Sake to me Baby – Japan Day Eleven

I’m so sad that today is our last day here in Japan. I’ve just loved being here. I wish I could take the whole country home with me.
While I couldn’t live here permanently, I could see myself living here a few months of the year.

We packed up and left our room close to check out time. I think we just wanted to make the most of it. Our Air BNB room was just fantastic! The only thing missing was an iron which I was silently happy about because I didn’t have to iron hubby’s shirt. I hate ironing.

And I know you’re just busting to find out… yes, the television is STILL on mute. We didn’t win that battle.
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First thing we did was hop on a train using our wonderful JR West pass, to Osaka Station. From there it was a hop skip and a jump to Starbucks. Hubby hasn’t been as obsessed with Starbucks this trip as he has in previous years.

We walked to the Umeda Sky Building. We had no choice after a kind Japanese man saw us looking at an information board. We did want to go there, but just wanted to know what general direction it was in because apart from anything else, we wanted a bathroom break before going.
But he said “follow me” in a heavy accent and we had no choice. Every now and then he kept looking over his shoulder to see if we were following. He only had a few words in English so I didn’t know how to tell him we weren’t planning to go there just yet.

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But, the bathroom had to wait as he led us most of the way there.
This is an impressive building no doubt! I didn’t take many pics as we have done this on a previous visit.

If you want to see my previous entries showing more pics, you can click here and here

Here are a few pics I took of the building today and around it as well.


Then we walked back to the station towards the Hep 5 building.
Here’s a few pics I took along the way.


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Both ravenous and still in search of some Okonomiyaki, we stopped at a place in the Hep 5 building.

I thought we’d scored! There’s Okonomiyaki right there on the menu!

Now I know there’s lot of different types of Okonomiyaki. I don’t mind them as long as they don’t have anything fishy in it.

When ours came out, it was fishy. No!!!
I tried to eat it but I just couldn’t. And those little flakes on top move as if they’re alive and it’s just so off putting!!

Hubby and I asked for ours without any of the sauces because I just don’t like the heavy sauces they use. I find it ruins the taste of the food.

This is what ours looked like. Our cute little server couldn’t believe we didn’t want sauce and even brought our dishes out with sauces in little jars on the side in case she had misunderstood us.

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I’m not sure what that thing the Okonomiyaki is placed on is called, but I can tell you it’s more or less a rice omelette. There’s rice inside that yellow stuff and THAT part was delicious!!!!

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That’s what it looked like inside!!

It’s making my mouth water just looking at it.

They use egg with just about everything here!!

And meat is terribly expensive. Especially if you want anything of a half decent quality.

I’m not a big meat eater so I don’t mind but that’s probably why they have a lot of egg and fish.

We were just killing time so decided to get on the train to the airport. We’re always so unsure when we get on a train. Don’t let me put you off, it’s pretty straight forward but so often we find ourselves on the platform still waiting for the English to come up and there is the train coming! So we just trust our gut and get on.
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We’ve only been wrong once and that wasn’t this trip but still… And even with this train to the airport. We got on it and after a few stops we heard the announcement that the first four cars of the eight car train were going to the airport, but the last four were going to be uncoupled at some stage to go somewhere else! I mean imagine we’d been sitting back there and hadn’t heard the announcement?

So now we’re at the airport waiting for our flight back to Australia.
I’m so sad this time is over. We’ve had an amazing time here and if you have a chance to come, I’d definitely recommend it.
You’re not coming here for shopping, you’re coming here to experience a different culture. We could all learn something from the Japanese.

Japan, thanking you for having us once again and we look forward to coming back soon!

Oyasuminasai

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Sake to me Baby – Japan Day Ten

Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain. That was the forecast for today. It wasn’t so bad because it wasn’t windy and it was still warm/muggy so not really complaining. I still went for my early morning walk and there were still plenty of people going about their business either walking or riding their bikes with their umbrellas held steady.

