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 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!!!

Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Seventeen

Our time, sadly, has come to an end.

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I was excited this morning because today we were going to Rinku Town! And the thought of all the bargains that awaited me had me full of hope that I’d be filling my suitcase with all sorts of things

It didn’t quite happen that way.

Check out from our Air Bnb place was was not till 11am so as hubby wanted to stay there till 10.59am, I decided to go for one last walk.

Again I marvel at all the things I’m not going to see when I’m back in Australia.
Every restaurant (and there are many, no matter if you’re on a “main” street or a back street alley) has “food art” outside it’s doors. They’re sculptures of the menu so you can see what you’re going to be getting. I have never been tempted by any of these and usually find them quite repulsive but I guess that’s just me because they wouldn’t do it if it didn’t inspire the locals.

I see it every day, I’ve written about it but it still amazes me, the amount of people that ride bikes and the way they whizz around on the footpaths. I’ve been tending to walk close to the shops as there doesn’t seem to be a “keep the left” rule. Bikes tend to have the right of way. At least, that’s the way it seems.

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And finally we were on the train to Rinku Town!!

Look at the happiness on my face!

Of course, once we got there, we had to walk around and look for a Starbucks before we could do anything else.

I was so excited to start shopping but I had to wait!

It took a little while but we did finally find one and hubby was drinking his Venti, Cafe Latte with Skim Milk – Making sure to keep his receipt so that he could get another one later that day for 216 yen instead of 486 yen.
This has been a daily ritual that I was very happy to have ending. Life will no longer revolved around Starbucks.

Rinku Town is an interesting place. Full of outlet malls but otherwise appears as a ghost town.


We started off (at the shops near the Starbucks) and walked.
I need to explain that I’m normally not a person who likes to shop for clothes, but I had it in my head that I wanted to buy something from Japan… So I was really in the mood to find something. I had worn my clothes and shoes that were easy to get in and out of on purpose!

You need to take of your shoes when you enter a dressing room in Japan. If you’re trying anything from the waist up, they’ll give you a “breast cover”. I should have taken a photo of it as I couldn’t quite work out how it was supposed to go.
I must admit, when the first guy handed me this folded up piece of something and said “please cover your breasts” I didn’t quite know what he was on about…

We had a late lunch in the foodcourt. We were enticed by this picture

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Looks pretty good!! Yakisoba AND Okonomiyaki…

This is what it looked like when it came.

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Still looked pretty delicious.

I keep forgetting how much the sauces don’t agree with me though. Luckily we had said “no mayonnaise” but there were other sauces on here.
It was really really yummy, don’t get me wrong, but afterwards my stomach didn’t feel right and I kept seeing other foods I wished we’d eaten instead….

Oh, and a little giggle at another translation fail spotted in the food court…

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After shopping at the Premium Outlets for a few hours, I still hadn’t really bought anything.
We walked over to the “beach” outlet part. I forgot what it was actually called, and went into this cheap looking store. Finally I was picking out things I liked!! I ended up with four items and hubby, whose patience was being tested said “Can we please get out of K-Mart now”
He was offering to pay for today’s purchases so I don’t know why he was not happy!!!

It was almost time to leave Rinku Town, when I spotted the exact outfit I’d been looking for!! One thing I haven’t mentioned is that the sizing is much smaller here. If you’re an M (medium) in Australia, you’re at least a L (large) here.
It’s not good for the ego… And “Free” size means “one size fits all” but their “fits all” would not work in Australia.

So I found the outfit. It was a medium so it was tight but I really really wanted it. I went to the counter only to be told “cash only”. What? It’s amazing how many places in Japan are cash only.
So hubby and I hurried to find an ATM to get some cash out and in doing so, came into contact with an American living in Japan. He was the friendliest guy!!
He just had story after story to tell of his experience of living in Japan (for the last two and a half years) the Japanese culture (he’s married to a Japanese woman) and much more.
He came with us as we got money from the ATM, came with us as we went back to that store (so I could buy my treasured items) and walked with us to the train station, saw us right up to the platform gate! I’m kind of sorry we didn’t exchange information after all that time together. It was only as we were parting that we gave our names.
So Jacques, if by the remotest chance you’re reading this, please get in touch!

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Our flight left Osaka at 10.30 pm. We had a bit of time to kill but we were too tired to walk around and look at the shops.

This instruction made me smile.

Just the fact that there’s a need to put that kind of instruction there is what I find amusing.

