Ookini!

1

I'm finally back from Japan, and how I miss this country so much. ;( I was pretty neutral about this trip initially since my main purpose of going there was just to renew my visa so that I could continue staying in Korea, but this has turned out to be one of my most memorable trips to date. I am now VERY SURE that I will definitely return to Japan. In fact, while I still love the Korean culture more, I must say that I actually do like (maybe love HAHA) the Japanese people more than Koreans. Them trying to cover up / distort their history (especially war atrocities) aside, the Japanese are really the friendliest and most helpful people I've come across to date. And for this, no words can express how grateful and thankful I am to them. T_T

Saturday 06/12/2014 (Day 1)
Our flight to Kansai was at 3.15 pm. Because I didn't do any packing, I woke up at 9 am to pack my things. There weren't many things to pack for, maybe except for clothes, because most of the daily necessities would be available in Mayumi's house. We left the house at around 10.45 am and got gifts for Mayumi's family and Itokazu-san before setting off for the airport.

The ride to the airport was uneventful, although it was about 45 minutes. Haha, I think I will dread riding the AREX again when I have to pick up my sister because there is really nothing to do except to stone LOL. The weather was cold like !@#$ though. I was initially quite afraid of getting sick because of the huge temperature difference between Osaka and Seoul. Seoul was already in the negative double digits, but Osaka was still hovering slightly above 10ºC. Yuki (one of Thai girls I got to know) fell sick immediately after reaching Seoul due to the drastic temperature difference, so I was afraid that I would fall sick again. Thankfully, that didn't happen.

Checking-in was uneventful, but going through the customs was an absolute nightmare. The Korean custom officers weren't being exactly friendly, and my toner, toothpaste and cleansing foam all got thrown away. -.-''' Damn, I should have put them inside my bag because they didn't check my bag. And the quince tea which we got for Itokazu-san also got thrown away. Haiz, that would have really made a good gift for him. I was intending to bring it back to SG, but I'm not sure how I can bring it back now because it seems like I have to include it into my check-in luggage. The bottle is made of glass, so there's a high chance of it breaking if all they do is to throw my luggage around. T_T

We ate some fish cutlet udon for lunch. Sian, now I know why the ahjussi in our goshiwon said that we shouldn't eat in the airport. Everything there is so overpriced, but we were worried that we wouldn't reach the airport on time, so no choice lah. The lunch wasn't too bad though.

We reached our gate pretty early, so I tried to use up my remaining data as much as possible since it would expire. When we reached our gate, we couldn't spot our plane, to our horror. It was then I realised that our flight may be delayed. Sian, damn typical of budget planes. -.-''' But my ticket was really cheap, so I can't really complain much huhuhu. We were supposed to fly off at 3.15 pm, but ended up boarding at 3.20 pm instead, so our flight got delayed by about 30 minutes.

When we reached Kansai, I nearly got blown off, literally. Now I know why the cabin crew warned us of strong gusty winds before we disembarked from the plane. The weather wasn't very cold, but the winds were CRAZY. It really felt typhoon-like. My hand-carry luggage wasn't very light to begin with, and yet it got blown sideways. I was pretty sure that if I hadn't clutched it tightly, it would have been blown away. And it was really tough trying to walk straight because the wind really made me feel like I was about to fall down anytime. ;X

We took super long to clear the immigration and the temperature in Kansai airport was 20ºC. I nearly died from stuffiness 'cos I was still having my winter coat from Seoul now zZz. When we did our research on the internet (Japan Guide is really good!), we wanted to buy the Icoca and Haruka pass, but the frontline stuff suggested that we buy the 3-day Kansai pass instead. Damn sian, 'cos I couldn't get the Hello Kitty card. But OK lah, the 3-day Kansai pass was more practical for us though it was more expensive. It pays off because unlike the Icoca card which has a prepaid value, the 3-day pass allows for unlimited rides on every line except the JR line. The Icoca card is only valid on JR lines, so if we were to go to Kyoto, we might have to end up paying more for those single-trip rides. The 3-day Kansai pass cost ¥5200, and our single-trip ticket to Izumiōtsu, where Mayumi would be waiting for us, cost ¥670. Haiz, damn heart pain after paying so much for tickets 'cos transport in SG/HK/Seoul are really comparatively cheap. T_T

