|Pothole cover, Osaka|
Seven weeks in, Japan is still pretty great! I'm spending too much money, loving the hint of cooler weather, and my work life continues to be very cruisy.
After a fun week of a home-made dinner with Japanese friends, ramen with gaijin friends, and going for walks with my boyfriend, on Friday I quite happily drove an hour and a half each way to see JET friends who live in the south of the prefecture for a couple of birthdays at an Indian restaurant. The invitaiton said, "Dinner will be at an Indian restaurant with actual Indians cooking". In Melbourne, and a lot of other places, you would expect that an Indian restaurant would have Indians cooking. In my experience of Japan so far though, Western food such as 'Italian' food will more than likely be cooked by Japanese staff rather than Italian staff, and is often a Japanese interpretation of Italian food, rather than something I might find in Lygon Street. There are exceptions, however, such as the wonderful Tom Sawyer restaurant in Kainan. The Japanese staff at Tom Sawyer cook delicious pizzas, pastas and salads, and I really want to go there again, if I can find it! The Indian-restaurant-with-actual-Indians-cooking was pretty good. Great big servings of yummy naan, curries, raita and salad. Someone told me when I first arrived in Japan that the JETs tend to travel in packs, and Friday was no exception - there were about twenty of us there and we packed out the restaurant!
|Me on Friday night, ready for the long drive to Tanabe for Indian food and to see friends|
|Andrew's first full weekend in Japan!|
|I want these! Cute teapots at Osaka Daimaru|
|Love the colours of these scarves at Osaka Daimaru|
I am still scratching the surface of this great city and feel a bit naked without my Lonely Planet Japan, which I lost the other day, but we managed to find a good spot for an okonmiyaki (Japanese savoury 'pancake') and beer lunch. I'd eaten okonomiyaki before in Australia, but only from a Japanese take-away place in a food court! Here in Japan there are restaurants just for okonomiyaki, with lots of different flavours, and a hotplate at your table to keep them warm. I ordered a vegie one with asparagus, cheese and other vegies. Oishii! I'd hardly called okonomiyaki 'healthy' though!
|Okonomiyaki, Osaka style!|
Dinner was takoyaki, octopus dumplings, at Dotonburi, which is the nightlife area at the end of Shinsaibashi. Dotonburi is what you think of when you think of Japan - huge neon signs, tons of people, seedy looking establishments, and great food!
|Takoyaki, octopus dumplings!|
On Sunday we were walking to the Umeda Sky Building when we found a Melbourne-style cafe! I noticed it because of the picture of the espresso maching on the sandwich board. My lunch set was a foccacia, a small chocolate cake, and a very kawaii cappucino. It was only the second place I've been to in Japan that gave me that Melbourne cafe feeling that is so familiar to me. The other is the lovely Cafe Bibliotic Hello! in Kyoto.
|Cafe Largo, Osaka|
|Kawaii lunch set at Cafe Largo, Osaka|
|Sandwich lunch set at Cafe Largo, Osaka|
The Umeda Sky Building had awesome views of Osaka, and an interesting exhibition about post-war Japan. People made homes from converted tram cars, for example.
|View from the Umeda Sky Building, Osaka|
|View from the Umeda Sky Building, note the tunnel for cars going through the building in the middle|
|Creepy Mickey and Minnie|
Downstairs at the Umeda Sky Building was a Japanese 'Oktoberfest', complete with overpriced alcohol - $A30 for a one litre stein - and a Japanese polka band in lederhosen playing Bavarian drinking songs.
|'Oktoberfest' in Osaka|
After the Umeda Sky Building, we headed back towards Osaka station, struggled to find a cheap meal, finally settling on curry rice, and headed back to Kishigawa. Once again, it was great to leave the city and head home. Osaka is not an attractive city, and it is great to leave miles and miles of ugly, grey crowded buildings behind for the green rice paddies of Wakayama.
|Monkey bun, Osaka station|
Back in the quiet, sleepy town of Kishigawa, I heard music playing just before we arrived home. In seven weeks here, I've never heard loud music in Kishi. My town is usually so quiet at night the only thing I hear is the train going by. Andrew thought it might be a band practicing. I thought it might be music pumped from the loudspeakers for some reason. Turns out it was a live concert by the lake behind my apartment! We followed the music and found a band playing surf music, followed by a wind orchestra. Things happen in Kishigawa after all!
|Surf music band, Kishigawa Lake|