In search of Cherry Blossom – Part Six

Thankfully the weather wasn’t as brutally cold today! I left our little apartment just before 7am and it was quite comfortable to walk around.
I managed to walk down to the Dotonbori and took a pic to prove to hubby that I’d been there!

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When I got back hubby and I had some breakfast then headed for Osaka station. We were going to Kobe today!

When the conductors come into your carriage on the train, they bow, walk through, then bow again before leaving the carriage.

It wasn’t long before we got into Kobe. Hubby had looked at a few things he wanted to do there. One was the “Kawasaki Good Time” museum and another was the Shin-Kobe Ropeway up past the Nonobiki waterfall to some Herb Garden.
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But first, Starbucks.

I’m beginning to hate this chain as hubby can’t seem to function without it.

This Starbucks was in an interesting building (left) in an interesting area of Kobe.

We saw a few things in this area that I guess were relating to tourists?

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I only took a photo of the Sherlock Holmes one but there were more.

I’m sure if I searched online I’d find out the story behind this area.

After his coffee hubby was back on getting to the Rope Cars.

I just wasn’t into the rope car idea.

I hate the thought of being suspended like that.

I did really want to see the waterfall though so I persuaded hubby to just walk up there. I thought it would be a peaceful way to get up and enjoy… well enjoy the serenity!

 


There were a few steep bits but mostly it was a pretty mild climb up.

 

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We were able to see the waterfall from a few different levels. The sound of the water rushing past was also quite loud. I really loved it here. It was just so peaceful. I could have stayed there a little longer but it was time to move on to the next thing.
Here are a few pictures I took from a few different viewing areas.

 


What I love about Kobe is they have these beautiful hills on one side, and the water on the other. Kind of like Adelaide but even closer together than Adelaide. Really, it’s such a beautiful city.

Last time we were in Kobe, hubby and I lunched at this buffet place. It must have made a big impression on us as we found ourselves gravitating towards there again today.
There really was a great selection of foods from Japanese staples to Italian food and things like fries. It was lovely and familiar.
I’m just not adventerous when it comes to food and was really really craving pasta today.

The views from our table were pretty special too! I thought I took some photos but I can’t find them. Here are a few from the Observatory Tower that we went to earlier in the day and some while we were out and about.

 


We’ve seen a lot of naked women statues in Osaka and there were more in Kobe.

 


After lunch we were in search of the Kawasaki Good Times Museum. We saw it in the distance!

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But what we didn’t know is that it’s closed on Monday’s… argh!!! Will have to research that one better next time.

We decided to wander the streets a bit more and found ourselves going through China Town where hubby made a friend with one of the stall holders who really really really wanted to be Australian just like us.

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Sadly we did all we could do in the few hours we were there and were soon back on the train back to Osaka.

We found ourselves back at the Umeda Sky Building and went up again.

 


Riding down those escalators BETWEEN buildings at such a great height is really something!

 


IMG_5709We stopped for a drink and watched the suited people rushing by to get wherever they really needed to be.

This place was cute because it seemed none of the workers spoke any English. Hubby pointed to the drink he wanted (they had bottles behind glass).

It took two workers to understand what we were ordering.

Two minutes later they come back to us saying “sold out” and they were both holding four bottles each from which hubby could make his second choice.

They are just so accommodating here!

So sad that our trip is quickly coming to an end. How did that happen?

I’m leaving with a picture for an ad that I saw today. I don’t know what this is advertising. Perhaps you have an idea?

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In search of Cherry Blossom – Part Five

I feel like I need to change the title of these entries as the Cherry Blossom is just about gone and as much as I search, I don’t think I’ll be seeing any more in the Osaka area.

I went out walking early this morning and although it was still very frosty cold, there was little cloud and when the sun shone on you, it was almost pleasant.


I had been reading reviews of a couple of places just south of Dotonbori. One was the Shinsekai district and the other was the Tennoji Zoo. I’m not a huge fan of keeping animals in cages and when I read the reviews of Tennoji Zoo I was horrified. It made me more curious to see it though which probably makes me part of the problem…

Before the zoo we did see the Shinsekai area. This is what I read before going there.
Shinsekai is an old neighbourhood located south of Osaka’s downtown area. The neighbourhood was created in 1912 with New York as a model for its southern half and Paris for its northern half.