Our 3-day Kansai pass... The Hello Kitty one looked really nice though, but unfortunately, it's only for the Icoca card. T^T

I have read on the internet that the Osaka provincial government has made Wi-Fi freely available in Osaka, which was why we didn't get the prepaid data card, but I can swear that it's all lies LOL. T_T The Wi-Fi is only available in big interchange stations like Namba, and it's only confined to the stations itself. So for small stations like Izumiōtsu, there wasn't any Wi-Fi at all. We couldn't find Mayumi and it was really cold because of the gusty winds. I really freaked out and felt super lost. We tried borrowing phones so that we could contact Mayumi (thank goodness I had asked for her address and phone number before that) but the Japanese we asked all couldn't understand our English. We went back to the station and it took us 5 minutes to convince the people in the control room (they really couldn't understand our English haiz...) to let us use their phone LOL.

I finally managed to contact Mayumi after much trouble from the train staff and enduring the crazy winds. And so sorry to Mayumi for waiting for us for 30 minutes. =X We reached Mayumi's house in another 15 minutes and her house was really very nice! No words can describe how warm and cosy it was, especially when the winds were howling like crazy outside. We reached her house at about 9 pm after the hell we had to go through LOL. And we had okonomiyaki for dinner! It was really an eye-opener because I got to cook the okonomiyaki by myself! ^^ And my verdict: IT WAS !@#$% DELICIOUS!!!!!!! I'm not saying this to flatter Mayumi or what, but seriously, her cooking is really good, and as I'm typing this, I find myself really missing all her home-cooked food. T_T

Ingredients used for the okonomiyaki...

I helped to make these!! ;D

Final product! I don't know how to take food photos lah, and I was really excited to try it. BUT THIS IS SUPER EFFING DELICIOUS!!!!!!! *salivates*

Mayumi's cooking is really geared more towards children's tastebuds. Her food presentation is very good and palatable for children. This is strawberries with icing and Hokkaido condensed milk. I wouldn't have thought of eating it like this back in SG. I mentioned to Mayumi that I really loved the condensed milk and guess what? She bought me the condensed milk on our last day. T_T

After dinner, we managed to talk for quite a while before retiring for the day. Overall, this was really a splendid start to my Couchsurfing experience, and of course, a splendid start to my Japan trip!

Sunday 07/12/2014 (Day 2)
Mayumi really spoiled us I swear. We woke up slightly later 'cos we went to bed rather late last night and guess what we woke up to? An American breakfast. T_T We also had apples for breakfast, but I still think that Korean apples are the best type of apples I've ever tasted in my whole life for now. Korean apples are very sweet and crunchy and thanks to them, I will never look at apples in SG in the same way again. I will definitely be buying some apples back to SG for the folks to try.

I don't have the habit of eating breakfast back in SG, so I was really very grateful for waking up to such breakfast everyday during my stay in Mayumi's house. T_T

We set off at about 12 pm for Kyoto. Mayumi was going to meet her friend in Kyoto, so she volunteered to drive us to Kyoto, which was about a 1.5 hours ride from Osaka. Wah damn touched please. T_T Since A wanted to go to Kiyomizu, she dropped us off at Kiyomizu and we walked around. I already fell in love with Kyoto on first sight haha.

It is a very common sight for people to wear traditional costumes, especially in Kyoto. We spotted many people, Japanese and tourists alike, wearing the Japanese traditional costumes, and it really added to the "ancient" atmosphere of Kyoto. I really felt as if I had gone back in time. We were lucky to spot two Japanese who looked really different from the rest, in the aspect that they were really in the "full traditional mode", from the costumes to even their make-up. A and I thought that they were geishas at first LOL, because of their white faces. Mayumi told us that geishas usually only come out at night, and they usually won't allow people to take photos of them, so lol, we got cheated. But still, we learned a lot of things.

The full traditional costumes. Now you know why I said that I went back in time eh?

Kyoto was Japan's capital city before they moved it to Tokyo, so Kyoto still retains many of the historical buildings. There were many food stalls around and generous food samples were also widely available. I ate samples to my heart's content, and I felt so full that we didn't even bother to eat lunch LOL. Of course, what is Japan without matcha ice-cream? I couldn't help but to buy myself a matcha ice-cream cone. ^^

Finally in Kyoto yo!

