If the weather was 77F (25C) would you wear boots? wool sweaters? knit caps?...I wouldn't and was shaking my head as everyone around me was. I was perspiring just looking at them. It seems like they don't "think outside of the box" when it comes to seasons. I admit that this time of year, the weather can change all of a sudden, but come on...it was a sunny beautiful Sunday.
It was such a nice day, that Satoshi and I debated for an hour as to where we should go.
Finally, we decided to go to Sakai. Sakai is a city in the southern part of Osaka prefecture. Kansai International airport is close by. It is the 14th largest city in Japan. Their main industries are rugs, culinary knives, bicycles, yukata, incense and kelp. Sakai is also sister city to Wellington, New Zealand and Berkeley, California.
The first thing I noticed about the area is that the roads are wide with wide sidewalks.
There is a chin-chin densha (electric rail), which runs alongside the cars. The inside looks like a train, but you can press a button to indicate you want to get off at the next stop like a bus. From Tennoji, we took the chin-chin densha to Goryomae. For 290 yen (about US$2.90), you can ride from point A to point B with one transfer.
Our first stop was lunch. Using this book, we found out anago sushi at Fukasezushi. Anago is conger eel. I don't really like eel, but Satoshi does, so I knew we should stop here. We didn't know what to get so the lady working there suggested that we get a 6 piece anago nigiri (945 yen (about US$9.45) and 6 piece hakozushi (630 yen (about US$6.30). Hakozushi is when they layer the sushi into a box and press down on it to compact it.
From Fukasezushi, we walked to Nanshuji. This area has many tea ceremony spots and temples. There was a big tea ceremony going on while we were there as well as many foreigners being taken around the grounds. Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu is buried there as well as Sen-rikyu, master of tea ceremony. While roaming the grounds I spotted this dragonfly and had to get a shot of it. There was a zen garden and also a little area where you could put a bamboo to it and listen to the water running underneath, it sounded like a windchime.
Satoshi and I found a spot to sit and eat our sushi, it was delicious. The anago was tender, kind of fluffy. I think the hakozushi had more flavor than the nigiri.
From Nanshuji, we walked down the street to Kanbukuro (also from the book). This tiny shop is known for kurumi (walnut) mochi, and it was packed! The line was out the door plus the tables were filled. Everyone was eating shaved ice with kurumi mochi on top. Satoshi and I took out a 2 serving size (798 yen about US$7.98) of the kurumi mochi. The mochi was soft, and the kurumi an (walnut paste) didn't taste like walnuts at all. It was delicious.
After filling up on kurumi mochi, we walked another 600 meters or so to Honke-Kojima. This tiny shop is known for keshi (poppy seed) mochi. On the way we saw another shop advertising keshi mochi called, Kojima-ya. Satoshi and I agreed we should check out Honke-Kojima (because honke means main shop). It turns out that Honke-Kojima has been in business since 1885, their keshi mochi is only 115 yen each (about US$1.15).
We asked the owner's wife if they were related to Kojima-ya, she quickly said that they were not related not even through marriage! Though this shop was not busy, we were glad to be able to try this. The mochi was soft, lots of toasted poppy seed....delicious.
Sunday happened to be the Sakai Festival. An event that was started in 1974. There was a parade with over 12,000 participants.
We then walked about a kilometer to the city office. From the 21st floor you can see the various kofun (tombs of Japanese emperors and lords), they look like mountains...you actually have to see them from the air. These tombs are huge and have large moats protecting them. They apparently look like key holes from the air.
At this point we were quite tired and the sun was starting to set, so we decided to go home. Before going home though, Satoshi wanted to stop into the information center and I picked up an assortment of incense by Kunshundo, 840 yen (about US$8.40). Daphne, lavender, rose, lily & violet...can't wait to try them.
There was so much more that we wanted to see...we'll be back.
1-2-1 Shinzaike-cho Higashi
Closed Tuesdays, Wednesdays
Closed Mondays, Holidays
2-1 Kitahan-cho Nishi
Closed Sundays (call ahead days off not set)