Magnetic Coffee and Random Japanness

Had coffee this morning from the same place I had yesterday’s Vietnamese coffee. Hot coffee wasn’t fantastic, just machine made. Essentially I paid ¥330 ($AU4.50) for a coffee that’s not as good as Nespresso. At least it’s the cheapest coffee I’ve purchased here.

The hotel had magnetically activated water. It’s technology from Japan so it must be good right? I checked but they don’t supply almonds.

Yesterday was the day for Hello Kitty. We saw a second Hello Kitty train at Shin-Osaka.

Coffee is expensive in Japan, but one thing that isn’t ? Ice cream. Pretty much everywhere you can get a Cornetto for ¥150 (AU$2). Bottled water is just as cheap, it’s ¥110 on average for a bottle. Sometimes ¥100 and not seen it over ¥140. The Japanese must actually realise it’s just bottled tap water.

7-11 have a wide variety of sandwiches, this one looked a little on the odd side, blueberries and cream cheese. On the plus side I’m sure it’s not sprinkled with seaweed seasoning, Benito shavings or Matcha.

In Kyoto, I saw a place sampling fiery chilli chips. I tried one, ooooh they are super hot. Luckily I had some water with me that day. After a packet of those I think anyone would welcome those Toto bottom washing toilets once these pass your system.

Oh Deer, it’s dinner time

Nara is a small place by Japanese standards and the Main Street leading up to the Deer park and 500 odd temples (well it feels like that many) has a surprising variety of food options.

Your standard Japanese style restaurants, a few Italian places, a German restaurant, an Indian restaurant and even an Indian curry van. The two things I haven’t seen that surprises me is the “Irish pub” and a venison restaurant, but maybe I just haven’t looked hard enough.

Curry if you’re in a hurry

Curry if you’re only in a bit of a hurry. We settled on this place. Great value, huge curry meal and a beer for ¥1452 (about AU$18). It does taste way better than it looks.

After dinner had another look in the supermarket just opposite the hotel. Found this in the snacks section. So what do you think? The people’s favourite 747-400 flavour, or the bigger, bolder A380 flavour? I’m going with Zero… flavour

If the Matcha isle is the supermarket equivalent of hell, I just found heaven. An isle dedicated to kewpie (and kewpie like) mayonnaise. It’s a verified scientific fact that Japan makes the best mayonnaise in the world.

But does it really need two lots of packaging. And they will put it in a plastic bag when they have sold it to you.

As much as Tully’s coffee isn’t setting the barista world on fire with their choice of roasted beans or dedication to perfection on their milk pouring methods, I’ll give them one thing from my breakfast today, not a single item of plastic was given to me with this meal. I think that is actually a first here.

Our hotel at night. It’s a “Dormy Inn”. I’d read that they were a really good value chain across Japan. I’d booked one and didn’t even know. I’ve got to say the Onsen is sensational. For obvious reasons I can’t take pictures in there to show you, otherwise I might be showing you the inside of a Japanese prison cell.

This is the Main Street up to the deer park with all the restaurants.

A Matcha made in hell

If there is one thing I certainly won’t miss about Japan it’s Matcha. It’s basically powdered green tea and it’s used to flavour almost everything here. It’s more ubiquitous than chocolate.

I personally can’t stand it. In its pure powdered form it’s dry and bitter. I had some on a green tea pudding a week ago in Kyoto and had to get a chocolate thick shake just to get the horrid taste out of my mouth

Here is the pudding. Looks nice, tastes foul. The actual green tea pudding under the powder wasn’t too bad but the powder, omfg ick.

The supermarket shelf from hell

I’m not sure all the sugar in the world could improve this ghastly creation.

Vietnamese Coffee in Nara

Was feeling really tired and way too early to go out for dinner. It was the perfect time for a pick me up coffee.

Quick googling showed a bit of promise across the road, and sure enough found a place that had a few interesting coffee options, one of them Vietnamese coffee. For those that don’t know it’s coffee on ice over sweetened condensed milk.

It’s an amazing drink on a hot afternoon and hit the spot perfectly. It’s not normally served quite like this, but I wasn’t about to complain.

Doh! A Deer

We arrived in Nara and we found the hotel was even closer to the station than mentioned, its right next door. Not sure this will be as great as it sounds as we can hear the trains on the tracks just outside our window.

The hotel couldn’t check us in till 3pm, however they had bike rentals so we hired some for a few hours to check out things around Nara. First thing of course was to cycle up to the deer park and cycling beats walking there any day. Only took a few minutes to ride up the road to the park.

