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!

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In search of Cherry Blossom – Part Seven

One thing I haven’t talked about yet is the amount of bicycles here. Everyone rides. They are more likely to get on a bike than in a car. In fact, you’ll see “bike parks” more often than car parks and they’ll be full. A lot of the bikes aren’t even locked because that’s just the way they roll here.

The one thing I still can’t get used to is how the bikes will just whizz past you on the footpath. There is no right of way. There is no “keep left” or “keep right”. They will just come wherever they think they will fit and they go first. Walk at your own peril. I’m just so amazed that we haven’t seen an accident yet. Whatever the law is, it doesn’t matter, bikes rule and that’s that.

This morning I again walked down to Dotonbori. I really love being out first thing in the morning and now that the weather has warmed up it’s just so beautiful.

Hubby and I were debating whether to travel to another town by train again or just go to the Aquarium which is somewhere I really wanted to go. I couldn’t see the sense in being on the train for a couple of hours to travel somewhere when there were still things here we hadn’t seen. I couldn’t justify losing a minimum of four hours for a return trip to somewhere.

So off we went, bound for the Aquarium! I was pretty excited!!

We got off at Osakako Station and passed by signs for Legoworld.  We didn’t go in but we DID see this giraffe which was pretty cool… There’s also a huge Ferris Wheel here.


There were quite a lot of people, even given the fact that it was a Tuesday afternoon.

As soon as you walk in, you find yourself  walking through the aquarium with fish swimming above and alongside you. It’s pretty freaky!


And you follow a path that takes you through to different sections. Marine life from different areas of the globe. There is lots of information in English so that was good!

The penguins look so cute right!!

There were quite a few of these crabs in the tank and they just looked like huge ugly spiders!!! I was NOT a fan! I have to admit though, they may be ugly but they also look pretty magnificent.

The Jelly Fish area was pretty amazing!

We got to an area near the end where we were able to touch the fish (and sting rays) in the tank.  I did it too and it was so yucky slimy!!
They had a few warning signs up but I don’t know that I’d be comfortable letting young children just put their hands in the tanks

 

 

I did take tons more photos but don’t want to bore you all. We had a really good time in there and I’m glad we ended up going.

IMG_5810Next stop was Universal Studios!
Well, not Universal Studio’s itself but the Universal City walk next to it.
We found a free ferry to take us over which was handy because if we were going to go by train, Google Maps was telling us to allow over an hour!

The ferry ride was only a few minutes and if you look close enough at the pic on the left, you might see it on the left hand side of the picture.

The exit/entrance for Universal Studios looks out onto this walk and there are a lot of American Chains here.

I even got to sit on Forrest Gump’s bench!

We had a very late lunch at this Italian place. I’m pretty sure it’s a chain here. Hubby wasn’t happy with what he ordered (I tease him that he always orders the wrong thing) but I was pretty happy with mine!! Especially that Dori! Geez that stuff’s good!

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By the time we left this area it was getting towards 6pm and we’d been walking for most of the day. Hubby really want to go to Cosmos square Station. I’m not sure why because I hadn’t seen what he was looking at for this area but I trusted him…

We got there, and it looked pretty barren. He led us to this “interesting” building. It seemed like there were a lot of Government Departments there… There was also an International Ferry station. He kept trying to build it up but I wasn’t fooled. The best thing I found there was a Daiso Store.

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It was pretty light when we entered but a short time later it was dark. We took a few photos of this interesting area outside.


but there weren’t many people around and it just seemed like we shouldn’t be there. Nothing was happening..

I was so glad to be on the train back home…

And in case anyone doesn’t know, I’ll leave you with instructions on how to use a Western Toilet. Handy information.

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Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Three

I’m so looking forward to a week here in Tokyo!!

One thing that continues to amaze me is the way the locals can fall asleep in an instant on the train. Hubby thinks they may be faking. While some may be, I think they’ve just trained themselves, or gotten into the habit of falling asleep as soon as they sit down.
I’m so jealous!! I wish I could fall asleep like that!

