Ohayô gozaimasu! (hello in Japanese), here I am to tell you the continuation of my trip in Japan
If you only knew how hard it is for me to remember Japanese sentences! If you learned to say konichiwa from the movie Taxi, you should know that it is only used in the afternoon :'( And Japanese people seem to prefer to say Ohayô gozaimasu! even in the afternoon
So, when someone says hello to me, I get stuck, smiling blissfully, processing “damn, what do we say after ohayô already? kadasui? gounamas? think think think think!!!” and the person in front has already had time to cash me in and say goodbye
Part 1: Travel Diary
Today, we discover the real Japanese ramens. Jb has spotted a well known restaurant, where you order via machines, and then sit in an individual compartment to eat. There is a sign with yellow/red/green colors, indicating if there are free places or soon to be free. In the meantime, we indicate our preferences by circling options (aldente or soft noodles, lots of pepper or not, onions or not onions…)
The service is ultra efficient. There is a curtain in front of each seat, where we see a few arms waving, a person saying hello (again I get stuck – what time is it? Can I say “konichiwa” from 11:50?)
Even the spoon is perfectly adapted to the bowl so as not to accidentally drown in the soup
I have to admit that it’s super good, even though I’m not a fan of ramens (not typing!). It’s super consistent, I had a hard time finishing half of the soup
We take the subway to go to Osaka Castle, which is only beautiful outside. There, it is said!
It is surrounded by moats, gardens and especially cherry blossoms!!!
Unfortunately, they aren’t all in bloom yet, and those that are in bloom are white, but it’s still a pretty sight. We see a traditional boat below, we hear traditional music in the distance, and we guess, under the cherry blossoms, Japanese people basking on the grass, a picnic basket next to it. It’s so peaceful, it’s so nice
In spite of the queue, we only need 10 minutes to buy the entrance ticket (600 yens each) to visit the interior of the castle, converted into a museum
We are recommended to go up to the 5th floor by elevator, take the stairs to the 8th floor and then walk down (we can’t go down by elevator anyway)
Accessibility info: Osaka Castle is wheelchair accessible (up to the 5th floor, out of 8). Speak to an employee and you will be taken to the elevator, and down via the elevator as well.
This is what we choose to do. The view from the 8th floor is really cool, it would have been cooler if all the cherry trees were in bloom (and pink). But it already shows how clean the city is, how little polluted it is
We go down to visit each floor and couldn’t be more disappointed: we were expecting to visit the kings’ rooms. On the contrary, we are entitled to an exhibition of drawings, prints, miniatures of the castle
Not being great readers of explanations in museums, one gets bored quite quickly. On the first floor, it is possible to rent samurai clothes and take a picture (for a fee)
You can also stamp your passport, but it will take a whole page
We will watch the cherry trees blossoming in Osaka Castle (there are even dedicated websites) and visit the garden one evening (with light and everything). During the day, the garden is free, but if we go there in the evening to watch the cherry trees lighting, it will be paying. Between the flowering and the “full bloom”, it will take a week. And the flowers will stay in “full bloom” like this for a week
As we are about to leave, we see a gentleman sorting waste. Next to the drink dispensers, there are garbage cans, reserved only for drinks. But the tourists, not very attentive, throw everything in them. The man is thus obliged to sort the waste, there is more waste than cans or bottles to recycle. It’s sad to see that, because if the tourists were more attentive, this man would only have to change the bags for the garbage cans and crush the cans
Note: in Japan, in the street, we did not see any garbage garbage cans for household waste, only garbage cans reserved for cans & bottles (it is marked in English, or the holes are round). Keep your garbage on you and throw it away when you get home (airbnb, hotel).
While looking for a restaurant at the Namba Walk (a small gallery exit at the exit of a subway), we come across a bookstore. I love hanging out at bookstores and leafing through magazines (even if I don’t understand anything). It allows me to grasp some of the concerns of the locals
So I was obviously interested in books that were a bit “girly”. And I came across this book on the label in Europe, which teaches how to eat pasta, pain au chocolat… So cute!
