Posts Tagged ‘Shinsaibashi’

Jason and I wake up at around 06:30h (Japan time) and we get ready to start our day. We head to the 4th floor to eat breakfast, but realize when we arrive that we have to buy breakfast tickets at the main lobby, rather than paying for the meal at the restaurant itself. Once we pay our 500 yen per person, we go into the restaurant to get our breakfast.

Now the hotel advertises that it’s a restaurant but it reminds me more of the eating/common area of a hostel than a restaurant; buffet style breakfast, everything is pretty much self serving, but the breakfast that they offer is pretty delicious. They have scrambled/fried eggs, breakfast sausage, breakfast sandwiches, toast and croissants for more of the American style breakfast. They also offer rice balls, dried seaweed (nori), kimchi, pickles, japanese style waffles, and 2 soups (miso and just a plain broth) for the Asian style breakfast. After breakfast, we head over to Shinsaibashi station to make our way to Osaka Aquarium.

Outside of Osaka Aquarium

Outside of Osaka Aquarium

We arrive and notice that there are a barrage of school kids making their way to the aquarium; I don’t know if EVERY school in Osaka decided “hey, let’s send our students to the aquarium today” but there were hundreds upon hundreds of kids there. Our visit to the aquarium was still very enjoyable, just kind of loud 😛

This little guy kept photo bombing us when Jason was taking a picture of the penguins (after 4 attempts, Jason just gave up and showed the kid the photos he so desperately wanted to be a part of).

This little guy kept photo bombing us when Jason was taking a picture of the penguins (after 4 attempts, Jason just gave up and showed the kid the photos he so desperately wanted to be a part of).

I have been to quite a few aquariums over the last 2 years but this by far is my favorite. The first exhibit you see is the Aqua Gate, which is 11 metres in length and holds 140 tons of water.The most impressive, however, is the Pacific Ocean exhibit. The tank is 9 metres deep and holds over 5400 tons of water. The main attraction to this particular exhibit is the 2 whale sharks. You can find more information about the facility and their exhibits here: http://www.kaiyukan.com/language/eng/index.htm

Aqua Gate. Water volume: 140 tons, Water temperature: 21 degrees C, Tunnel length: 11 meters , Area: 63 square meters

Aqua Gate. Water volume: 140 tons, Water temperature: 21 degrees C, Tunnel length: 11 meters , Area: 63 square meters

After spending almost 3 hours at the Osaka Aquarium, we head over to the Tempozan Market Place and ride the Tempozan Ferris Wheel at the mouth of Osaka Bay. I am absolutely petrified of heights and wasn’t doing too well for the first half of the ride, but the views you see are breathtaking! I highly recommend going on the ferris wheel if you want to see a great view of the city.

Realizing we ate over 5 hours prior, we are on a new mission: find delicious and ever so yummy food. We stumble upon a restaurant that serves cold soba noodles and head in for lunch. The one thing that I really enjoy about Japan is that they have pictures or models of all their food, so even if there is a language barrier you can still know what you’re getting and order it easily. Jason shows our server in the display what we wanted to order (though we realized soon afterwards that if we just said “soba”, he would have understood) and within a couple minutes lunch was served.

Cold soba noodles in Osaka

Cold soba noodles in Osaka

Once we were completely satisfied with our soba, we hop on the train and make our way to Universal Studios.

Universal Studios in Japan was… a very odd experience. Imagine just the “cuteness” of Japanese culture meets Universal Studios. It’s hard to explain but the attractions were hilarious, probably because of their gestures and the way they said things (also probably because we couldn’t understand a damn thing they were saying). Though it was an interesting experience (to say the least) if I ever come back to Osaka, this is probably a place I won’t be returning to. If I could actually understand Japanese then maybe but it just wasn’t the same not knowing what they were saying.

Universal Studios, Osaka

Universal Studios, Osaka

We killed a couple hours at Universal Studios and then decided it was time to head back to Shinsaibashi and eat dinner. Due to Jason’s constant complaining about yakiniku, I found a place not too far from our hotel and we decided to head there. You can read a review that I wrote here: http://wp.me/p3jWPD-29 

Cooking a piece of Waygu beef at Yakiniku Rokko

Cooking a piece of Waygu beef at Yakiniku Rokko

2 meat platters and about 3-4 drinks later we begin to feel full, a little tipsy and extremely exhausted from our day. We walk back to our hotel, hit up the public bath and call it a night after loosely planning a day trip to Kyoto for the following day.

