Tuesday, March 31, 2015


So what to do when it rains?

For us, it depends on how heavy the rain is.

Sunday it was a steady drizzle, so after breakfast we were out in full force with our umbrellas.

We headed up the mountain to check out the ruins of the Sumoto castle.

The view of Sumoto city was something to see. It's amazing to know that whoever lived in the castle had this view.

The castle replica is a great place to hide under when it rains, by the way.

A short cut path down the mountain, is quite steep, but brings you back into the city.

There are 8 tanuki(Japanese raccoon dog) statues around the city, so we walked to the various locations to check them out.

According to the legend, Shibaemon-tanuki lived near Mount Mikuma (the mountain where Sumoto castle is) with his wife Omasu. He was quite rascally and would change leaves to gold and sell them. He was also nice and would help drunks that had fallen.

One day, he used some of his "money" to see a play in Osaka. He didn't return home for a long time, so everyone thought he died.

Later, Shibaemon was revered as a deity for the theater and today is worshipped by actors such as Nakamura Ganjirou.

The 8 tanuki around the city are from Shibaemon's family.

Feeling hungry, we went to look for lunch.

There was a couple of places listed in Satoshi's guide book. We decided on Uomasu.

We got there just as they were opening. The place filled up fast...

I ordered their tako ten don...1100 yen (tax included). The tako (octopus) they use is caught near Awaji Island.

So much tako and the light breading gave the tako a nice crisp outside, but kept the tako tender with a nice chew.

Satoshi ordered the Uomasu set...1600 yen (tax included). His lunch came with 4 different types of sashimi, plus some tako tempura.

We both agreed this place was good! as we left, there was a line to get in.

Bellies full, we looked for the remaining tanuki on the map and then caught the bus back to Maiko.

Despite the weather, we did a lot of walking and eating.

It was a great short trip, I hope you enjoyed our adventure as much as we did.

2-3-2 Honmachi
Sumoto, Hyogo
Phone: 0799.22.0559
Closed Tuesdays, Wednesdays
Open from 11:30-14:00 (if they run out of rice they close sooner!)

Monday, March 30, 2015

osaka-maiko-yumebutai-minami awaji-sumoto

Saturday, the weather was sunny and the temperature was to go up to temps that we normally see in April or May!

We got up early and headed out to Awaji Island.

Last year, we visited the Northern part of the island.

This time, we visited the middle part.

They have a huge flower event going on at several large parks around Awaji Island.

We stopped at one park near the Northern part of the island called Yumebutai.

This park was in the planning stages before the 1995 Hanshin earthquake by Tadao Ando and finished shortly after the earthquake.

On the property is also a convention facility, hotel (Westin) and memorial to the earthquake victims.

Because of the cold snap last week though, the flowers were blooming but not quite in full bloom.

Still, it was nice to be out in the sun!

I loved the art displays incorporating succulents, moss and sand!

Lunch was at a tiny cafe on the property and we tried the roasted onion.

Awaji Island is known for their sweet onions.

Roasted and topped with oozy cheese and a meat sauce, this was fabulous and I want to re-create this.

We also shared a "meh" hamburger with demi-glace sauce...

After lunch, we checked out the Hyaku-daen. The 100 flower beds is divided into 4 different zones to display the different flowers during different seasons.

According to a volunteer guide, this area was also designated as a permanent memorial for the victims of the 1995 earthquake. The cascading water and flowers truly is something to see.

We then caught the bus to the Farm Park English Hill. This is where another flower event was being held.

Instead of paying the admission to get into the park, we checked out the farmers market outside. Apparently this facility just opened. There were lots of fresh veggies. There were also food stands, so Satoshi had a soft serve and I had a "meh" cream puff.

We then caught the bus to Sumoto (the area where we would be staying).

The minshuku (family operated Japanese style B&B) we stayed at was "old"...the toilets were "Japanese style"..eep!

There wasn't even wifi coverage in the area.

We had done a lot of walking and since we were off the grid, we had a nice dinner and went to sleep "early" (21:00)!

The next day was forecast for rain...stay tuned to see what we did...