Fashion books show, with examples, how to dress according to your morphology and how to match colors
Women’s magazines have a lot of pictures (good for me) and few ads
I have the impression that here, one cannot be ignorant, there will always be a book that teaches us how to do this or that thing
We talked about it last time, but this time with pictures to support it. It’s a 9 storey store, a combination of Darty/Fnac/Baker. We wanted to buy headphones for JB but in front of the enormous choice which is in store (hundreds of models only for the blue-tooth headphones), we said to ourselves that we will do better to make research before
There are some pretty funny things, such as (from left to right, top to bottom): a belt to stand up straight, a stick to put in the mouth to strengthen the face, a nail clipper with a magnifying glass, the shouting hitachi hada which allows to clean or moisturize the skin with the help of ions
The refa machines that give the v-line to the face, or the yaman machines (massage, facial cleansing) are the top products in the beauty department. There are also devices to relax the eyes, old cassette players, audio chromecast (for non-bluetooth speakers), earphones to clip to the ears like earrings, contact lenses to enlarge the pupil, mattresses to put on any chair for the back; and balls that roll around to catch dust
New restaurants discovered
Passing in front of this store that sells beef skewers by the unit, we stop and let ourselves be tempted by a piece of Japanese beef at 2000yens per 100g (15€). It’s really juicy, super tender, better than we thought. Too bad it’s so expensive
We also buy a small skewer of Kobe beef (15€ for the size of two fingers – it’s very good, very tender but a bit fatty – which is normal given the head of this type of meat)
As there isn’t much space for beef farming, beef is very, very expensive in Japan and South Korea. We are going to go to Kobe to taste Kobe meat there (and pay about 100€/person for a meal). As a result, the quality of today’s Kobe beef brochette is very reassuring 😀
A few meters away, a restaurant sells yakitoris (between 150yen and 300yen). It’s not too bad, but we expected better
The next day, we go to the Ajinoya restaurant very famous for okonomiyaki, a kind of omelet. The only catch: queuing for 45 minutes. We each choose a chiaka-konomiayki with sticky rice sticks at the bottom. I find the experience funny but I was not bluffed by the quality and taste
While JB is working, I’m busy with my favorite activity: shopping. I discover MUK ‘s store in a shopping center. I could have bought the whole store in fact, there are designer jewelry, super cute and super fine as I like. Those who have small fingers, small wrists will appreciate this store (very affordable too)
I go to MUJI to see if it’s really different from the stores in France. It’s just bigger, with more clothes, cosmetics and especially a restaurant and food area
I then go to the SK-II store at Takashimaya (as lafayette galleries) to have my skin analyzed. For Asians, SK-II is as well known and as expensive as Lancôme
Just show up at the official SK-II points of sale and ask for a skin analysis with the “MAGIC RING” machine that looks like the picture
Unfortunately, the results are catastrophic for me. The machine makes my skin look 35 years old (when I am only 33 years old in real life). SNIF. So who went back with a set of SK-II products to save their skin? ME! 80€ in mini size to save one or two years of youth
Note on SK-II: SK-II products are on sale all over Japan but rumor has it that products sold in showrooms are really made in Japan and are formulated for Japanese women – while products sold elsewhere, may be 30% cheaper but can be made in China, Singapore – by SK-II too but the formulation is a little bit different
Before using the famous “first essence” product of SK-II (which contains bacteria full of lactic acids, vitamins…), it is absolutely necessary to make a test (behind the ears), and at the beginning, use every 3 days, then every 2 days… so that the skin gets used to it – otherwise you risk to observe a purge.
Part 2: Practical Tips
If you like shopping, always carry your passport with you. From 5000yen of purchase, the stores will be happy to make you an invoice so that you can ask for a refund of the 8% VAT at the airport.