Day 48 4th-12th Dec Osaka Japan

Trip Start Oct 18, 2012
Trip End Mar 10, 2013

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Where I stayed
scrubbers appartment

Flag of Japan  , Kinki,
Tuesday, December 4, 2012

3rd Dec
Our flight from Hanoi to KL was ok, nothing to report! At KL we headed straight to the business lounge as we decided to use our airmiles to give us entry, well we did have a 6hour wait for the next plane to Osaka!  WICKED FUN, we had a great time here stuffing our faces with lovely food and good coffee!  There was even a fridge full of Haagen Dasz!! It was all included so you could eat and drink as much as you wanted, there was even wine, beer and spirits, pretty much what ever you wanted it was there! We had free Wi Fi so i skyped with Mum and Jonathan for a while.

Time we went fast and before we knew it we were on the  plane!  Here's the best bit... The plane was pretty empty so as soon as they said doors closing prepare for take off we both split up and rushed for a row of 4 seats each!! Yep 4 seats!!!  We both managed to sleep which was perfect for our arrival to Japan. 

4th Dec
We collected our bags then went to find the bus Kathy suggested we catch to meet her at 2.30pm. This was going to be a bit pricey so we decided to be brave and catch the train instead saving a few pennies. We had a long time before we met Kathy as we landed at 7am! We went to McDonalds at the airport for a coffee and to have a look through some of the travel info leaflets at the airport.  Ok so we knew which train to catch but how do you buy the tickets in a country that doesn't speak English and they language is unrecognisable?  Well you have a clever wife that see's a button on one of the machine's that say ENGLISH and you press it!! He he panic over!  We bought the tickets and off we went to the platform. Wow the station is clean and the train exactly on time! The Train was also clean and comfy, it took 1hour to get to the meeting point, we enjoyed people watching and looking out the window at the scenery flying past.  We arrived with an hour to spare so had a quick look around the shops and enjoyed a Gingerbread Latte in the cold whilst we waited. 2.30pm Kathy arrives, she must be Japanese by now as she was exactly on time!! We headed straight to her apartment for a chat and catch up.

No long after arriving Kathy and I went out on the bicycles (thanks Yuki for lending them to us!)  to the supermarket to stock up on food for the week! I loved it riding around taking in the cold air, sites and smells. The supermarket was cool, not that dissimilar to the ones in London's China Town!  We decided to buy some sushi and Tempura for a snack once we got home.  This was yummy, i really enjoyed it but still hungry we decided to get Domino's Pizza! Naughty! Well we did go back out on the bikes to collect it!  

5th Dec
A lazy morning listening to Christmas songs, Kathy and i decorated the Christmas tree together. Went on the bikes to the shops, and explored some more, I made Japanese curry for dinner!

6th Dec
What do we do? Yep get up and all go for a run!! Ha ha what nutters we are! It was freezing cold but we loved it, kathy took us around Osaka Castle and back again. Warmed up and showered we got on the bikes and hit the town for some shopping. Well Kathy and i did, we dropped Beyers off at a massive 7 floor technology store whilst we went off in search of a warm jumper for me!  I loved it, seeing all the shops and people, just walking around is an experience! People seem very orderly here and even seem to walk in rows as if driving on the road, i loved it! They have to start this in London!! We had planned to skype Beyers when we were ready to meet up but he didn't reply!  Kathy managed to get the shop staff to let me get on the tannoy and do a shout our for Beyers to meet us!!  "Beyers Geldenhuys this is your wife, can you please meet us by the bikes!" It worked, a little while later Beyers appeared laughing at us!! He he that's one more thing to knock of the bucket list! 

Back on the bikes to a sushi restaurant for dinner.  Awesome fun, you order the food from a touch screen computer then it arrives by whizzing along a conveyor belt to you. The prices were very good, mainly under 2 a dish. We had about 10 plus some tempura which was yummy yum!  The beer is even poured by a machine!!  You put your money in, get a glass and the machine does the rest!! Great fun and a tasty beer!

All full up we headed back to the apartment for a good nights sleep!

7th Dec
We got up at a reasonable time - which means we had time for a little lie-in and a cup of the Vietnamese coffee we brought over.  Yuki very kindly gave us some free train tickets that would take us to Kyoto and back.  Perfect!  We got on the train, on our way to Kyoto.  Interesting to see the scenery roll by, but Bey slept most of the 1 hour journey!

We got off in Kyoto, took a short walk to Kyoto main station for us to get some info on how to get to Kinkaku-ji Temple.  We found out that we can get the bus, got a free map and hopped on the bus.  But it wasn't the right bus!  Kathy asked the driver in Japanese, and we managed to get off before it left the stop!  Then we got on the right bus!  Kinkaku-ji is stunning.  Gold plated building surrounded by a lake with some beautiful fish.  It used to be the residence of someone very important in Japan, and in his will he ordered for it to be turned into a temple.  The grounds are also really nice, and towards the end of the walk, there is a building with a Gong, so Kathy and I gonged the gonger!  It's high up, so you have to hit it with a rope that is attached to the ceiling.  Good fun!  There is also a ton of other things to buy there, mainly things to do with good luck.  Nothing seemed excessively expensive, but we couldn't get our heads around why you would actually spend 3 on some plaque that just says good luck...  We asked the lady working in the shop, and she didn't even know what the difference was between all the things!

By this time we were hungry and headed to Nishiki Market where we went to a Katsu place. The portions are huge!  Kathy and I shared a meal, and Bey had one to himself!  The market is a very long narrow street that seems to sell everything, and a ton of fresh food.  They also sell the fake food that restaurants use in their displays - we saw a fried egg for Y1400!

