Crazy for Japan

Just another Otaku in the Holy Land


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Day 9 – Fushimi Inari Taisha – Nara – Part 1

I got up early to get to Kyoto. I’d decided that neither the Kansai Thru Pass nor any of the other day/multi day passes would be economical for me as I was looking to only travel on 1 day and I was going to use a number of different train companies. I took the Osaka subway from Dobutsuen-mae to Kitahama for 240yen, then I transfered to the Keihan line to Fushimi-Inari for 400yen. I really love taking the train. Just sitting there watching the landscape pass by. Seeing all the houses and gardens and the beautiful landscape. There is usually always something interesting to look at.

Arriving at the station just follow the foot traffic. The station is not far from the shrines. The path up to the shrines was lined by food stalls selling all kinds of food and souvenirs. they were selling different kinds of grilled meat skewers, grilled seafood, grilled sweet dumplings (yaki dango), taiyaki, yaki soba,  ice cream and much more. It was really interesting to see and smelled phenomenal.

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Fushimi Inari Taisha is a shrine complex with one main shrine and thousands of smaller shrines all over the place. There are beautiful fox statues everywhere as white foxes are Inari okami’s messengers. there are usually displayed holding something in their snout.

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It was almost impossible to get a nice photo of the torii as people were waving their selfie-sticks around everywhere or you were incumbered by the tripods wielding crowd.

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I was surprised to find that some of the smaller shrines further up Mt. Inari also had Shisa, Chinese dog statues, that I remember from Okinawa.

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There are several paths up onto the mountain. i am not sure if they all converge at some point but I followed one path up the mountain for a little while. It went through a beautiful bamboo forest, which looked like it was a managed forest with people working there. Nonetheless it was very quiet and relaxing away from the din of the main paths with the tourists.

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After a while I turned back as I knew that if I climbed Mt Inari I wold not be able to go to Nara today. I re-joined the walk through the torii where I had turned off the path previously and finished the loop to get out at the entrance buildings again. I shopped around for some souvenirs for while and then made my way to the JR station.

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I have split down the post for day 9 into two parts as otherwise it would have been waaay to long. Fingers crossed this will upload okay this is the third attempt.


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WordPress App for Android SUCKSSSS!!!!!

WHY? Stop deleting my posts! They take time to write. This is the second time that hours of work have been destroyed by this stupid app just deleting my entire post I have been working on for hours. Please stop doing this. Its hard enough as it is to find the time to write stuff up at the moment. This feels like such a waste of time… you suck WordPress App. That’s all I gotta say!

;P


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Day 6 – Day off (Tennoji)

Today I had my “day off”, which is to say I didn’t do much apart from writing blog posts and not walking as much as possible. The sun was shining in the afternoon though so I did take a wander to Tennoji. It’s only a short walk from Dobutsuen-mae. I walked along the Zoo, which as you can see was closed today. The tower in the background is Tsutenkaku tower.

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This is the view from Tennoji park, called Ten-Shiba, at Abeno Harukas which is apparently Japans tallest skyscraper. I didn’t actually go in as from Q’s Mall on the other side I could see a large sign for one of those posh labels so I thought it wouldn’t really be my scene and since I was trying to walk as little as possible I was taking a pass.

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And since there isn’t much to write about for today I thought I’d show off the adorable kitsune udon charms I got out of a few gatcha-gatcha machines over the past few days. I’ve got one on my camera bag at the moment but I am sure there others will find homes soon as well.

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Day 5 – Namba – Osaka Castle

