Friday, March 30, 2012

First Kitchen - Osaka, Japan

In Osaka, J and I were starving, so we stopped into First Kitchen outside of the train station.  It seemed convenient and the drinks looked good.

I believe this is a chain found all over because I've seen it in other parts of Osaka.  It's OKAY here.  If you want something quick and cheap, try out the food, but don't expect anything spectacular.

I ordered a tomato burger covered in ketchup (I love ketchup), while my strawberry smoothie was pretty good.  However, the royal milk bubble tea tastes like iced milk, so I wouldn't recommend it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Takoyaki - Osaka, Japan

Osaka is known for their Takoyaki, so J and I knew we had to find some before leaving the area.

While walking, we discovered this place ...

The guy was nice enough to let me take a photo.  I also had some awesome takoyaki!

I heard that you are supposed to eat it hot, but it can definitely burn your mouth!

I heard about a lady who postponed her wedding to save her pet lizard.  A lot of people said she was nuts and her future husband should run, but what's so crazy about her decision? 

I can totally understand the bonds people have with animals.  

My cat Eggroll below sleeping again ... 

Osu Kannon - Nagoya, Japan

On Saturday, I had a fun-filled day of shopping with friends.  We explored different parts of Nagoya and discovered Osu Kannon.

At Osu Kannon, there's a beautiful temple and streets filled with little Japanese shops, restaurants, and food vendors.

I was surprised to find bubble tea!

I really had a good time.

Unfortunately, my camera died before I could take a photo of the cool streets around the temple! I will return again though because it was a lot of fun here.

Hotel Kinki - Osaka, Japan

Well, what can I say?  I thought I could return home from Osaka the day I arrived, but it never happened.  I got stranded and ended up in a red light district, sleeping at Hotel Kinki.

J and I were walking around aimlessly, navigating the streets of Osaka, looking for Takoyaki and dessert.

As we were walking, things started to look a lot different.  All of a sudden, there were girls holding signs like "Girl bar honey 500 Yen."  There were girls in maid outfits and some REALLY scary looking men!

As we walked by the area, we found Hotel Kinki.  We were hesitant to stay because the area seemed really odd, but after inquiring about prices, Hotel Kinki offered the best rates.  It was getting dark outside, so J and I decided to take a chance.

(retrieved from

The good news is that Hotel Kinki turned out to be a GREAT, budget hotel.  In fact, I later discovered that it won an award for being one of the best budget hotels in 2012.  There were a lot of your typical tourists there, visiting Osaka and taking advantage of the cheap hotel rates at the hotel. (I learned there are even cheaper hotels, but this one was a good find).

It was clean, quiet, and hotel staff were also incredibly friendly and helpful! There's free WiFi and a computer in the lobby.

Yes, it may be an odd area and it's not easy to find.  The toilet area is also tiny.  However, it is a deal ...

There are tons of shops and restaurants in the area for you to enjoy until late too.

I would definitely recommend Hotel Kinki.

By the way, Kinki is a region in Japan!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hep Five Ferris Wheel - Osaka, Japan

For anyone who knows me, i'm terrified of heights. When a friend insisted we go on the Hep Five Ferris wheel, I feared for my life.

She insisted we ride the Ferris wheel, which we spotted from a far.  Little did she know what was in store ...

I climbed into the moving Ferris wheel and sat, palms sweating and ready to pass out.  The higher we went, I started to feel dizzy and caged inside of the tiny compartment.  Crazy thoughts started to race in my mind, such as "what if there's an earthquake?"  I started to freak my friend out, as I tried to calmly breathe ...

I tried to look out the window and was impressed by the view.  In between breathing sessions, I could see Osaka like never before!

As soon as we reached the top, it was the most exciting, thrilling, and awe-inspiring ride.

Yes, it was slow and torturous heading up to the top, but it was also amazingly fun afterward.

For 500 Yen, you can ride the Hep Five Ferris wheel in Osaka at the Hankyu Entertainment Park.  The Ferris wheel is 160 meters high and is hard to miss.

I would recommend riding the Ferris wheel if you are in Osaka.  It's a great experience and something to remember about the city.

Monday, March 26, 2012

I've only been here for about two weeks an I'm already starting to develop an obsession with cute and pretty  Japanese things.

1)  Anything related to cherry blossoms.  My new air freshener ... 

(2)  Towels with hearts.  Only 200 Yen for two.  Amazing!

3) Cute sponges that look like rabbits.  It's the cutest sponge I've ever had .. 

4)  Floral products ...

5)  Cute clothes from G.U. (a dangerous obsession)

6)  Collagen for beautiful skin.  I guess i'll find out if it works soon!

These days i'm becoming overwhelmed by all the cuteness everywhere.  There are way too many things I want to take home with me.

Oasis 21 - Sakae (Nagoya), Japan

Oasis 21 in Sakae (Nagoya), Japan is a place you'll want to check out if you are in the area.   

For me, the restaurants here are the reason I like coming back.  I want to try all of them!  There are also a number of shops.  

Pokemon fans may want to see the Pokemon Center.  It's a kid's heaven for sure ... They were everywhere.  I could barely walk.

You can also head to the top of the building to enjoy the view and the "oasis."

Japanese Dept. Store Supermarket

Japanese department stores have some of the best supermarkets!  Here's one in Osaka.  I wish I could have bought something ... 