What is Japan without Hello Kitty? Kekeke...

Some items found in shops here. I must say that Japanese items are really very exquisitely made.

My matcha ice-cream cone which cost ¥300. ^^

After climbing up the steps, we finally reached Kiyomizu Temple. The place gave off a very tranquil and zen feeling, and the view of Kyoto from the temple was fantabulous as well! ;D The sun set very early in Japan though (about 4.45 pm?), so it turned dark soon after.

Kiyomizu-dera, also known as Kiyomizu Temple.

Japanese temples and shrines usually have these "wishing corners"... They do take praying really seriously.

View from the Kiyomizu-dera. Isn't this just simply gorgeous?

The closest subway station from Kiyomizu-dera was really far though; we ended up walking for about 10 minutes to reach the station. I felt really thankful that we bought the Kansai pass because we changed many subway lines today and transport in Japan is effing expensive. Anyway, I find Japan's, or rather Kansai's subway system very messy, and the map didn't really help much LOL. We wanted to go to Nishiki Ichiba, but we really had a lot of trouble transferring to the Hankyu line because we had to get out of the station and walk quite a bit (into the shopping streets) before we could reach the other station in order to change lines. In this aspect, I really have to salute the Seoul government for having such a comprehensive subway system which makes it really easy for foreigners to get used to and use. I'm not saying this just because I have been living in Seoul for the past three months, but really, I got used to Seoul's subway system in just one day because it was just that easy to use and the most important thing, understand.

We asked around for directions, and thankfully, this young Japanese offered to get out of the station with us and he even walked us to the station where the other line was located. You know why I was really impressed? Because he was actually waiting for this friend at the station we approached him at, but he still tapped his card to go out and walked for about 7 minutes with us to where the other station was located at. He even saw us to the fare gates and before leaving, he really shook our hands damn firmly. I could really feel all the sincerity that went into that handshake and I was like: the Japanese are really damn nice. T_T

After we reached the nearest station to Nishiki Ichiba, we had to walk to Nishiki, but we couldn't find our way again, so we asked another Japanese, this time a mother-daughter pair. And you know what? They also walked us personally to the market. Wah damn nice leh they all... I really cannot take it. T_T Nishiki Ichiba reminds me of the traditional markets in Korea, where there are many items, from food to clothes, sold in the markets. I saw takoyakis going as cheap as 8 for ¥190. Mad cheap please?! I totally regretted not buying them when I first saw it, because when we passed by that takoyaki shop again, it was after dinner and I didn't have the appetite to eat anymore. ;(

After walking around and buying snacks, we stopped by at some Japanese food restaurant. A, as usual, was nitpicking on her food lol. Like whatever. I had the pork cutlet curry rice which tasted quite OK to me. Not mind-blowingly good, but still value-for-money at ¥620.

We then embarked on our 2-hour train ride back to Suwanomori. As usual, I have much to complain about their subway system LOL. We took the train which skipped the station we were supposed to alight at, so we had to get off and take the train again. Thanks to that, we lost our way while trying to walk back to Mayumi's house. It was really very, very late and there weren't many street lights. The whole place became a ghost town and it was really very scary. If I wasn't with A, I think I would have just stayed in the train station until the sun rises again or something. We walked around for 40 minutes in such a scary situation before we finally found our way back. Gosh, this is really an experience which I really wouldn't want to repeat, and I really thank God for staying with me and guiding me throughout. It was really damn deserted, and anything bad could have happened. ;X

Monday 08/12/2014 (Day 3)
We woke up to pancakes for breakfast. They were so fluffy that I could cry. Mayumi's children are really very lucky to have such delicious food everyday. T_T

My fluffy fluffy pancakes for breakfast. I wish I could still wake up to such delicious breakfast everyday. ;_;

Mayumi drove us to Osaka Castle after breakfast. Wow, really, no words can express how grateful I am towards her. We toured the castle's grounds and we saw a cute dog along the way. We didn't pay to go inside the castle, so that was why we didn't stay there for long LOL.

The famous Osaka Castle.