Friday, March 27, 2015

the past couple of days

Friend Greg was in town, so we had lunch at Botejyu, an okonomiyaki place.

We also did some shopping at some second-hand CD shops in the basement of the Osaka Ekimae buildings.

Thank you for all the goodies! It was great to meet up and I hope he and his mom enjoyed their trip!

Also met up with family friend, D and his family.

We had a similar lunch but at Fugetsu.

We also checked out Osaka castle.

Thank you for all the goodies! I hope they enjoy the rest of their trip around Japan!

The cherry blossoms have started in Osaka...whoo!

Enjoy the weekend.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

the past couple of days

Sorry it's been quiet here.

Friday, Aunty M came to Japan and stayed with us.

Saturday, the weather was sunny and WARM, so we headed to Nakayama Temple to check out the ume (apricot blossoms)...beautiful!

Dinner that night was pupu party style...all sorts of stuff, including leftovers...

Sunday, the weather was again really nice, so we packed a bento and went on a little picnic at Suigetsu Park.

The ume were almost over here so it was nice to sit in the sun.

Dinner that night was again pupu party style.

This time we had 2 bottles of wine and lots of nibbles.

Monday...cold snap! we didn't do much of anything...

Tuesday, Aunty joined up with her tour group.

Lots of eating, walking and talking.

We hope she enjoys the rest of her trip around Japan!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

peach curry

Another thing we bought were these instant peach curries from Yamanashi prefecture.

I had heard about this before and had it in the back of my mind.

I love the name of the peach farm...Ariga-to-en (it is a play on words "garden of thanks" and Ariga Peach Farm)

We bought a spicy version and a beef version.

They incorporate peach chutney and also pieces of peach too.

Both were delicious.

The spicy version was good, the burn lingers.

I'm glad we got to try these.

Friday, March 20, 2015

fish cheese

Whenever we go on trips and there are "tasting" areas, Satoshi is always there "tasting".

So, on our recent trip to Mt Fuji, they brought us to a suisan (a place that sells seafood) called Ishihara.

It was actually our tour's chance to use the restroom and do a little shopping before getting back on the freeway to make our way to the Shinkansen(bullet train) station.

I'm pretty sure that no matter where you go in the world, the women's line is always longer than the men's.

So, by the time I came out and looked for Satoshi, guess where he was?

Yup, he was tasting stuff.

One thing that he got hooked on were these...cheese with seasoned katsuo (bonito) and with seasoned maguro (tuna).

The katsuo were in huge pieces whereas the maguro teeny squares...they look like candy, yeah?!

The fish is seasoned with a shoyu-sugar-mirin combo (sweet-salty) and the cheese isn't overpowering, maybe a mozzarella or gouda?

Paired together this is the perfect snack or beer chaser.

I think if we come across these again, we'll get more...so good!

Thursday, March 19, 2015


So, the brussels sprout plants that I had planted...had some troubles.

And then winter came which made the plants dormant...

Within the past week or so (since the temps have risen) they started to shoot up...BUT I've been noticing flowers...

Which I read online as the plant is going to seed.

For now it has these teeny brussels sprouts...

I think I need to wait for the "next season"...

How's your garden?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


In our neighborhood, a large condo is coming up.

I pass by the site almost everyday, so I've been seeing this and that.

I was impressed with how they get cement up to pour the upper floors.

They use this crane thingy that has a grating attachment.

The cement truck dumps its cement into the grating and the cement is pumped up to the higher floor through the long arm.

The long arm is actually a tube that they also use to disperse the cement to the areas they need to construct.

Cool, yeah?!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


"Koshu" refers to the north-eastern part of Yamanashi prefecture.

It is also where wine is produced.

On our recent trip to "see" Mt Fuji, we spent a lot of time checking out different omiyage (souvenirs).

One thing we picked up were these scallops that were cooked in wine..."koshu-ni"

For most tsukudani, it is food that is seasoned with shoyu, sugar and mirin. In this case, they use wine in place of mirin and call it "koshu-ni".

You can't taste any alcohol, which is a good thing.

