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!

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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 Four

I’ve just realised that before today, we’d spend two and a half days in Japan and were yet to use chopsticks!! Shame on us. And that’s not that when given a choice, we chose a fork, it’s that we haven’t really eaten any Japanese food. That changed today.

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Today we went on a tour to Mt Fuji!! I was so excited as for all the times we’ve been to Japan, we still hadn’t gone there.

We were up early to make sure we made the departure time which was going to be from a hotel in Shinjuku.

We spied the Metropolitan Government building close by and made a plan to go there later, after we got back from the tour.

We got to talking to a few people that were going on tour with us. It’s nice talking to people from around the world and hearing about their experiences in Japan.

Our tour guide, Taka, was just so cute! I could have listened to her talking all day although it did take a bit of concentrating as her accent was strong at times but she was so lovely.

I took a few pics from the bus. We drove past some gorgeous towns along the way. So green and lush and picturesque along the water. Unfortunately the highway mostly had a barrier up so I wasn’t always able to take pictures when I wanted to.


And then sooner than I expected, we saw Mt Fuji in the distance!!!
It was soon covered over with cloud again though so I was worried about what we were going to see when we got to the fifth station.

I didn’t realise how high we had driven until I started to see we were above the clouds! How did that happen!! And how gorgeous are the clouds. I felt like we were in a plane and flying instead of driving.


There were loads of people up the top!! So many tour buses!! AND, more importantly, Mt Fuji was visible. I have to admit though, I found the other side, with all the clouds, much more interesting to look at.

 


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Our guide Taka told us a story of a guy who kept climbing up Mt Fuji right up until his death at 105 years of age.
He was Masashi Toyoda, from Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture.

There’s a statue of him inside one of the stores at the Fifth Station and we posed in front of it because, well, that’s just what you do!

For lunch we were taken to a restaurant where a buffet style meal was prepared for us. There was a great array of food. Some of it Japanese and some was a little more Western but it was all really really tasty AND I got to use chop sticks for the first time on this trip! Took me thirty seconds or so to get used to it again. I just don’t understand why people persist with chopsticks when we have INVENTED AN EASIER WAY. I mean when we discover something that works better, we usually adopt it! But whatever. It’s fun to eat with chopsticks and it definitely helps the waist line because for me, it takes longer and I can’t pick up every single last morsel.


The grounds/gardens outside the restaurant were really pretty too. We had that view from our table.

After lunch we were back on the bus and our guide Taka taught us how to make an Origami Japanese warrior hat.
She was like a parent not wanting to disappoint a child who clearly is not doing well with me. She said I almost had it right then fixed it up expertly.

Our next stop was Lake Ashi where we were going to take a cruise. We had about thirty minutes in the store there before the cruise and I found a couple of interesting items.

What you see below, is a vending machine that sells HOT food!! Like chips/fries and burgers. Can you believe that!! Only in Japan I say!

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Of course, if you don’t want your fries hot, you can also buy them like this.
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Would you be game enough to drink anyone of these drinks?


No wasabi and no sweat for me thank you very much.

The views out of the lake were so breathtakingly beautiful. My photos do not do it justice at all!

And a couple more photos from the catamaran as well.


We were dropped at Hakkone and took the ropeway up to the top.
Now this seemed like a good idea when I was booking this tour. I didn’t realise how high it was going to go!!
First, a few pictures.


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And then we were in the clouds and I was freaking out a bit!!!

I definitely made a mental note to NOT sit at the front on the way back down.

 
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Our tour was just about over.

All that was left was to take the bullet train back to Tokyo.

Even though hubby and I have been here many times, we were yet to ride the bullet train so were really looking forward to it!

Turns out, it’s just a train that goes pretty fast. When you’re sitting in it though, it’s quiet so you don’t really notice how fast you’re going. I’m sure if you were standing outside and it whizzed past you, it would knock you around a bit and be impressive but apart from reaching our destination a little quicker, I’m not sure that I’d use it again.

Once we were back at Tokyo, we went back to the Metropolitan Governement building. We really wanted to see the view from the observatory and seeing as it was getting darker, thought it would be nice to see it at night.
When we got there, there was a line that went out through the door AND it was closing within thirty minutes so we missed out again.
There’s always tomorrow.

Instead we walked around Shinjuku


We even went to the “you must see this” Robot Cafe!

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That is, we went outside it. The inside will need to be explored another day.
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Finally, I found my wine bar again. I had first seen this place a few trips to Japan ago.

This is the wine bar that is dedicated to all Margot’s around the world but especially me because I say so.

It had just been such a long day and our time here is not over so we can always go back.

I feel like we saw a lot of things we have wanted to see in Japan today and we met some really nice people and made some nice memories. Thanks Japan!

Just to finish up, I’ll leave you with this signboard that we saw in a cafe. I just love Japanese English!

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