Um. So, yeah. It’s been a while. Not to worry; I did, in fact, make it back to mainland Japan…and then I even made it back to the US! Needless to say, things really picked up here (at home) kind of quickly, so I neglected the blog for a while.
“But why didn’t you blog from Kyoto, etc?” you ask. I’ll tell you.
I was staying in an American hotel in Tokyo and then an American home in Okinawa. I didn’t even realize I wouldn’t be able to charge the lappy when I got back to mainland and began staying in Japanese establishments. So, I didn’t update the blog. And then I just kept putting it off when I got back to the good ‘ole US of A.
Anyway. The pictures have been ready and waiting on my desktop for a couple of weeks. And since I am ready to clean them off of there, I thought I’d get going on blogging them. I hope I remember everything that happened!
Here we go…Japan Trip Day 12!
Here I am saying “Goodbye” to the cutest little boy in the world. It was so, so, so fun to meet Harrison, and I can’t wait until I can see him again!
Ok. Is this not the cutest airport you’ve ever seen!? Kobe was pretty cool because the city had like, a nautical theme. There were anchors on all their signs. Needless to say, I was impressed. Seriously though, look at those little pictures! There are little bunnies and birds and adorable humans! And you can’t see this, but the other side of these doors are painted yellow. Yellow! So cheery! I loved this place; it was just plain cute.
Ok, so the train from the Kobe airport into Kobe central was completely independent…as in there were no humans running it. We got to sit right in the front of the train, just like we were driving (we were right behind the windshield). I liked Kobe because of the nice, green mountains right behind the city. Beautiful!
There are a lot of signs in Japan warning people to not rush, especially in the train stations. One of my favorite signs (which I didn’t get a picture of) was in Osaka, outside the Osaka Castle. That sign requested people not rush, and then had the following explanation: “A calm mind is the first step towards world peace.” Haha. It made me giggle. As did this sign:
We saw this sign on a building near the train in Kobe. I missed it (I had just put away my camera), so I actually went back on the train to snap a picture for posterity’s sake. If you can’t read it, let me transcribe below.
“You Can Do it!! Do you like bowling? Let’s play bowling. Breaking down the pins and get hot communication.”
What does it mean? I don’t think anyone knows. But that is what makes it so absolutely wonderful!
Here is an ad for the sports drink Pocari Sweat. It is like the cousin of Aquarius (which I discussed in this post), still a pretty light flavor, but a little more concentrated. Not my favorite. Not to mention the visual you get while you’re drinking “sweat,” which was a little too much for me to handle.
Here I am in the Osaka (?) train station stamping my book. This is a pretty big deal in Japan. Lots of places (tourist attractions) have stamps that you can add to a book. I bought my book at my first stop (Tokyo Tower) and continued to add stamps throughout my trip. Maybe I’ll do a little overview of that later. I also taped as many of my tickets in there as possible…so I have a little scrapbook of my trip now. I asked my sister to take a picture of me stamping the book because it was such a big part of my trip.
In Osaka, we stayed in a hostel called “Hotel Mikado.” It was a pretty nice place (for my first hostel stay), and there was lots of Engrish around. It was cool. I really liked this sign about the free umbrellas.
I took this picture of the bikes in Osaka because so many people, all over Japan travel by biking around. There are always large banks of bikes near train stations, etc. I also really like the visual effect of repetition…which is maybe one of the reasons I like Japan so much (there is lots of repetition).
Here is Osaka Castle, one of the first places we went in Osaka. I liked the outside, but the inside was just a boring-ish museum. I wish they had made some of the floors more like how they may have been when it was being used as a residence, but it was still cool.
I like this picture because it has the entire castle in it; you can see the stone base really well (of which I have a close-up below). Do you see the balcony at the top? We climbed all the way up there and took some pictures (see below).
I really like the gold dragon things you can see at the top of the castle. The building in the background is the Osaka Museum of History, which had an exhibit on “Japanese Ghosts and Eerie Creatures.” It is an interesting building because it looks like there is a ball rolling between the two towers (which is the atrium).
