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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Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Ten

Today we made our way to Osaka and I was again reminded how different Tokyo and Osaka are. More of that later!

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We got on the train and again noticed people sleeping.

In fact they nod off so deeply it’s not uncommon to have someone leaning against you – fast asleep.

Somehow though they manage to wake up just as they reach their stop.

I think this will never cease to amaze me.

While I’m on the train I LOVE looking at the ads and trying to figure out what they’re for!
I’ve seen some beauties..

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IMG_3905We arrived at our Air BNB in Osaka and were really happy with it!

It’s in a fantastic location, just near Namba Nankai train station and a hop skip and a jump by Dotonbori.

Hubby and I spent a lot of time here last year and now that we know what’s around, we’re doubly excited!

Osaka is known as the food lovers Paradise of Japan and I just can’t wait to get in there and try some things. I don’t know how these people stay so slim!!! Every day it’s a wonder!

IMG_3907It was raining quite heavily when we got here so we had to do most of our exploring under cover.

We walked along a covered mall looking at the shops, the food, and the people.

Lots of tourists here too.

While in Tokyo, the men mostly seemed to be in suits, here they seem to be more relaxed. They certainly are mostly dressed well but it wasn’t all suits.

In Tokyo, you could probably bank on someone having at least a few words of English but here in Osaka it’s less likely.

People are still very eager to help you though and we even had one guy pulling out his phone to use google translate to help us. Honestly, these people are just so nice!

 

We walked past this place that was selling a sweet with custard filling. How could we say no?
We got a chocolate one and a plain custard one and they were so delicious!! The custard they make here is just so light and sweet. Not gluggy but it also doesn’t run everywhere. I really like it!
The pastry… or whatever it was that was around it, was crunchy and really delicious too. I was sorry we’d only bought one each.

We saw lots of local places that we could have eaten at but I just don’t fancy sitting around a square that faces the kitchen, eating in front of other people. I like to have my own table. I guess I just wasn’t in the mood for it so as we walked past “Wendy’s First Kitchen” we allowed the Japanese guy to entice us in and got Japanese, American burgers AND pasta… And chili fries which I’m sorry to say were a disappointment.

 


We walked around a bit more trying to find a supermarket to get coffee supplies for our apartment. It turned out to be way more difficult than we imagined and as it was still raining quite heavily, we didn’t want to go out exploring too much.

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We ended up going to a local 7/11 and buying a few things that we needed… and again, were enticed by the quick food they have on sale there.

The guy behind the counter said it was pork (isn’t every meat here pork?)

And it might have been a “cheap and nasty” bit of food from a 7/11 but it was actually alright.

Either that or we were still really hungry!!

Tomorrow we will be braver and will eat something more interesting!

It finally stopped raining and by this time hubby and I had taken a look on google maps (Our best friend) and found a decent supermarket about 800 metres from our apartment. Yay! I could spend hours in the supermarkets over here!!!

I took a few pics to share with you guys.

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What even is this stuff??

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According to the packaging, this is “salad mariage”

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All those foods above are sitting on a shelf. Not refrigerated or anything… just out in the open for people to breathe and sneeze all over.
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I guess the fish head is for broths? Either way… gross

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Lots of cheap (in comparasin to Australian, highly taxed, alcohol) alcohol available in all sorts of places from drugstores to supermarkets.
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I’m not sure if that’s sake above, but it’s in cartons?

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What is that above???? What??

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Sadly apples are quite expensive… but I’ve been eating one most days. They’re pretty delicious!

Can’t wait to see Dontonbori tomorrow!!

Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Nine

Our last full day in Tokyo.

IMG_3847One thing that continues to surprise me is that hubby wakes up every morning and puts the television and AND watches it, even though there is nothing on but Japanese TV.

There’s nothing on in the English language.
I understand some people have it on for comfort or background noise, but he sits there and watches it.

Every morning I’ve been going for a walk first thing in the morning and every morning, even on weekends, I see most of the men dressed in black pants and white shirts. Often they’re in full suits. Where are all these people in business attire going?
imagesThey’re just walking down the street in this non business district so why are they dressed like that.
In fact often hubby and I will just look at each other and say “Where are all these people going??”

When you think about it, it’s not surprising as it first seems as there are millions and millions of people here. They all have to be somewhere!

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Our first stop today was Yokohama. As I write this, today is Tuesday and that means that a lot of places we wanted to visit in Yokohama were closed.

As we left the train station  was again impressed at how everyone keeps to the left of the escalators. Why can’t they do that in Adelaide!!!

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We exited the station in Yokohama and went through to the Nissan building.

Hubby was very impressed!

From what we saw as we left the station, we thought Yokohama looked newer than other parts of Japan that we’ve seen and it was almost like a ghost town! Where were all the people? Even the footpaths were clear of biked rushing past!
It almost felt wrong.

