Published: February 13th 2013April 8th 2012
We awoke early and packed our things to checkout of our hotel, we were heading to Kyoto today but first wanted to squeeze in a quick visit to Osaka castle. We left our bags at the hotel and headed to the castle via the subway. Walking to the castle we saw many cherry blossom trees and Japanese locals picnicking underneath, enjoying japanese chess, playing instruments or playing with there very well dressed dogs lol.
We ate hot cakes filled with warm custard outside the castle walls for breakfast and then headed in. The castle is pretty big. Consisting of 8 floors. We decided to climb the stairs rather than take the lift. Each floor had historical information about the castle. On the first floor we got to dress up! I wore a kimono and Danel a samurai vest and sword and he chose the Yukimura Sanada helmet, a Character he plays on samurai warriors, a game we used to play together when we first started dating. It was interesting reading about Yukimura and other historical figures who we have played on Xbox and knew a bit of the history already. seeing the exact castle that the Tokogawa invaded! <br style="outline-color:
initial; outline-style: none; outline-width: 0px;" />By the time we had finally reached the 8th floor we were a little puffed as the stairs were rather steep. We were rewarded with a great 360 degree view over Osaka.
On the way out Danel found Yukimura Sanada chopsticks at the ift shop which he bought for a souvenir.
Once back in Namba to collect our belongings, we decided to try the famous Takayami octopus balls. The gift shops in Osaka are full of toys and plushies of the balls and baby octopus. I bought a cute Takayami toothpick holder. After shopping around we finally decided on a small but busy stall selling them to try. we payed our ¥250 for 6 small balls covered in sauce and dehydrated onion. Not being a huge octopus fan I only ate a couple, the batter and sauce was good though. We stocked up with snacks for the train, picked up our bags and headed for the train. During the hour trip we snacked on chocolate coated macadamia nuts, popcorn, mini soft brownie like cookies and bacon flavored puffed rice clusters which
I loved! by the time we arrived in Kyoto an hour later Danel was feeling really motion sick. We found our train to Shijo where we were staying and boarded hoping to arrive at Watazen ryokan so he could rest. Unfortunately he felt worse and wanted to be sick. He held it long enough for us to get off the train and for me to quickly find a bag for him to be sick in. Poor Danel! We slowly walked up to our hotel and checked in an hour too early. Waiting out the front getting Danel water from one of the many vending machines, the man at reception came out telling us we could have our room early. (something very rare in Japan let alone a Ryokan) I thanked him and we were taken up to our room. It was a traditional style room. We took our shoes off on entry and walked into the room and onto the tatami. The room was basic but spacious. Containing a small table with chairs on the floor, rice paper sliding doors into the alcove containing a small sit up table and chairs next to a window.
<br style="outline-color: initial; outline-style: none;
outline-width: 0px;" />I sat and drank the green tea and ate the traditional rice dough/soft pastry with redbean paste In the centre that was provided. This style sweet is famous in Gion and known to date back to 1600. Danel rested while I sipped my tea and planned our few days in Kyoto.
A few hours later when Danel was feeling up to it we went for a stroll around Shijo, and down to Gion. We walked down Ponto-cho dori an old and narrow street full of restaurants serving shabu shabu (a traditional and expensive Kyoto meal) and kaiseki (large 10 or more course beautiful dishesdinners very expensive up to $200 or more pp) after walking up and down we found a small restaurant that backed onto the canal, and took our seats on the bar. We were to pay ¥300 cover fee which is not uncommon in these types of restaurants. First we were given warm towels and served complimentary salted fresh Edimame or soy beans to snack on along with the plum wine we ordered. Again the plum wine was nice and easy to drink. We ate chicken ball skewers, fried cheese, cabbage
salad, salmon and tempura vegetables. It was nice to have some greens for once! We payed and headed back to our hotel. So exhausted and nervous to use the communal bath we went straight to bed. Our futons had been set up by our maid and two young helpers. The futon on the floor was probably softer than any of the other beds in Japan. The mattresses are so firm! but the blanket was heavy and warm. with a full tummy and being tucked up snug and warm we fell asleep almost instantly.
There are more photos below