And this is very good with rice. And with beer.

If you visit this part of Japan, you might want to give this a try.

Monday, March 16, 2015

bib bar

We had lunch at Bib Bar, I ordered the fried chicken.

This is a boneless piece. The skin is fried so crispy it was pretty tough!

The reason I chose this dish was because of the mashed potatoes, something you rarely see on menus here.

Of course, this being Osaka, they added a nice helping of rice too...

Too bad their salad and soup set is no longer on the menu.

Still, we'll be back!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

happy camper bagel

Recently, we tried the bagel dog, which uses an Okinawan made sausage...nice snap!

And the onion cheese bagel, which was our fave because of the crispy cheese on top and sweet bits of onion worked into the dough.

This morning I had the chocolate bagel...with some cream cheese.

It is topped with some brown sugar (totally unnecessary!)

Toasted the chocolate chips get all melty, there are also some dried cranberries here and there.

Definitely a "happy camper"...

Saturday, March 14, 2015

spring-y sushi

Sakuradai is a name they give to madai (red sea bream).

Apparently, madai that is caught in the Seto-naikai (the seas along the coast of Kyushu, Shikoku and Honshu) area during this time of year is at its best...lots of abura (fat) on it.

I'm not too certain as to why they give the madai the name of sakura-dai.

There are also types of sushi that decorate the madai flesh with sakura (cherry blossoms) and the salted leaves of sakura.

The other night we went to a conveyor belt sushi shop in our neighborhood and tried their sakuradai sushi.

It was decorated with seasoned sakura blossoms and a dab of wasabi. Super fresh and nice with a squeeze of lemon.

Another item we tried was the takenoko sushi.

The takenoko (bamboo shoot) is grilled then, topped with a sweet soy sauce and a sprig of kinome (Japanese pepper sprout).

The combination of hot and cold was different but the tender bamboo shoot, so good!

I'm glad we got to try these.

Friday, March 13, 2015


Satoshi had the day off so we went to check out the Tenjinbashisuji shopping arcade.

This shopping arcade is one of the longest and if I'm not mistaken one of the oldest in Japan...2.6 kilometers (1.6 miles)

Lunch was at a retro coffee shop but the food was meh and so was the coffee, so I'd rather not post about it.

I will tell you about dessert though.

It was at a cozy shop called Seiyosakan.

Satoshi had their marron (chestnut) chiffon cake and I had their berry tarte.

Both were delicious!

I ordered tea with lemon and Satoshi had some coffee.

A bit pricey but they do give you a whole pot of tea.

We'll be back!

4-6-14 Tenjinbashi
Kita-ku, Osaka
Phone: 06.6357.9780
Open everyday from 10:00-22:00

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

standard bookstore (abeno)

Yesterday, I had an appointment near Tennoji and had lunch at Standard Bookstore.

This shop is bigger than the one I usually go to in Chayamachi.

Curious, I ordered the taco rice.

I was surprised at how much "greens" they use. Even the addition of some avocado AND dessert!

I think I prefer this version better.

For a comparison, here is Chayamachi's version.

I wouldn't mind trying other items on their menu, they have quite a few that aren't served at the Chayamachi shop...I'll be back.

Standard Bookstore (Abeno)
1-2-30 Abeno-suji, Hoop 6F
Abeno, Osaka
Phone: 06.4703.5881
Hours: 11:00-21:00

Monday, March 09, 2015

udon kichi

Satoshi stumbled upon a relatively new udon shop in our shopping arcade called Kichi.

The owner has high standards about the type of noodles, soup...everything he serves.

Osaka is known for 3 types of foods...okonomiyaki, takoyaki & udon.

The dashi (broth) used in Osaka is said to make or break the dish and is considered light by many standards.

Another thing that Osaka udon is known for is the use of abura kasu (literally oil/fat bits).

You may be familiar with tenkasu, these are bits that come from the tempura batter.

Abura kasu is the fat from an animal that is fried.

I ordered the niku kasu udon...850 yen (tax included).

At Udon Kichi, they use the small intestines from pork...fried up they taste like chicharrons.

