Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Japan Trip Day 3 : Osaka Castle and Shinsekai

Today we had a few tourist spots on itinerary. We put them on one day so we could make use of our Osaka Eco Card to the fullest. We started out early because I read that it would be quite a walk from the subway station to the castle. Early morning the temperature normally was around 70. A bit cool and comfortable. But by 10-ish once the sun has completely out and up it would become warmer and humid.

Osaka Castle
I think there were at least 2 different ways to reach the Osaka Castle depends on where you're coming from. We walked through a park and a building like a performance center. Then we saw the mote. From there the road seemed to go up a bit steeper before we finally walked through a gate. The castle stood up high when we finally turned the corner.

We took a few pictures before more people arrived and decided to walk to different part which turned out to be the front part. To my surprise that part was also commercialized with food stands and drink vending machines. We took a few more pictures and decided to leave before it got too hot.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Kushikatsu Daruma Tsutenkaku - Osaka, Japan

Another food unique to Osaka is kushikatsu - deep fried skewers with a variety of possibility. And Kushikatsu Daruma seemed like the right place to try it out because they offer English menu.

They have quite a few locations including one at Dotonbori area but the one we went to was in Shinsekai neighborhood. There were more than 1 location at Shinsekai as far as I know. Because we were following our Google maps and then I happened to see the Daruma mascot outside even though we haven't reached the location yet.

As soon as we walked in we noticed a waiting area with a family of 3 sitting there. We took our seats as well and felt that the place was a bit too smoky from all the frying activities inside. Then one of the employees opened up some of the windows to release the smoke.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Airbnb Apartment at Center of Shinjuku

That's exactly what our Airbnb apartment was. The first day or two we thought it was located in the quiet neighborhood of Shinjuku. Only on the last night we found out it was just around the corner from Kabukicho area which was like an entertainment district with the Robot Restaurant, hostess clubs, night clubs and a lot of restaurants as well.

Anyway, the apartment itself was bigger than the apartment in Osaka. This one had a feel of hotel room but with a tiny kitchen area. It has a tiny balcony with towel hanger, perfect to hang dry towel or some laundry.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Ippudo Ramen - Ikebukuro, Tokyo - Japan

Ramen with minced pork
On our Shinkansen ride to Tokyo we had time to talk about what's for lunch and explored our options. In the end we decided on Ippudo ramen because there was one location at Ikebukuro which was our destination for the afternoon.

We took about 20 minutes to find this ramen place after getting lost. When we got there we got confused because there was no English characters on the signage. After a few Google searches we pinpoint the right business and was glad when we walked in and turned out to be correct. Phew.

This ramen restaurant was pretty big for Japan standard. We were seated and got to order from a menu instead of purchasing a meal ticket at a vending machine. We were both starving because it was already 2 pm and though we had rice for breakfast it was pretty early in the morning. I decided on a ramen with some spicy red paste. Hubby ordered a different fiery bowl of ramen with minced pork topping. And we decided to share an order of gyoza. Our friendly waiter with her limited English was trying to explain to us that it's a better deal to order from lunch combo that also came with gyoza. In the end we understood and chose that lunch combo for hubby.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Osaka - Tokyo on Bullet Train

Visiting Japan seemed to be incomplete without at least trying the Shinkansen (aka bullet train). So we incorporated a trip using Shinkansen from Osaka to our next destination which was Tokyo.

To save stress on the day of departure we got our train tickets a day prior.  I had all the information written on a piece of paper to avoid any misunderstanding. The necessary information like date, time, destination, name of train, reserved seat made the tickets purchasing process a lot easier. Those information could easily be found by looking it up on Google maps.

Once you got your tickets make sure that they were how you wanted. You don't want to find out last minute that the train you thought is going to be an hour away turned out to be leaving in 10 minutes.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Revisited : Yummy Tofu and BBQ

We first visited this restaurant around November last year. Both me and hubby liked their homey style. It's a small mom and pop restaurant run mostly by one lady and sometimes helped by her teenager daughter.

Last time we ordered their gamja jeongol (potato with pork neck bone stew) and really enjoyed it. And we noticed that they had a few more stews on the menu. Most Korean restaurants only serve popular dishes like bulgogi, korean bbq or tofu stew. But we like a more hearty stew though of course stews probably more suitable for winter. This time though we decided to try the seafood stew (haemul jeongol).

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Japan Day 2: Namba and Dotonbori

River cruise on the canal. I think they're part of the Osaka Amazing Pass
It's summer so day got brighter way early at 5 am. Added jet lag to that and I was awake by 6 am. By 7 we were already talking about breakfast. Surprisingly hubby was suggesting ramen for breakfast. At home in San Jose, he would suggest other things if I brought up ramen suggestion. So I actually thought we would not have any ramen on this trip.

I looked up Ichiran ramen and found out that they open 24 hours. That was great news because the thought of waiting till 11 for the restaurant to open just made me grew weaker. So we got ready and left our apartment.

Shin Osaka station was packed with salarymen and career women. I noticed most of men wore similar outfit, white long sleeve and black pants.Women were not as many as men. Everyone move methodically almost like half dazed. While waiting for trains everyone heads down looking at their devices.