Sunday, June 15, 2014

Osaka - 30th November 2013

Finally, or sadly I should say, this is our last day in Osaka. Our flight is at night, so we had almost the whole day to shop, eat...

And we set off to Minoo Park. A train ride away from Osaka. Near to the northern part. Away from the city. It is famous for its waterfall and maple leaves. And boy, the crowd was horrendous! Everyone was going to the park perhaps and along the way, there are crackers in form of maple leaves. Apparently, they fried the maple leaves and is a very yummy tidbit!

The lovely leaves adorning the sky

Waterfall spotted at Minoo Park. I was trying out the ND8 I purchased from Yodobashi earlier on. And it works great in such images :)

The minoo waterfall...I dont feel it very magnificient though haha

Along the route to the waterfall, it has many temples and red bridges and maple leaves. The weather was excellent for a pleasant walk, hence explaining the crowd. This is our last day at Osaka. We wanna get more time spending with this beautiful scenery!

After visiting Minoo park, we moved off to the Instant Ramen Museum at Ikeda. In Singapore, we only had the luxury to taste some version of the Nissin Cup noodles, but actually there are many many varieties. In different parts of Japan, there is also different version of cup noodles with different soup base.
Look at the huge displays on the wall!

This is how cup noodles are made in the past.

If you fancy some time making your own cup noodles, you may do so but this requires reservation and a fee. Most people come with their kids for the fun of making noodles :)

We didnt taste any noodles. And Dear...suddenly has the urge to eat Kobe beef again before leaving Japan. So you can imagine the crazy us took a train to Kobe and visit Moriya again for the beef!! hahaha..and we didnt regret it.

All for the sake of this that melts in your mouth!

Before leaving Japan, we also had this collection of our favourite Ted collectibles!
We collected a whole series of these Ted figurines!

unfortunately, we didnt catch any of these from the UFO catchers! :(

This has been the most fruitful and relaxing trip to Japan, with great onsen experience at Kinosaki Onsen, great time spent eating beef at Kobe, great maple viewing at Nara and Kyoto, great food from everywhere, great and wonderful shopping at Osaka and most importantly, great hospitality from the Japanese everywhere that we visited. Till then, we will visit Japan in the near future again..hoping for a trip to Hokkaido next time.. I guess it will also be pretty pleasant to visit Kyoto during cherry blossoms period. Will be looking forward to that. Thank you everyone for reading my blog :)

Osaka Universal Studios - 29th November 2013

This the title suggests..a stay at Universal Studios Osaka. Honestly, I still feel Disneyland is much fun :) with all my favourite characters and very good shopping. USS has its own features but if without the fireworks, I think I will not spend the whole day at USS haha..

First encounter is with Shrek and company. They are very friendly and kids rushed to take pics with them. We can also see them in Singapore USS so I didnt really have the huge urge to take pics with them hahaha

And there..we reached Central Park to see Elmo and gang!! Something that you do not see in SG USS I think..

ZS with Cookie Monster

Elmo is too popular. The big kid in me has to run to take pics with this famous red guy who gives me a huge hug!

And superman comes to catch us in action!

Not forgettin the ever famous Hello Kitty. There is a special dancing stage just for Hello Kitty and little fans gather way before the dances began! Talking about shrieked out aloud as Kitty comes out in different costumes.

Snoopy and friends is another highlight of Osaka USS. Of cuz, we dont miss taking pics with them!
I love fluffy Snoopy dog! 
Used to read comics about Snoopy when I was young haha

Look at the Snoopy merchandise!!

Snoopy Azuki Pancake
We waited till dusk and all this time, there were performances at different parts of the USS. Still, I prefer Disneyland haha..

And finally..the highlight of the night..the magical parade!

There are many other light display characters but these are not familar to us. At least for Disney parade, we know every single hmm..I enjoyed myself more at Disneyland than USS..but a nice visit to meet Snoopy and Elmo!

The magical Xmas tree.. xmas is coming..everywhere in Japan is in fact preparing for Xmas in terms of gifts, chocolates, toys etc..everywhere a festive mood but too bad this is already our 2md last day in Osaka :( Last day tomorrow!

Nara - 28th November 2013

From Osaka, we made our way to Namba for Kintetsu train to Kintetsunara station. Upon reaching, we followed the directions to Todaiji and the famous deers of Nara appeared! They are pretty aggressive!!