I can’t say that I saw anything that reminded me of Paris or New York. It seemed like any other district that had a lot of restaurants and a few shops.
Hubby and I have been having a difficult time (as usual) finding where to go to eat. Although I do like some things, I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Japanese food. We decided to get some lunch before heading on to the zoo but walked around this area four or five times before finally going into one restaurant. We regretted it almost immediately as we couldn’t really find anything on the menu we wanted but we couldn’t just walk out…

We ended up choosing a few things.

Oh, I forgot to mention, they brought out a bowl of raw cabbage (gratis) before our food. Hubby ate it but I wasn’t a fan.
The food we had was ok, it just tastes like everything else we’ve had here. Those round potato type things in the pic on the right were the best. They had some cheesy gooey mess inside and hubby loved them!

After that we headed on over the zoo which is right near this Shinsekai district.

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It’s only 500 yen to visit (about $6.20 AUD) and we didn’t have anything else planned so hubby and I walked down there.

I didn’t think it was as bad as the reviews I’d read until I saw the cages for some of the big cats.
In any case, here are some of the photos of the animals that I took.


I felt a bit conflicted being there I must admit.

Every time we’ve been in Japan, hubby and I have visited Brooklyn Parlour and mostly it’s been a great experience. We knew there was one in the Americamura section of Dotonbori so we decided to go there for a drink.

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I normally love the atmosphere of this place. Hubby and I got a couple of drinks and watched people at tables nearby doing nothing but taking selfies for the next twenty minutes. They didn’t even touch their food and when it did look like they were going to start touching their food, it was only so they could video themselves “eating” it. Strange.

We walked around Americamura, fighting for space with the rest of the crowds.


If you like people watching, this is the place to be!!

After a bit of shopping we found ourselves being drawn to Hard Rock Cafe.
I must admit, I did like the familiarity of it all.


Lots of tourists in there!! Almost felt like I was back home.
We ordered some loaded fries. We were waiting for them to come but I needed to use the restroom. As I got up I said to hubby “If they come while I’m away don’t start eating them!” which would have been ok but an English speaking server heard me and I was embarrassed. Food ownership is serious business in this marriage!

And after a couple of sangria’s I posed for a photo.
Hubby made me do it.

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Oh and speaking of hubby, he was beside himself with excitement when we passed a McLaren dealership. The photos are taken through the glass window so they’re not the best. We’ve even seen one or two driving around while we’ve been here.


Again, we did a lot of walking today and I was glad to be back in the room, soaking in a nice hot bath.

I’ll leave you with a few more funny signs I saw today. The first one was on the back wall of a toilet cubicle.

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In search of Cherry Blossom – Part Four

We got hit by cold weather today! It didn’t rain and it wasn’t overly windy, it was just frosty cold.
I went walking early this morning and was sorry I hadn’t rugged up more.

Surprisingly, even though it’s Saturday and I was out about 7am, there were still lots of men walking around wearing suits.

There’s some sort of convenience store every few steps but I can’t seem to find diet lemonade in any of them (although there’s lots of alcohol for sale there)

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By the time I got back to the apartment hubby was ready for coffee.

The Starbucks we went to was quite full.

I’ve mentioned before that the Japanese people will put their purses/phones, or any other personal item on a table to “save” it while they go up to make their order. (See this pictured right )

We saw this even in the busy city Starbucks that we were in.

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Hubby wanted to see the Umeda Sky Tower and I was kind of curious to see the Cup Noodle Museum as last time we were in Japan, we happened to visit on the one day of the week that it was closed.

We walked over to the Sky Tower first (left)

We tried to get there by going through as many underground passageways we could find as it was just so cold!

What an interesting building this is! The architecture is just amazing and we discovered that it was designed by the same person who designed Kyoto Station (we visited this yesterday – go back one entry if you missed it!)

You can go right up to Level 39 for free. If you’re brave, you can pay 1000 yen or so (About $12.50 aud) to go up another few levels to the open observation deck.
Level 39 was more than enough for us!


The basement level has an old world Japan feel. It was very peaceful (apart from when the tour group came through) and looked out onto some lovely gardens.


