11/22-11/24: Kobe/Osaka/Mt. Koyasan

Wilton being my first visitor to Tokyo also brought with him 3 huge U-Haul boxes about 70 lbs. each, filled with snacks, household goods, cleaning items, more clothing from my wardrobe at home, snowboarding gear, pots/pans, electric blanket, thoughtful gifts from family, and even zhong (my all-time favorite filled with sticky rice, yellow bean, egg yolk, and meat).

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During the day while I worked, he ordered the furniture I chose from IKEA and built all of it for me (prior to his arrival I was only sleeping on the mattress, frame still in box). While he wasn’t being a good husband setting everything up for me, we went on weekend trips to explore other parts of Japan.

First weekend trip: Kobe > Mt. Koya > Osaka

Great way to start the trip. By far, one of my fav bowl of noodles, curry udon magically combined with cheese and two thick pieces of melty mochi cakes – my two fav things in the world found in a restaurant in Shin-Osaka JR station:

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Kobe: Kitano, cable ropeway to Nunobiki Herb Gardens with amazing views of the city from Mt. Maya, waterfalls, Mt. Rokko with night views of the city (chilly as hell), Kobe Port of Tower

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USC Flowers!!!

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Seriously…find your own mall to conquer! You can’t see it in the picture below but to the right of those 4 brand signs, was Zara and Old Navy. eek!

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Wilton enjoying a really cool, unusual wavey escalator:

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Delicious dinner of Kobe beef sirloin and tenderloin with garlic fried rice cooked in the beef fat. Meat just melted in mouth. A much more high-end, no crazy frills performance like the onion volcano seen in the American version of teppenyaki.

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Mt. Koya: located in an 800 m high valley amid the eight peaks of the mountain. 2 hours from Osaka by train and cable car. World headquarters of the Kōyasan Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism with 120 temples and a very sacred graveyard amidst long avenues of tall Japanese cedar trees. Rock gardens.

Pressed fish specialty of the area:

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Really not sure what this rocket was doing in this sanctuary…

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Mochi snacktime with red bean inside:

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Osaka: First night at an amazing crab place that served primarily crab in all different formats including our first experience with raw king crab sashimi.

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Famous Glico Running Man sign. Lots of neon lights and shopping.

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Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan (海遊館). Has 27 tanks with different marine life but the largest tank is 9 metres (30 ft) deep.

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Yeah, this dude…wasn’t doing a damn thing! just sitting there. boring.

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Penguin parents watching their newborn. So cute!

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Crazy big whale shark!

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Nice shot, Wilton. Fatty seal torpedoing towards me hahahaha

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My life in a nutshell — waiting in line behind kids to get my stamp for each exhibit!

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Uncomfortable as hell petting the manta rays but their skin feels really silky smooth.

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Love these Japanese warning animations:

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Boat ride to Universal City Walk:

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finally found boba…

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A picture in front of Universal Studios but definitely did not go in — too many people!

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Takoyaki museum! Takoyaki = a ball-shaped Japanese snack made of a wheat flour-based batter typically filled with minced or diced octopus, tempura scraps, pickled ginger, and green onion. Tried different kinds, some with black pepper and cheese melted on top.

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Osaka Castle:

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Umeda Sky Building, consists of two 40-story towers that connect at their two uppermost stories, with bridges and an escalator crossing the wide atrium-like space in the center. Features a rooftop Floating Garden Observatory to see great night views of Osaka.

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Donut snack!

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Waiting patiently for our Okonomiyaki dinner – Japanese savoury pancake containing a variety of ingredients including green onion, meat (generally thin pork belly), octopus, squid, shrimp, vegetables, yakisoba noodles, mochi or cheese. Okonomiyaki is sometimes compared to an omelette or a pancake and may be referred to as a “Japanese pizza” or “Osaka soul food”. Topped with otafuku/okonomiyaki sauce (similar to Worcestershire sauce but thicker and sweeter), aonori (seaweed flakes), katsuobushi (bonito flakes), Japanese mayonnaise.

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