On Monday (November 9th) we headed to the Instant Ramen Museum. I know, there’s a whole museum dedicated to instant noodles??? Yes there is! And actually, it’s pretty interesting and super fun (plus it’s free!). Everything is in Japanese, but for a (refundable) deposit you can get English audio-guides. They are only good for two of the exhibits, but it’s better than nothing. The video explaining how Momofuku Ando came up with and realized the idea of instant noodles, instant ramen and cup noodles was actually pretty interesting. Who knew so many inventions (which he came up with) and patents were involved in the creation of something that now seems so simple. After you finish the museum area, you can head up to the My Cup Noodles Factory and make your very own Cup Noodles! This is the best part of the museum, super fun for children and adults alike. There are 8 steps to follow and it’s all very easy, starting off with buying your cup out of the vending machine (everything else is free, you just pay for the cups, so you can do as many as you like). A few steps later you get to decorate the cup and a few steps after that you get to choose your own toppings! Very exciting! It really is a great way to spend an afternoon. If you plan ahead, children can participate in a workshop to actually MAKE the noodles from scratch (possibly adults too, I’m not entirely sure, it’s a bit hard to tell on the website). Definitely worth checking out.
From the museum we went to Eanna and Joyce’s apartment to hang out and continue catching up. He told us all about The Velvet Cell, the independent publishing company he started in 2011. We also got to check out a lot of the photobooks he’s published so far and they are really amazing. Along with publishing his own work, he’s worked with some well-known photographers such as Peter Bialobrzeski, Isidro Ramirez and Kyler Zeleny, to name a few. If you have a minute, check out The Velvet Cell website, it’s worth a look.
After that, the three of us headed to Namba to eat, although it was a bit harder this time since Joyce wasn’t with us and Eanna has only learned a bit of Japanese so far. Luckily most of the menus have pictures, so that helps a lot! The next day, Kathy and I bought our Hankyu Tourist Passes (unlimited travel on all Hankyu lines between Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe) and headed to Kyoto.
The first thing we did there was get our Kyoto Passes (unlimited travel on the bus, train and subway) then we headed to Fushimi Inari-Taisha, which is a shrine at the bottom of a mountain. The whole place is really gorgeous, you have to walk through a torii path to get to the main shrine. From the main shrine there is a torii path up the mountain and back down that leads to smaller shrines. It’s really beautiful. I would’ve loved to do the whole thing, but we were running short on time (it takes about 2-3 hours), so we only went up to the main shrine.
After the shrine we went to visit a zen temple, Tofukuji Temple which is known for its autumn colours. It is SO beautiful! Definitely a must-see if you’re in the area during autumn. You have to pay to get into the gardens, but it’s worth it.
After that it was back to Osaka, hitting the grocery store on the way back to the apartment. We started shopping for food in the evenings after discovering one night that lots of the prepared meals were discounted after 7 or 8 pm!!! Oh yeah!
Wednesday we took the train to Kobe (as in Kobe beef), which was really nice. We visited the Ikuta Shrine (believed to be one of the oldest shrines in the country), walked around Kitano-Cho (an area of old western-style houses) and then checked out the Kitana Tenman Shrine.
Afterwards we went to visit the Kobe Nunobiki Herb Gardens and Ropeway, which is quite a mouthful, but is really pretty. It is Japan’s largest herb gardens and there is also a plaza with cafes and restaurants, a waterfall and a dam. We took the glass ropeway car up to the top, then worked our way down. Even in autumn it was super nice, there were still lots of flowers and the leaves were changing colours. Plus, about halfway down, there was a cafe and a restaurant and an herbal footbath with an amazing view. Of course we HAD to do the footbath, it was just too good to pass up, especially after a long day of walking.
Then it was time to head back to Osaka and our cozy little apartment to rest for the next day’s adventures.
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