It’s open quite late and we intend on coming back after dark to see the city lights!

Next stop was the Cup Noodle Museum. I didn’t really know what to expect other than we were going to get to make our own ramen at some point.

When we got in we were ushered through to a section that showed the history of ramen. All of it was in Japanese and I think there was an English guide available but we really just wanted to make our ramen so we went straight through to the back to do that.

It was pretty full in there! We were lined up. When we got to the front of the line we were told we were going to personalise our cups, then go over and choose what we wanted to put in there.

We got shown to a table that had special markers on them. The instructions on the table said “Draw your own picture”
Hubby took that quite literally and started drawing a picture of himself. I drew pictures of flowers. He looked over at mine and said “Where’s your picture?” and I said “Right here!” wondering why he was even asking me… and then it hit me, he was expecting me to draw a picture of myself! I just got the giggles so bad after that and couldn’t stop laughing.
Here are the pictures we drew. Hubby’s likeness is pretty good no?


Still giggling we went on over to the back and chose the contents.

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After it comes out, you get to put it in the air locked bag which you can wear around you shoulders.

I thought we were going to be able to eat them right away but unfortunately no.

If you go to the eating area, you have to purchase the noodles from the vending machines and… well just add hot water!

So we did that but it was a bit anti climatic.

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I’m still glad we went. If nothing else, I belly laughed like I haven’t for quite some time.

Back to Osaka station we went. I really wanted to do some shopping. So many interesting things here.

I’m not sure what this thing in the bottom left pic is??

A spaghetti pie?
I don’t know if you can read it but the empty plates in the picture on the right say “Please Wait”

And I’ll just finish off with a few interesting things and signs I saw today.

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Peach coke? I don’t think so!!

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I saw this sign in a few places. I still don’t know what it was trying to communicate.

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In search of Cherry Blossom – Part Two

I’ve woken up way too early this morning. I couldn’t sleep and thought I’d just make myself a coffee.
Coffee is interesting here. They seem to love the cold varieties… Iced Coffee. Lots of it in the street vending machines-the kind in cans. Most of the ones we’ve tried don’t seem to have sugar in them.
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When it comes to hot coffee I don’t think it’s really a thing here (Unless you got to a chain like Starbucks.)
Even in the air bnb’s we’ve stayed out, we haven’t had coffee cups provided.

Milk
We went to the supermarket last night and bought some instant coffee (no other choice) what we thought was sugar and potentially full cream milk.

When we got to the check out hubby asked the lady serving (who didn’t speak English) if this milk was good for coffee. She understood what he was saying presumably and screwed up her nose. So we said we wouldn’t take the milk and she said she’d send someone to help.

The person coming to help was going to bring us “milk for coffee”. When he came, he was holding a bag of individual milk cups. Pictured right is an example of what Milk-lakeland-whole-milk-UHTI’m talking about. The kind that is normally never enough!! Hubby and I both like a decent amount of milk in our coffees and we both said, no, give us the original carton…

But that’s Japan. Everything is packaged here. They love their packaged sugars, packaged milk, individual packages of everything!!

I can confim that the milk we bought last night was actually full cream milk but I was a little nervous before tasting it this morning!

First thing on the agenda today was walking to Osaka Castle.We’re only a couple of kilometres away from it so it was a nice easy walk.


We did start to see some Cherry Blossom but not as much as I would have liked. I suspect we’re right at the end of the season. At least we got to see some of it.

And we did see interesting sights along the way to the Castle…

 


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There were tons of people at the Castle!!

We thought we’d walk back to Osaka city and get some lunch.

I love walking everywhere.

You just get to see so much more!

After walking up and down the endless shopping and market aisles, we went into the Hep building and found a place to get some lunch. I’m not sure what we ate exactly. It seems to be a type of omlette with rice inside? At least, the one we ordered had rice inside it.
On the menu it had two sizes. SS or S. SS is super small and S is small.
Hubby and I don’t like small.
The waitress said we could also order M for medium or L for large.
Now remember, we had been walking quite a bit by this stage and we were very hungry as we didn’t really have breakfast so we both opted for large.
The waitress was visibly shocked. I should have questioned my choice right then but no, I figured I’d be able to handle it.