We were so happy with the JR pass we’d bought yesterday. Today there were going to be no limitations! Or so we thought.

We hopped on a train for Shin Osaka station (where the Shinkasen leave from)
Mostly the trains have been so busy and normally if their is a seat, hubby lets me take the first free one. This morning another seat opened up between two ladies and hubby gently placed himself in the middle. He was sitting directly opposite me and when I saw the scene before me, I just couldn’t help but laugh.

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He’s six foot seven in case you’re wondering!
Next stop Shin Osaka. We were so excited to be riding on a Shinkansen again!

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We had decided to go to Nagoya. There was some museum that hubby wanted to go to. A Toyota one I think and I had my sights on the Science Museum that had a lot of interactive exhibits. It was forecast to rain all day so that’s why we picked indoor activities.

We got on the train and went all the way to Nagoya. When we were trying to exit the gate, we kept getting a message that the wrong ticket was used. We went to the counter and the guy said we couldn’t use our JR pass, that we had to now spend another 5800 yen  (times four as that was a one way ticket for one person) to pass the gate. So 5800 times four is 23200 which is about $306 AUD.

We left that counter and told the guy “we’ll come back”. Went to another counter and the lovely lady there explained we had a JR West pass and we were not at a station that covered the JR West area. Too bad they hadn’t explained that clearly when we bought the pass!! Or maybe they did and we just didn’t understand.

In any case, we got back on the train without paying any extra fees, and went back to Osaka. From there we got on a bullet train to Kobe.
Although we didn’t actually go into Nagoya, we sure are getting our money’s worth with these bullet train rides.

It was pouring with rain in Kobe as well.


If you don’t know, there was a big earthquake in Kobe in 1995 that brought down overpass freeways and caused immense devastation. You can read more about it here
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Hanshin_earthquake

This is our third time in Kobe and every time we’ve gone, we’ve ended up having lunch at the Fisherman’s Wharf. It’s a buffet style lunch and the restaurant is on the harbour. You just can’t beat it.!
Here’s a few harbour pics. Still pretty even though it’s raining.


And the view from our table


I took a few pics of the food but there really was a lot more. These do not capture how good this place is!


With full bellies we wandered over to the Maritime Museum and Kawaski Good Times Museum. We’ve tried to come here before but it’s always been on a Monday and that’s when, we’ve later learnt, the museums are shut.

We weren’t allowed to take photo’s in the Maritime part but hubby and I found that section a little boring anyhow. I guess if you’re into ships and boats throughout history you’d like it. Most of it was in Japanese so that made it hard for us to get into as well.

The Kawasaki part was excellent!! Lots of English, lots of interactive exhibits and workers on hand to talk to you about what you were looking at. I just loved it in there!

I’ll just post a few pics of what I saw. I tried to include the dates with the motorbike pics so you know what era they’re from.


They had a replica for the first bullet train in there so I took some pics of that.


And some helicopter as well.


And a robot display.

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It was still raining when we got out. So disappointing. I wanted to walk around but hubby especially didn’t want to walk while it was raining even though it was a fairly gentle rain.

Before going back to our apartment we finally did walk through the Shinsekai area. It seemed pretty dead. Probably because of the rain although there was one section that had a few people in it. I’m glad I walked through there anyhow.

Tomorrow is our last day in Osaka. Hubby and are a both a little sad about that. I feel like we haven’t spent enough time here. The time has just one by too quickly.  I think I actually prefer Osaka to Tokyo. It’s just more laid back and I love the food here.
Speaking of, we still haven’t had an okanomiyaki!!! Hope to rectify that tomorrow!!

For now, Oyasuminasai and hopefully the rain will stay away tomorrow!