The cute dog who readily posed for us. What a cutie pie. He's old though, about 11 years old. And he used to be an abandoned dog. I'm glad that he has found himself such a loving owner though. =)

Mayumi dropped us off at the nearest station before going to work. A and I decided to visit the main shopping areas of Osaka, namely Shinsaibashi and Namba. We still felt quite full from our late breakfast earlier, so we decided to walk around before heading over to Kura Sushi for sushi which cost ¥100 per plate. Big mistake though HAHA.

Japan is really the Land of Cute LOL. I felt so tempted so buy this seal! ^^

The famous crab restaurant.

The famous takoyaki shop.

Our quest to find Kura Sushi was really disastrous, because I swore that we got lost so many times. Kura Sushi was really further than we had expected it to be, and we walked for about 1 hour before finally reaching that place. By the time we reached there it was almost 4 pm and we were already dying of hunger as well as tired legs. I had to force myself not to complain because if I had kept grumbling I know that it would put A in a bad mood as well, so I really tried very hard to keep my temper in check.

Thankfully, the food at Kura Sushi was very cheap and good. I really ate to my heart's content here. I only spent ¥1404 for 13 plates of sushi, which includes tax. I think I won't be able to find such a great deal back in SG. ;D Oh, but speaking of their tax system, it really got onto my nerves. They are always quoting their prices without tax included in big fonts, and they will quote the prices with tax in very small font which anybody would have missed if they had not looked carefully. Why can't they just quote their prices WITH taxes like how Singapore and Korea do it? @_@ Anyway, below are some of the dishes I had. All of them were damn good! And I actually think that my Note 3 takes nicer photos than the digital camera LOL.

Chutoro.

Tuna and egg!

Seared pork with cheese. Damn good. ;_;

Sea eel! Also oishi! ;D

My mille crepe was damn good too!

After eating our late lunch, we went to Kuromon Ichiba. Maybe it was too late by the time we got there, so many of the shops have already closed. Still, we managed to buy some snacks and did some window-shopping at the numerous supermarkets.

The entrance of Kuromon Ichiba.

Wagyu is still so expensive in Japan. ;(

We went back to Namba after that and came across Rikuro's Cheesecake. I tried a bit of their cheesecake and wow, it was so fluffy and light that I could really cry. Their other products were really good as well. I knew that people have been comparing Pablo's with Rikuro's, so I really wanted to try Pablo's before deciding on which to buy. However, Pablo didn't give out any samples unfortunately. Mayumi prefers Pablo's cheesecake (or rather, tart), so we ended up buying a cake for her.

We went home without much difficulty today LOL, and came home to Mayumi's very delicious Japanese curry, with wagyu inside. T_T We ate the cheese tart after dinner and while Pablo was good, I think I actually prefer Rikuro's because Rikuro's cheesecake is the type of cake that I won't get sick of eating 'cos the texture is just so light and fluffy. If I ever return to Osaka again, I will definitely get the Rikuro cheesecake for sure!

How come Japan's Christmas drinks sound so delicious? Sadly, I didn't have the chance to try them even though I really wanted to. T_T

The heavenly cheese tart LOL.

When the tart was cut opened...

We ended up discussing about languages over our cheese tarts hahaha. And yup, I picked up a bit of Japanese. ^^ This is what I really love about Couchsurfing. I definitely won't be able to get such experiences if I had stayed in a hotel. Anyway, I retired to bed soon after because I was really tired out from all the walking we did today.

Tuesday 09/12/2014 (Day 4)
I woke up to another delicious breakfast today, this time being sandwiches with tamago inside. I really love tamago a lot, so this breakfast was exceptionally delicious to me (of course everything that Mayumi cooks is nice HAHA!).

