2012 Japan Trip, Part IIIPosted on July 9th, 2012 1 comment
Tuesday, Feb 28th, we left Tokyo and were heading west to Kyoto via Shinkensan(新幹線); our train was at 9:03am so we had little time for checking Facebook, emails..etc before we checked out of the hotel. And I just discovered that the pictures and race result I posted on Facebook in the past two days were somehow set as “private” and could only viewed by me, so friends back home were wondering if I ever made to Tokyo and how the race went…etc. Sigh, no one knew that I PRed by 47 minutes 🙁
I wanted to have breakfast on the train, so I told Max that let’s buy stuffs from the snack cart which I always wanted to do :-p The day before we already got our seats assigned, so we took our time getting to the station and of course Max was taking pictures of the bullet train, the tracks, the platform..etc. Being in Japan, the train arrived sharply on time as expected, and we were on Car 13, Seat 11s. Soon the train steward came with her pushing cart, and we bought some cookies and milk coffee and they were expensive!! Probably should have bought them at the 7-Eleven and could save lots of yens!
It’s a very cold but a clear day, and Tokyo had just snowed; we were hoping to get good view of Fujisan (Mount Fuji 富士山) on the way. I had been to Japan couple times, but in my previous trips never got very good look of this landmark. When the conductor announced Fujisan was getting close, Max got his camera ready and started shooting as fast as he could. I hope he would be happy with the pictures! During the two hours and 20 minutes ride on Nozomi, Max was reading his book about start-up & entrepreneurship while I flipped through his Lonely Planet and thinking it would be so nice to visit the Philosopher’s Walk while in Kyoto, but I also knew it’s a bit out of the way and we may not have time for that.
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We arrived Kyoto before noon and found our hotel really easy — right by the train station and not far from Kyoto Tower (京都タワー). We walked over to the hotel, checked in, and dropped our luggage then came right back to Kyoto Station (京都駅) again. The station itself was a very “futurist” architecture and it’s so interesting to see the uber modern building standing in the most historical city — the contrast was just amazing. I felt that I would walk back to history if I step outside, and would encounter future while inside the Station. The grand staircase, the irregular cubic facade of plate glass over a steel frame, the long glassed pathway..etc, all made me thinking how great it would be if my father could see this himself. I am not sure how many pictures Max had taken, but I had no problem to wait and wonder around myself.
I have learned from previous experience that we can always find meal at train station very economically, and lots of choices also! So for lunch we picked a teppanyaki type of restaurant in the Station, and they served local brewed Kyoto beer, YEH!! The chefs and servers were all young males and worked with great efficiency; our yakisoba (noodle) and yakiniku (beef) came really fast — being at a train station that makes perfect sense. After lunch, I went to a mochi shop and got myself two huge mochi, one with the red bean paste inside and one with sea salt, both super yummy, mm…Now sitting here writing this post, I really regret that didn’t eat more of mochi during this trip 🙁
We had discussed how we would spend the two days in Kyoto the night before, so after lunch before heading to Osaka Max got our seats reserved for Shinkansen ride back to Tokyo and Narita airport for the day after; once again I should thank him for taking care of everything. I knew our friends probably thought that I would baby-sit him in Japan, but who would have guessed that he was the one actually taking care of me in so many ways and letting me going to places and doing things I like.
We hopped on JR again after the tickets and seats got taken care of, and headed to Osaka for what I have always wanted to see — Osaka Castle (大坂城). It was a short train ride, and the warm meal in stomach had put Max to a power nap while holding that Lonely Planet in his hands. He had adopted the skill to kill time on train like a true Japanese now :-p
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It only took about an hour to get to Osaka, and we had to use local subway to get to the Castle. After exit the subway station, we had to walk quite a distance to the Castle unless we took a bus, but being very good runners we did not think walking would be a problem, right? During the walk, we came upon a garden near Westin Osaka which had a little pond and small man-made water fall in the center, and some furry fat cats were enjoying the warmth of mid-day sunshine. We also came across several very unique architectures like the NHK Osaka, the Osaka Museum of History, Osaka Police Dept.. etc.
From distance we could see the Osaka Castle surrounded by wide and beautiful river. It’s not a busy tourists spot which was great in my opinion; one thing that really bothered me when I went to China was always the crowd. The main Osaka Castle was really beautiful with it’s structure in white, roof in green and trimmed with golden rim; the Castle was built on two raised platforms of landfill supported by sheer walls of cut rock, using a technique called Burdock piling, each overlooking a moat.
The ground was about 15 acres, so we really got a good walk and eventually got tired from walking around. But the reward was seeing early cherry blossom in amazing colors, and several monument and epigraphy which were all really fascinating to me because I practice Chinese calligraphy and seal carving. It became even colder as it got dark, so we gave up the idea of walking back and found the subway station that we could go back to the Osaka JR Station. Ever since we arrived Japan, we never had the chance to eat sushi since we knew it’s expensive, but we had decided that we would have one very good Sushi as dinner when we got into Osaka, because from Iron Chef (料理の鉄人) I have learned that the Kansai (関西) style Sushi is very different than Kanto (関東) region.
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We found a Sushi bar in the Osaka Station and the narrow seating in front of the Sushi chef had a very cozy feeling. We sit down in this warm little Sushi bar and started going over the menu and communicated with the server and sushi chef in English with not much problem. Two Japanese women were sitting couple seats away from us, and their wardrobe and make up were perfect and flamboyant that I could not stop staring at them for how beautiful they were; they looked different than women in Tokyo and that’s what I have been told many times.
We had ordered very basic Nigiri Sushi such as salmon, fatty tuna, eel..etc, certainly no crazy rolls like what we were accustomed in California, and that’s how we could taste how great, tender and fresh the Sushi was — simple delicacy. We really had to pace ourselves though, for we were a little worried that we could go broke if we kept ordering more. Since we did not have to drive in Japan, we also ordered warm sake to go with our Sushi — something we did often during this trip thanks to the great public transportation system. That two beautiful women came up and spoke to me before they left — “enjoy your sake while it’s warm, so no hangover tomorrow morning” in perfect English. We really savored our meal and drink, and I truly enjoyed this evening with a wonderful company.
The train ride back to Kyoto was a little crowded, so apparently many people commute between Kyoto and Osaka for work. We got back to Kyoto and found the shops at the Station were all closed, and the yellow lighted Station interiors had a very empty feeling. Walking back to hotel I definitely felt it’s winter here, later sitting on the couch with luxury silk cushions, we checked emails and Facebook at the hotel lobby again — which we kind of getting used to it by now. We loosely planned the next day’s activities, and decided to call it a night since we both were tired from the long walk today. Interesting discovery though — walking is more tiring than running!!
So let’s forget about the postcards writing and oyasumi nasai~~Travel Bullet Train, Fujisan, Kansai, Kanton, Kyoto, Kyoto Station, Mochi, Mount Fuji, NHK, Osaka, Osaka Castle, Shinkensan, Sushi
I love to visit train stations, specially the older train stations. It really gives me some sort of Nostalgia during the old days.`::,;
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