The day of tranquility, trains and wow moments.
16.04.2013 22 °C
Waking up in the ryokan today, it felt really like Japan because the light was coming in through the paper and wood screen. The traditional inn is a must-do experience.
Today's breakfast was similar to the other ryokans where it seems to be a lighter version of dinner...... ie fish, pickles, rice, tofu, miso. The good thing about Japanese cuisine is that you can stuff yourself silly then a few hours later you feel better. This was evidenced by our eating a green tea ice cream from the vending machine only a few hours later..... What am I like?! Don't answer that.
Upon presenting the omiyage gift to the inn manager, he whipped out a reciprocal thank you gift for us from under the desk. So Japanese! So nice and thoughtful. After checking out, we had a wander though the gardens which are too pretty to be true. We found a temple where the Dalai Lama visited in 2006. It is so lovely there because not only does it have the usual temple things, but is surrounded by the cutest most quirky Buddhas and gnomes like statuettes. They are lovingly adorned with knitted beanie hats and beads. People put coins on them too. I have some pics. Took a lot of pics....I'd love to fill the garden with these little dudes, so much easier to care for, just crochet a hat and decoratemwithnsome bracelets, at least they won't die in the Aussie heat.
So to the ferry and another local train to Hiroshima station. Found lunch in the form of bento, pineapple, tinned coffee and crumb cake. Hell, my diet is totally shot but we are walking a lot and sometimes carrying day packs. Another Shinkansen ride, this time to Osaka. The bullet train was very plush this time. Each is slightly different, much like aeroplanes. In fact they could be described as squarish aeroplanes and they certainly go fast enough for takeoff. The one thing they don't do, but the French TGV does so well, is these trains do not bank corners. Just LOVE banking corners!
Now Osaka, another big city. More salarymen, bright lights, tall buildings, neon lights and people. Our hotel is located near the shops. Let me tell you, Osaka is shopping central and full of kitsch too. I cannot wait to browse. Might buy a plate of plastic food! On the other hand there are more culturally serious things to do.... Lets see what happens tomorrow which is the last day.
This afternoon, we took a couple more trains to see the Osaka aquarium. This place is totally amazing! It is HUGE. Actually before taking you in there with my description, I should mention the enormous Ferris wheel nearby. It is Bigger than the London eye and took my breath away. Only ¥700 for a ride.... Alas no time. The focus today was on the watery interior of the aquarium.....
The aquarium is 8 storeys high. You go to the top and walk down in a spiral. On either side are various tanks representing the different important marine or freshwater environments of the world. For example, Australian Great Barrier Reef, Seto inland sea, Pacific rim, Monterey canyon, arctic, Antarctic, Tasman sea, coast of Chile etc... The tanks are deep and span several storeys so you see them at different depths as you descend. They are staggered, so you don't see all at once, except the centre tank which was full of sharks, rays, generic fish, hammerhead, whale shark etc..... It went for several storeys. It's mesmerising. You could easily stay there for hours watching, which is precisely why we went 2 hours before closing time, to prevent overstaying. Highlights for me: bioluminescent jellyfish, actually all jellyfish, freakishly huge crabs that might exted over 2m if stretched out, sardines and anchovies (yum) going round and round endlessly like the mad prisoners in Midnight Express. Special mention also to the playful otters, dolphins and seals, plus my sometime bad hair day mentor, the rockpool penguin aka Lovelace from Happy Feet.
And so it was we left at 8pm with our own happy feet. Took trains back but being briefly separated when Paul got on a train and the doors shut. I was stuck in the crowd and couldn't get on. He came back for me, I am glad to report. Very crowded and hard to follow your leader sometimes.....
We stopped off for a takoyaki snack in in a tightly jammed, hot, loud, stuffy, smoky bar. These octopus balls were hot and tasty however do not deserve to be called balls. They were either deflated or better described as an octopus splat. Couldn't get out fast enough. Clothes stink of smoke now.
Forgot to mention that before the aquarium we ate a pizza in a terrible diner. But the Pizza was delicious and we were starving. Paul ordered 2 small pizzas and they gave us one. It was only 18cm diameter. To share this was ridiculous but we did. It was enough so that we could enjoy the aquarium without looking at the exhibits as some type of food source.
Osaka, you are our last stop here in Japan, so lets see what you are made of tomorrow!