Sake to me Baby – Japan Day Nine

cant-drown-if-you-dont-swim.jpgToday I was coming back to our apartment after an early morning walk and was waiting for the pedestrian light to change green when an older Japanese man came up to me.
“American?” he said with a thick accent. “No Australian” I said.
All of a sudden his eyes lit up and he started saying “Australian, swimming, swimming” and he was doing a swimming action with his hands. He was so cute! He ran back to his friends, pointed to me and was saying “Australia, swimming” to them.
I’m assuming it was all complimentary and I hope he didn’t think I personally was a swimmer (because I can barely float let alone move in the water) although I’m happy to take whatever adulation he felt on behalf of my country.

31zftk.jpgThis morning we went to Shin Osaka station to find out about tickets for the Shinkansen (The bullet train).
We wanted to go to Hiroshima and found prices around 9710 yen to get there by bullet train. That works out to be about $128 AUD. Hubby thought that was a round trip ticket but turns out, that was a one way ride. When the lady put the sale through for the two of us, the price was 38840 yen. That works out to be about $512 AUD. For some reason, hubby looked at the price wrong and thought he was being charged 3840 yen which would only be about $50 AUD. We’re walking away and he’s grinning to himself and all I can think is shit, that’s a lot of money for a trip to Hiroshima.

When I said “Did you know it was going to be that much?” he replied “What do you mean? it’s way cheaper than I thought”.
“Over $500 is cheaper???”

And then the penny dropped for him. He went to another Shinkansen ticket office and the lady was kind but explained that was the cheapest price. We left and were walking down the station corridor with everyone else. We were about 400 metres away when we hear someone trying to get our attention and it was the lady from the ticket office. She brought us back into the store and said we could purchase a JR pass which would be way cheaper (available for tourists) and we could use it on other JR lines.
How stupid are we. Our fifth time in Japan and we’re only just finding out about the JR pass.
Anyway how nice was that lady? To come after us and hunt us down like that! So sweet.

So she refunded the original tickets and got us the pass for 29000 yen or about $380 AUD. We can use that ticket for the rest of our time here in Osaka on any JR line including the bullet train so guess what we will be doing over the next few days…


I could not believe how fast that train went!!! We had barely blinked and we were already in Kobe.

IMG_0878It actually took just under 90 minutes to get to Hiroshima. Our passes allowed us to get on the red sight seeing busses so we hopped on one and went right to Peace Memorial Park.

The first thing we saw was the Atomic Bomb Dome.
I could go into all the history but I’ll be way over my word limit. I DO encourage you all to learn about the history if you don’t already know.
It was a very sombre experience. Hubby and I mostly didn’t even talk. We were very emotional.

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We then moved through the grounds to the museum.


Some of the scenes in the Museum we really very graphic. There were tons of groups of school kids going through and I wondered whether they should be looking at what was being shown.

We went back past Hiroshima Castle and here’s a few pics of that. Our mood was still really heavy.

It didn’t help our mood that it was now almost 4pm and we still hadn’t eaten lunch.
We walked up and down malls and nothing much caught our eye. There seems to be less English here I thought.
Finally we saw a Saizeriya restaurant. This is supposed to be an Italian restaurant and is a fairly large chain in Japan. Hubby didn’t even want me to write that we ate here because it’s cheap and nasty and gives small serves. It’s not really “italian” either.
For some reason I like it. I love their Doria dish.
We ordered a few little things and needless to say, hubby was more than disappointed when it came out.


If we’re arguing over where to eat next time, I don’t think I’m going to win it.

And after a little more shopping and sight seeing, it was time to get back on the bullet train for Osaka.


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Oh before I finish I want to show you a pic of how big the alcohol bottles can be here! And I think these were only about $20 AUD each!

That just doesn’t sound right to me so I’m not sure about that.

downloadI also had a can of Asahi Beer today! I’m not a beer drinker but I do find this one pretty refreshing.

Lastly, it’s now a very sensitive subject, but I know you’re wondering. Yes, the television is still on mute.

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Oyasuminasai and sweet, silent dreams!

Sake to me Baby – Japan Day Eight

You’re wondering about it aren’t you? The answer is yes, the TV is still on mute. Chances are, hubby will figure it out the day we have to check out of here.

