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!

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!

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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Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Fifteen

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Today hubby and I visited Kobe! What a surprise this city was!

But before I get to that, I have to mention this. At one point when we were on the train, a conductor came through.

He opened the door from the adjoining carriage. Stood looking towards the door at the other end, and bowed. Walked through (counting I think?) and when he got to the other door, he turned to face the door he’d just come from, and bowed again.

Things like that just continue to amaze me. They are so polite and show so much respect. I wonder if that extends to the private life as it does in their public life.

Speaking of trains, we had a different experience today. We weren’t sure we were on the right train so we asked a conductor that was walking through. He said yes, we’re on the right train for Kobe, but if we get off at the next station and catch the train from platform five, we’ll be on an express and it will be better.
Sounds good right?
What he didn’t bank on was the speed with which hubby and I whipped off that train and onto the train that was on platform five. Turns out that train was the local (stopping at every station) train that hadn’t left yet. It was JUST leaving as I jumped through the doors so proud at having made it…. and then we noticed it was stopping at EVERY station. Wrong train! The express arrived minutes later and we watched it race by as we chugged along… 

But at least that one got us to the right location. No such luck on the way back but that’s another story for another day…

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We had sweets for morning tea when we got there.

I’m addicted to these baked goods.

How can these sweet little puffs of sugar be so high in calories?

I don’t know how everyone here doesn’t go mad for them!!

We were impressed at how modern and clean Kobe looked as we got off the train. So many interesting things to see. We wondered what parts had been affected by the 1995 earthquake.

The freeways are just amazing! It felt like we were in a different country at times. It was so different to anything else we’d seen since we’ve been in Japan.


We walked around Harbour Land and saw a few places we thought we might like to have lunch, but really wanted to walk through China Town first before deciding.
IMG_4188When we were in Yokohama, we were sorry we’d eaten lunch before going to their Chinatown, this time, it didn’t seem to matter.

The China Town in Kobe isn’t as big as the one in Yokohama.

Why would we visit China Town while in Japan?

I think it’s just interesting to see how the Japanese interpret that culture.

Plus the food is just yummy.

 

We got some pre-lunch snacks!


I just love those sesame ball things! These ones had red bean paste in them.

Hubby had the things on the top right. I think he said it was pork? And bottom right, well they just looked cute!! I’m not sure what they were as I didn’t get any of them.

So after walking around for probably too long, we went back to Harbourland and found a buffet place that was really very reasonably priced! Everything else seemed not worth it really… but how could we go past a buffet? So many foods to try!!!

And we were not disappointed. I took a photo of most of the food we saw there.


We had quite the ride home via train and ended up stopping at Dome-Mae station and walking back from there.

We were still too full for a proper dinner tonight so we just bought some snacks to eat in our room.

Another day full of a lot of walking and a LOT of food!!

I’m sad that our trip is almost over.