In search of Cherry Blossom – Part Three

I know I’m always going on about the Supermarkets here but honestly, it’s just so different to what we’re used to.
We made another midnight supermarket run last night and I took a few snaps of the food just sitting out on the benches unrefrigerated.

 


As you can see, some of the items have egg in it. Just sitting there on the bench waiting to be bought by someone. I must admit, I’ve been tempted to buy some of it. I mean they wouldn’t sell it if people got sick right?

In any case, today was Kyoto day! I tend to get up quite early so I thought I’d go for a walk and let hubby sleep a little longer. Streets in Japan can be quite confusing as they don’t follow the nice parallel lines that I’m used to however I had internet with me and google maps is always available.
I took a few snaps along the way.


One thing I didn’t know about Osaka until I visited for the first time is that it’s full of canals. It’s the Venice of Japan.

It wasn’t long before we were off to Kyoto. We’ve been there twice before and had very different experiences. Today, again, it was like we were visiting for the first time, seeing things we hadn’t seen before. This city just amazes me.

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Straight off the train we cross the river into the main part of the city. This place was so full of tourists today! All colours, all sorts of different accents.

After a little snack we headed on over to the Gion district. We had stumbled onto this section by accident last time and just fell in love with it. It’s just olden day Japan. People can hire traditional clothing and walk these streets. So many people do it! It really adds to the atmosphere.


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The Japanese are so helpful.

See that yellow sign in the picture above on the left?

Here is a close up of what it said.

And I’m glad they clarified by adding the picture of the camera.

We walked by instinct. We were searching for the  steps that had rows of shops alongside. Before reaching that area though, we came to some beautiful tranquil gardens.

At least it would have been tranquil if we weren’t sharing the space with 50 million other people. IMG_5506

And then, the steps!


Sorry those photos aren’t in order and I didn’t take as many as I thought I had. The last two are just random pictures along the way. The left one is of a sacred cemetary and on the bottom right is bamboo. We wanted to go to a bamboo forest but we didn’t plan well so when we saw this, I just took the picture to make myself feel better.

After browsing the shops full of wonders, we came to the top. I should probably know what this is but I don’t have the info with me right now. I’m so full of information right.

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It’s a bit of a climb but well worth it!

Here are a couple of funny signs we passed along the way


We decided to go back to the main centre to get some lunch. It was udon noodles today and I’m pleased to say we didn’t gorge ourselves!!

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When you go into a restaurant here, they give you a little basket to put your bag in so you don’t have to leave it on the floor.

I love that!

And although hubby told me “NO CAKES” this holiday, he didn’t fight me when I suggested to go and get some pastries. OH MY GOD they were so delicious!!!!


It was so hard not to grab one of everything!

We walked around the amazing Kyoto Station for a while. It has a department store, hotel and lots of shops and restaurants in there. Such an interesting building. It’s a worth a visit even if you’re not catching the train.
It’s such an amazing design with new things to see at every turn.


I didn’t take many photos this time as I took so many last time.

It has been raining most of today so we didn’t really want to go out walking in it again. We decided to get the train back to Osaka and continue our adventure there.
Poor hubby was wiped out and joined the majority of Japanese people who sleep on the train.

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And please let me indulge in some more supermarket talk.
I was feeling brave tonight and bought a whole of things even if I didn’t know what they were.
Amongst my purchases were the following.


The burgers on the left were 98 yen… so about $1.20AUD. We shared the brown wrapped one and it was actually ok.
Better than I expected.
Not anything that would fill you up but ok for a quick snack. The bread is really so light that you hardly feel like you’re eating anything.
We haven’t tried the yellow wrapped burger yet and I haven’t put my translate ap on it so I don’t know what it is. Somtimes it’s better not to know.

The pic on the right were pieces of pizza sold individually. They were ok too. Better than expected. Even the one with egg on it.
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I sent that picture to my mum and she said she’d rather have egg than pineapple and I’m not going to give you her contact information as hate mail is just not nice.