I arrived in Osaka at around 6:30 at the bus terminal near Umeda station. I say near Umeda Station but it was quiet a hike just to get near the station and then yet quite a bit further still to get to the Tourist Information inside the station. The Tourist Information didn’t open until 8:00 so I had to wait until then. Originally I had planned to get a 2 day Osaka Amazing Pass and a 2 day Kansai Thru Pass. But with the decision on a day-off looming my plans obviously had to change. Unfortunately there isn’t a 1 day Kansai Thru pass so I scrapped that and then after some more consideration I also decided against the Osaka Amazing Pass. Both of these passes are quite pricy and if I got one I would want to get the most out of it which would mean long days with a lot of walking and considering that I’d not really slept well since I left the UK and after the track from the bus terminal to the station my feet were already in agony (there are NO seats in the station and you are not allowed t sit on the floor it’s increasingly frustrating!) I thought I’d keep my days lighter at least for a while until I feel better again which meant single journeys would probably work out cheaper. So i got some maps from the Tourist Information and some leaflets for Nara and Kyoto and left for the Subway to get to my hotel. I decided I would get a subway daypass as I would have to drop my luggage off at the hotel and then return for check-in at 15:00. However when I arrived at the hotel the desk clerk was happy to check me in then and there, which was amazing. I’m staying in a very cheap hotel near Dobutsuen-mae station in a Japanese stye room with shared bathroom facilities. There are toilets on each floor but only a communal bath on the ground floor which is only open for women from 21:00 until 22:00. so no shower for me until then. After some rest I headed off again to Namba station. I used to live near Namba and I though I wouldn’t struggle but I did struggle to find the right exit to get to Dotonbori and the Shinsaibashi shopping street. I took a quick tour and then headed to the castle.

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Cherry blossoms are of course everywhere and despite it being a pretty unspectacular day weatherwise  it was still spectacular. I say on some stone steps for a while to soak up the view. There were people everywhere sitting under the cherry trees, having their parties. 

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After a while I tried to persuade my feet to move again. I wanted to get back to the hotel to get a bit of a rest to see if I could the maybe head out in the evening again. On the way to the subway station I came past some food stalls and had one of these cakes. I think they were called Sengoku Obanyaki. They were filled with custard, red bean paste and white bean paste and the cake was similar to pancake but not very sweet.

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Back at the hotel I had a look at the map and did some research to find out that the “New Tram” or Nanko Port Town Line is an above ground train line going through the port town area funnily enough. I thought it would be interesting to see and most importantly it ould allow me to sit for a while apart from changing between train lines a few times and then on the way back I could stop at Namba again for some photos of Dotombori at night. So that’s what I did.

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I also went ahead and made an exception to finally try Takoyaki since I kinda felt I’d missed out in the past. Suffice it to say that I did not enjoy it and that I felt sick to my stomach for the rest of the night. Experiment over! xD They look really nice though.

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Osaka ni ikimasu – or – my tales about the nightbus to Osaka

No pretty pictures for this post I’m afraid. As I eluded to in my other posts I was taking the nightbus from Osaka to Tokyo. I’d scoped out the bus terminal during the day on Saturday to ensure that when I was returning in the evening with my luggage I knew exactly were to go. I even managed a complete conversation in Japanese with the lady at the information desk to find out if the entrance would be open through the night for me to get through the Sunshine City buildings to the bus terminal in the back.

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As I had to collect my luggage before 21:00 from the hostel and my bus wasn’t leaving until 23:10 I had plenty of time to sit in the waiting area contemplating life. At some point around 22:00 I hear the lady announcing the busses say something about Yukata Liner and Kansai and I get a bit nervous. My  bus is a Yukata Liner and I am going to Kansai (Kansai is the region around Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Kobe etc.). So I decide to grab all my bags and surrender my seat, which got snapped up by a gut faster than I could actually get all my bags gathered , to go and see the information desk about my bus. I hand my ticket to the clerk at the desk and he looks at it and says that this bus isn’t on his list. (This is all happening in Japanese.) I start to panic. What does he mean it’s not on the list. There is a list that is lying on the desk before him and I can see just as he said that for the time that is on my ticket there really is no bus.  He asks me to wait while he finds out what is going on. He is on the phone for ages and I starting to approach full blown hysteria. Where am I gonna sleep? What am I gonna do the hotel in Osaka is booked. They’ll charge me even if I can’t make it there. Then I’ll also need to pay for another place to stay in Tokyo for the next few days. Meanwhile the previously mentioned Yukata Liner headed for the Kansai area is leaving and I make a last desperate attempt to find out if this could be my bus from one of his younger colleagues as the other guy is still on the phone. He also asks me to wait. The bus for Kansei leaves. Then finally he gets off the phone and tells me that I am on a different bus leaving slightly earlier than the one on my ticket. The relief is incredible but until I actually sit on a bus I’m not gonna be able to relax. A tense 30 minute wait follows until my bus finally arrives. In this time I realize this all seems oddly familiar. I’m about 99.9% the same thing happened 6 years ago when I took the nightbus from Osaka to Tokyo. They just put you on a different bus and don’t tell you. Now if I wasn’t slightly paranoid and turned up way before I had to then this could have ended less happy. The bus I eventually left on left 10 minutes before the one I had the ticket for. The check-in time is 15 minutes before departure. Considering how long the guy was on the phone to find out about my bus this could have easily meant that I would have missed the bus if I had just been there for check-in time.

