Friday, October 11, 2013

Trip to Osaka - part III (things I saw)

Ok, I saw some things in Japan that I haven't seen in China, or the US for that matter.  I took a walk one morning early, and a group of young businessmen in dark gray suits and ties were cleaning the front of the building where they work.  They cleaned the windows with towels and spray, the sidewalk with a hose and a mop, even had a wire brush and cleaned the gum off the concrete.   They worked quickly and quietly.  Impressive.

Lots of awesome signs....
I am flashing...

Some things are just too odd or quirky to ignore.

option at Starbucks
doggy halloween costume or....
Mobile phone covers are awesome all over Asia.

yakisoba phone cover
electrical switch phone cover
toast w reverse times table phone cover
kitchen sponge or.... cover?

Trip to Osaka - part II (eating & shopping)

We ate lots of great food in Osaka.  So many tiny restaurants tucked into side streets, maybe only making one or two items.  We had udon, tempura, kushiyaki, and some fun street food.  We went to a  kushi-katsu bar one day - we loved it!  Skewers of fried food with dipping sauce.

E & Me

making takoyaki
little too fishy 

eggs, spam &  pancake breakfast!
pancake w whip cream & strawberries

1st: order udon
2nd: choose tempura

too cute
kushi katsu
tonkatsu and poached eggs
katsu don
beautiful chocolate

kushi yaki meats
C & K

We checked out lots of shopping while in Osaka.  We passed a store that only sold hand-made miso, 
all different kinds.  Really impressive how beautifully things were displayed.

We also went to the restaurant supply area.  Shops were amazing,  some dedicated to selling one item, i.e knife store, basket store, etc.  Surprised to see all these beautifully made knives laid out, nothing behind glass.  Some of the etching on the steel was very impressive.  I don't think they could be sold so openly in the US.

Trip to Osaka - part I (exploring)

The Lamb family took a much needed trip to Osaka, Japan for a week.  The first day, we took a train to Nara, and visited Todaiji Buddhist Temple.  The Temple is originally made of wood, but over the years has been re-enforced with modern building materials.

Todaiji Temple

steep stairs
The Temple is located in Nara Park.  Deers roam freely here and are protected by the government as a national treasure.  There is an ancient legend that Buddha entered the Temple riding a white deer.  At one time, the penalty for killing a deer was death.  The deer are very gentle and allow you to pet them.  It's like petting a big dog.  But they can be aggressive when you feed them snacks, and will try to eat the crackers out of your pockets.  I was nibbled in the rear.  Very shocking.

Love the sign - look-out Grandma, deer comin' through!
 We also visited Kasuga Shinto Shrine.  Really beautiful and old.  We walked up a long walkway, and it was lined with stone statues.  People sponsor a statue, and can place a paper wish inside.  Then the candle is lit, and the wish will be honored.  There is a young women who is called the "shrine maiden".  In ancient times she was a virgin, who devoted herself to the shrine and to recording all the events.  Like a secretary/nun.  Now it's a paid position, but she still wears traditional clothing and headdress while she works.

Our hotel in Osaka was in the Namba area.  Near lots of night-life, shopping and dining.  The main attraction is the Dotombori - a pedestrian area full of neon - like Times Square.  We went to one of the many Pachinko parlors.  Really popular, but I didn't really see the point in just watching all the metal balls dropping.  But the kids loved the games where you control a claw that drops down to grab a toy.  Being Japan, the prizes in these games were not just stuffed toys.  They were also snacks, key chains that looked like food, and appliances.  Weird but interesting.

in Dotonbori
I don't know why....

game prize: kushiyaki key chains
game prize: fake fish and mushrooms
game prize: carpet/floor sweeper

game prize: sushi keychains

game prize: bucket of shrimp and veg crackers
 Our last day in Osaka, we went to Ragdoll Cat Cafe near our hotel.  I guess these places are very popular in Japan, especially among young girls.  For about $10 per person, we each had a choice of beverage and a small container of cat treats.  There were about 20 cats of all breeds and sizes.  There was also a bin of cat toys to play with too.  It was oddly fun and relaxing.