IMG_0817It was another hot day today. I went for a walk early this morning and realised we are really close to Tsutenkaku Tower.

According to https://osaka-info.jp/en/page/tsutenkaku , Tsutenkaku Tower is also known as the Eiffel Tower of Osaka. There’s an observatory with a view over Osaka on the fifth floor.

It’s located in the Shinsekai  area. This area was designed as an entertainment district in the early 20th century, and originally modelled after the cities of New York and Paris. “Shinsekai” literally means “New World”
We’ve read that one side is Paris and one side is New York but we couldn’t work out which side was meant to be what.

I went on a supermarket run and bought a couple of new things. I think these are traditional Japanese desserts.  When I first saw the singular one I thought there might be chocolate in it.
I was wrong.

 

 

60961645_2239030832849629_5179048251881422848_nWhen I first bit into it I thought it might have been cookie dough. It had that sort of consistency. I wondered if I was supposed to bake it.
But then I realised it was probably something bean related. It was ok, but I won’t go out of my way to buy it again.

I also bought this pack. I thought it might be the same kind of thing but I wasn’t sure. Turns out, it’s the same sort of thing.

I also noticed these vending machines as I was walking. Alcohol and cigarettes for anyone to come and buy at any time.

 


We wanted to go back to Dotonburi today and really spend time walking around, checking out the Americamura part.

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Hubby describes this area as the Harajuku of Osaka and I think that’s a pretty accurate description.

 

We stopped for a coffee at Starbucks and look what they wrote on the cup. I thought that was a nice touch!

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IMG_0837I hope this is not racist, but I noticed that a lot of people here are really really good squatters, and they seem to rest in the squatting position often.

We passed a family all squatting outside one of the convenience stores.
A couple of them got up as I was about to take the photo but you can still get an idea.

And look at these really cool lamp posts they have throughout the area.

 

I know from past experience that this area is always busy but geez I was getting stressed walking through here! So many people!

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We wanted to stop for a drink and a snack so went to Brooklyn Parlor. I think what we love most about this place is the decor. Food and drinks are a little pricey but it just has such a nice feel that we find ourselves coming here every time we’re in Japan.

Hubby shocked me when we were ordering our drinks. I asked for a Sangria and hubby asked for Cider and then said, “Kōri ga nai”
What the hell!! He said it so confidently and the server knew exactly what he said. How dare hubby advance in Japanese before me!
What he told me later was that he had an app that has some quick and useful phrases and because he knew he didn’t want ice in his drink, he was prepared for what to say.

 

 

We shared a burger and some drinks. Nice!

 

We were on the look out for the Aussie Pub. We know there’s one here because we went to it a couple of years ago. We went there mostly so we could watch the AFL footy game that was on. It was a bit dumpy/divey but we did rub shoulders with a few other Aussies.

 

It was closed when we went past today but take a look at the signage outside.

By this time we were getting peckish again and I don’t know what made us turn into the Kuromon Markets because we KNOW that is mainly seafood and we both don’t like seafood. The smell alone is enough to turn my stomach.

 

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We’re doing a lot of walking again today which is good with all the food we’re eating! I wish I could take a Lawsons or Family Mart back home to Australia with me.

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Instead of going to the tower tonight, we decided to walk to Aeon Mall near Kyocera Dome. The first time we were in Osaka we stayed near here  and so it’s kind of special to us, even though it’s just a mall.

It was getting dark by the time we got there. I just love walking past the canals. It makes everything so pretty.

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We wandered past the familiar stores and reminisced about previous visits. We even went to the food court where on our first visit, we ordered enough food to feed ten people (by mistake)
We got some delicious soba noodles tonight. Yum!


My noodles (on the left) were IN the omelette. I’m glad I asked for only a little bit of sauce. That mayo and red stuff on top were the only thing that ruined that dish.

We walked the three or four kilometres back to our apartment and crashed. It’s been a big walking day but that’s just the way I like it!

