Sake to me Baby – Japan Day Seven

For those following on from yesterday’s entry, the TV is still on mute. I don’t understand why hubby is so invested in unmuting it. It’s not like we can understand Japanese.I feel like this is a decidedly male thing.

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I felt pretty Japanese today in my floral jumpsuit and cute little socks.
I couldn’t imagine wearing these back home but I love that I can wear them here.

We are still finding things to do that we haven’t done on previous trips here and one of them is visiting Arashiyama Bamboo Grove near Kyoto.

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We walked to the train station.

Look at all the bikes parked at the train station! Everyone rides here.
From 3 to 103! All on bikes!

When we got inside, I wanted to check the price of the ticket and the train lines we were going to catch. I went up to one of the service guys and said very politely “sumimasen” and asked my question. He confirmed “Train to Kyoto?” and instead of saying “yes” in Japanese or even English, I said “si”. Full credit to the Japanese who are always polite, he either didn’t notice or pretended he didn’t notice.

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Hubby and I got to talking about the language and how much we were learning and he wanted to write down the words he knew.

He said he was going to do it phonetically to help with pronunciation.

Fair enough.
Makes sense.

I still giggled when I saw his list though.

We managed to almost catch the right trains. I feel like it’s a stress every time. The only mistake we made going out was we went on a local train instead of the rapid express. That meant that it stopped at every station and took well over an hour, rather than 30 minutes or so.

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When we got to Arashiyama, we didn’t quite know what direction to walk in but we soon saw a big hint!

This is a pretty  place. There’s lots to see here and tons more than what we saw today but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to see the monkeys and hubby definitely was not in the mood to walk up hill with today’s temperature so we figured we’d leave that for our next trip to Japan.

I had read so much about this bamboo forest and the pictures I’d seen online had been so beautiful that I think  I’d really built it up in my head.

What we saw was spectacular, and maybe I would have enjoyed it more if there weren’t three million other people trying to enjoy it with me. Never mind, I’m still glad we went.


I don’t know if you noticed the sign there that asks people not to touch the bamboo shoots as this will cause them to stop growing. It seemed like everyone was touching everything!

We had a look at the old trains that were right by the station. They were so big. It was pretty impressive.


After a while we headed back into Kyoto to get some lunch.  We went into the basement of the Kyoto Tower as we remembered there was a food court down there.
The food I got was amazing! It tasted so good!! Rice with some kind of meat on there. We asked for an English menu but I still didn’t really know what it was. Hubby got some kind of ramen and he was happy with his too. These dishes together cost about $15 AUD. That was pretty good value I thought!!


And from where we were sitting we could watch and listen to the cooks.

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Next stop was going to be on the other side of the canal. We wanted to find the pathway that led up to the Kiyomizu temple.

I really wanted to go there because I love the walk up. Again though, there were three million other people who had the same idea as us and although I loved being there, I can’t say I enjoyed the experience. I couldn’t even look in any of the shops because it was just too hard to get from one side to the other with all the people.
But here are some pics I took along the way from Kyoto to the temple.


We were thirsty and bone tired by the time we got back to Kyoto. We wanted to stop and get a drink in the British Pub there. We’ve seen them about the place but have never been in one. When we got in, the server told us the only room they had was standing and all we wanted to do was sit so, again we missed out on that.

I love the Kyoto station. The design and architecture are just out of this world. If I hadn’t been so tired I might have enjoyed it a little more.


We’ve been stopping in at Lawsons/Family Mart far too often for snacks. Today we really felt like we needed a treat though so we loaded up and took it back to our apartment to enjoy in comfort.

I may have complained a bit in this entry but honestly it was a great day. I loved seeing everything we did and being in Kyoto. I even didn’t mind the couple of wrong turns we made. It always makes the day more interesting.

I will definitely sleep well tonight!

Oyasuminasai!

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In search of Cherry Blossom – Part Three

I know I’m always going on about the Supermarkets here but honestly, it’s just so different to what we’re used to.
We made another midnight supermarket run last night and I took a few snaps of the food just sitting out on the benches unrefrigerated.

 


As you can see, some of the items have egg in it. Just sitting there on the bench waiting to be bought by someone. I must admit, I’ve been tempted to buy some of it. I mean they wouldn’t sell it if people got sick right?

In any case, today was Kyoto day! I tend to get up quite early so I thought I’d go for a walk and let hubby sleep a little longer. Streets in Japan can be quite confusing as they don’t follow the nice parallel lines that I’m used to however I had internet with me and google maps is always available.
I took a few snaps along the way.


One thing I didn’t know about Osaka until I visited for the first time is that it’s full of canals. It’s the Venice of Japan.

It wasn’t long before we were off to Kyoto. We’ve been there twice before and had very different experiences. Today, again, it was like we were visiting for the first time, seeing things we hadn’t seen before. This city just amazes me.

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Straight off the train we cross the river into the main part of the city. This place was so full of tourists today! All colours, all sorts of different accents.

After a little snack we headed on over to the Gion district. We had stumbled onto this section by accident last time and just fell in love with it. It’s just olden day Japan. People can hire traditional clothing and walk these streets. So many people do it! It really adds to the atmosphere.


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The Japanese are so helpful.

See that yellow sign in the picture above on the left?

Here is a close up of what it said.

And I’m glad they clarified by adding the picture of the camera.

