Sake to me Baby – Japan Day Eleven

I’m so sad that today is our last day here in Japan. I’ve just loved being here. I wish I could take the whole country home with me.
While I couldn’t live here permanently, I could see myself living here a few months of the year.

We packed up and left our room close to check out time. I think we just wanted to make the most of it. Our Air BNB room was just fantastic! The only thing missing was an iron which I was silently happy about because I didn’t have to iron hubby’s shirt. I hate ironing.

And I know you’re just busting to find out… yes, the television is STILL on mute. We didn’t win that battle.
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First thing we did was hop on a train using our wonderful JR West pass, to Osaka Station. From there it was a hop skip and a jump to Starbucks. Hubby hasn’t been as obsessed with Starbucks this trip as he has in previous years.

We walked to the Umeda Sky Building. We had no choice after a kind Japanese man saw us looking at an information board. We did want to go there, but just wanted to know what general direction it was in because apart from anything else, we wanted a bathroom break before going.
But he said “follow me” in a heavy accent and we had no choice. Every now and then he kept looking over his shoulder to see if we were following. He only had a few words in English so I didn’t know how to tell him we weren’t planning to go there just yet.

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But, the bathroom had to wait as he led us most of the way there.
This is an impressive building no doubt! I didn’t take many pics as we have done this on a previous visit.

If you want to see my previous entries showing more pics, you can click here and here

Here are a few pics I took of the building today and around it as well.


Then we walked back to the station towards the Hep 5 building.
Here’s a few pics I took along the way.


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Both ravenous and still in search of some Okonomiyaki, we stopped at a place in the Hep 5 building.

I thought we’d scored! There’s Okonomiyaki right there on the menu!

Now I know there’s lot of different types of Okonomiyaki. I don’t mind them as long as they don’t have anything fishy in it.

When ours came out, it was fishy. No!!!
I tried to eat it but I just couldn’t. And those little flakes on top move as if they’re alive and it’s just so off putting!!

Hubby and I asked for ours without any of the sauces because I just don’t like the heavy sauces they use. I find it ruins the taste of the food.

This is what ours looked like. Our cute little server couldn’t believe we didn’t want sauce and even brought our dishes out with sauces in little jars on the side in case she had misunderstood us.

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I’m not sure what that thing the Okonomiyaki is placed on is called, but I can tell you it’s more or less a rice omelette. There’s rice inside that yellow stuff and THAT part was delicious!!!!

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That’s what it looked like inside!!

It’s making my mouth water just looking at it.

They use egg with just about everything here!!

And meat is terribly expensive. Especially if you want anything of a half decent quality.

I’m not a big meat eater so I don’t mind but that’s probably why they have a lot of egg and fish.

We were just killing time so decided to get on the train to the airport. We’re always so unsure when we get on a train. Don’t let me put you off, it’s pretty straight forward but so often we find ourselves on the platform still waiting for the English to come up and there is the train coming! So we just trust our gut and get on.
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We’ve only been wrong once and that wasn’t this trip but still… And even with this train to the airport. We got on it and after a few stops we heard the announcement that the first four cars of the eight car train were going to the airport, but the last four were going to be uncoupled at some stage to go somewhere else! I mean imagine we’d been sitting back there and hadn’t heard the announcement?

So now we’re at the airport waiting for our flight back to Australia.
I’m so sad this time is over. We’ve had an amazing time here and if you have a chance to come, I’d definitely recommend it.
You’re not coming here for shopping, you’re coming here to experience a different culture. We could all learn something from the Japanese.

Japan, thanking you for having us once again and we look forward to coming back soon!

Oyasuminasai

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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!

Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Eleven

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Thankfully the rain cleared and hubby and I were able to have a relaxed look around some of our favourite spots from last year.

We walked to our favourite Aeon Mall and once we were there, kind of wondered why we’d come.

I mean, there is a Starbucks there so hubby was able to get a coffee but apart from walking down the same shops, we didn’t see anything exciting.

Oh, actually I’m wrong, we did see a bakery with an interesting sign out the front.