Senbei crackers can be purchased to feed the deers. But once they see you have the food, they surround u just like the picture above. 

A couple?

In Nara, you can see beautiful scenery like this everywhere at the park. Very pristine and untouched!

Curious Deer looking at my glad he didnt charge at me!

Garden nearing the entry of Todaiji temple.
After Todaiji,  we walked further up to Kasuga taisha. It is a historical shrine and the helpers there were dressed in elaborate uniforms. The calm and peaceful feeling with beautiful maple leaves adorning the route to Kasuga Taisha was well worth the visit and the walk.

 About 15 mins walk from Todaiji Temple. Very scenic walk through the forest.

And after Kasuga Taisha visit, we walked back to Kintetsunara station and along the way we saw wedding shots taken at such a lovely outdoor scene with the maple leaves! 
I bet their shots turn out very nice with the backdrop.

We also saw many artists sitting by to paint their artwork of the temple with the bridges and maple leaves. They are very serious and focused. And they come in big groups.

A lovely visit to Nara and we went back to Osaka for some sumptious ramen at this Gold Dragon Ramen. It is famous with tourists and true enough the soup base is to our liking.
 Just that you need to wait pretty long and the seats are very cramped. Having to eat hot ramen in cold weather during the night is a ohh la la :)

Kobe - 27th November 2013

A quick trip to Kobe from Osaka is extremely convenient with a train ride away.
When you talk about Kobe, you will automatically link it to Kobe beef, the legendary melts-in-your-mouth meat!

We reached Osaka just in time for an early lunch. Originally, I have made a reservation at a well-known restaurant Kobe Plasir in the middle of Kobe city. However, I booked it on 27th Nov, missing it by just a day. So we were a little disappointed but managed to find another excellent place for some Kobe beef.. restaurant Moriya!

Us with our kobe beef!

Being curious, I took a small piece and it totally blew my mind away. It just melts in your mouth at the instant it entered and a tasty feel swarmed my tastebuds. Zs requested for medium rare for the beef. In fact, before the beef was cooked, the staff took pics of us holding the Kobe beef that we were going to savor. There are 3 different ways to taste the Kobe beef with. Youcan mix a little of salt, wasabi to the beef before eating it. This is one way to enjoy the taste of the beef!

Im not someone who eats beef but ZS we ordered a Kobe beef set for him and a seafood set for me. The chef is very young but looks skillful as he preps the beef, cooking it in a teppanyaki style.
The seafood was equally tasty.. accompanied with yummy veggies.. I loved the squid especially. And we drank asahi beer too. It was my first time consuming beef and the experience was great!!

After a hearty meal, we walked around Kobe city. Everywhere in fact, you will see many restaurants of Kobe beef. All should taste great even the worst one I think. It depends on the skills in preparation and I do believe Japanese do great in any jobs with their good attitude and passion.
We hopped on to the train to visit the Nunobiki Herb Gardens

Upon reaching the subway station, we walked out and took a Cable car up the field. Its an amazing ride as Kobe is also filled with autumn foliage. The maple leaves are kind of welcoming us aswe were lifted up by the cable car.

As we reached the top, we felt a strong aroma of herbs and flowers. Sometimes lavender, sometimes rose. Very nice place for flower viewing and a lovely stroll.
After buying some souvenirs(all herbsrelated), be it chamomile tea, rose pack to put in wardrobes etc, wetook the cable car down and streamed off to explore Chinatown and the shopping district in Kobe.

The iconic statues at Chinatown of Kobe which features numerous shops selling pork buns, dumplings, and famous chinese delicacies...mainly sold by the Chinese community living in Japan.
Piggy and Panda buns!

Shopping District in Kobe
It was nearing sunset time as we reached this tower and it was just nice for a ferry ride to explore Kobe from the sea. Since it was the last ferry ride, we went ahead for this journey and saw the sunset of Kobe :)

The Kobe Port Tower looks like a shimmering champagne.
The bad thing is the weather that day was super it was nearing winter, the wind was very strong and we used many heat packs that day. Our attire was not suited for winter temp. It was less than 10C. Maybe Kobe is nearer to the sea haha..

All the way back home after an eventful day at Kobe with an awesome view of Osaka skyline from our window view at the hotel!