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!!

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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 Twelve

We definitely got our steps in today!! And enjoyed a gloriously sunny day in beautiful Osaka. There is always something to see and do (and taste!) here.

 

I was a bit annoyed because we were going to the downtown area and hubby wanted to take the train. I wanted to walk it.
We ended up taking the subway and it was probably just as well because when we got to the downtown area, hubby decided he really really needed a Starbucks coffee.

IMG_4016We walked and walked and walked and walked. We walked more than if we’d walked from our apartment directly to the Starbucks in the downtown area.

We asked at an information booth and were given vague directions… we tried to find it using google maps but who knows what floor it was directing us to. We couldn’t find it.

Finally we looped back and found one in the Hep Building (where the giant rollercoaster is located) but it wasn’t open until 11am so we had to wait a little while.

Was it worth it? Well it was nice to sit down for fifteen minutes or so!!

After Starbucks we continued higher in the Hep building and found ourselves on a floor where we had no idea what was going on.
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There were pictures of girls on the wall and some kind of sign saying two girls were ok.

(I wish I’d taken a picture of that one!)

On the right is a picture I DID take while we were up there….

Oh and while we were walking around on those streets outside, we passed a guy who was actually using a rechargeable shaver as he walked! That’s being time efficient I guess.

I said in my last post that I didn’t want to eat local today. I could have been swayed but hubby and I walked past this Italian place that we didn’t get to go into last time we were here. The line was just too big!! Today there was no line although it was quite busy inside.

I’m glad we went there as we got a decent amount of food and it was not bad.

I was quite proud of myself too as although I couldn’t understand what the server was saying, I knew what she was saying and was answering accordingly. The only time I was stumped was when she tried to tell us that we could help ourselves to Miso Soup and water.
There was a nice gentleman sitting in the table next to us who translated (his English was very good!)

Hubby got some hamburger steak dish and I got pasta. We also got a small salad and “pizza” and a 250ml carafe of house wine. All of that came to 1700 yen!! (About $21 AUD) What a bargain!

 


I felt like I’d eaten quite a bit after that!
Hubby let me try some of his meat and it was really nice!
I asked in a quiet voice “Do you want to try some of mine” and he said “Rest easy, I’m not interested in yours”
He knows me well…

Next stop was Osaka Castle. I was surprised when hubby said to put it into google maps, to see how far it was. Usually that means he’s considering walking it. As it was about four kilometres, we did walk.

I love walking because I just think you get to see more. You see more of the local and not tourist areas and you see people doing whatever it is they do in their every day life.

 

We didn’t go inside the castle but we did get some delicious soft serve icecreams and had a rest under the shade of a tree. There are so many places you can get soft serve icecream from here!!!

IMG_4043As we were sitting there, we saw a guy all of a sudden drop to the ground. He seemed to be stretching. Hubby was just about to say “Look at that guy stretching on the ground. Why would he do that there?”

It seemed odd as he was in the hot sun.
Moments later a woman came up to him and asked if he was ok.

We couldn’t hear what he said but it seemed like he was saying he’d had a cramp. His shoe was off.

This woman proceeded to massage his foot and calf!!

I couldn’t imagine doing that to a stranger. He didn’t seem like he was in pain but I guess he was? I had to take a picture.

They walked off in different directions so they were definitely not together.

From Osaka Castle we walked back to our apartment near Namba Station. Yes we’ve done a lot of kilometres today!!

I decided I’d try to cook in this little kitchen in the apartment tonight as every time we go to the supermarket I see that beautifully marbled meat and I just wonder what it would taste like.

Unfortunately by the time we got there it was after 9pm and there was no nice marbled meat left… So we just got some pork and some other things and I still cooked but it was boring and not special so no pictures…

To finish things off I’ll just post a few pics and signs I saw about the place today.

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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!