My breakfast huhuhu. ;_;

The thing about the Japanese is that when they do help people, they really go all the way. The old Japanese guy in my Korean class, Ibi-san, is really one such example. When the girl who initially agreed to host me pulled out her invitation 3 days before our arrival, I felt really very frantic and lost (not to mention angry as well) because it was the peak holiday season and most hotels do not have rooms for the days we would be staying. I decided to ask Ibi-san if he knew of friends living in Osaka and true enough, he managed to find a friend who could bring us around Kyoto. He basically acted like a middleman between his friend (Itokazu-san) and I. Ibi-san doesn't live in Osaka (he lives near Tokyo in fact), but he even helped me research on how to get to Umeda station (the place where I was supposed to meet Itokazu-san) and PRINTED out guides and maps for me. Wow, I'm just beyond mindblown by how meticulous these Japanese are. ;_;

Anyway, back to what we did that day. Mayumi drove us to Suwanomori station like a bullet train (haha, maybe car) while cutting through many small and narrow roads. I was totally left dazed and awed when I finally left the car LOL. Thanks to her, we managed to catch the train which had just pulled into the station. We managed to reach Umeda Station at 9.48 am, but to our horror, Umeda Station was really effing huge and we had no idea where our meeting place was although Ibi-san had printed out guides for me. It turned out that the Umeda station which we had alighted from was only the subway station, and our meeting place was actually in the JR station. We were so afraid of being late because Ibi-san told us to be punctual and I do know that the Japanese people place a lot of emphasis on punctuality. When we saw the clock tower (our meeting place), we already saw Itokazu-san waiting for us. I looked at my phone and it was 10 am on the dot. Heng never late ah HAHAHA! We exchanged greetings and walked towards the train station which would bring us to Arashiyama.

I really wanted to go to Arashiyama because I read about the Damyang Bamboo Forest in Korean class, but I know that I would probably not have the chance to go there this time round. Our train ride to Arashiyama wasn't as long as I had expected it to be. Despite Itokazu-san's age gap with us (he's probably like an old uncle to me, but A's father is around the same age as him, so to A, he's more like her father), we did share a lot of interesting conversations because his job (before he retired) required him to live in many different countries, so his English was pretty good as well.

Generous Japanese is generous, and when alighted, we walked past a vending machine and Itakazu-san asked us what we wanted to drink. Since it was rather cold, I ordered a hojicha. Suaku Singaporean is suaku. It was my first time getting a bottle of hot hojicha from a vending machine, so I was rather amazed LOL. We walked past a mama shop and saw Uji matcha Kit Kat. Generous Japanese was being generous again and he said it would buy it for us. That Kit Kat wasn't cheap as well. ¥870 is enough for a meal in Japan already (and meals in Japan are effing expensive too, and this is the cost of one box of chocolates?!). Wah damn touched please. ;_;

Very good weather at Arashiyama.

I was pleasantly surprised to still spot autumn leaves in Japan because the trees in Korea are bare right now. The autumn leaves in Japan were still so pretty. And can you imagine this was just right outside the toilet? ;_;

My bottle of hojicha. The winds at Arashiyama were damn strong, so this really served as a hand-warmer for me LOL.

Not your normal matcha Kit Kat yo!! This is Uji matcha! Thanks for the treat (and many more to come).

While walking...

No filter at all. Beautiful Arashiyama is beautiful. The winds were crazy though. This place indeed lives up to its name. Itokazu-san said that "arashi" means storm in Japanese. The winds were comparable to the winds I first experienced when we landed in Kansai. Strong enough to blow me sideways. @_@

I really love Kyoto so much, and I can understand why the Japanese people are always recommending tourists to go to Kyoto at least once (my Japanese friends really "pushed" me to visit Kyoto). In fact, I do think that I like Kyoto more than Osaka because while Osaka feels like just another city, Kyoto really retains its ancient charm very well, and like I've mentioned before, I felt that I had gone back in time. This is definitely something which I won't get to experience back in SG.

During Korean reading class, we had to read a chapter about the Damyang Bamboo Forest. What we read in the text was what exactly I experienced in Arashiyama. When the winds blew, the tall bamboos were swaying together with the wind and the rustle of the bamboo leaves really sounded musical. I am not exaggerating. You have to be there to know what I am talking about.

The famed bamboo forest in Arashiyama. You can click here for more beautiful pictures of the bamboo forest. What you see on Google was really what I saw in real life. Unfortunately, there were too many people so I couldn't really get nice shots LOL.

A shrine we passed by while walking around the bamboo forest. Itokazu-san said that people at this shrine pray for studies and wealth.

Before leaving the bamboo forest, we went into Tenryuji Temple and we were all damn amazed by the views the temple offered. We paid ¥600 to go in though, but it was really scenic and beautiful.