The morale of this story is that you should always double check. Busses and trains are notorious for their punctuality in Japan but just because you have a ticket for a certain time on a certain bus don’t rely on that fact. It could easily change without them telling you about it.

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Okay I lied. There is a cute random picture.😉


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Day 4 – Kappabashi dori – Shibuya – Ikebukuro

First I took the Ginza line to Tawaramatchi to see Kappabashi dori, which is a famous street that has loads of shops catering to the restaurant trade. From chairs to signs, plates, bowls, baskets, chopsticks and of course the plastic replica food items they have anything anyone could ever need for opening a restaurant. When you see the giant chefs head on top of the Niimi store you know you are in the right place.

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It’s really interesting to see all the different things that are for sale, most were very foreign to me. I had for example never see the machine before that is used for shaved ice, which is very popular here in the summer. My favorite thing were the ceramic shops though selling tones of bowls, plates, chopstick rests, cup, tea pots and so on.

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This was actually the first shop I stumbled into, even before seeing the gigantic chefs head. It turned out to be my favorite ceramics shop out of all the ones I saw. It was one of the smaller ceramics shops and it seemed more down to earth. I really liked the presentation in the shop and they had some baskets with reduced items outside. Of course there was also a shop selling the famous plastic replicas. The actual replicas carries pretty hefty price tags and even the keychain sushi items, which I assume are meant for tourists were pretty expensive at between 600-800 yen each.

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Next up was Shibuya. I really need to figure out where I can get a better picture of the crossing. It was Saturday and it was pretty busy.

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Just outside the station is the famous Hatchiko statue, which was surrounded by tonnes of people. As I got closer I saw why. There was a cat lying under the statue. For all I know that cat could have been dead because someone sprinkled cherry blossom pedals on it’s head, another guy aggressively petted the poor things head and it never moved… I guess we will never know.

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I had planned to head to the Meji Shrine in Yoyogi Park next but I wasn’t feeling well and my feet were too sore to walk much more, so I headed directly to Ikebukuro instead to scope out Sunshine City and it’s bus terminal. Ikebukuro was incredibly busy even busier than Shibuya or Harajuku the other day. I found my way to the bus terminal in Sunshine City from where I was getting the Nightbus to Osaka. On the way back to the Subway station I ran into the Pokemon Center in Sunshine City. There were tonnes of cute stored and loads of restaurants as you would expect. I was happy that I had found the bus terminal though and decided to move on to the last item on the list for the day.

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In the evening I wanted to see the illuminated cherry trees at Chidorigafuchi at Kitanomaru National Garden. I had looked it up on google maps and thought that was gonna be good enough. BIG mistake! I wandered around in the park for a while. I found some cherry trees but never found the ones that were being illuminated. I still wasn’t feeling well and my feet were absolutely killing me at this point so I decided to give it up as a bad job and headed back to the subway station. Luckily before that I got a few nice shots at the moat near the subway station just as the sun was setting so it wasn’t a total loss. Although I could have saved myself a lot of grief if I had just left it at that, instead of trying to find the elusive illuminated trees.

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Osaka

This morning I arrived in Osaka on the Nightbus from Tokyo. That’s why I couldn’t write my bog post last night and that’s why I am trying to play catch up. I have decided that I will have a “day off” tomorrow where I won’t do any major hiking expeditions from one highlight to the next and just try and give my feet and knees and joints in general a bit of a rest and also try and catch up on some much needed sleep. At the same time this will hopefully give me a chance to catch up on my posts so stay tuned for the Saturday Tokyo post and the Sunday Osaka post. That does unfortunately mean though that I had to change my plans. Although this is supposed to be a holiday and not the basic training for the army, which is how it has felt over the last few days lugging my enormous backpack through Tokyo and Osaka. As a lady said to me on the subway in Tokyo ” What is this doing to your spinal column!?”. Nothing good… although my feet, ankles and knees are more of a concern at the moment. Mata ne!

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