In search of Cherry Blossom – Part Four

We got hit by cold weather today! It didn’t rain and it wasn’t overly windy, it was just frosty cold.
I went walking early this morning and was sorry I hadn’t rugged up more.

Surprisingly, even though it’s Saturday and I was out about 7am, there were still lots of men walking around wearing suits.

There’s some sort of convenience store every few steps but I can’t seem to find diet lemonade in any of them (although there’s lots of alcohol for sale there)

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By the time I got back to the apartment hubby was ready for coffee.

The Starbucks we went to was quite full.

I’ve mentioned before that the Japanese people will put their purses/phones, or any other personal item on a table to “save” it while they go up to make their order. (See this pictured right )

We saw this even in the busy city Starbucks that we were in.

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Hubby wanted to see the Umeda Sky Tower and I was kind of curious to see the Cup Noodle Museum as last time we were in Japan, we happened to visit on the one day of the week that it was closed.

We walked over to the Sky Tower first (left)

We tried to get there by going through as many underground passageways we could find as it was just so cold!

What an interesting building this is! The architecture is just amazing and we discovered that it was designed by the same person who designed Kyoto Station (we visited this yesterday – go back one entry if you missed it!)

You can go right up to Level 39 for free. If you’re brave, you can pay 1000 yen or so (About $12.50 aud) to go up another few levels to the open observation deck.
Level 39 was more than enough for us!


The basement level has an old world Japan feel. It was very peaceful (apart from when the tour group came through) and looked out onto some lovely gardens.


It’s open quite late and we intend on coming back after dark to see the city lights!

Next stop was the Cup Noodle Museum. I didn’t really know what to expect other than we were going to get to make our own ramen at some point.

When we got in we were ushered through to a section that showed the history of ramen. All of it was in Japanese and I think there was an English guide available but we really just wanted to make our ramen so we went straight through to the back to do that.

It was pretty full in there! We were lined up. When we got to the front of the line we were told we were going to personalise our cups, then go over and choose what we wanted to put in there.

We got shown to a table that had special markers on them. The instructions on the table said “Draw your own picture”
Hubby took that quite literally and started drawing a picture of himself. I drew pictures of flowers. He looked over at mine and said “Where’s your picture?” and I said “Right here!” wondering why he was even asking me… and then it hit me, he was expecting me to draw a picture of myself! I just got the giggles so bad after that and couldn’t stop laughing.
Here are the pictures we drew. Hubby’s likeness is pretty good no?


Still giggling we went on over to the back and chose the contents.

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After it comes out, you get to put it in the air locked bag which you can wear around you shoulders.

I thought we were going to be able to eat them right away but unfortunately no.

If you go to the eating area, you have to purchase the noodles from the vending machines and… well just add hot water!

So we did that but it was a bit anti climatic.

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I’m still glad we went. If nothing else, I belly laughed like I haven’t for quite some time.

Back to Osaka station we went. I really wanted to do some shopping. So many interesting things here.

I’m not sure what this thing in the bottom left pic is??

A spaghetti pie?
I don’t know if you can read it but the empty plates in the picture on the right say “Please Wait”

And I’ll just finish off with a few interesting things and signs I saw today.

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Peach coke? I don’t think so!!

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I saw this sign in a few places. I still don’t know what it was trying to communicate.

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Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Sixteen

Our time is coming to an end and we’re kind of running out of new things to do but I also feel like I want to spend more time around this Dotonbori area.

There is just so much to see and do!

So many different foods! So many people. It both terrifies and excites me.

This is not the place to be if you don’t like crowds!

Hubby was having a bit of a lie in this morning so I took myself for a walk and really enjoyed watching people going about their business.

Most of the shops aren’t open until 10am. That may sound late but they also stay open very late. I really wanted to get some junk cute things from Daiso. I know we have this store in Australia but I’ve never been in one in Australia.

IMG_4213.JPGI know there’s just cheap, nothing goods in there but it’s exciting!!

So are the 100 yen stores! I just love them!!
“This is really only 100 yen??” I find myself exclaiming.

It’s much easier to shop in these stores when hubby isn’t around.
Look at the cute little Hello Kitty bag I got for 100 yen. I think it might actually be a bag to carry cold/fridge foods but I’m going to use it as a make up bag for as long as I can. It’s just too cute!

When I got back to the room, hubby and I had a breakfast of coffee and naughty bakery goods (Oh god I love them so much) then set off to walk through the streets and I snapped a couple of pictures along the way.

 


I took that pic on the left to show how every apartment has an area for bike parking. There aren’t that many places for cars and usually they’re off site (not in the same area as the apartment block) but bike parking you’ll see EVERYWHERE!!!
It’s pretty stressful walking down the street. We’ve seen lots of near misses between people on bikes and cars/buses/pedestrians but never actually seen a collision. I don’t even know how we haven’t because they’re crazy on their bikes!!!

As we walked we talked about places we’ve been and foods we’ve eaten and we started reminiscing about the huge bowls of ramen we got at this particular food court. Unbeknownst to me, hubby started to walk towards it (we were about four kilometres away) I had no idea. He didn’t tell me, he just kept walking.
It was about 2pm at this stage and I was starting to get pretty hungry. I kept pointing out restaurants saying “Mmmm that looks delicious, should we go there?” but he would barely grunt out an answer.
I guess it was his little way of annoying surprising me.