Still autumn in Japan~~

The weather was really great that day!

Itokazu-san said that most people would spend around one day in Arashiyama because there was actually a hiking trail, but since we had other places to go, we bade this place farewell after eating lunch. Thank goodness we had a Japanese with us because most of the menus in Japan are written in Japanese and I know nuts about Japanese LOL. Maybe it's time to pick up Japanese. ;)

Before leaving Arashiyama, I convinced myself to buy two boxes of otabe, which is a Kyoto speciality because this would be my last day in Kyoto. I bought the milk-flavoured otabe and the banana chocolate-flavoured otabe. I had my fill eating those samples during my first day in Kyoto, so I must resist opening the boxes in Korea. @_@

My tempura udon for lunch. This was a treat from Itokazu-san. See how generous he really was! ;_;

This train station had a foot bath as well! Damn shiok! Need to pay ¥200 for that bath though. ^^

Our train ride to Fushimi Inari was slightly longer because while Arashiyama was located closer to Osaka, Fushimi Inari was located near the end of the Kyoto subway line. However, I totally don't regret the trip to Fushimi Inari because it was just that splendid! It is said that there are over 10 000 shrines in Fushimi itself. And yes, I can see how there are so many of such shrines. This place is really a photographer's dream.

We've finally reached Fushimi Inari!

Before we entered the shrine, we had to follow these steps. Itokazu-san said that it was to purify ourselves from the "dirty" things we encounter outside.

Starting of the shrine. Itokazu-san said that people are supposed to walk on the left because the middle path is meant for the deities to walk on. I really learned so much from him. ;_;

Quickly snap a photo when there isn't anybody around!

I have to post this because I love the background and there weren't any photobombers around! Damn pleased with it HAHAHA!

Fushimi had another hiking trail, and it would have taken 2 hours if we had gone on with it. Unfortunately, because we were running out of time, we decided that we have seen enough of the shrines and started making our way down.

I told Itokazu-san that I wanted to try takoyakis and walao, I swear that I really love Japanese people sia. He treated us to takoyakis. 8 for ¥500, and they tasted really good. The octopus pieces in the takoyakis were damn huge and chewy. Haha, it was kind of weird to eat takoyakis in Kyoto though since people usually associate takoyakis with Osaka. I didn't get anymore chances to eat takoyakis for the rest of my stay in Japan, so I was glad that I managed to eat it, albeit not in Osaka.

Lo and behold~ Le takoyakis! ;D Thanks for the treat, Itokazu-san! ;_;

This was at Fushimi Inari station. The fox (kitsune) is so kewt! ;3 I asked Itokazu-san about the meaning of foxes in Japan since they all look so cute and cuddly while they are vilified in Chinese culture. He said that foxes in Kyoto, especially those that reside in shrines and temples are the good ones. In ancient Japanese folklore, they used to find rice and distribute them to people. In his words, they are the Japanese equivalent of Robin Hood. However, foxes that don't live in shrines/temples are usually the bad ones.

We left Fushimi as it was getting dark and we still had another stop to go since A is crazy over matcha and wanted to visit Uji, the city famously known for its matcha. It turned out to be a wasted trip for A 'cos she was being so picky and the matcha in Uji apparently didn't live up to her so-called matcha expectations LOL. It wasn't an entirely wasted trip for me though. We managed to visit the Byodo-in which would have looked really spectacular had we gone during daylight. As we reached at around 5 pm, the sun had already set so I couldn't really get nice pictures. For the uninitiated, the Byodo-in features on the Japanese ¥10 coin, and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At least I have some bragging rights now heh.

Byodo-in, a World Heritage Site. We paid ¥600 to go in and have a look at the museum.

It was totally pitch dark when we left the temple, so we embarked on our way back to Osaka. It was peak hour, so to my horror, we couldn't find any seats in the train LOL. Thankfully my horror didn't last very long 'cos some people alighted, so we did manage to get seats. Imagine standing in the train for 2 hours straight!! ._.

Suaku me is suaku. Never see ice-cream VENDING machine before. This was taken at Uji station, before we headed back to Osaka.

