Okonomiyaki in Osaka

Absolutely exhausted after Kyoto. I used our rail passes to jump aboard the all too familiar Haruka express to the airport, though we got off a Shin-Osaka. It was comfortable with a place to sit and I fell asleep for some of the ride. 
We then caught the subway to Umeda and went straight to the Yodobashi Camera building, where we had one of Osaka’s signature dishes: okonomiyaki, along with yakisoba. 

The shredded cabbage, egg, sliced meat and other ingredients are cooked at your table. Very yummy.

Shopping until dropping followed. Something I really like about this hotel is the bathroom, which is like a traditional Japanese bathroom with a seated washing area and big bath. 

Ryokans, rivers, cake and more beef

The sweet straw smell of a tatami mat is the trigger for many precious memories of staying in a ryokans. This one lists our names and those of other guest on boards near the entrance. 

Across from the hotel is the Kokubunji temple with a three story pagoda and a 1,200 year old ginkgo tree. 

There are many tourists here and indeed it is one of our favourite places in Japan. While I checked into the hotel, the other two bathed their feet in the Miyagawa River alongside huge koi carp. 

We were all so tired that it was difficult to motivate ourselves to head out for dinner. We wandered the streets searching for food, past many smoky izakaya, eventually choosing the reasonably priced Tenaga Ashinaga. There I had another Takayama favourite hoba miso. Hida beef and mountain vegetables with miso paste grilled on a magnolia leaf. 

To end off the day a scorching bath to relieve blistered feet in the ryokan’s public baths and a strawberries and cream sponge birthday cake from Monbille. We thought we’d be finishing it for breakfast, but nope, all gone. Even Alex, who normally dislikes cream, devoured a couple of slices.

A sweet finish to a wonderful day.  

Hida gyu – the best beef

After my first taste of Hida beef no other beef tasted right ever again. We had a range of top range marbled cuts as a celebration of B’s birthday and they were so good. Grilling them ourselves at the table with local vegetables. Perfect.  

Nagoya at night

Japanese cities come alive after work as salarymen and students hit the streets in search of food and entertainment. However Nagoya seems to shut down early with many large shops closing at 8 PM rather than the 9, 10 or 11 PM of Tokyo or Osaka.

We caught the Meitetsu and Higashiyama subway lines to the Sakae downtown and had a great tonkotsu ramen at a small ramen bar lacking the touts of its neighbours. The legs were knackered by the time we returned. Fortunately the hotel has a hot spa.


NFC – Chicken in Nagoya

Chicken is a speciality of Nagoya and a pretty easy choice for tired stomachs. We found a store under the Isetan Centre serving dishes like oyakodon and namban chicken for dinner. It was good. 

Self heating bento

This train ride goes through lunch and all the shops were closed last night so I bought a bento from the on board trolley service. I was first offered one with sea urchin. No thanks. 

The next option was this self heating beef and rice bento. Pull a string and a chemical reaction boils water and steams the dish. Five minutes later and you have a hot lunch. Nice! 


Fruits of the north

I’ve only spent one night in Hokkaido and my bag is packed. I was instructed to bring back lots of goodies from Hokkaido after our indulgences in January here and I have obeyed. 

I found a bright orange seafood and souvenir store near the station. Then there was a market area across the road. 

The problem is that they often let you try. If I still enjoy the after-taste five minutes later then it’s hard to resist. That’s how I ended up with a smokey cheese flavoured pickles. I have no idea how we will eat it.

Then there’s chocolate, local cheese crackers, cream buns and rockmelon flavoured stuff. 

I’m going to share. Promise.