We walked past the amusement park and eventually found ourselves in a shopping area but really, there were hardly any people around.


We went into that building on the top right above. Hubby had to keep watching where he was walking as many ceilings are just not built for his height.

One of the places we went into had a food court. They really really really love Hawaii here!

I was enticed by a picture from one of the food places but unfortunately, it didn’t come out like the picture and I felt disappointed when we got our food.

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After this we walked to China town and I was EVEN MORE disappointed that we’d wasted our time eating in the “Hawaiian” mall.

There were so many good foods everywhere. Hubby and I had these honey sesame balls. I was too late to take a photo!!! But they were delicious and I had that sesame taste in my mouth for a while.
There was food everywhere including roasted chestnuts on most corners.
I read that this China Town in Yokohama is the largest in Japan and from what I saw today I’d have to believe it! It was huge!


We even saw a place that advertised “foot massage”. But what it was, was similar to what I’ve seen in Bali where you put your feet in water and have those little fish come up and nip at you. Apparently your skin is nice and smooth after that!


We walked around a bit more and eventually found ourselves at a familiar sight!
Hard Rock Cafe!!
We were quite “thirsty” so it was a given that we’d go in here for a drink and I’m glad we did!

We met a nice server who was happy to practice his English with us while I enjoyed a Sangria or two..

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I’m glad we made the trip out to Yokohama today even though the “Noodle Cup Museum” was closed. That would have been interesting to see!!

One thing that made us giggle seeing an “Eggs and Things” place. We had seen these all over Honolulu when we were there and there was ALWAYS a huge line out the front. One day, curiosity got the better of us and we lined up too. We wanted to see what the fuss was all about. Once we’d eaten there, we didn’t understand the obsession. We just didn’t get it. The food was average. What’s the attraction?
Anyhow, in this Eggs and Things place in Yokohama, there was also a line out front!!! Seriously!

Once we got home we picked up some food locally…. some chicken fried things, spring rolls (so oily!!), rice and noodles all to share.

We’ve been to this place many times this week as it’s close to home so it’s very convenient. I wonder if they’ll miss us when we’re gone?

Tomorrow we leave for Osaka which is a food lovers paradise!

I’ll just leave you with this sign that we saw close by the Hard Rock Cafe in Yokohama.

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Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Four

Here we are waking up to another beautiful day in the ever mysterious Japan.

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Sake  – Not the actual kind I bought though.

I forgot to mention in my last entry that hubby and I bought some Sake yesterday. I have no idea what kind it was. In fact, we weren’t entirely sure that we were in the Sake section but a nice young lady helped us out.

I just chose a small bottle and later on we tried some. Hubby screwed up his nose immediately. I thought there was a nice, even sweet aroma from it but it’s not a drink for me. Give me a nice Cab Sav from the Coonawarra region any day.
I’m glad I’ve finally tried some though as I’ve always wondered what it tasted like.

We were a little sore after a full day of walking yesterday so went into a chemist to try to find something nurofen like. We had an interesting conversation with the pharmacist and thanks to google translate, finally left the chemist with a drug with ibuprofen in it and NOT an ointment for itchy skin…

DSC_0660.JPGFirst stop today was Harejuku. The only thing I knew about Harejuku was that Gwen Stefani had a song called “Harejuku Girls”

What I found was an amazing array of high end shops!  Not that I went into any of them, but it was just shop after shop of designer stores.

We saw a couple of Japanese men who were parting after having a conversation.
One bowed, then the other bowed, then the first bowed again and on it went!
When was it going to end I wondered!! It was like two teenage lovers saying “You hang up”, ” No you hang up”, “No you hang up”
Very funny.

Hubby was a little miffed that he wasn’t the only non Asian. In fact there were plenty of tourists around!! I could have been walking around Sydney CBD for all I knew.

It suddenly poured with a pelting rain so hubby and I snuck into a coffee shop for a snack and hot drink.
Just look at what they were serving!

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They were sweet hot dog style buns with a variety of fillings (as seen above) from noodles and eggs and tuna, to jam and chocolate and god knows what else!

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We settled for the egg and it was really pretty delicious!

I was surprised at how sweet the bun was though.

One thing that continues to surprise me here is that you can’t smoke on the streets.

They have designated “smoking areas” where you can smoke outside however you can still smoke in a lot of restaurants, albeit in the “smoking” section.


I just loved Takeshita Street!!! The pronunciation is probably not how you’ve just said it in your head!
I bought so many little things here and could easily have bought lots more.

Hubby and I decided to get a little something sweet that kind of looked like a Churro when we first saw it.

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The outside was crunchy and the inside was what they called a custard. It was really very light and the whole thing was pretty delicious!

We walked from Harejuku to Shibuya and then back to Harejuku… I think… After a while it all seemed to blend into one for me.