We got to our favourite food court eventually but when we went to the place we ordered the ramen from, the menu looked different. We couldn’t tell what it had been that we used to order!!
The girl at the counter didn’t speak English (we were trying to ask if a particular dish had meat in it. Pork? Chicken?) So she told us to wait and got someone else who also didn’t understand us.
IMG_4206In the end, hubby pointed to some things on the menu and said we’ll just take that.
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I’m not sure that there was any meat in it. There could have been very very very pink bacon in it. Perhaps some tofu like thing… Not sure, but it was pretty delicious!
In the middle there were like fried noodles. I’m not sure exactly. They were crispy. I don’t know the name for them.

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We also chose to drink Calpis which is everywhere here and a delight to say out loud.

“Oh I just loving drinking Calpis.
Would you like to drink Calpis?
thought you’d never ask!”

It was like a more delicious version of lemonade. I really liked it. No diet version though so it’s unlikely I’ll be having it again. Diet drinks aren’t easy to come by here by the way. You will find them, but not as easy as you find them in Australia and many restaurants don’t offer any sort of diet drinks.

So although we enjoyed what we ate, it wasn’t what we were expecting.

We consoled ourselves by visiting the 100 yen bakery downstairs.
OH.MY.GOD this place!
I could have eaten the whole store but we only picked two varieties.

 

I liked the one on the right a lot more. It had a chocolate filling too! The berries were soooo sweet. I just loved it. The other was either a baked cheesecake or had a custard filling. I wasn’t quite sure.
It too was delicious but not as good as the first.

Tomorrow is our last day in Osaka and we’re capping it off with a visit to Rinku Town!! I’m so excited!! The train has taken us past this place every time we’ve arrived or left but we’ve never stopped. It’s full of outlet malls apparently!

I’m not even a shopper but I’m excited!!! Hubby, where’s your wallet??

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 Five

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We’ve eaten like locals, we’ve settled in and feel right at home handling money and interacting with other Japanese people so what to do today?

So far hubby and I have gone to places we visited last time and wanted to see again. Today it was time for something different!

We didn’t get to Roppongi last time so we decided to start the day with a trip to Roppongi.

I had a quick look online and saw a couple of places I wanted to visit.

One of the places I read about was the Nogi Shrine.

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I won’t go into details  here but it’s worth having a google and a read and it made the place all the more interesting to visit.
Lastly, being slightly arachnophobic, I had to visit the great Maman!

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It was impressive!  If you look up and underneath here, you’ll notice she’s carrying eggs as well.

Now we knew we wanted to eventually get to the Rainbow bridge today but didn’t have set plans and figured we were brave enough to use public transport from wherever we were so we just walked.

IMG_3638Up to now, every place we’ve visited (mostly tourist places) were just packed with people and interesting to see. As we walked we noticed less and less people and less and less shops and restaurants. We were entering a business district? At least that’s what we assumed.

I should give a special mention to these cute Westerners risking their lives on the streets in these interesting vehicles!!

The drivers at the back were actually dressed in onesies and gave us a friendly wave as they drove past.

We walked on thinking we’d hit something interesting soon but after almost an hour of walking we set our google maps for Tokyo Tower and headed back into that direction.

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It looked pretty impressive as we approached it.

On the way we passed the Australian Ambassador’s residence and that was interesting to look at too.

Hubby and I weren’t really interested in going up the Tower, we just wanted to sit and have a look at the shops.

My eyes lit up when I saw there was a food court inside! It just makes ordering food so much easier AND they had a place that was doing beef/rice bowls! Alright!!

 


My beef bowl, topped with runny egg is in the left and hubby had some pork/rice thing. They were both delicious and both came with Miso soup which was really tasty too!

IMG_3650Once we were done with that, hubby asked which train was going to take us to the Rainbow bridge.
I checked out google maps but it was a mass of train/bus confusion and I said “You know, we’re only just under 4kms away, we should walk it!”

I can’t say that hubby agreed but we did end up walking it and I’m glad we did because I think we just see so much more when we walk.

IMG_3651Again, the structure looked impressive as we approached it. They sure don’t do things by halves here!

The pic on the right is NOT the rainbow bridge but the on-ramp to the bridge.
I did take pics of it but unfortunately didn’t load them in time for this entry.

I took a couple of pics from the middle of it though!

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It was such an experience!! Apart from the bridge itself, it was incredibly windy. So much so, I thought I was going to drop my phone a couple of times and felt unsteady on my feet! The bridge was constantly shaking and the traffic was noisy as it rushed by.

I really loved it and was glad we’d made the effort to get out here.

Once we crossed the bridge it felt like we were in a different country or even a different era! Everything was quieter and more laid back.
We walked through a couple of malls, bought some over priced frozen yoghurt then hubby begged for us to take the train back over the bridge. I really wanted to walk it again but we took the train.

We’re a bit sad that we’re not able to watch our favourite AFL team The Adelaide Crows playing tonight. Hubby has been trying to get it via anyway he can but we can’t seem to connect. Must be a country thing.

Aside from that, we enjoyed some more local foods. I think we’ve eaten dumplings every day since we’ve been here!!

 


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And the grocery store saw us once again for some bread desserts.

I bought three this time and opened one as hubby and I walked back to our apartment.
I’m not sure I bought the right thing because although it tasted nice, it was like eating raw dough so maybe I’d bought something that had to be baked some more at home?? could that be possible??
Either way it was nice!!
Now back to trying to get that Crows game happening….

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!!