Kathy had a work thing, so had to go, but we were pointed in the direction of Gion.  This is a really old looking part of town with wooden houses that are mainly restaurants, I think, where we were on the hunt for Meikos - That is Geishas in training.  Apparently they run their errands early evening.  We saw one, but was too shy to take a picture, as it was a bit awkward!  It felt like going on safari, waiting to spot one.  There were a ton of people hanging out by the entrance to Gion, waiting, camera in hand, to snap the elusive Meiko.  It felt weird, and we didn't get any real pics, but we did see 3, and it was an experience!

What can i say, we are having an amazing time here in Japan. It is a superb country, well from what we have seen!  Plus i am here with two of my best friends! 

8th Dec
Saturday!  Not that it matters - we are on holiday!  We went to Uniqlo, had a ride around, along the river, and then when we stopped on a bridge to take photos, we saw our first accident.  Of all the places we have been, and all the crazy driving we have seen, it happens right here, in the safest, most civilized place we have been!!   We heard a crash and a grinding sliding sound.  A motorbike swerved to miss a cyclist which ended in the crash. Everyone was ok, Bey helped to get the bike out of the road, we watched for a bit in case we needed to help in any way, there were other people that had already called emergency services.  The motorbike rider walked over to the bike (which wasn't moving - Bey thinks the front brake got damage to it), and was just trying to sort his bike out - not paying any attention to the cyclist.  Idiot. The Police and ambulance arrived.

After seeing everyone was ok we left to go and find a Starbucks, as it was freezing, and I LOVE the Gingerbread Lattes!  We did, and had a lovely hot coffee after the cold cycling! We enjoyed a sit down in the warmth and a chat and people watching!

That evening We went out with Kathy and Ryutaro to a standing fish restaurant and then a standing bar. We have enjoyed some lovely food that is cooked in a clean environment without spit on the floor!! He he, and it all tastes great, really loving the food.  Kathy and Ryutaro have taken us to some super cool places that we just wouldn't have gone to without them.  The standing bars are so much fun and the food yum apart from the fish balls (testicles...), fish eggs and the sea cucumber! But I did love the beer! The rice wine is totally different form the moonshine we had in Vietnam!!  Much smoother and softer in taste and actually quite nice!  I did however love the Karupisu which is an alcoholic yogurt drink mmm taste's like sherbet! Dangerous as could drink tons of it!!  

Oh yeh i can now add a new nationality to my name, Russian!! hmm yeh right so i don't seem to sound English at all which is very odd seen as everyone at home takes the piss out of my accent!!
We had a great time with Kathy's friends in the bars and then had the mission of cycling home one bike short so bey and i gave each other backies which is apparently illegal in Japan!! Oops, and we were drunk and not registered to ride it!! he he!! We did get away with it though! Back at Kathy's flat we enjoyed her friend Aya's boyfriends drunken English and Ryutaro's magic tricks!

9th Dec
What a fantastic day yesterday, we went to a Ninja museum in Mie Prefecture. To be honest i thought Ninja's were made up for fun a bit like Power Rangers or something so i found it fascinating reading about their lifestyle and all the tactics they had to stay alive and spy on the enemy!!  The house was awesome with tons of hidey holes, i even got up in front of everyone and had a go at the spinning wall!! We watched a show of some of the weapons they used, crazy! One of the Ninja's chopped the equivalent of a mans neck in one swoosh of his sword! A bit like in Kill Bill! Hmm, they have some crazy skills with throwing metal stars and spikes, i'm pretty sure the demonstration wouldn't pass UK health and safety standards!! Was great fun to see and has boggled my mind! Luckily they didn't offer for us to have a go, phew, could end in tears!!

Yuki drove us to Isei where we had a lovely lunch in a traditional restaurant where you sit on the floor, fun at first but a little uncomfortable! There is a shrine there that is 2000 years old and is for the sun god which we visited and  took a few sneaky pics!! This place is beautiful and surrounded by tall trees and copper leaves, simply wonderful. Freezing cold we were luckily going to warm up in the Japanese Onsen, a selection of hot baths filled with natural hot springs and minerals. Wow if you love spas you would love this place although you have to go in naked!! Which was fine as it is single sex only! A great way to end the day and have a good chat and a warm up.  Warm and relaxed we headed back to Osaka, a two hour drive.  Yuki has a wicked nice Jeep which made the journey very comfortable compared to some or the crazy transport we have used so far, we were in luxury!

Back at the flat by 10pm bed time was calling!

10th Dec
Bey stayed home, Kathy and i went out on the bikes and shopping for the Nabe party in the evening. Nabe is a Japanese hot pot, it has fish, stock, veg and noodles in and is extremely tasty especially with Naomi's mums special ingredient! We had a fun night meeting Kathy's lovely friends, good food and wine and a great night was had by all!

11th Dec
Hung over and tired we had a McDonalds breakfast, vegged out. 4pm we went to Karaoke! We hired a booth for 2hours, smuggled some beer and wine in then we were off singing away and having a lovely time!! Wow time goes fast in there and we could have stayed a lot longer! Kathy took us to a photo booth, where you can edit the pics with silly cartoons etc! Starving and a little drunk we went for Katsu Curry which was awesome but i have to be honest i preferred Wagamama!! Knackered we cycled home and watched a movie.

12th Dec
Got up and went out for a run, well they did i cycled!! back at the apartment i am writing this and am just about to make miso for lunch with noodles! We are taking Kathy and Ryutaro out for dinner to say thank you for having us. Wow time has gone crazy fast here, Kathy is off to Hong Kong on Sat morning on her way to New Zealand so we have to cram as much in as we can before she goes!



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