There is a metric shed load of deer just as described everywhere. Everyone seemed to be focused on buying “deer cookies” to feed them. I was more concerned with avoiding all the deer output and not treading in it.

Also cruised past the pagoda and temple. We are both a little bit templed out. To be honest once you have seen a number of temples and shrines they all start to look the same. For me, my number is about 2 temples.

Coming back into the main strip, we both noticed a pizza house and decided very quickly that’s what we were having for lunch. The pizza was pretty good. The restaurant has a map for tourists to place a sticky dot on the city they are from. We were the first Australians it would seem.

After lunch we cycled down the river for a bit when Dave noticed a baseball game in play across the road so we went to watch for a few minutes. A couple of the kids came over and wanted to practice their English with us, we have had this happen a number of times now. I was chucking to myself a bit thinking if this had been Australia, two middle aged guys talking to school kids in a park some concerned citizen would have called the cops by now.

We had to stop at a level crossing

This hotel has tatami mats and you need to leave shoes in lockers in the lobby. The hotel has a fantastic Onsen that includes two outdoor baths and two indoor ones plus a sauna. I am going to miss the Onsens when I get home.

Last Hiroshima Coffee

Our last Hiroshima coffee this morning on our way to Nara today. Again nothing amazing, just a boring Tully’s coffee.

Waiting for our train on the platform, the Hello Kitty Shinkansen pulled into the platform. I’ve never seen so many people taking train photos at once, and very few of them fit the standard train spotter stereotype.

We are on the Sakura #540 and this is the most comfortable one we have been on. Most Shinkansen have seats in a 3-2 seating arrangement. This has 2-2 so seats are wider, and just more comfortable in general.

All of the trains I’ve been on so far have had 100v outlets for phone chargers. Handy for long train rides

Miyajima Island

We hadn’t really planned to spent all day out at Miyajima Island, but that’s how it turned out. We got up late and headed straight to the station to grab some breakfast and a coffee.

Settled on a Tully’s coffee as the one I’d intended on going to didn’t open till 1pm. Coffee at Tully’s is not fantastic but it’s consistently ok.

It’s a weekend so Miyajima was going to be popular and the train was pretty much standing room only, although we scored seats. On the train was a big bunch of school kids from somewhere in Australia. It’s about 30min on the train from the main Hiroshima station to the ferry terminal.

The Japanese do the public transport so well, as soon as the train arrived at the ferry terminal, there was a ferry waiting to take us to the island. The ferry only take 10 minutes. Of course since we had JR passes, the day out cost us ¥0 (apart from water we bought). JR passes are fantastic.

As soon as we arrived, almost everyone turns right to go to the temple. We thought we would take the cable car up the mountain first so turned left to take the scenic walk to the cable car terminal. For this walk we virtually had the island to ourselves except for the deer, and the mountains of poop they manage to leave everywhere. Watch your step!

I’ve coloured the path we took green :-

On the way to the cable car we found a great place to take some shots down to the temple and Torii gate

Some of our new hiking friends

We got to the cable car site, and just our luck, it was closed. Seems to be a theme with us in Japan. The cable car was closed in Hakone too.

There was another sign saying you could hike the 2.5km up instead, but warned to take plenty of water. We had some water (luckily I’d bought a litre down at the ferry terminal). So off we went. It was almost 2.5km of stairs straight up. It made the walk we did along the Nakasendo Trail look like a walk in the park.

It was hot and we passed people who didn’t carry water or were dressed in jeans etc. Some people are crazy. We had what I thought was enough water but should have taken more. At the top was a vending machine that was very popular and had run out of everything except cold coffee and green tea water. The green tea water wasn’t as bad as it looked.

Here is Dave on one of the 5 million fucking stairs :-

If the fucking stairs don’t kill you, the snakes will. Hey, at least it’s starting to feel like home with deadly snakes everywhere. Didn’t see any.

The view from the top made the climb worthwhile. Given the cable car wasn’t working it wasn’t crowded up here at all.

We took a different route down the mountain. Just as many stairs of course but not as much tree cover and some amazing water courses to control the massive storm water they get here

Once down the mountain, the tide had gone out so we walked out to the Tori gate. Unfortunately it’s started to undergo renovations so was partly covered with scaffolding

From here we headed back to the hotel. We had thought we would probably spend 2 hours max out here today, and we didn’t leave till after 4.

After a dip in the hotel Onsen it was time for dinner. We had Chinese tonight at the station then found a parfait place and had one of those.

I had a pork dish. Not spoiled with seaweed flakes tonight 🙂

Parfait. Seriously yum

The map image of our hike. I should have started recording at the ferry terminal but didn’t until the cable car starting point.