Sake to me Baby – Japan Day Six

Today we said goodbye to Tokyo and flew to Osaka. We are so excited to be going to Osaka! It’s just so much more laid back and the food is just phenomenal.

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We were going to be leaving from Haneda airport rather than Narita. It’s the first time either of us has used Haneda and it was so smooth!! Normally when we leave from Narita there’s huge lines and throngs of people. Very long wait times. Today it just couldn’t have been easier!

We were waiting at the gate and the staff were about to announce that they were going to start boarding. They made the announcement noise then all bowed in unison before saying that boarding was about to commence. Then before they called for boarding, they all bowed in unison again. I’ve never seen anything like it!

I have to say I like this bowing thing. I think it shows respect and makes people feel good. I love that part of their culture. They look genuine when they’re doing it too. At least, that’s been my experience.

IMG_0717Because it was a full plane and hubby and I fly standby, we weren’t able to sit together.
I didn’t mind so much because it was only going to be for an hour and truly, I was looking forward to having that time to myself. He was going to be sitting directly behind me.
I turned to see how he was going and saw he was sat between two Japanese girls so he was pretty happy himself!

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I have never liked landings and take offs though and hubby was worried I’d be scared so as the plane was taking off, I feel something on my arm and realise he’d reached through the seats to reassure me.

How cute is that!!

Lucky for him, he scored a few points.

We landed at Osaka International Airport and NOT Kansai International where we’ve normally landed. This airport was pretty impressive as well!! Although, I felt it looked a bit dated. It looked like we were walking into a plush hotel of the seventies. I loved it! And it was a nice easy breezy experience to get out of there and onto the monorail that was going to take us to our station.


The monorail was good. Maybe a little pricey but you have no choice if you want to catch a train to Osaka central

We had time to kill so we rented some lockers at Umeda station and went to find somewhere to have lunch.

The place we found did not have an English menu but we’re experienced Japan travellers now so figured, how wrong could it go?


The pic on the left is one of the menus we were given. I pointed to the second one when they came to get our order, even though I didn’t know exactly what that was. Our server was trying to tell me something about that selection that involved a six and a zero. She didn’t speak English. Did she mean it would take 60 minutes to make? Or not available until 6pm? In the end I chose from another menu. I didn’t take a picture of that one but you can see how much food we got!! And all of this food cost us about 1720 yen which is currently about $23 AUD

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Yes it’s a ton of food!! We hadn’t eaten anything so we were starving.
This is the after shot…

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We did well!! I liked most of what I ate. The eggy thing with the brown and white sauce on it was sort of nice but had some strange tastes in it here and there and I really really hate those sauces. If I’d known that’s what I’d ordered I would have said no sauce.
The noodles were great! and so was the miso soup and rice.

IMG_0732They had some salt and condiments on the table, including this mayonnaise type thing. I’m pretty sure this should have been in the fridge right? I don’t understand why they don’t seem to think refrigeration is important here.

We had an hour or so, so we walked around the Hankyu and Daimaru department stores. Went into the Hep5 building. So looking forward to looking around properly. Honestly we were too tired and just looking forward to getting to our room.


We got into our air bnb room and this apartment is AMAZING!!! OMG! Probably the best air bnb apartment we’ve had. It’s spacious, it’s NEW and it’s in a great location near Dotonbori. I’m so excited to be here!!!

13rr22Hubby, being of the male variety, quickly claimed the remote even though everything here is in Japanese, and before too long, accidentally muted the television.
He didn’t know what button he pressed though so was not able to unmute it. We then spent the next hour and a bit trying to figure out how to unmute this thing. We looked online, we tried to look at the manual but to no avail. In the end we had to leave it or we wouldn’t have gone out tonight.

We’re a short walk from our favourite area in Japan and it was such a nice feeling to be back there again.
Dotonbori. There were so many tourists around!! So many people walking around in awe of what they were seeing. Shops, food, attractions and beautiful views. The canals are so pretty at night. I took a few pics along the way.


We stopped in at Daiso on the way back to our apartment because it was there. I think hubby is starting to love this store too although he would never admit it.

IMG_0752We wanted a few things for our apartment. The line to check out was so long! I was looking at the items in the shelves as the line slowly moved and picked up a few more things. I noticed they also sell wine here! I know they sell it in the supermarkets and convenience stores here but didn’t expect to find it in Daiso as well.

It’s been a long day and I’m so looking forward to getting out and about tomorrow.
By the way, we are learning so much Japanese!

Oyasuminasai

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Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Fourteen

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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….

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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!

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

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Turning Japanese – Part Nine

This morning I was so excited because today was Kyoto day!!

Here’s a tip, if you’re going to train into Kyoto, make sure you have a plan of what you want to see there BEFORE you get there.

I don’t know why I thought I wouldn’t have to have a plan. I thought we’d just get off the train and there would be scenic views upon scenic views.

What we did do is find an information map and decided to walk to the Imperial Palace. After all, we’d been to the one in Tokyo and that was interesting.

So we walked down there and only after we got there did we realise that it only opens a few days a year. So we couldn’t really see anything.

We then googled “Things to do in Kyoto” and decided to walk to the observation tower.
We found a few temples and shrines along the way.

At one place, the boars were said to have healing powers; in particular, for leg injuries.
Hubby has foot pain right now and I, being a runner, always have something pulled or not quite right, so we drank from the water and crossed our fingers!

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But this is a food blog so you’re probably waiting for me to write about what we ate…

Again, we found it hard to find a place. It’s not really difficult, there are a million places!! We just want to make sure we don’t miss out so we look at every single restaurant we can before deciding where to go…

And today, by the time we got to the Observation tower we were pretty tired and hungry and nothing sounded familiar so when we saw the Octopus Balls (takoyaki) franchise that we’d eaten at before, we went for it.

Don’t be shocked, but I’m not a seafood person. I ate the balls because it was familiar but by the end I was almost gagging. This has NOTHING to do with the food being produced but everything to do with me not eating seafood. The food itself is exceptional quality and anyone else probably would have loved it but I crunched down on one bit too many and I’d be happy if I never see an octopus ball again.

This evening however, proved to be the unexpected highlight of the day!
It started off though with a slight disappointment. We wanted to have dinner at a place called Hidays Texas BBQ. We had read a few reviews about it and it sounded good.
When we got there, we saw that it was closed. Argh!

As we were in the Dontonbori area, another area we’d read about, we decided to walk around there and eventually stumbled upon Red Rock!
When friends knew we were going to go to Japan, they said we MUST get beef bowls and Red Rock had beef bowls on their menu so how could we not.
We watched others ordering… this place has a similar system to the place we went to in Narita. We had to order and pay for our food outside of the restaurant, then give our ticket to someone inside, who sent it on to the kitchen.

I’m not sure exactly what we ordered. Hubby’s was “large” but as you can see from the pictures below, they seem the same size. We ended up sharing and they were BOTH delicious!! Probably the best things we’ve eaten since we’ve been in Japan although I keep saying that don’t I?
The rice was below the meat and there was some sauce through it that made it so delicious. I wish I could give you more information but my taste buds aren’t that refined and I don’t know what the menu actually said so I don’t want to give the wrong information. Just trust me that it was delicious!!


After our exciting dinner, we walked through the streets and took in more sights and sounds. This is such an amazing place. There’s always something new to see around the corner!

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Only a few more days left here now and I think we’re going to try to take in a baseball game at some stage!

For now, my bed awaits after a long and satisfying day.