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I keep forgetting to take photos of the interesting English translations that there are here.
I’m not having a go at the Japanese, after all, it’s not their language, I’m just having a little giggle. If I tried to speak Japanese I’m sure they’d have a big giggle!

After reading that sign I had to try some of their items and found that everything in that store was 100 yen!! That’s like $1.20 AUD! Bargain!!
I was so excited I forgot to take a photo of what we ate but here is a photo I took later. I wonder what they thought as they saw me come up and take photos shortly after purchasing and eating some of their goods.


The two things I photographed were savoury but they had amazing looking sweet baked goods too.

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We went to a liquor store and I took photos of the giant (four litre) bottles of alcohol.

I got hubby to hold a smaller bottle next to them for some perspective.

I’m sure you can get that kind of stuff in Australia somewhere but it’s not as readily visible as they seem to be in Japan and they’re a quarter of the price that you’d get it for in Australia.

After that we walked back to Dotonbori. This place is just amazing. Any kind of food you want and always stacked with people!!


And a couple of interesting pictures along the way….


Hubby and I tried to take selfies along the canal. I think I took about fifty seven but here’s two that just made the grade. I’m posting them both even though they look the same and are not really showing scenery because it took us so long to take them that I feel they both deserve internet space.


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And oh look, another sign that made us smile…

Lots of seafood here… if you love seafood you would be in heaven but unfortunately I don’t and was feeling quite queasy by the time we were walking out.


Look at all the people!! And this is on a Thursday morning. I think it was about midday…

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We really really really wanted okonomiyaki for lunch and had passed so many places that were doing it, but when it came time to eat, couldn’t find one place. Unbelievable!!

So we went to Red Rock. A place we’d visited last time we were here and had had a really yummy beef bowl.


One is a “sliced beef” bowl and the other is “roast beef” bowl. We couldn’t quite work out which was which but pretty much shared them anyhow.

IMG_3979OH….  and I had the worst Sangria I’ve ever had in my life in this place. The food was good, the Sangria was crap. It was like drinking cask wine.
I’ve had Sangria a couple of times since I’ve been in Japan and every time it’s been amazing!! Better than I ever expected so my expectations were high today. I was really let down.

I had to giggle though because I took this photo as soon as they were put down on the table and doesn’t it look like one has been drunk already??? I gave that one to hubby… after all, he’s not the wine person in this relationship!

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We went back to our apartment to recharge our devices (and ourselves) and set back out to see Dotonbori by night.

We walked and walked and walked. In fact we almost got to Osaka station!

Hubby was sorry he missed the AFL game last week and wondered if there was an “aussie” type pub here where he’d be able to watch it. Not only IS there a pub, but it’s pretty close to where we’re staying!!


The game is on tomorrow but we thought we’d check it out. It’s not traditional by any means by there were a few aussies in there and the soccer game they had was being played in Adelaide! So that made us feel at home.
The guy behind the bar said they’d be playing the Adelaide Crows game (AFL) tomorrow so no doubt we’ll be back!

Drinks were a little more expensive here though and I asked for a red wine which was 500 yen. I was more than horrified when I saw him take a glass up to a cask and pour me a red wine from that.
Cask Wine?
In full view of all the patrons?
I wanted to cry.
What did it taste like? Well, as it turns out, it tasted just like Cask Wine.
Okonomiyaki was still on our minds. We researched this a little bit before heading out and knew which Okonomiyaki place we wanted to go to tonight.

We watched the food being made as we were right near the kitchen

Pretty interesting place!!

While I was having mine I thought it was the BEST food I’ve had in Japan

Hubby had one too although I think his might have been pork.


We also got some rice to share.

The thing about the food here is that it can be quite rich and heavy with sauces. So it was great while I was eating it but it felt heavy on me for quite some time after.
In fact, I told hubby tonight that I think I want to eat “Western” tomorrow…

I may change my mind after a good night’s sleep! No plans for tomorrow yet although I’m wanting a trip to Osaka Castle so maybe it will be there!

Oyasumi!