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Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Seventeen

Our time, sadly, has come to an end.

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I was excited this morning because today we were going to Rinku Town! And the thought of all the bargains that awaited me had me full of hope that I’d be filling my suitcase with all sorts of things

It didn’t quite happen that way.

Check out from our Air Bnb place was was not till 11am so as hubby wanted to stay there till 10.59am, I decided to go for one last walk.

Again I marvel at all the things I’m not going to see when I’m back in Australia.
Every restaurant (and there are many, no matter if you’re on a “main” street or a back street alley) has “food art” outside it’s doors. They’re sculptures of the menu so you can see what you’re going to be getting. I have never been tempted by any of these and usually find them quite repulsive but I guess that’s just me because they wouldn’t do it if it didn’t inspire the locals.

I see it every day, I’ve written about it but it still amazes me, the amount of people that ride bikes and the way they whizz around on the footpaths. I’ve been tending to walk close to the shops as there doesn’t seem to be a “keep the left” rule. Bikes tend to have the right of way. At least, that’s the way it seems.

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And finally we were on the train to Rinku Town!!

Look at the happiness on my face!

Of course, once we got there, we had to walk around and look for a Starbucks before we could do anything else.

I was so excited to start shopping but I had to wait!

It took a little while but we did finally find one and hubby was drinking his Venti, Cafe Latte with Skim Milk – Making sure to keep his receipt so that he could get another one later that day for 216 yen instead of 486 yen.
This has been a daily ritual that I was very happy to have ending. Life will no longer revolved around Starbucks.

Rinku Town is an interesting place. Full of outlet malls but otherwise appears as a ghost town.


We started off (at the shops near the Starbucks) and walked.
I need to explain that I’m normally not a person who likes to shop for clothes, but I had it in my head that I wanted to buy something from Japan… So I was really in the mood to find something. I had worn my clothes and shoes that were easy to get in and out of on purpose!

You need to take of your shoes when you enter a dressing room in Japan. If you’re trying anything from the waist up, they’ll give you a “breast cover”. I should have taken a photo of it as I couldn’t quite work out how it was supposed to go.
I must admit, when the first guy handed me this folded up piece of something and said “please cover your breasts” I didn’t quite know what he was on about…

We had a late lunch in the foodcourt. We were enticed by this picture

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Looks pretty good!! Yakisoba AND Okonomiyaki…

This is what it looked like when it came.

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Still looked pretty delicious.

I keep forgetting how much the sauces don’t agree with me though. Luckily we had said “no mayonnaise” but there were other sauces on here.
It was really really yummy, don’t get me wrong, but afterwards my stomach didn’t feel right and I kept seeing other foods I wished we’d eaten instead….

Oh, and a little giggle at another translation fail spotted in the food court…

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After shopping at the Premium Outlets for a few hours, I still hadn’t really bought anything.
We walked over to the “beach” outlet part. I forgot what it was actually called, and went into this cheap looking store. Finally I was picking out things I liked!! I ended up with four items and hubby, whose patience was being tested said “Can we please get out of K-Mart now”
He was offering to pay for today’s purchases so I don’t know why he was not happy!!!

It was almost time to leave Rinku Town, when I spotted the exact outfit I’d been looking for!! One thing I haven’t mentioned is that the sizing is much smaller here. If you’re an M (medium) in Australia, you’re at least a L (large) here.
It’s not good for the ego… And “Free” size means “one size fits all” but their “fits all” would not work in Australia.