Things I Have Learned Thus Far on My Trip
1. The heat and humidity is unbearable. I’m currently suffering in 30 degree weather with an insane amount of humidity. When we first arrived to the Dormy Inn, we couldn’t read the remote that controlled the air conditioning. We had to send a photo of the remote to his ex so she could translate and hopefully help us (this was after going to the front desk asking for help).

Seriously, how were we supposed to work this thing?!?

Seriously, how were we supposed to work this thing?!?

2. I fucking love cold soba.

3. People do not give a fuck about how you dress. I have seen people dressed as cats, dressed as punks, lolita/schoolgirl, hipsters, business people and they seriously do not bat an eye at the way that someone looks. I kinda wish we had this non-judgemental mentality in North America (though I will admit that I am severely guilty of judging people).

4. Japanese school children are absolutely adorable. A lot of kids would say hi to Jason and try to strike a conversation with him in English because he’s a white guy.

5. Monkeys scare the shit out of me.

Okay, so there are 2 (unedited) blog pots for your reading pleasure. My apologies, yet again, for my poorly written posts. It’s time for sleep, as we are leaving Osaka tonight to head to Hiroshima for 2 nights.

Next blog post: Kyoto (and maybe Himeji and Kobe).

Advertisements

Sorry for the lack of posts; I’ve been meaning to update more, but every night I get so tired from my day and tell myself “I’ll update it tomorrow”, then end up extremely tired the next day as well.

Thus far, I’ve been loving Osaka. We’ve been doing a few trips outside of Osaka (to Kyoto, Himeji, and Kobe) but this post will be mostly about our time in Osaka thus far and I will update about the other places in other posts.

… if I’m super ambitious, I will do more than one post tonight.

Monday October 7th: We wake up from our hotel in Tokyo and start the morning off with breakfast. We go to the dining area and are served a Japanese style breakfast which included rice, fish, meat balls, miso soup and a variety of pickled vegetables.

Image

Once we are done breakfast we head to a coffee shop for hot coffee and toast, then pack our bags and head over to Tokyo Station to get to our next destination: Osaka.

Again, I’m not too pleased with being at the train station with my bags and dragging them around everywhere. The only thing that seemed to get me through this time is knowing that we will be spending 5 nights in Osaka and won’t be dragging our crap from station to station during that time.

We take the Shinkansen Tokiado line to the Shin-Osaka station. This particular train travels at an average speed of 270km/hr. Our destination is over 515km away and we make it to Osaka in about 3 hours with multiple stops along the way.

From Shin-Osaka, we hop onto the local transit (subway) and head towards the Shinsaibashi district in Osaka. As I’m dragging all my luggage to our hotel from the train station, I noticed we are passing by stores such as Louis Vuitton, Prada, Dolce and Gabbana, and all I can think  was “keep your head down, and keep moving… you don’t want to buy something and add ANOTHER bag to your load”. We go down a narrow street, make a couple turns and we arrive to our hotel; The Dormy Inn, Shinsaibashi location.

Image

The Dormy Inn is a cute modern hotel, with a public bath and restaurant available on the 4th floor. We get to our room and notice, again, that it is quite small. Small to the point where only one of us can have our suitcase available (but not opened), and we have to shuffle around each other to get around the room. After seeing our last accommodations, I figure this is pretty much the norm for an “average” hotel that isn’t too expensive and I’m completely content with it. After all, we don’t spend any time in our room except to get ready for the day and to sleep.

We decide to kick back for a bit then wander around the Shinsaibashi district. Shinsaibashi is known as a “shopping district” but luckily for Jason, most of the stores either didn’t peak my interest or were closed for the evening. We walk around Orange Street and try to find a yakiniku restaurant but were unable to find one. We decided to eat at a franchise called “Curry House CoCo Ichibanya” on Dotonbori Street, where they serve Japanese-style curry. We both order a katsu rice dish and start planning our days in Osaka.

Jason and I have very different traveling styles; while I’m a bit more anal and make plans for what I want to accomplish (loosely planning an itinerary for what I want to do on the trip, pre-routing how to get there, costs, etc.), Jason is more a fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants traveller with the thought of “we will see how I feel to decide”, and trying to map our destination right before we buy our subway tickets. His method has brought me quite a bit of anxiety for the first couple days, but at the same time I know that I’m in good hands considering this is his 8th trip to Japan.

After dinner, we meander back to our hotel room and decide it’s time to check out the public bath. At the Dormy Inn, the women’s public bath is locked with a PIN code that is only provided to the female guests. When I enter, there are approximately 15 lockers available, 3 makeup vanities, and the bathing area has 4 shower vanities with a large bath (hot tub). Definitely a lot more chic than the public bath at our last hotel. We both agree to meet back in the lobby in an hour and then we retire for the evening, as we have a long day ahead of us the next day.