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 Eight

Another beautiful day in Japan today! I love that we’re experiencing gorgeous warm weather. I think I might have to move here during the Winter months in Adelaide!

One thing I don’t understand is how the majority of people seem to be slim when their food is so processed and fried. The supermarkets are full of ready to go meals. Most of them are fried.
There are so many places that sell those delicious looking pastries and cakes and they all seem to be so highly processed!
You won’t easily find diet soda’s here and in fact there aren’t many “soft” drinks around. Actually it’s not really that hard to find it, especially as the West continues to have an influence, but it’s not as common as you’d find back home.

IMG_3817Hubby and I are almost out of ideas for what we want to do.
This morning we decided to walk to Ueno, have another look around and then maybe, eventually, make our way on foot to the Tokyo Metropolitan Building.

We stopped for a coffee at Starbucks. See that pic on the right? That was in their cake display. Alongside the delicious looking cakes they had a meat pie!!

We sat there enjoying the scenery in Euno park. It was very relaxing!

 

Next stop was Harajuko. I seem to get these places mixed up. I just didn’t remember going to these shops before!
Hubby says it must be wonderful being me, it’s like I’m experiencing it all for the first time every time I go there…
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We walked down Takeshita Street again and this time I noticed the huge Candy Canes!

Can you see it on the left?

It doesn’t look as big in her hands as it did when a four year old was holding one.

There was a huge line to get these as well!

We’ve been noticing a few places here that do Kebabs. I can’t imagine that they would be like “our” kebabs but today curiosity got the better of us and we had to get some.

 

One Beef and one Chicken.
They actually tasted not bad!

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I don’t know if you can notice the meat as it’s cooking.

Chicken on the left and beef on the right.

This guy was quite busy too!!

And alongside him was a place that was selling fries…

Moving right along…
After walking past the high end stores of Harajuku again, we decided to walk to Shinjuku.
I have to confess, I really love saying it. Shinjuku. There’s just something about that name!

IMG_3825We walked past the Meiji shrine and were amazed at how close it was to the station. Last year when we’d come here we’d gone via another station and walked a few kilometres to get to it.
The more you walk, the more you realise that so many stations are so close to each other that you probably don’t have to take the train as often as you think.

I found the display of the old wine and sake barrels very interesting.
Hopefully you can read the information in the pics below.

 


I just LOVE the Metropolitan Government Building.
Firstly, because it’s free to go up it!!

 

There’s great views of Tokyo from there and on a good day, you can even see Mt Fuji.
Today was not one of those days but we did see Fuji last time we were here.

 

Secondly, I like coming here because there’s a couple of gift shops and a restaurant.
Yes, the gift shops are slightly over priced but there’s not many people around and while hubby goes to have a coffee in the restaurant, I can take my time and really look at everything they have for sale.

I came away with a few goodies that are now tucked safely in my suitcase!

 


Another thing we love about Shinjuku is Brooklyn Parlor!!
We stumbled across this place last time by accident and this time, sought it out.

There’s just such a great atmosphere here!!! Hubby and I were definitely the oldest ones in there though.
We had a couple of drinks and shared some fries while giving our feet a bit of a rest.

As we made our way back I couldn’t help but wonder what side of the road we’re actually supposed to walk on. They drive on the left so you’d figure when walking on paths you should keep left. This is especially true as you share the path with so many bikes!!! Yet people don’t tend to keep left. I don’t think they stick to any side actually!

At the train station they have signs keeping you to keep left or right. Sometimes it’s left, sometimes it’s right.
When riding escalators, everyone keeps to the left… or right… (I love how they do that!!!) Leaving the other side free for people that want to race on by.

I was too late to take pics of our dinner but dumplings and rice made another appearance (not surprising)
I do like the food here but I’m not one who says I LOVE the food. I kind of miss having different vegetables and fruit. While you can have those things here, a lot of them tend to be very expensive and I don’t see them as a common thing being offered in restaurants.
I could be wrong, just what I’ve noticed in the short time we’ve been here.

Tomorrow is our last full day in Tokyo… I’m not sure what that day has in store yet!! Time to plan.