…and here is the ball atrium between the two buildings. Cool, huh? We went there after we were done with castle, but they had already closed for the day. :( But, it was interesting because there were a ton of people there dressed in matching shirts (it kind of looked like different teams)…like for a reality TV show or something? We couldn’t figure out what was going on, but it looked interesting!
Okay. Back to the castle.
Here I am standing in front of a large stone that is part of the Osaka Castle walls. There are many large stones like this. They were simply enormous! They aren’t very deep though, because then they wouldn’t have been able to get them up to the castle.
So, one of the problems with writing this so late is that I can’t remember everything! I am pretty sure this was at the Shitenno-ji Shrine in Osaka. It is a typical cemetery, where individuals are simply recognized with small posts. The following pictures are also from this shrine:
There were a ton, but a ton of turtles in a small pool there. It was so strange. Kind of cool though; I’ve never seen so many turtles before!
When we got to Shitenno-ji Shrine, we got to see a concert going on (unfortunately this means we didn’t get to enter the main building, which is an awful shame). It was an interesting concert though. The group was called “Permanent Fish” (?), and as far as I can tell, is a Japanese version of N*Sync. It was simply amazing. Here are some photos of the concert:
It was pretty amazing, to say the least. Although, it seemed a rather odd choice of venue. A rock concert in front of a Buddhist Temple. Hmm. Not sure. The picture above was taken during a slow love song, and you can see everyone is sitting quietly and respectfully on the ground, listening to their talented voices. Loved it.
We went to Dotonbori that night, which is kind of like Osaka’s version of Shinjuku (which I visited with Armistead in Tokyo). We saw lots of interesting things there, and had some delicious food.
Here is a Dotonbori sign. There were so many lights and mechanical signs there it was almost overwhelming! It was such a fun place though!
I thought this looked pretty awesome. If you can’t tell, it is a large building that has a rock-climbing wall on the front, and the wall is on a track so it can go up-and-down like an elevator. Pretty awesome, huh?
So, I took a picture of this menu because I want to know if you all know the difference (taste-wise) between the 1st, 4th, and 3rd stomach? I’m not really sure, but I just thought I’d throw that question out there).
So, I took a picture of this intersection because I’ve seen them all over, but I haven’t taken a picture yet. There are many intersections that are just painted as a large crosswalk, so traffic will stop in both directions, and pedestrians can simply walk wherever they want in the road. It seems like an intelligent solution to the street-crossing problem.
This is before:
We went to a restaurant in Dotonbori where there is a grill in the middle of your table and then they bring you out raw meat and you simply grill it yourself. It was a lot of fun (although I’m really not such a great griller…so I think mine didn’t turn out great…but it was still edible, at least).
So, the pictures on the top left and middle are to show how they have fairly private booths in which to dine. The picture on the top right is me washing my hands with a moist wash cloth. They have these at all the restaurants in Japan! The nice ones will give you a cloth washcloth (like above) and the regular ones will give you moist towelettes (think KFC?). It is really nice to be able to clean your hands off so well before eating. Unfortunately, virtually no restaurants seem to provide napkins, so these kind of double as napkins.
We ran into a Christian Rock Band Performing on the streets of Dotonbori. It was pretty interesting. We talked to some people there…like one girl who was from Peru! It was totally random, but enjoyable nonetheless.
We went to the 100 yen store next, which was totally awesome! Seriously. There was some good quality stuff there. I got a bell for my bike and a great clip for my hair (which I still use), and a really cute pencil holder. Each only cost 100 yen…which is approximately one dollar. It was the most amazing dollar store I’ve ever been to.
And one of the last stops of the evening was at a Japanese Fabric Store, where I found this treasure. I should have purchased some, because I didn’t realize the power of simply cherishing the earth, grasses and flowers. I need to teach this to my children.
That is about it for Osaka! The next day we went on to Kyoto, which I absolutely loved! Kyoto was an amazing place, and I feel like we didn’t have nearly enough time there. I’ll share my adventures there with you later!
ps. Have you ever been to a rock concert that occurred in an unorthodox location, such as a street corner or a Buddhist Shrine?