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As we were leaving our apartment this morning I noticed that it wasn’t quite built to cater for someone of hubby’s height…

We wanted to visit Sky Tower today and thought we’d help burn off those holiday food IMG_3566calories by walking there.

I’d found out there was a Hello Kitty store there and I really wanted to buy something from that store!

It actually took quite a bit of walking around to find it. You’d think I would have googled it earlier seeing as we had pocket wifi available (So handy!!) but even after I found out where it was via google, it still took a bit of walking around and back tracking.

We went through an area of shops and noticed that the owners, or workers, were standing at the front of the store and as we walked by, the all bowed to us! They put their heads down and they stayed down until we were past! One by one, as we passed, they all did it.
It was really a little unsettling. I wanted to tell them, no, you don’t have to do that!!
I’m sure it must be some sign of respect but I’d really prefer they didn’t do that.

Finally, my little kitty heaven store appeared before my eyes.
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Everything was outrageously priced as expected but hubby got me a little personal fan thing which I just love. Whatever it was, I would have loved it, coming from the Hello Kitty store!

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Back on the streets and we nervously looked over our shoulders for the bicycle riders. Just about everyone and their grandmother is on a bike.

Even mums can be seen transporting their toddlers and babies (yes both at the same time) via bike.

This lady must have been on her way to work..

Finally we stopped at a cafe that had a French name although I didn’t see anything French in there.
We got a couple of delicious pastries (no clue what they were) and a couple of drinks to fuel us for the next hour or so.

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That cake/muffin looking thing at the top was so incredibly light!! And when you bit into it, it felt like you were biting into cream yet there was no cream to be seen!
It was a banana/sesame flavour and it was just so delicious. I’ve never had anything like it.

After a decent walk we were in Ueno and had a look at the interesting shops and markets that are located there.
At one point we walked past a group of people that were taking photos. I’m sure there wasn’t anyone over five feet in that group. Hubby was standing behind them and I called out “Photo bomb them, photo bomb them!!!”
Hubby didn’t know what I was saying but the photographer all of a sudden looked up and just started laughing. Hubby’s 6’7” frame must be something quite different for them.

We stopped in a food court close to the train station. Hubby was pretty disgusted in my choice for lunch.

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Honestly these guys go crazy for Italian over here!!! It’s not the “Italian” as I know it but I didn’t mind this plate of pasta. He thought I should have had a local dish.

He went for a pork/rice bowl.

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He wins the food bravery award for today. If they’d had a beef bowl I would have had it but I just think Pork = Fat and it puts me off. Just because I love food and I love to eat doesn’t mean I’m food adventurous!!!

We stopped at the grocery store on the way back to our apartment to recharge our devices and I snapped a couple of photos of the frozen food section in the store. They have frozen pasta!!

I’m almost curious to try it… almost…

Later this evening we found another supermarket close to our apartment and I just wanted to share some of the items for sale. I just don’t know how this can be food safe. These packages are not refrigerated and as you can see, one even has an egg in it! I mean I guess it works otherwise they wouldn’t do it but I just see food poisoning waiting to happen!


For dinner hubby and I ended up buying some things from the supermarket and cooking at home. This kitchen here is tiny but we make it work.

I’ll just leave you with this pic of an ad I saw today. What the????

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Turning Japanese – Part Seven

Osaka awaited us this morning.
With full confidence we left our lovely apartment and walked to the train station.
We were going to see Osaka Castle
No breakfast included in this accomodation apart from what we choose to provide for ourselves and as we’d gone grocery shopping we had the luxury of having a few coffees before we left our apartment!

We went to the Castle and took in the wonderful and awe inspiring sights. I’ve added a couple of pictures for you to get an idea of what we were looking at.

We had picked a couple of things we wanted to do in Osaka and one of them was to visit this mall that apparently went for kilometres… We were going to take the Osaka Loop line but once we googled, we saw it was only a couple of kilometres away so we walked there.

It was pretty interesting!! Lots of little shops and little food places. My stomach was starting to growl as apart from the coffee, we hadn’t eaten anything.

