I found the place I'd like to live in Japan if I'd had a choice in the matter - Kobe! It's a small city, so not as overwhelming as Osaka, and it seems like there's lots going on there. Kyoto and Osaka are nearby, and I even found a decent coffee there.
Where I live in Kishigawa is quite nice, it's just so damn quiet. The good parts are that it's only five minutes bike ride to work, the air is fresh and clean, and there's a great buffet restaurant down the road called Hachi ju hachi. The region is known for it's fruit, and it is really good. The fruit is so fresh and flavoursome that it makes fruit at home in Australia seem like an imitation of the real thing. On the other side, I haven't found much to do on the weeknights, so have been watching more movies and television than I have in ages through Hulu Japan. It's also a little hard to make friends when I don't speak much Japanese, particularly friends near my own age.
So I spend a lot of time travelling on the weekends, but it is so worth it! Living where I do in the inaka (countryside), everything is far.
I had a fabulous night on Thursday, making the trip into Osaka for my second FEW Kansai event, that little haven of Western women, many of whom are married to Japanese men. Every month they hold a dinner at the Hilton Hotel. God I was underdressed. Must remember to put on some make-up next time! The theme was 'To travel is to live', and three of the women spoke about their recent travel experiences in Vietnam, Canada and Naoshima Island. Naoshima Island is now on my list of places to go in Japan. It's known as the 'art island' and it's halfway between Osaka and Hiroshima. I'm really enjoying the FEW Kansai nights. It's so good to interact with interesting women and enjoy a delicious meal in the centre of Osaka.
For dinner on Friday night Andrew and I found a cheap-but-good udon place in Iwade where they served up the udon as you requested it. I asked for 'udon', which is like going to McDonalds and asking for 'burger'. Luckily they had a picture menu and we figured it out. Thank god for picture menus!
On Saturday I drove down to Arida to the beautiful Rub Luck Cafe to see a friend's band play. It's gorgeous there, looking over the water, and is quite a trendy place. I've got to remind myself that there are good things in the inaka as well as in the city. I wish I'd stayed for the whole concert. Instead, I drove to Wakayama city for another friend's birthday at an 'Irish pub', but I couldn't find the place for ages. My mistake was looking for something that looked like an Irish pub! In Japan, you can never be sure that something you expect to be like something (Doritos, western food) will be like what you expect.
|Sunset over Arida|
|Inaka Sunset play at Rub Luck Cafe|
There were dozens of jazz bands playing through the day, a main area with food stalls and second hand clothing stalls, and even bebop dancers:
We had such a good day dancing and listening to music and drinking coffee, finishing up with yummy dumplings in Chinatown. Kobe has funky shops, nice cafes and restaurants, good music, everything I like in a city. I love Kobe!