I was mid sentence to hubby when I saw our order coming out and I just stopped talking, stunned by what I was seeing.


That, dear readers, is the large. Consider yourselves warned!
I’m sure the servers were all giggling at us. Some of the other diners were watching us too, seeing if we were going to finish… I was so terribly embarrassed.
It tasted amazing by the way!! Although I could have done without that brown sauce which was on there. Tasted like barbecue sauce.

Unfortunately I couldn’t finish it. I really really tried but I couldn’t. We really needed to walk our meals off after that so we walked down to the Dotonbori area.

I just love this place.

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We were stopped by four people who wanted to practice their English with us. The Japanese people are too cute!

Down one of the streets we noticed a huge screen, which was showing a live feed of people walking. I just had to get myself on that big screen!! Can I say I’ve been on Japanese television now?


We have passed a few funny signs but I didn’t take a photo unfortunately. On the train there was a sign saying the train was “mildly” airconditioned. Another sign contained “hot” information. Just love the way their language translates into English!

We were checking out some stores for headphones for hubby when we saw a confident Japanese man just having a shave. Try before you buy right?

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And to finish off, we finally did find some different flavoured Kit Kat. I didn’t buy any but I did take pictures.

Tomorrow, we hope to be off to Kyoto!!

In search of Cherry Blossom – Part One

Hello lovely readers, the Spoon You Fork Me team is once again on route to Japan!

I’m so excited about this trip! We’re really hoping we’ve come at the right time to see the Cherry Blossom and although the Japanese can normally pinpoint the time of bloom generally, it’s not a guarantee that we’ll see it. Hubby and I are only here for a week!


We barely slept last night. The night seemed to go on forever. I kept waking up and checking the time. Finally it was time to get up and before we knew it we were flying high.


First leg of our trip was to Cairns and then another seven hours flight time to reach Osaka.
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I’m pretty sure that no one in the world gets more excited about plane meals than I do. It’s not that the food is so good because often it’s a disappointment. I think it’s just knowing that something is going to break up the boredom of the flight. As I write this, the food is coming!! Yay!!


As expected, it was mediocre at best and not enough for my greedy guts but it was better than nothing so although it seems I’m complaining, I’m really not.
We also got some croissants later in the flight. My hips could have done without that but I can’t say no.

One thing about travelling with hubby is that he is always most eager to talk the minute I put headphones in to listen to a podcast. Uncanny. All of a sudden I urgently need to know inconsequential things.

By the time we got to Osaka it was after 7.30pm and already dark. We spent time trying to find an ATM then trying to work out what train to catch. Luckily, the Japanese people really do bend over backwards to try to help. Honestly, the rest of the world could learn a lesson or two from these people!!

As an example, we were trying to get our bearings once we got off the train. I couldn’t quite work out the map I’d printed and we didn’t have internet yet so I couldn’t get google maps to help. We decided to go ino the nearby Mos Burger and one of the guys behind the counter saw us frowning over this map and asked if he could help (in his limited broken English)
I pointed to where we were trying to go and not only did he show us a better way to get there, BUT he also insisted on giving us a couple of umbrellas (it was raining) Honestly, these people!!

We finally made it to our aparatment and got a second wind. Doesn’t matter that we’ve been awake for almost twenty four hours…
What do you think the first thing we did after getting settled?
We went straight back out to the Life Supermarket that was around the corner. Super excited to find out that it closes at 2am!! I just love the supermarkets here. So many weird and wonderful things. I don’t know what half of them are. It’s a mystery!!!
Food that I think should be refrigerated is just sitting out on tables. Here’s a few pics from tonights supermarket run..

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We can’t tell what half the products are!!

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Personally, I find this gross…. Not big on seafood.

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I wish I’d taken a photo of something else next to these pieces of cheese for perspective. They were tiny and quite expensive for the amount you were getting. I just thought it was funny to see such a small piece of cheese for sale like that.

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Lots of pasta for sale on the unrefrigerated benches.

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Chicken too… also on an unrefrigerated bench.

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Noodle roll anyone??

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Well that’s just rude.

I’m hoping we get to Osaka Castle tomorrow in full Cherry Blossom bloom!!!