You’re terrible, Barby.
The content below was written last June, and now, it’s November. There’s some humor in the title referring to Japan having elements of home, when right now, I’m not even in my hometown of Manila, where I lived all my life, until now. And I’ve been away. Where am I? You’ll find out soon (in case you don’t already know).
A warning (on top of the warning below): Because some details are hard to remember, I might end up just posting pictures from the other parts of the trip I haven’t written about last June. We’ll call it a photo commentary. I’d highlight bits and pieces of the trip, except that Japan is ridiculously amazing, everything deserves to be highlighted! Parts of Osaka and Kyoto, the two cities we went to, may get jumbled up a bit, but more or less they’re in their proper batches.
This is such a long post, you’ll want to scratch your eyes out mid-way. My story-telling skills are overwhelmed by the mass of events in this trip.
Wow. So it’s June. And because I’m feeling like a grandma on a Friday in one of the most exciting cities in the world, I decided to stay home and get this backlog flowing. It’s been so long since I’ve been here, the WordPress dashboard has evolved into something spiffier.
Anyway. Last April, my best friends and I travelled to Japan at the height of cherry blossom season. It was my first time to go there, but it felt like a coming home of sorts. This feeling could’ve been helped by loving Japan from afar, through pages of Frame magazine, and yellowed books borrowed from the my university library (where I considered not returning one particular book that had pictures of traditional fresh markets and homes).
A warning: Things are hazy in my memory, and I loved every bit of the trip (except for the eel liver incident) which is why this will be photo heavy.
At the time, Manila was at 38°C, so it was such a relief going to a cooler place.
We first arrived in Osaka. From Kansai airport we took the train, and even just at the train station already saw interesting stuff like the teddy bear train. When we arrived near Hostel 64, the rain just let up, and the streets were quiet.
Osaka manhole covers. Japanese pay attention to the little things.
Our stomachs were ravenous because it was midnight. There was a nearby Sukiya (supposedly better than Yoshinoya in Japan) so we had our first taste of Japan. Hello Carina-san!
Their kiddie sets were so cute! (and looked like good value for money)
I had their curry katsu. CURRY <3
Vendo machines. (of course)
On the way home, we dropped by Family Mart and 7-Eleven for snack hoarding and out of general curiosity. Family Mart actually sold Muji products. And one branch in particular had Royce ice cream.
Special soft boiled eggs that are perfect for dropping into your ramen.
Onigiri! (packaged in a genius way that kept the nori fresh and crispy)His and hers Yakult. (anybody know the difference?)
Apparently you can drink collagen, and so conveniently.
The ever vigilant cardboard guard.
LOOT! (LOOK, rather.) (ok, that was terrible) We loved the Bergamot Milk Tea chocolate (one of my favorites) while LOOK had a good amount of green tea to it.
We stayed at Hostel 64, where I experienced sleeping right next to strangers, and using a super high tech bath shower.
Our “room” is one of these stalls. When we arrived, it was midnight. This is actually bright compared to what it actually was. Which was dim, and an eerie feeling of sacred silence (nobody was snoring, which made it so disturbing). Considering we hadn’t showered and all, getting our stuff from our luggages took a great effort because ever sound, even the smallest, felt amplified by fifty times. I had a lot of plastic bags.
I’d get this for my dad as a gift! You sit on it, and it has showers everywhere. :)
Keso! One of the friendly staff from Hostel 64.
Last day at the hotel.
This is where the photo commentary begins.
In Osaka… At the Kuromon Market.
Deciding on what/where to eat.
The smell of freshly roasted green tea came from this little kiosk!
Which gets turned into this.
For the entire trip, Sarie and I were sampling so takoyaki everywhere. And hated it. We liked Manila’s takoyaki more, because it tasted more cooked?
Freshly made rice crackers!
Grilled scallop, and what looks like sea snails.
Beautiful, beautiful meat.
