few aussies in there and the soccer game they had was being played in Adelaide! So that made us feel at home.
The guy behind the bar said they’d be playing the Adelaide Crows game (AFL) tomorrow so no doubt we’ll be back!

Drinks were a little more expensive here though and I asked for a red wine which was 500 yen. I was more than horrified when I saw him take a glass up to a cask and pour me a red wine from that.
Cask Wine?
In full view of all the patrons?
I wanted to cry.
What did it taste like? Well, as it turns out, it tasted just like Cask Wine.
Okonomiyaki was still on our minds. We researched this a little bit before heading out and knew which Okonomiyaki place we wanted to go to tonight.

We watched the food being made as we were right near the kitchen

Pretty interesting place!!

While I was having mine I thought it was the BEST food I’ve had in Japan

Hubby had one too although I think his might have been pork.


We also got some rice to share.

The thing about the food here is that it can be quite rich and heavy with sauces. So it was great while I was eating it but it felt heavy on me for quite some time after.
In fact, I told hubby tonight that I think I want to eat “Western” tomorrow…

I may change my mind after a good night’s sleep! No plans for tomorrow yet although I’m wanting a trip to Osaka Castle so maybe it will be there!

Oyasumi!

Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Ten

Today we made our way to Osaka and I was again reminded how different Tokyo and Osaka are. More of that later!

FullSizeRender[1]

We got on the train and again noticed people sleeping.

In fact they nod off so deeply it’s not uncommon to have someone leaning against you – fast asleep.

Somehow though they manage to wake up just as they reach their stop.

I think this will never cease to amaze me.

While I’m on the train I LOVE looking at the ads and trying to figure out what they’re for!
I’ve seen some beauties..

IMG_3844FullSizeRender

IMG_3905We arrived at our Air BNB in Osaka and were really happy with it!

It’s in a fantastic location, just near Namba Nankai train station and a hop skip and a jump by Dotonbori.

Hubby and I spent a lot of time here last year and now that we know what’s around, we’re doubly excited!

Osaka is known as the food lovers Paradise of Japan and I just can’t wait to get in there and try some things. I don’t know how these people stay so slim!!! Every day it’s a wonder!

IMG_3907It was raining quite heavily when we got here so we had to do most of our exploring under cover.

We walked along a covered mall looking at the shops, the food, and the people.

Lots of tourists here too.

While in Tokyo, the men mostly seemed to be in suits, here they seem to be more relaxed. They certainly are mostly dressed well but it wasn’t all suits.

In Tokyo, you could probably bank on someone having at least a few words of English but here in Osaka it’s less likely.

People are still very eager to help you though and we even had one guy pulling out his phone to use google translate to help us. Honestly, these people are just so nice!

 

We walked past this place that was selling a sweet with custard filling. How could we say no?
We got a chocolate one and a plain custard one and they were so delicious!! The custard they make here is just so light and sweet. Not gluggy but it also doesn’t run everywhere. I really like it!
The pastry… or whatever it was that was around it, was crunchy and really delicious too. I was sorry we’d only bought one each.

We saw lots of local places that we could have eaten at but I just don’t fancy sitting around a square that faces the kitchen, eating in front of other people. I like to have my own table. I guess I just wasn’t in the mood for it so as we walked past “Wendy’s First Kitchen” we allowed the Japanese guy to entice us in and got Japanese, American burgers AND pasta… And chili fries which I’m sorry to say were a disappointment.

 


We walked around a bit more trying to find a supermarket to get coffee supplies for our apartment. It turned out to be way more difficult than we imagined and as it was still raining quite heavily, we didn’t want to go out exploring too much.

IMG_3914

We ended up going to a local 7/11 and buying a few things that we needed… and again, were enticed by the quick food they have on sale there.

The guy behind the counter said it was pork (isn’t every meat here pork?)

And it might have been a “cheap and nasty” bit of food from a 7/11 but it was actually alright.

Either that or we were still really hungry!!

Tomorrow we will be braver and will eat something more interesting!

It finally stopped raining and by this time hubby and I had taken a look on google maps (Our best friend) and found a decent supermarket about 800 metres from our apartment. Yay! I could spend hours in the supermarkets over here!!!

I took a few pics to share with you guys.

IMG_3915

What even is this stuff??

IMG_3916IMG_3917IMG_3918
According to the packaging, this is “salad mariage”

IMG_3919
All those foods above are sitting on a shelf. Not refrigerated or anything… just out in the open for people to breathe and sneeze all over.
IMG_3920
I guess the fish head is for broths? Either way… gross

IMG_3922
Lots of cheap (in comparasin to Australian, highly taxed, alcohol) alcohol available in all sorts of places from drugstores to supermarkets.
IMG_3924
I’m not sure if that’s sake above, but it’s in cartons?

IMG_3925

What is that above???? What??

IMG_3926

Sadly apples are quite expensive… but I’ve been eating one most days. They’re pretty delicious!

Can’t wait to see Dontonbori tomorrow!!