While we originally hadn’t planned to stay in Osaka for as long as we did (a whole week, which was about a third of our trip), the offer of free accommodation was too good to pass up (Japan’s hostels are relatively expensive) and so we decided to base ourselves in the city and do day trips from there. Kyoto, Kobe and Nara are very close and easily accessible from Osaka, so while we didn’t get as much time in those cities as we would’ve had had we actually stayed there, the money saved and the extra time we got to spend with Megumi and Eanna made it totally worth it.
Thursday (November 12) we did another day trip, this time to Arashiyama, an area of Kyoto. We walked around a bit and stumbled upon some guy getting interviewed by a news crew about rock-skipping. I don’t know if he was some kind of rock-skipping champion, but he was really good!
Then we headed to the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. The bamboo grove is beautiful to walk through, and the bamboo grows so tall! It’s one of the most popular attractions in the area and well worth a visit, it’s pretty spectacular.
We walked through the bamboo forest and then headed over to the Tenryu-ji temple, which was pretty cool cause (for a fee) we actually got to walk through some of the structures. The grounds were absolutely gorgeous and we spent quite a bit of time walking through the gardens. Plus, there were lots of girls dressed in traditional kimonos, which was really beautiful. I did ask Meg about it, cause we’d seen random girls/groups of girls/couples dressed in traditional clothes and we weren’t sure if it was for a special occasion or not. She said that usually it’s just for fun, people will get all dressed up and spend the day sightseeing. I love it, it’s so cool to see all the girls dressed up in their beautiful kimonos with their hair and makeup done too.
Then we had some time to walk around a bit and check out another temple (though we didn’t go in) before heading back to Osaka for the night.
Friday the 13th (Ooooh!) we spent the day sightseeing around Osaka, since we hadn’t really seen much of the city yet. We bought the Amazing Pass, which is one of those passes that gets you into a bunch of attractions. We wanted to get our money’s worth, so we decided to hit as many attractions as possible. It was going to be a busy day! Our first stop was Osaka Castle. We’d been looking at it from our balcony all week, so it was nice to finally see it close up and get to check out the inside and learn of the history. There’s a moat around the castle! Plus there are nice views of the city from the top.
Next we headed to Hep 5, a huge shopping mall with a red ferris wheel on top! I love ferris wheels, so that was fun. Then it was off to the Umeda Sky Building to check out the Floating Garden Observatory. It’s this really cool observatory that connects two towers on the 39th floor. You get a spectacular view of the city and the journey up to the observatory is pretty cool too because the escalators are outside the building.
After the floating garden we went to check out a few design shops Kathy wanted to visit. Japan is really well known for its pottery and ceramics, and the design stores we visited had some beautifully crafted pieces. I really enjoyed the stuff at one of the stores we visited called Graf. I ended up buying a beautiful ceramic plate that I LOVE and Kathy bought a bunch of beautiful stuff. You can check out some of their products here. We had a bit of time to kill, so we headed over to the Osaka Science Museum for the last 30 minutes before it closed. It was a short but fun visit as it is an interactive museum (I LOVE interactive science museums) and we had a great time playing with as many exhibits as possible before they kicked us out.
Then it was time to meet up with Meg at Hommachi Station. We walked around for a bit before settling on this cool place for dinner. It was in the basement and had all private booths (and by private I mean completely private with a door and everything), with a button to ring for the waiter. The waitress came and told us that for ¥1500 it was all you can drink (sake, wine and cocktails), or we could play rock, paper, scissors against the waitress and if we won once, the price would drop to ¥1000, if we won twice the price would drop to ¥750 and if we won three times the price would drop to ¥500. Meg was elected to go up against the waitress and she won once, so we got it for ¥1000. It was amazing! We got warm sake and cocktails (really yummy) and the girls also got beers. We ordered a bunch of delicious appetizers and we had the best time. Meg was super excited to be having a girls night out cause it had been a while since she’d been out without the kids and we had so much fun getting tipsy and catching up and laughing (especially as Meg’s English got worse and funnier the drunker she got). We finally left to catch the last train home, but we had so much fun that Meg decided to see if she could ditch her husband and kids the next night too and come out with us again!
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