For now, oyasuminasai.

 

 

 

 

Sake to me Baby – Japan Day Seven

For those following on from yesterday’s entry, the TV is still on mute. I don’t understand why hubby is so invested in unmuting it. It’s not like we can understand Japanese.I feel like this is a decidedly male thing.

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I felt pretty Japanese today in my floral jumpsuit and cute little socks.
I couldn’t imagine wearing these back home but I love that I can wear them here.

We are still finding things to do that we haven’t done on previous trips here and one of them is visiting Arashiyama Bamboo Grove near Kyoto.

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We walked to the train station.

Look at all the bikes parked at the train station! Everyone rides here.
From 3 to 103! All on bikes!

When we got inside, I wanted to check the price of the ticket and the train lines we were going to catch. I went up to one of the service guys and said very politely “sumimasen” and asked my question. He confirmed “Train to Kyoto?” and instead of saying “yes” in Japanese or even English, I said “si”. Full credit to the Japanese who are always polite, he either didn’t notice or pretended he didn’t notice.

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Hubby and I got to talking about the language and how much we were learning and he wanted to write down the words he knew.

He said he was going to do it phonetically to help with pronunciation.

Fair enough.
Makes sense.

I still giggled when I saw his list though.

We managed to almost catch the right trains. I feel like it’s a stress every time. The only mistake we made going out was we went on a local train instead of the rapid express. That meant that it stopped at every station and took well over an hour, rather than 30 minutes or so.

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When we got to Arashiyama, we didn’t quite know what direction to walk in but we soon saw a big hint!

This is a pretty  place. There’s lots to see here and tons more than what we saw today but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to see the monkeys and hubby definitely was not in the mood to walk up hill with today’s temperature so we figured we’d leave that for our next trip to Japan.

I had read so much about this bamboo forest and the pictures I’d seen online had been so beautiful that I think  I’d really built it up in my head.

What we saw was spectacular, and maybe I would have enjoyed it more if there weren’t three million other people trying to enjoy it with me. Never mind, I’m still glad we went.


I don’t know if you noticed the sign there that asks people not to touch the bamboo shoots as this will cause them to stop growing. It seemed like everyone was touching everything!

We had a look at the old trains that were right by the station. They were so big. It was pretty impressive.


After a while we headed back into Kyoto to get some lunch.  We went into the basement of the Kyoto Tower as we remembered there was a food court down there.
The food I got was amazing! It tasted so good!! Rice with some kind of meat on there. We asked for an English menu but I still didn’t really know what it was. Hubby got some kind of ramen and he was happy with his too. These dishes together cost about $15 AUD. That was pretty good value I thought!!


And from where we were sitting we could watch and listen to the cooks.

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Next stop was going to be on the other side of the canal. We wanted to find the pathway that led up to the Kiyomizu temple.

I really wanted to go there because I love the walk up. Again though, there were three million other people who had the same idea as us and although I loved being there, I can’t say I enjoyed the experience. I couldn’t even look in any of the shops because it was just too hard to get from one side to the other with all the people.
But here are some pics I took along the way from Kyoto to the temple.


We were thirsty and bone tired by the time we got back to Kyoto. We wanted to stop and get a drink in the British Pub there. We’ve seen them about the place but have never been in one. When we got in, the server told us the only room they had was standing and all we wanted to do was sit so, again we missed out on that.

I love the Kyoto station. The design and architecture are just out of this world. If I hadn’t been so tired I might have enjoyed it a little more.


We’ve been stopping in at Lawsons/Family Mart far too often for snacks. Today we really felt like we needed a treat though so we loaded up and took it back to our apartment to enjoy in comfort.

I may have complained a bit in this entry but honestly it was a great day. I loved seeing everything we did and being in Kyoto. I even didn’t mind the couple of wrong turns we made. It always makes the day more interesting.

I will definitely sleep well tonight!

Oyasuminasai!