Osaka & Nara, Japan

This trip to Japan happened in early 2015. After much coercing from Bee, I’ve finally gotten around to sharing it… along with all its inaccuracies as I curate my own take on the countries we visit.

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As cramped as airplane seats and cabins go, it is the anticipation of arrival at your destination that keeps your spirits high.

Bee and I love our holidays. And we live pretty frugally in Melbourne now just so our annual holiday budget can stretch that little bit farther. I mean… just look at this magnificent sight from the airplane window, drawing you into a world… endless with possibilities and things that you can experience.

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Osaka

Aside from a very brief stopover in Tokyo Disneyland as a young child… (I remember it snowed at Narita airport!), this city view of Osaka is my first impression of Japan as a grown up.

Clean, orderly and… oddly enough, with an European feel I thought.

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Day 1 in Japan… I was half expecting to see Totoro standing at a stop light with a neighbourly yawn, or walking past a boy carrying a glass jar containing Ponyo… such was how my vision of Japan is shaped by the anime I’d watched.

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And focal to several Japanese films, in particular those of the introspective ilk, were train journeys…

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That quiet wait at the station, deep in thought… as you processed towards that metaphorical destination that’s significant only to you.

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Nara Park

But let us pull away from that movie in our minds. For us visitors, our train journey eventuated as a day trip to Nara Park…

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… famed for its even-tempered, free roaming deer. If you bought a pack of deer wafers to feed them, they’d follow you around with their short tails wiggling in expectancy.

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Todaiji Temple, Nara

A sight not to be missed at Nara would be Todaiji Temple, built in 752, it’s the largest wooden building in the world.

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On that note, the in-laws were hitting it off famously…

This trip would be the first time my folks met Bee’s mom, and they got along very well!

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Misono Teppanyaki, Osaka

On our first night together as a family, we treated ourselves to a once-in-a-lifetime Kobe beef teppanyaki dinner.

That wagyu melted in your mouth like it was butter, it almost laughs Australian wagyu into ‘beef jerky’ territory… LMAO. All that said, I confess I prefer a bit more texture and less oil in my beef… this fat-rich meal literally had us sliding back to our hotel.

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Bee’s meticulously planned itinerary afforded us a bit of time in Osaka before we headed off to Mount Koya in the afternoon.

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So we explored Osaka further…

LOVE the unexplainable sense of personal order in what should’ve otherwise been a haphazard streetscape here.

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Kuromon Ichiba Market – Namba, Osaka

Lunch happened in a neighbourhood market that’s over 170 years old. You could call it Osaka’s Kitchen, where restaurant owners come to buy their fresh ingredients in bulk.

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We finally picked a tucked away shop that could fit the five of us, where we had our first encounter with nattō… a sticky-stringy concoction of fermented soy beans that’s traditionally eaten with rice and miso soup for breakfast in the Japanese countryside. An acquired taste if I might add…

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I choose to end this post with a beginning… where we embark on our train journey towards Koyasan, ensconced in an immaculate carriage of hushed order.

Travel in Japan has cultivated a deeper appreciation of train journeys in me… and we will be experiencing a lot more of that in this trip. Hope to see you in our next instalment!