So I found the outfit. It was a medium so it was tight but I really really wanted it. I went to the counter only to be told “cash only”. What? It’s amazing how many places in Japan are cash only.
So hubby and I hurried to find an ATM to get some cash out and in doing so, came into contact with an American living in Japan. He was the friendliest guy!!
He just had story after story to tell of his experience of living in Japan (for the last two and a half years) the Japanese culture (he’s married to a Japanese woman) and much more.
He came with us as we got money from the ATM, came with us as we went back to that store (so I could buy my treasured items) and walked with us to the train station, saw us right up to the platform gate! I’m kind of sorry we didn’t exchange information after all that time together. It was only as we were parting that we gave our names.
So Jacques, if by the remotest chance you’re reading this, please get in touch!

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Our flight left Osaka at 10.30 pm. We had a bit of time to kill but we were too tired to walk around and look at the shops.

This instruction made me smile.

Just the fact that there’s a need to put that kind of instruction there is what I find amusing.

People hey….
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And finally we were on the plane bound for home. We flew to Cairns then had to wait a few hours before our trip back to Adelaide.

Just thought I’d share the meal we got on our flight back.

I think it was chicken.
Funny how things always taste different when you’re on a plane.
I didn’t take an “after” shot in Adelaide but I’ll leave you with a pic from Cairns airport.
It’s been a long journey!!!
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Regular restaurant reviews will be following.
Thanks for sharing this trip with us!

 

Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Fifteen

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Today hubby and I visited Kobe! What a surprise this city was!

But before I get to that, I have to mention this. At one point when we were on the train, a conductor came through.

He opened the door from the adjoining carriage. Stood looking towards the door at the other end, and bowed. Walked through (counting I think?) and when he got to the other door, he turned to face the door he’d just come from, and bowed again.

Things like that just continue to amaze me. They are so polite and show so much respect. I wonder if that extends to the private life as it does in their public life.

Speaking of trains, we had a different experience today. We weren’t sure we were on the right train so we asked a conductor that was walking through. He said yes, we’re on the right train for Kobe, but if we get off at the next station and catch the train from platform five, we’ll be on an express and it will be better.
Sounds good right?
What he didn’t bank on was the speed with which hubby and I whipped off that train and onto the train that was on platform five. Turns out that train was the local (stopping at every station) train that hadn’t left yet. It was JUST leaving as I jumped through the doors so proud at having made it…. and then we noticed it was stopping at EVERY station. Wrong train! The express arrived minutes later and we watched it race by as we chugged along… 

But at least that one got us to the right location. No such luck on the way back but that’s another story for another day…

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We had sweets for morning tea when we got there.

I’m addicted to these baked goods.

How can these sweet little puffs of sugar be so high in calories?

I don’t know how everyone here doesn’t go mad for them!!

We were impressed at how modern and clean Kobe looked as we got off the train. So many interesting things to see. We wondered what parts had been affected by the 1995 earthquake.

The freeways are just amazing! It felt like we were in a different country at times. It was so different to anything else we’d seen since we’ve been in Japan.


We walked around Harbour Land and saw a few places we thought we might like to have lunch, but really wanted to walk through China Town first before deciding.
IMG_4188When we were in Yokohama, we were sorry we’d eaten lunch before going to their Chinatown, this time, it didn’t seem to matter.

The China Town in Kobe isn’t as big as the one in Yokohama.

Why would we visit China Town while in Japan?

I think it’s just interesting to see how the Japanese interpret that culture.

Plus the food is just yummy.

 

We got some pre-lunch snacks!


I just love those sesame ball things! These ones had red bean paste in them.

Hubby had the things on the top right. I think he said it was pork? And bottom right, well they just looked cute!! I’m not sure what they were as I didn’t get any of them.

So after walking around for probably too long, we went back to Harbourland and found a buffet place that was really very reasonably priced! Everything else seemed not worth it really… but how could we go past a buffet? So many foods to try!!!

And we were not disappointed. I took a photo of most of the food we saw there.


We had quite the ride home via train and ended up stopping at Dome-Mae station and walking back from there.

We were still too full for a proper dinner tonight so we just bought some snacks to eat in our room.

Another day full of a lot of walking and a LOT of food!!

I’m sad that our trip is almost over.

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!!