Things I have Learned on My Trip Thus Far
1. Everything here is cute. I mean, EVERYTHING! From the chimes of the trains/subways, advertisements and their news, to the coffee creamers at the local coffee shop. Like, how do you not find these adorable?
Image

2. Smoking here has been an interesting experience. Years ago, I read an article where Tokyo was planning on banning smoking on the majority of public streets in downtown Tokyo, and providing designated smoking areas. It appears that this trend has caught on to other cities. I find this to be very odd, as you can still smoke in a number of restaurants and they have designated smoking rooms in some of the train stations but I assume this is to decrease the amount of litter/cigarette butts on the street (which, I must say, the streets here are very clean). The fine for smoking in non-smoking area on public streets is 1000 yen (approximately $10).

3. Hot coffee here is quite terrible. Well, I guess I wouldn’t say terrible but it just doesn’t taste the same. Japan is also a nation that is obsessed with iced/cold coffees. Jason was told that the hot coffee is not the same because of the type of beans that they use, and that those beans are more suited for cold coffee than hot coffee.

4. It is harder to find a garbage can than it is to find a recycle bin. There are recycle bins everywhere due to all the vending machines, but nearly impossible to find a garbage can. What amazes me the most is that I haven’t seen a random piece of garbage on the streets with the lack of garbage cans, but in Edmonton where there is a garbage can on pretty much every block there is still garbage everywhere.

Next blog post: Osaka Aquarium, Universal Studios, and yakiniku.

I am honestly exhausted from my day but I am staying up to give a huge shout out to Yakiniku Rokko in the Shinsaibashi District of Osaka.

Yakiniku Rokko in Shinsaibashi

Yakiniku Rokko in Shinsaibashi

Yakiniku: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yakiniku

Before leaving for our trip and during our trip, Jason has been talking about his craving for yakiniku non-stop. After searching for a yakiniku place our first night in Osaka, we were unable to find one in the area of Shinsaibashi that we walked around. That night while I was updating my blog, I quickly did a search for yakiniku restaurants in our area. Google directed me to a website called “Japanese Restaurant Search” (http://www.jnto.go.jp) where I was able to find a restaurant called Yakiniku Rokko.

There were a couple reasons why I was interested in trying this place..

a) They advertised that they have English speaking staff and an English menu.
b) All you can eat yakiniku.
c) The prices were within our budget ($20-$30 per person, depending on which meal plan you selected) but most importantly..
d) For an extra $12, it’s all you can drink for 2 hours during your meal.

http://www.yakiniku-rokko.jp/

Jason and I wake up around 06:30h and spend the day going around Osaka (details will be posted in a later blog post). Prior to our adventure in Osaka, I mention to him that I found a yakiniku place. Jason checks out the website and agrees to go, but is not completely sold on the place.

Exhausted and starving from our day, we show up around 19:00h and are greeted with a warm and friendly welcome. They asked if we wanted English menus and provided us service speaking fairly decent English throughout the night. We ordered “Plan C” but opted out on the all-you-can-drink (but still ordered a couple lemon Chu-Hi’s). Knowing that we were from Canada, she asked if we wanted to include the organs in our meat selection, and stated that if there was something we wanted more or less of to let them know and they would serve us a la carte.

The spread of food at Yakiniku Rokko. Please ignore Jason's faux pas of sticking his chopsticks in his rice.

The spread of food at Yakiniku Rokko. Please ignore Jason’s faux pas of sticking his chopsticks in his rice.

Service was quick, and the spread of food that we received was amazing. Our hostess took the time to explain all the pieces of our dish when it was served, and checked up on us regularly to ensure that we were satisfied with our selection. Noticing that we were taking a few pictures of our meal, she asked if we wanted to have our picture taken.

What impressed us the most is that they did not sacrifice the quality of the food served. We’ve noticed that at most all-you-can-eat establishments (worldwide) that they cut costs by providing average/less than average quality food. The Waygu beef was absolutely phenomenal, and they didn’t have any restrictions on how much you could order.

We order 2 platters of meat and then some, and we finished the night absolutely full and satisfied with our meal and the service that we received.

We have another couple nights left in Osaka before we head over to Hiroshima, but we plan to come back again on Thursday (and to indulge in the all-you-can-drink option).

If you ever find yourself in Osaka, head over to the Shinsaibashi district and make sure you check out Yakiniku Rokko. You will be glad that you did.