I liked the chew they had when it soaked up the dashi and the sweet-salty flavor of the thinly sliced beef.

Everything was nicely balanced.

The noodles are thinner than most udon places but I liked that it was easy to eat (since I'm still not very good with chopsticks).

Satoshi ordered the Stamina Omori Udon...850 yen (tax included).

Tamago toji (egg swirled into the soup), some seasoned beef, some tenkasu, and some sliced garlic.

They were giving a larger portion of noodles free this day, so he ordered his dish "omori".

He enjoyed this.

The dashi (broth) is definitely what makes their dishes so good!

Even if Satoshi is watching his salt, it was hard for him to stop drinking the soup.

The place is small(less than 10 seats?!), also, they make each dish after it is ordered so be prepared to wait.

We'll be back.

Udon Kichi
1-11-3 Ishibashi
Ikeda, Osaka
Phone: 072.747.5462
Hours: Lunch 11:30-15:00, Dinner 17:30-23:30 (if they run out of soup, then they close)

Sunday, March 08, 2015

we're back

from a short trip...

We went on a tour to see Mount Fuji.

The tour takes you to see Mount Fuji from 16 different spots.

Unfortunately, the weather was bad...

there was clouds and snow...lots of snow.

The best shot I got of Mount Fuji was this one.

Mount Fuji as seen from Otome-toge near Gotemba.

We're gonna try this tour again, not sure when though.

Weather is so unpredictable...have a nice week!

Saturday, March 07, 2015


One might think that Japan is a clean country...

I thought it was relatively clean.

Until I saw this...

Someone's parent decided to leave a dirty diaper for someone else to clean up.

Of all places to put it too, on top of a police box...whoa?!

Friday, March 06, 2015

things I'm liking (disliking)

It's been some time since I did one of these posts...not liking this sakura latte.

Just because sakura translates to cherry, it isn't "American" cherry.

Plus, they paired it with strawberry...meh!

Kinda in-between on these popcorns...the one on the left was supposed to have crushed almonds...(none) and the one on the right was supposed to be gorgonzola with honey (more cheese please!)

Haagen-Dazs came out with an ice cream that has a soft mochi layer.

This particular one has a mitarashi sauce (sweet-salty) and walnuts scattered in vanilla ice cream.

It was so popular that 2 days after they brought it to stores, they had to stop production because the demand was too high.

Wish I had gotten a chance to try the other version which was kinako mochi...

What have you been enjoying?

p.s. have a nice weekend!

Thursday, March 05, 2015

basara usagi-do

I recently tried a tiny cafe inside of the Kintetsu Department Store, called Basara Usagi-do.

They have all sorts of yoshoku (Western style) dishes.

I went with their veggie curry...972 yen (tax included).

Under that renkon (lotus root) is a slice of onion, it was so good!

All the veggies were cooked until the sweetness of them were bursting.

The curry had a slow burn. I like that they gave me just enough rice.

Your choice of coffee or tea comes with the meal. I chose coffee.

I like the atmosphere of this place...I'll be back.

Basara Usagi-do
Kintetsu Uehonmachi 12F
Tennoji, Osaka
Phone: 06.6771.0039
Hours: 10:30-22:00
Open when the department store is

Wednesday, March 04, 2015


Along a route I walk, there are many temples.

Yesterday, I spotted an ume tree peeking out above one of the temple walls.

The gate of the temple was open...so I went in and got a couple of shots of the tree.

Wow! I'm glad I stopped to check it out.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

this and that

I recently tried these chocolate almonds by Stettler, a Swiss confection maker.

The almonds are quite large, they are coated with a thin layer of caramel and then covered with chocolate and cocoa powder.

Nice with wine...

How do you choose what bottle of wine to buy?

My way is by looking at the label...if it is "cute" or the font is "pretty" then I look at the price and if it isn't too outrageously priced, I usually buy it.

Sometimes the wine I buy is good, sometimes it's not.

We recently tried this organic wine from Spain.

It was a little too light bodied for my liking, but the label was cute.

p.s. Happy Girls Day!