Just like Chinatown!
Fish innards. Yum.
Freshly made noodles?
Those suspiciously perfect Japanese strawberries.
A noodle shop. Multi-awarded by institutions and children alike.
Gracefully slurping hers up, my best friend Isa-san.
Barby the barbarian.
We shared an absolutely delicious curry katsu. Which reminds me, we were hungry at the time.
Near Kuromon Market, there was a pet store that sold only kittens and puppies.
This kitty wanted me to take it home.
Banana Yakult? There are stranger things in this country.
Much stranger things.Gyu for grilling. This will have plenty other appearances throughout the Japan posts. Because we stuffed our faces with as much Kobe beef as we could.
Spotted after the meal….
Pooh bear, just sunbathing. Like a boss.
If you see or pass this, it means you’re close to the best marbled beef steak of your life. Matsusaka beef.
THE MOST GLORIOUS BEEF. (Matsusaka beef means cows fed beer, to increase their appetite, and massaged. While I don’t agree with the whole method, what we ate was orgasmic.) The little pinkish triangle is fat. For cooking you meat. Of course.
Me and Isa. (Thanks, Sarie!)
Pretty little roads.
We’re calmly trapped in the feline’s belly.
Inside a quaint little noodle house, the best tempura soba.As you can tell.
Spot the tiny sink! (in the middle of everything)
One of the pretty stores in Osaka.
You must promise to try the onigiri in the family marts (what are those places called again??) in Japan, because the unwrapping of it (wrapping of it rather) is such a well-designed art form.
For the second time we went to Osaka, we stayed at Sakura Hotel. This is where you’ll find it.
The bunk beds were the most generous I’ve experienced, it totally took my bunk bed fun standards to a whole new level. Some secrets to it: curtains for everyone, and lots of space on the sides of the mattresses.
The very tiny bathroom that fit a whole lot into itself. An overlapping tub and sink can actually work.
Osaka, Shinsaibashi (?) district. Correct me if I’m wrong.
From the Glico store!
Obligatory Glico man pose! Because I am a tourist.
Japan’s Muji has a Muji cafe! Reminds of of the IKEA concept.
The menu at Muji Cafe.
Walking around Amerikamura district!
There’s one place in Osaka that has that conveyer belt sushi, and really cheap. These were some of the plates Isa and I shared…
I remember how much I weighed after that trip.
At a mall/building that had Harrod’s (google it), we had earl grey soft serve ice cream.
This mall had bathrooms with rounded doors. ROUNDED DOORS. DO YOU KNOW HOW MARD IT IS TO HAVE SUCH PERFECT HARDWARE? Appreciate it, people.
Mommy and baby toilet!
On the way to the Oceanarium.
NYC’s subway lines are nothing next to Japan’s.
Whale shark! :>
There was a Milky kiosk with milky soft serve ice cream! MMMM.
The world’s largest rat/mouse.
A penguin Barby.
With some of my favorite fish to eat: sardines.
I’m not afraid of you.
Tiny jellyfish, about half an inch in size?
Angel jellyfish, which was just as tiny, with a head, and had fins on the side that flapped like wings. Hence the name.
GIANT whale installation in a mall.
At the Ippudo Ramen House in Japan.
Japan’s McDonald’s had something called Shaka Shaka fries.
On the way to the cat cafe…
The Cat Cafe!
Yeah… Cats are nocturnal.
The cat that slept on everybody.
The cat I loved. It was unrequited.
(GET ME AWAY FROM THE MADWOMAN TAKING SO MUCH PICTURES. PLEASE.)
We went to a small park in Osaka, close to Hostel 64. On the way we went inside a small shop where lots of Japanese people in suits were eating, around a bar.
This is still the best tempura udon I’ve ever had.
Afterwards, we stopped by a grocery, where Isa hoarded all their KitKat. They had no stocks left, afterwards.
This photo is one of my favorites of Osaka.