People hey….
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And finally we were on the plane bound for home. We flew to Cairns then had to wait a few hours before our trip back to Adelaide.

Just thought I’d share the meal we got on our flight back.

I think it was chicken.
Funny how things always taste different when you’re on a plane.
I didn’t take an “after” shot in Adelaide but I’ll leave you with a pic from Cairns airport.
It’s been a long journey!!!
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Regular restaurant reviews will be following.
Thanks for sharing this trip with us!

 

Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Sixteen

Our time is coming to an end and we’re kind of running out of new things to do but I also feel like I want to spend more time around this Dotonbori area.

There is just so much to see and do!

So many different foods! So many people. It both terrifies and excites me.

This is not the place to be if you don’t like crowds!

Hubby was having a bit of a lie in this morning so I took myself for a walk and really enjoyed watching people going about their business.

Most of the shops aren’t open until 10am. That may sound late but they also stay open very late. I really wanted to get some junk cute things from Daiso. I know we have this store in Australia but I’ve never been in one in Australia.

IMG_4213.JPGI know there’s just cheap, nothing goods in there but it’s exciting!!

So are the 100 yen stores! I just love them!!
“This is really only 100 yen??” I find myself exclaiming.

It’s much easier to shop in these stores when hubby isn’t around.
Look at the cute little Hello Kitty bag I got for 100 yen. I think it might actually be a bag to carry cold/fridge foods but I’m going to use it as a make up bag for as long as I can. It’s just too cute!

When I got back to the room, hubby and I had a breakfast of coffee and naughty bakery goods (Oh god I love them so much) then set off to walk through the streets and I snapped a couple of pictures along the way.

 


I took that pic on the left to show how every apartment has an area for bike parking. There aren’t that many places for cars and usually they’re off site (not in the same area as the apartment block) but bike parking you’ll see EVERYWHERE!!!
It’s pretty stressful walking down the street. We’ve seen lots of near misses between people on bikes and cars/buses/pedestrians but never actually seen a collision. I don’t even know how we haven’t because they’re crazy on their bikes!!!

As we walked we talked about places we’ve been and foods we’ve eaten and we started reminiscing about the huge bowls of ramen we got at this particular food court. Unbeknownst to me, hubby started to walk towards it (we were about four kilometres away) I had no idea. He didn’t tell me, he just kept walking.
It was about 2pm at this stage and I was starting to get pretty hungry. I kept pointing out restaurants saying “Mmmm that looks delicious, should we go there?” but he would barely grunt out an answer.
I guess it was his little way of annoying surprising me.

We got to our favourite food court eventually but when we went to the place we ordered the ramen from, the menu looked different. We couldn’t tell what it had been that we used to order!!
The girl at the counter didn’t speak English (we were trying to ask if a particular dish had meat in it. Pork? Chicken?) So she told us to wait and got someone else who also didn’t understand us.
IMG_4206In the end, hubby pointed to some things on the menu and said we’ll just take that.
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I’m not sure that there was any meat in it. There could have been very very very pink bacon in it. Perhaps some tofu like thing… Not sure, but it was pretty delicious!
In the middle there were like fried noodles. I’m not sure exactly. They were crispy. I don’t know the name for them.

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We also chose to drink Calpis which is everywhere here and a delight to say out loud.

“Oh I just loving drinking Calpis.
Would you like to drink Calpis?
thought you’d never ask!”

It was like a more delicious version of lemonade. I really liked it. No diet version though so it’s unlikely I’ll be having it again. Diet drinks aren’t easy to come by here by the way. You will find them, but not as easy as you find them in Australia and many restaurants don’t offer any sort of diet drinks.

So although we enjoyed what we ate, it wasn’t what we were expecting.

We consoled ourselves by visiting the 100 yen bakery downstairs.
OH.MY.GOD this place!
I could have eaten the whole store but we only picked two varieties.

 

I liked the one on the right a lot more. It had a chocolate filling too! The berries were soooo sweet. I just loved it. The other was either a baked cheesecake or had a custard filling. I wasn’t quite sure.
It too was delicious but not as good as the first.

Tomorrow is our last day in Osaka and we’re capping it off with a visit to Rinku Town!! I’m so excited!! The train has taken us past this place every time we’ve arrived or left but we’ve never stopped. It’s full of outlet malls apparently!

I’m not even a shopper but I’m excited!!! Hubby, where’s your wallet??