While looking for places to eat, we came by this sign at a restaurant. I think only Singaporeans and people who know Hokkien will get it LOL. I sent a picture of this to Poopy and she didn't get it until I pointed it out. HAHA. I think she knows too much Japanese by now to spot such a meaning at first glance. She was still telling me that this was some chicken collagen steamboat LOL. xD

When we reached Umeda, we spotted the Osaka Christmas light illuminations, which were really super pretty. Christmas isn't a public holiday in Japan though. We had a hard time deciding on where and what to eat for dinner, so Itokazu-san ended up making the decision for us LOL. We headed over to Ganko Sushi, and I swear that this is one of the best dinners I've ever had. Thanks to Itokazu-san, we managed to savour "exotic" Japanese meals like tai (carp) sashimi, Kobe beef and the different cuts of maguro. He also taught us a lot about Japanese dining etiquette. There are different sauce bowls used for different types of food. I never knew about this until he told us. Fugu was also on the menu, and Itokazu-san asked if I wanted it, but I really had no guts to eat it LOL. One big regret of my life. Apparently, the Japanese men are really into drinking (Mayumi said that her husband LOVES to drink, Ibi-san did say that his favourite drink in the world is beer...), and Itokazu-san was no exception. He downed 4 tall glasses of Asahi beer very easily. A and I were just staring at him with our jaws dropped HAHA. We then went on to order Japanese sake, and I really LOVED it. The sake literally warmed my stomach so much and although the weather outside was cold, I still felt warm even after we left the restaurant. Thanks to Itokazu-san, we really had a good meal. He wanted to pay for this meal, but we insisted on paying, so he just told us to pay ¥3000 as a token sum. The whole dinner was about ¥14 000. Wah, damn nice please. He didn't even eat most of the food that we ordered, because he said that he could have these anytime he wanted. He wanted us to try all these before leaving Japan. He only "ate" his beer. T_T

I forgot what this fish was, but Itokazu-san said that this fish could only be found in Hokkaido and that this fish was freshly flown in. Damn effing sweet and nice I swear!! ;_;

Best steamboat I've had in my life. No joke. The soup (nabe; another bad word in Singapore LOL) was deliciously sweet and the meat that went into the soup broth was effing sweet, nice and chewy! I'd GLADLY pay to have this again. The wong bok that went into the soup was crazily sweet as well. Really can cry. ;_;

Our maguro set, which featured different cuts of the tuna. This set already cost SGD$30?! The chutoro was very good too! When I placed it on my plate, I could already see all the oil oozing out.

Our Kobe beef, which was deliciously succulent as well.

Our yakitori was heavenly as well! No joke! The chicken was so succulent!

My first time eating tai sashimi! The fish was really very sweet, thick and chewy! I'd pay to have these again too! ;O

Our dessert. Soymilk doughnuts. Effing good! I had the soybean ice-cream which was very good as well, but I couldn't take a decent picture of it. ;_;

The sake was damn good! I think it was of top-quality. ;_;

The time came for us to go our separate ways. Itokazu-san walked us back to Umeda station, but we lost our way LOL. Must have been all the beer-drinking. ;P On our way to the station, we passed by a few shops which had unfortunately closed for the day. The shops in Japan really closed early though. It was only 9.30 pm. Shops in SG usually open until rather late, at 10 pm or even 11 pm on weekends.

Some pau which I find really cute.

Snoopy the beech HAHA.

Our last photo together. I'm really beyond grateful to Itokazu-san for spending the whole day with us even though his leg isn't very good. And for the numerous treats. T_T

We reached Mayumi's house and it finally dawned on me that this was really going to be our last night here. I would surely miss Mayumi and her family. ;_; Mayumi refused to take a photo with us because she was without her make-up HAHA, but she's still gorgeous, with or without make-up. ^^

I will miss this little girl so much! T_T

Wednesday 10/12/2014 (Day 5)
Our last day in Osaka has finally come. We slept at almost 2 am last night as we were packing our things, so we slept in until about 10 am. I felt damn sad eating my last breakfast here, because I know that I won't probably eat breakfast again back in Seoul. ;X

My last brekkie in Mayumi's house.