Hubby asked if I wanted to walk to Shinjuku and maybe get some dinner there. At first I was a little confused as I thought we had already been there but no, this was a new destination for today…
So we walked to Shinjuku and again were overcome by the throngs of people, the lights, the noise, the activity, the smell of food!!! Everything is just overwhelming!!

We found a little place and ate like locals tonight. The waitress had to come and help us order because even though we were now familiar with the ordering system, the menu wasn’t in English so we didn’t know what buttons to press…

Hubby had some Pork Ramen
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He’d been searching for it all day!

I had my heart set on a beef bowl but the waitress said they only did pork. No chicken, no beef.
So I opted for rice and we got some gyoza to share too.


It was all pretty delicious and I’m glad we opted for this and didn’t wuss out and get Western type food.
I’m actually amazed at the amount of Italian places that are here. So many restaurants do pasta and pizza! It’s so tempting to go Western style because at least you have an idea of what you might be getting…

We finally got back to our room after walking for almost twelve hours straight.. and yes, we did make a sneaky stop into the grocery store on the way home for a few Japanese goodies…

Looking forward to doing some more sight seeing and Japanese dining tomorrow but first, where’s that ibuprofen!!

Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Three

I’m so looking forward to a week here in Tokyo!!

One thing that continues to amaze me is the way the locals can fall asleep in an instant on the train. Hubby thinks they may be faking. While some may be, I think they’ve just trained themselves, or gotten into the habit of falling asleep as soon as they sit down.
I’m so jealous!! I wish I could fall asleep like that!

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As we were leaving our apartment this morning I noticed that it wasn’t quite built to cater for someone of hubby’s height…

We wanted to visit Sky Tower today and thought we’d help burn off those holiday food IMG_3566calories by walking there.

I’d found out there was a Hello Kitty store there and I really wanted to buy something from that store!

It actually took quite a bit of walking around to find it. You’d think I would have googled it earlier seeing as we had pocket wifi available (So handy!!) but even after I found out where it was via google, it still took a bit of walking around and back tracking.

We went through an area of shops and noticed that the owners, or workers, were standing at the front of the store and as we walked by, the all bowed to us! They put their heads down and they stayed down until we were past! One by one, as we passed, they all did it.
It was really a little unsettling. I wanted to tell them, no, you don’t have to do that!!
I’m sure it must be some sign of respect but I’d really prefer they didn’t do that.

Finally, my little kitty heaven store appeared before my eyes.
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Everything was outrageously priced as expected but hubby got me a little personal fan thing which I just love. Whatever it was, I would have loved it, coming from the Hello Kitty store!

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Back on the streets and we nervously looked over our shoulders for the bicycle riders. Just about everyone and their grandmother is on a bike.

Even mums can be seen transporting their toddlers and babies (yes both at the same time) via bike.

This lady must have been on her way to work..

Finally we stopped at a cafe that had a French name although I didn’t see anything French in there.
We got a couple of delicious pastries (no clue what they were) and a couple of drinks to fuel us for the next hour or so.

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That cake/muffin looking thing at the top was so incredibly light!! And when you bit into it, it felt like you were biting into cream yet there was no cream to be seen!
It was a banana/sesame flavour and it was just so delicious. I’ve never had anything like it.

After a decent walk we were in Ueno and had a look at the interesting shops and markets that are located there.
At one point we walked past a group of people that were taking photos. I’m sure there wasn’t anyone over five feet in that group. Hubby was standing behind them and I called out “Photo bomb them, photo bomb them!!!”
Hubby didn’t know what I was saying but the photographer all of a sudden looked up and just started laughing. Hubby’s 6’7” frame must be something quite different for them.

We stopped in a food court close to the train station. Hubby was pretty disgusted in my choice for lunch.

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Honestly these guys go crazy for Italian over here!!! It’s not the “Italian” as I know it but I didn’t mind this plate of pasta. He thought I should have had a local dish.

He went for a pork/rice bowl.

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He wins the food bravery award for today. If they’d had a beef bowl I would have had it but I just think Pork = Fat and it puts me off. Just because I love food and I love to eat doesn’t mean I’m food adventurous!!!

We stopped at the grocery store on the way back to our apartment to recharge our devices and I snapped a couple of photos of the frozen food section in the store. They have frozen pasta!!

I’m almost curious to try it… almost…

Later this evening we found another supermarket close to our apartment and I just wanted to share some of the items for sale. I just don’t know how this can be food safe. These packages are not refrigerated and as you can see, one even has an egg in it! I mean I guess it works otherwise they wouldn’t do it but I just see food poisoning waiting to happen!


For dinner hubby and I ended up buying some things from the supermarket and cooking at home. This kitchen here is tiny but we make it work.

I’ll just leave you with this pic of an ad I saw today. What the????

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