The portions are smaller here, so you would think losing weight might be easier.  However, you only end up eating more here because the food is really good.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cute Japan

Everything in Japan is CUTE!  I am surprised by how much cuteness exists in Japan.  It seems like an obsession here.

At Oasis 21 in Nagoya, I found this little store ....

Remember Totoro, anyone?  

Friday, March 23, 2012

Traveling to Osaka by Train

I had an unforgettable trip to Osaka.  It was an exciting, unusual, and fun-filled adventure.  I survived my trip to Osaka and back.  

From 5:15 a.m., I started my day.  I walked early in the morning with J to catch a bus to the subway to Nagoya Station.  

We were confused about how to purchase tickets, which became our first nightmare.  It's not so easy to navigate chaotic Japanese train stations (or when you come from Hawaii and there are no trains).  If you don't speak Japanese, it can also be difficult to navigate your way around Japan.

I was able to use my Japanese and bombarded a poor soul behind the ticketing desk with questions on the best deal to Osaka, which I scored with the Seishun 18 Kippu for 115000 Yen for two people.  Expensive, I know, but the  best deal of them all for a student on a budget...  

For our price, we had to ride the local trains which weren't as straight forward as I imagined.

From Nagoya station, you ride a train to Ogaki and transfer.  
From Ogaki you ride a train to Maibara and transfer.  
From Maibara, you ride a train to Osaka.  

The crowd above is nothing in comparison to Tokyo 

The trains come within minutes a part, so you have to figure things out rather quickly.  It's very crowded during rush hour and people can be pushy, especially the old ladies!  

On these trains, don't expect to sit down either.  Just because you bought a ticket, doesn't mean you get a seat!  

By 11:00 a.m., we finally made it to Osaka.  I felt such a sense of relief.  I had to be at an appointment at 2:00 p.m., so I knew everything would be fine now (or so I thought).

I almost didn't make it to my appointment.

Thankfully, with persistence and determination to be on time, we asked a ton of Japanese people where to go and they gladly assisted.  I don't think we could have done it without them.

I really burned some calories.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Daily Grocery Store Visits

Today, I stayed in all day, trying to finish one of my papers.  I have been so busy especially since moving here last week.

Fortunately, J and I had some time to go to the grocery store to grab some food.  

At the grocery store, everything is so tiny and cute.  

It's freezing outside, but shopping is always fun even if it's at the grocery store.

Thankfully, the food prices are not too bad here.  I've been averaging 1,300 yen which is great for a student budget.

Before coming to Japan, I was paranoid about the radiation.  Now that I'm here, I still wonder what I should or should not be eating.  Everyone says it is safe, but I still wonder.  I heard not to eat mushrooms, although they've been looking real good lately.

J says we shouldn't be drinking the tap water because of possible radiation, so we've been buying Evian.  But I don't know how much better it is to drink out of plastic water bottles either.  

Monday, March 19, 2012

Week Two in Japan

I can't believe I'm going into week two in Japan!

Now, reality is starting to hit me.

It's such a challenge when everything is culturally and linguistically different.

The Japanese people are REALLY nice, polite, and quiet.  At least the one's I've been running in to ... If it wasn't for all the nice people who assisted me, I'd be stressed out.

I could not figure out how to use the computer at school.  I felt so computer illiterate.  It didn't help that everything was in Japanese or that things are run so differently.

I wanted to use the computer at the library, so that I could print a document.  However, I had to fill out a form to use the computer and discovered that it does not print anyway, so I had to go to another building across campus.  However, I had to bug another million more people to figure things out.

I'm always bugging people here.  I'm so glad that I can at least communicate (somewhat) with people here.  It's not always easy, but I've been managing.

My poor friendly barely knows any Japanese.  It really isn't easy to live here if you don't know Japanese, so we've been working in teams, helping each other out.

Fortunately, my day ended with a nice dinner among new friends at my apartment complex.  I've been meeting a lot of interesting people from around the world.

I ate a gratin with meat sauce for 299 yen tonight.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Recycling in Japan

I never imagined how complicated the recycling system could be in Japan, but I am learning. Even though it is a lot of work, I really think that everyone should adopt a similar program because it's more environmentally friendly.

First, there's burnable trash that includes kitchen waste, paper, wood, cloth, leather, and some plastic products.  These items go into trash bags with blue lettering.

Second, there's non-burnable which includes pottery, metallic products, glassware, electrical and plastic products.  These products go into trash bags with red lettering.

Third, there's plastic products such as food trays, plastic bottles, packaging, lids, and wrappers. These go into trash bags with green lettering.

Fourth, there's large-sized garbage, which is in a totally different category.

Also, I noticed that there are divisions among the trash for recycling products.  If you have a water bottle, the plastic goes into one trash bag and the caps in another.  Glass will go into one bag, but if it's broken, it is placed into a different green one.  It's very complicated. 

If you buy a package of Pringles, you MUST cut the metal off the bottom of the container, and remove the lid, and place it into non-burnable, but the paper part of the container must go into the burnable bag.  I guess I won't be eating any Pringles soon.  It's so much work!

I also assumed that a yogurt container should go into the trash bag with red lettering (non-burnable) because it is plastic, but I learned today that it is burnable.  There is a kanji on the back of products that will also tell you if it is burnable.

You have to buy your own trash bags too and ensure your trash is put into the correct bag or there will be a problem.

It's very interesting to see how recycling is done in Japan.  In Hawaii, we do some recycling, but it's nothing like here.


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