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After walking through the mall our hunger was building! We decided to put “food court” into google maps and go to the nearest one. That ended up being 2.5 kilometres away however once we got there, we saw it wasn’t what we consider a “food court” to be.
We were in the Hankyu building.
If you’re familiar with this building you may know that there isn’t a food court. There are plenty of restaurants in the basement level but not a food court as such – just a lot of restaurants – just as you’d see on the streets.
We went to the enquiry counter and they sent us to the 12th and 13th floor. They told us we’d find the “food court” there.
Once we got there we saw it wasn’t what we call a food court, and not only that, but these restaurants were definitely more hoity toity. Not what we were looking for in our walking clothes. But there were streams and streams of people lining up to go to them! There were so many people everywhere!!

So we went back down to the ground level and started walking back through the streets to find somewhere to have lunch. Disappointingly, some of the places we were interested in didn’t open until five. I’m not sure if that was because today is Saturday, or if that’s the way it always is.

We walked and walked and walked and finally fell into a place that had a picture of a sandwich roll on the window.
I think by this stage, I would have gone anywhere, even eaten octopus, just to be able to sit.

Very few people speak English here. They all say they speak a little, and they can get by with a few words but they can’t really communicate beyond a basic level. And that’s not a criticism!! Most people in Australia can only speak one language!
So hubby and I got a couple of “pizza’s” (similar to a sub or slice) and a premade sandwich.

The pizza was actually very good!! Now that could be because we were super tired and starving, having walked over eighteen kilometres at this point, but it was still very good and definitely hit the spot
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The sandwich was ok. Very thin and no crusts!! I love my crusts! Never take off the crust people it’s the best part!!

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Did you notice what is said on the sandwich?

How cute is that!

I wasn’t smiling until I actually read that message, but after, I was…

People here are just so courteous and nice. I wonder if I’m in some twilight zone. It just seems too perfect.

I made hubby walk all the way back to the apartment. Hubby and I decided to walk back to the apartment – all six kilometres, and before we got there, we stopped at the big supermarket near home and grabbed some treats AND a small bottle of Jim Beam (bargain price!) and a nice bottle of red for me.
Deeeeelicious and long overdue!

This evening, being creatures of habit and comfort, we headed back to that fabulous food court (staying well away from the place we’d gorged ourselves at yesterday) and ordered something different. Even when we’re handed an English menu, we still don’t know what we’re getting.
Throughout Tokyo and Osaka, we’ve seen street vendors and restaurants alike making these cute little balls. We didn’t know if they were savoury or sweet.
There was a vendor in the foodcourt that was making them so, being brave, we ordered a couple of dishes.
Even though the menu was English, it said “Takoyaki”. We don’t know what that is!
Later on, hubby googled it and we reaslied what they were. Octopus balls!!! We don’t normally eat seafood but I have to say they were soooo creamy and delicious! The only thing I could have done without was the barbeque tasting sauce that was on the top of one of our dishes.
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And each serve had eight balls so they were pretty filling!
We both felt like dumplings though and the beauty of being in a food court is that you can choose different things.. so we ordered some dumplings and some rice from another vendor (and sat at another table so hopefully no one noticed)
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The dumplings were nice but not as nice as others we’ve had. There wasn’t much filling in them but the taste was ok.
The rice was very full of flavour and crunchy!! Hubby and I had a little spat over them.
“But you said you didn’t want rice”
“I didn’t, till I knew you were getting some. How can I not eat it when you’re eating it in front of me”
“Because I wanted them. You said you didn’t”
“That was then, this is now, besides, you’re the one who always wants to share”
“And you don’t so get out of it. I got this for me”
Typical conversation between us really.

And to carry on with our bogan food theme today, we went to McDonalds to try to get a soft serve cone for dessert but they stop serving them after a certain time, so instead, we went to the convenience store and got something that kind of looked like a soft serve cone and it was delicious!! Vanilla and Coffee flavour and very creamy.

If these people didn’t all ride bikes incessantly, they’d be in trouble with all this creamy, highly processed and fatty foods!
I love it!