Wednesday, November 12, 2008

the past couple of days

The past couple of days we had my cousin staying with us. He was in Japan for work and had some days to spare. It was a nice time to bond with him as we usually only see each other at family gatherings.

Our first day together was spent at the Osaka Aquarium. There is a ticket for 2400 yen (about US$24) which you can buy. This allows you entrance to the Aquarium (2000 yen about US$20) and then free rides on the Osaka subway system. If you are staying in Kyoto or Kobe, check with your concierge, because there are ticket for a little more that will allow you to ride the other private lines too.

It was quite noisy as the aquarium was filled with school children. All excited to see the different sea animals and fishes. We stopped to have a soft-serve cone (or as the Japanese like to call it "sofuto kurimu").

From the aquarium we headed to Namba, this is where did a little shopping and we had takoyaki. Takoyaki is one of Osaka's famous foods, tiny round balls of batter are filled with bits of tako (octopus), green onion, red ginger. After buying a plate to share we realized that we both don't really care for it because of the mushy insides.

From Namba, we walked to the Dotombori area to have okonomiyaki at Chibo. There is a Chibo in Hawaii, but the head restaurant is in Osaka. Okonomiyaki is yet another famous food of Osaka. We ordered an ikatama with yakisoba noodles in it. Ikatama is a savory thick pancake filled with cabbage and ika (squid). The noodles are also added to the pancake and the piping hot pancake is brought to your table to sizzle in front of you while you eat and chat.

After our snacks and lunch, we headed back to Umeda for more shopping. We walked and walked and walked. Finally, we were hungry for dinner so we stopped into a conveyor belt sushi shop and had several plates of 100 yen (about US$1) sushi. It had been a long day, so we got back on the train and headed home.
The next morning over breakfast, my cousin talked about the UCC coffee museum on Port Island. I asked him if he'd like to check it out and he said he would, so we jumped on the train to Kobe.

The UCC coffee museum is located on Port Island right next to IKEA. For 210 yen (about US$2.10), you can check out different displays and explanations on the stages of roasting coffee, as well as the learn about the coffee belt. Most of the explanations were in Japanese, so we ended up just browsing around.

At the end of the museum route, there is an area where you can take a test. I got 5 answers right and was proclaimed Dr. Great Coffee with a photo ID card. My cousin had a mishap with his computer and ended up just receiving a commemorative visitors certificate with his photo.

Afterwards we headed over to IKEA. There were these cute French-made glass bowls that I seen on Friday. Can you believe they were only 59 yen each? (About US$.59) I bought 2. My cousin mentioned that IKEA has these delicious cinnamon rolls, but when we got to the cafe/restaurant, there were none to be found and he was disappointed.

Instead we decided to have lunch, I got the Christmas plate. For 895 yen (about US$8.95) you could get an assortment of Swedish foods. I enjoyed the meatballs and gravlax, but didn't care for the pickled herring, though it did remind me of namasu.

While waiting for the shuttle bus, we had some soft serve, only 50 yen (about US$.50). It was a mini cone but we agreed that it was softer than the one we had at the aquarium.

After lunch, we headed back to Sannomiya and took the train to Tarumi. There is a huge outlet mall there. My cousin did some window shopping and we had more soft serve at the McDonalds there.

The sun was beginning to set so we headed home. On the way back we were able to see this beautiful orange sunset from one of the stations.

After more shopping at Kawanishi-Noseguchi, we headed back to Ishibashi for sushi at a shop near the station.

In two days we did a lot of shopping and a LOT of walking and ate a lot of soft serve. I hope my cousin enjoyed himself, we enjoyed having him stay with us.

Hope your week is going well.


Tamakikat said...

Thanks Kat!

I'm sure you'll have all the family over to visit because of the rave reviews you'll get after your cousin's trip:)

You've just giving me another good idea for trips to Osaka:)

Enjoy the sunshine:)


grace said...

i love takoyaki! but sorry to read your plate wasn't so good - osaka supposedly has the best takoyaki around, so i'm a bit surprised it wasn't that good and mushy no less.

thanks for the top about the train tix to/from the Osaka aquarium if in Kyoto or Kobe. i've put this info into my trip folder for when i visit next year.

it's nice to have family around to visit, isn't? i always enjoy that time to spend with them and show them around town.

have a great week and thanks for the post!

KirkK said...

Hi Kat - You just made me wish I was related to you! ;o) You are a wonderful host.

Anonymous said...

Glad you guys had a fun time, I would've also enjoyed all that soft serve! :) And I really like that jellyfish photo, it came out really nice!!

Uncle Polyglot said...

Gosh, I had no idea that "sofuto kuri-mu" translates into "soft serve" in English!

It's really great to know, so I won't embarrass myself in front of native English speakers from now on.

Many, many thanks!

The Rambler said...

aaaa, reading your blogs always makes me soooo hungry :)

Anonymous said...

Hi kat, Oh what fun your holo holos sounded like :)

sign me up !


Phoebe said...

Takoyaki is the best! Although they charge $1 for one small ball in NZ!~

Great food opportunities for great prices!! I am now jealous hehe Okonomiyaki~

Funny coffee card! You sure know a lot about Coffee. That's a nice souvenir.

Fun fulfilled week!

Suze said...

Wow, you guys were busy! Thanks for taking care of my brother. Sus

Deb in Hawaii said...

Eating, shopping, walking and lots of soft serve--what could be better?! I am glad you tried the Swedish meatballs at IKEA and I love the little bowls. They have some great things there sometimes.

Love the beautiful jellyfish picture too!

K and S said...

Most of my family are ready for us to move somewhere else Tamakikat, though we don't know when that will be :)

Hope you have a great trip, Grace!

We can be calabash cousins, Kirkk ;) Let me know when you head this way.

Thanks Lori, Uncle Polyglot, the rambler, Shar, Phoebe!

No prob, Suze :)

Thanks Deb and thanks for the tip on the meatballs :)

Take care everyone!

* said...

kaiyukan is the best aquarium in the whole world!!! i'm glad i got to experience it twice. had a great tea time at coco's next to it too!

K and S said...

Thanks *, I'll have to remember to check that place out the next time I go to the aquarium :)

Take care.

Anonymous said...

as the cousin in this post, i have to say that kat is indeed a fantastic host. anyone who understands with and agrees with my soft cream rationale (walk up stairs in station=1/2 soft serve) is tops in my book. i had a great time visiting and look forward to new zealand soon! :)

K and S said...

I would have actually eaten all that soft serve without walking up the stairs :)

Take care and next time bring your someone special :)
self-imagery for New Zealand too :)