Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Traveling Solo - Japan (9)

Day 7:  If you read the #2 post to this series, you will notice I did a 180 change to my original plan.  It all started from a conversation over Kobe beef.  The more I thought the more I can't let myself pass on Kobe beef when I am only 30 minutes away from Kobe.  Cost was my #1 issue since real Kobe beef is really EXPENSIVE!

Thanks to Tabelog and 小氣少年's blog post (he is a well-known Taiwanese blogger), I was able to find a decent Kobe beef lunch that won't break my budget.  (Most restaurants serving Kobe beef is at least USD100+ so this place is a steal!)  Once decided, I asked my hostel to make a reservation for me (2 weeks ahead).  What a great decision!  There were only 10 seats and every one of them was filled on the day I went!  I wrote my experience on a separate post (here) since Kobe beef deserves a special treatment in my book :) 

One thing led to another, I ended up changing the entire plan, almost.  The only thing kept unchanged is the visit to Osaka Castle in the morning, which I almost didn't make either!  I left my batteries in the hostel and had to return and get it.  Luckily, I realized I forgot them when I was still at the Shinabashi subway station, not when I arrived at the Osaka Castle... whew~  I have the lady in mismatching socks I saw at the escalator to thank... THANKS!  whoever you are... and mean me was trying to take a picture of your socks...  Of course, I confused the subway station head when I tried to explain to him what happened...

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Rikuro's cheesecake
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I actually loved Rikuro's apple pie more - don't miss out!
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Osaka Hana Hostel
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kids everywhere at the Osaka Castle
must be a popular place for school outings

The castle is inside the Osakajokoen and it's a gorgeous garden.  I didn't enter the castle though.  From what I read from the other blogs, the interior has been changed into an exhibition hall showcasing artifacts from the period, which I am unfamiliar with anyway...and I was running out of time...

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I wish I had more time to appreciate the garden
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After lunch at Plaisir, I went to Arima for their renowned onsen "kin no yu" and Rokko for their "Ten Million Dollar Night View"  (if you actually Google the term, you will get various different answers, so this is not an absolute...).  It was very embarrassing when you have to be completely naked to enter the onsen... I don't think I would have entered if I went there with any of my friends.  However, since I know no one and no one know me there, I did it!  I just act normal and enjoy my soak.  My sore muscles thanked me...

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Rokko ended up being my favorite place this trip - not the night view but the Arima-Rokko Ropeway (probably because it was the least expected).  I took the advise from the Taiwanese traveler and went around 1630, when the sun begins to set... the sunset is amazing!  Since I was the only passenger in the cable cart and I wasn't afraid of heights much, I walked around and took pictures from all angles.  I even told the operator:  "You have one of the best jobs of the world!"  (Since he gets to look at the breathtaking view EVERYDAY!)  If you plan to visit Kobe or Arima, I highly encourage you to visit Rokko as well, especially since there is a value ticket available for JPY2,300 (base rate)!

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the operator gets to see the amazing view of Rokko mountain everyday...
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a very nice observation deck at Mt. Rokko
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even though it's freezing, I can't deny myself a cup of local ice cream
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the last bus leaves too early (like 1730) in my opinion on weekdays!
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the million dollar view
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my conclusion:  I need a better camera, preferably a full frame one :P
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just like the peak tram in Hong Kong but less crowded
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transportation is very convenient in Japan
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Taking the JR back to Osaka
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Next time, I will get the Rokko and Mount Maya value pass so I can visit the Rokko ranch.  (Maybe I will stay a night at the YMCA in Rokko just so I can have more time to enjoy myself there...)  The dairy products from there is fantastic!  Originally I intended to see the Kazamidori House in the Kitano area too but I ran out of time... oh well, there is always next time...

Some say the world's top 3 night view are in Napoli (Italy), Kobe (Japan), and Hong Kong.  I don't know... I have been to 2 of the 3 and although it's pretty, I'd rather go climb some mountains and go to a beach if you ask me... maybe I am not a romantic or maybe it was just cold...  (remember to bring a jacket!)

I took the cable car down (very similar to the peak tram in Hong Kong, hopped on the bus to JR Rokko and back to Osaka.  Instead of venturing in Umeda, I decided to eat at Hokkyokusei in Shinsabashi.  The omu-rice (オムライス) was absolutely delicious (i.e. plate licking good!)  After dinner, I just walked around in Shinsabashi and called it a night.

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Hokkyokusei Honden
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my omu-rice gave me a wink too!
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I heard this is the red light district of Osaka
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host boy and his potential customers? (1)
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host boy and his potential customers? (2)
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I wonder there was a line because there was a promotion or if the crepe is good so there is a line...
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one of my friend said this was good... but she told me after I came back... :'(
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I am going to try this one next time too!
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love the purse and the scarf... but I don't want to know how much...
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my feet's best friend :)
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I am guessing Japanese doesn't like their vegetables...
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pachinko!!
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This was the crepe place i wanted to try but they were already sold out!!! >.>

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