We walked by instinct. We were searching for the  steps that had rows of shops alongside. Before reaching that area though, we came to some beautiful tranquil gardens.

At least it would have been tranquil if we weren’t sharing the space with 50 million other people. IMG_5506

And then, the steps!


Sorry those photos aren’t in order and I didn’t take as many as I thought I had. The last two are just random pictures along the way. The left one is of a sacred cemetary and on the bottom right is bamboo. We wanted to go to a bamboo forest but we didn’t plan well so when we saw this, I just took the picture to make myself feel better.

After browsing the shops full of wonders, we came to the top. I should probably know what this is but I don’t have the info with me right now. I’m so full of information right.

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It’s a bit of a climb but well worth it!

Here are a couple of funny signs we passed along the way


We decided to go back to the main centre to get some lunch. It was udon noodles today and I’m pleased to say we didn’t gorge ourselves!!

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When you go into a restaurant here, they give you a little basket to put your bag in so you don’t have to leave it on the floor.

I love that!

And although hubby told me “NO CAKES” this holiday, he didn’t fight me when I suggested to go and get some pastries. OH MY GOD they were so delicious!!!!


It was so hard not to grab one of everything!

We walked around the amazing Kyoto Station for a while. It has a department store, hotel and lots of shops and restaurants in there. Such an interesting building. It’s a worth a visit even if you’re not catching the train.
It’s such an amazing design with new things to see at every turn.


I didn’t take many photos this time as I took so many last time.

It has been raining most of today so we didn’t really want to go out walking in it again. We decided to get the train back to Osaka and continue our adventure there.
Poor hubby was wiped out and joined the majority of Japanese people who sleep on the train.

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And please let me indulge in some more supermarket talk.
I was feeling brave tonight and bought a whole of things even if I didn’t know what they were.
Amongst my purchases were the following.


The burgers on the left were 98 yen… so about $1.20AUD. We shared the brown wrapped one and it was actually ok.
Better than I expected.
Not anything that would fill you up but ok for a quick snack. The bread is really so light that you hardly feel like you’re eating anything.
We haven’t tried the yellow wrapped burger yet and I haven’t put my translate ap on it so I don’t know what it is. Somtimes it’s better not to know.

The pic on the right were pieces of pizza sold individually. They were ok too. Better than expected. Even the one with egg on it.
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I sent that picture to my mum and she said she’d rather have egg than pineapple and I’m not going to give you her contact information as hate mail is just not nice.

Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Thirteen

Well today was extra special because it was hubby’s birthday!
I had a special day planned in Kyoto for him.

IMG_4047Last time we were in Japan we really messed up because when we went to Kyoto, we didn’t have any idea what we were going to see. We just hopped on a train and got here and really saw nothing.
Everyone raves about how beautiful Kyoto is so I really wanted to make sure we saw something in the small amount of time we had.
I researched self guided walks in Kyoto and came across a site that had 11 points of interest in the Higashiyama area. Click on the link to read more
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/higashiyama-area-walking-tour-2454.html

So I’ll just name the site we were at and add a couple of photos I took there.

1) Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art

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Just outside this museum there was a market happening.

So many people!!!

And so many really interesting goods and foods on sale.

We couldn’t even get to what we wanted to look at because there were just too many people.

2) Shoren-in

 

3) Chion-in Temple

4) Gion District

We went here during the day – It comes alive at night!!! Very interesting place though.

5) Yasaka Shrine

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6) Kodai-ji Temple


We then walked up hill for quite some time passing glorious shops and women/girls dressed as geisha’s. This was the best part of the walk for me!

7) Kiyomizu-dera Temple

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8) Kawai Kanjiro Memorial Gallery

This looked closed so I only took a photo of the front.

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9) Kyoto National Museum

Saw this sign in front of the museum… and there really has been a LOT of police about these last few days.

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10) Sanjusangen-do

11) Kyoto Tower

And just before we got to the Kyoto Tower, we passed the side of Kyoto we saw last time we were here… and you may understand why our impression was not so good..

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After that we explored Kyoto Station which is quite an interesting building. So much to see!! And there is a peaceful garden on top. This is really really high!! High for a building you don’t expect to be high. You can get to the top mostly by escalators and I think if you have a fear of heights it might unnerve you a bit.

 

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And seeing as I write about food, here are pictures of what we ate today!!

First a “sandwich” at Tully’s. It was a bit disappointing. Three slices of bread with a bit of stuff inside. It was nice and fresh though, I think I just wanted more.

For hubby’s birthday dinner we went to Hard Rock Cafe and got some nacho’s to share a couple of burgers and more Sangria!


While this has been our most pricey meal, it was really good!! And the service was pretty amazing too!!
We had been sitting there a little while and one glass of Sangria had already been drunk. I said to hubby “Honey it’s your birthday, you can have whatever you want!”
“Oh now you tell me” he replied, “We’ve already ordered!”
Whoops

On the way back we had to stop at Hommachi station. I was busy trying to work out the ticket machine and trying to work out how much it was going to cost us to get from Osaka to Hommachi. Hubby was still trying to work out what our route was going to be. He came up to me and said “Hommachi”? I said “180 yen”
I thought he’d said “How much?”
And as he normally does make that kind of joke, I really thought he was being clever but he was genuinely just confirming what station we were getting off at…

And to finish off this entry, have a look at the cute little socks I bought here!
I feel adorable with these on!


Tomorrow, we’ll eat local, I promise!

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.