The sister wanted to buy the Snoopy sweater, so Mayumi drove us to the Uniqlo store near Sakai. It really rocked to have a Japanese with you 'cos most Japanese don't really speak English well so Mayumi was really able to translate for us. Sadly, they didn't carry the stock my sister wanted.

The Uniqlo we went to was a stand-alone building. They didn't sell as many items as I had hope for though. They were mostly winter clothes which I have no need for.

We told Mayumi that we wanted to go to the supermarket to buy snacks. I always end off my trip in another country with a trip to the local supermarket, and this was no different as well. Apparently, 7-11 has supermarkets around in Japan LOL. Suaku Singaporean is suaku indeed. 7-11s back in SG, HK and Seoul are just convenience stores. ._.

WAI IS THIS BEAR SO CUTE ONE?! @_@

Since A waned to eat crab, we went over to Kani Doraku where Mayumi treated us to lunch. Walao I swear that all the Japanese people I've met are damn nice please. A crab lunch should be very expensive since it's seafood, but still, Mayumi insisted on treating us. ;_; Anyway, let the pictures do the talking.

This is my first time in a traditional Japanese restaurant. Suaku me was really suaku. Even the waitresses here are dressed in the traditional costumes. And they still help you into the lift and press the lift button for you can... ;_;

Our appetiser: crab legs. Very nice and sweet! ;D

Crab sashimi. The meat was super duper sweet. What is life? ;_;

Crab salad. The dressing was damn good!

Cheesy baked pasta.

Crab leg tempura. Can cry. ;_;

Crab sushi. The yellow translucent thingy is actually seaweed. Who says seaweed can only be green in colour?

Crab rice. The rice tasted really sweet. Must be because of all the crab juice. ;P

We finally ended it off with matcha ice-cream.

After a trip to Daiso, Mayumi drove us back home at top speed since we still had to pack up some of our things. After packing, she drove us again, at top speed, to Hagoromo station where we were supposed to catch the 4.09 pm train to the airport. Unfortunately, we got out of the car at exactly 4.07 pm LOL, so we weren't able to catch the train. Mayumi gave us each a tight hug before we left. Aww, I know that I will surely miss her so damn much. ;(

Selca with the hot mama before we left the house. Mayumi, thank you so damn much for everything you have done for us. You were beyond amazing and I wish both you and your family well. Thank you for telling me that if I could come back to Osaka, you would host me again. I'm really super grateful and thankful. ;_;

After fiddling with the ticket machine in order to buy our single-trip ticket to Kansai Airport, we managed to catch the 4.20 pm train to the airport and reached the airport at about 4.48 pm. It was then when I saw the most beautiful sunset of my life. What a beautiful end to my already-very-awesome Japan trip.

Something amusing happened as our plane was leaving the airport. The Japanese on ground stopped whatever they were doing, saluted and bowed down as our plane left. I found this really etched in my memory, probably because this was the first time I saw the people on ground do this... ._.

The train was moving too fast, but this has to be the most beautiful sunset I've ever seen. The setting red sun over the sea of Japan. Thank you Japan for all the beautiful memories made. I will surely be back!

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Japan has exceeded all of my expectations. I must say that at first, I didn't feel exceptionally excited for the trip because my main purpose was to extend my visa so that I could continue touring Korea. After this trip, my impression of Japan has totally changed, for I got to witness first-hand how friendly and generous the Japanese people are. All the Japanese people whom I have met (including my Korean class classmates) are seriously the nicest people around, and for making an awkward tourist like me feel so welcomed, thank you very much. Even though most Japanese do not speak English, they were still very willing to help us out whenever we got lost and had to ask for directions. I find it very kawaii when they speak their thoughts aloud in Japanese while trying to help us figure the directions.

The snacks I got back from Japan. And guess what? 1/3 of the items here were given by Mayumi. Lemme go hide in a corner and cry at her thoughtfulness and generosity. T_T

Special mention to Mayumi and Itokazu-san for helping me create beautiful memories in Japan. I will never ever forget both your kindness, generosity and helpfulness. I've learned a lot from being with you guys, and I pray that God will continue to bless you both and your families richly.

Ookini, and till we meet again. 愛しています! <3

1 comment:

  1. Such an awesome story^.^ I almost felt as if i would have been there for a moment myself haha

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