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.

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Turning Japanese – Part Seven

Osaka awaited us this morning.
With full confidence we left our lovely apartment and walked to the train station.
We were going to see Osaka Castle
No breakfast included in this accomodation apart from what we choose to provide for ourselves and as we’d gone grocery shopping we had the luxury of having a few coffees before we left our apartment!

We went to the Castle and took in the wonderful and awe inspiring sights. I’ve added a couple of pictures for you to get an idea of what we were looking at.

We had picked a couple of things we wanted to do in Osaka and one of them was to visit this mall that apparently went for kilometres… We were going to take the Osaka Loop line but once we googled, we saw it was only a couple of kilometres away so we walked there.

It was pretty interesting!! Lots of little shops and little food places. My stomach was starting to growl as apart from the coffee, we hadn’t eaten anything.

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After walking through the mall our hunger was building! We decided to put “food court” into google maps and go to the nearest one. That ended up being 2.5 kilometres away however once we got there, we saw it wasn’t what we consider a “food court” to be.
We were in the Hankyu building.
If you’re familiar with this building you may know that there isn’t a food court. There are plenty of restaurants in the basement level but not a food court as such – just a lot of restaurants – just as you’d see on the streets.
We went to the enquiry counter and they sent us to the 12th and 13th floor. They told us we’d find the “food court” there.
Once we got there we saw it wasn’t what we call a food court, and not only that, but these restaurants were definitely more hoity toity. Not what we were looking for in our walking clothes. But there were streams and streams of people lining up to go to them! There were so many people everywhere!!

So we went back down to the ground level and started walking back through the streets to find somewhere to have lunch. Disappointingly, some of the places we were interested in didn’t open until five. I’m not sure if that was because today is Saturday, or if that’s the way it always is.

We walked and walked and walked and finally fell into a place that had a picture of a sandwich roll on the window.
I think by this stage, I would have gone anywhere, even eaten octopus, just to be able to sit.

Very few people speak English here. They all say they speak a little, and they can get by with a few words but they can’t really communicate beyond a basic level. And that’s not a criticism!! Most people in Australia can only speak one language!
So hubby and I got a couple of “pizza’s” (similar to a sub or slice) and a premade sandwich.

The pizza was actually very good!! Now that could be because we were super tired and starving, having walked over eighteen kilometres at this point, but it was still very good and definitely hit the spot
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The sandwich was ok. Very thin and no crusts!! I love my crusts! Never take off the crust people it’s the best part!!

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Did you notice what is said on the sandwich?

How cute is that!

I wasn’t smiling until I actually read that message, but after, I was…

People here are just so courteous and nice. I wonder if I’m in some twilight zone. It just seems too perfect.

I made hubby walk all the way back to the apartment. Hubby and I decided to walk back to the apartment – all six kilometres, and before we got there, we stopped at the big supermarket near home and grabbed some treats AND a small bottle of Jim Beam (bargain price!) and a nice bottle of red for me.
Deeeeelicious and long overdue!

This evening, being creatures of habit and comfort, we headed back to that fabulous food court (staying well away from the place we’d gorged ourselves at yesterday) and ordered something different. Even when we’re handed an English menu, we still don’t know what we’re getting.
Throughout Tokyo and Osaka, we’ve seen street vendors and restaurants alike making these cute little balls. We didn’t know if they were savoury or sweet.
There was a vendor in the foodcourt that was making them so, being brave, we ordered a couple of dishes.
Even though the menu was English, it said “Takoyaki”. We don’t know what that is!
Later on, hubby googled it and we reaslied what they were. Octopus balls!!! We don’t normally eat seafood but I have to say they were soooo creamy and delicious! The only thing I could have done without was the barbeque tasting sauce that was on the top of one of our dishes.
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And each serve had eight balls so they were pretty filling!
We both felt like dumplings though and the beauty of being in a food court is that you can choose different things.. so we ordered some dumplings and some rice from another vendor (and sat at another table so hopefully no one noticed)
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The dumplings were nice but not as nice as others we’ve had. There wasn’t much filling in them but the taste was ok.
The rice was very full of flavour and crunchy!! Hubby and I had a little spat over them.
“But you said you didn’t want rice”
“I didn’t, till I knew you were getting some. How can I not eat it when you’re eating it in front of me”
“Because I wanted them. You said you didn’t”
“That was then, this is now, besides, you’re the one who always wants to share”
“And you don’t so get out of it. I got this for me”
Typical conversation between us really.

And to carry on with our bogan food theme today, we went to McDonalds to try to get a soft serve cone for dessert but they stop serving them after a certain time, so instead, we went to the convenience store and got something that kind of looked like a soft serve cone and it was delicious!! Vanilla and Coffee flavour and very creamy.

If these people didn’t all ride bikes incessantly, they’d be in trouble with all this creamy, highly processed and fatty foods!
I love it!