Thursday, 29 January 2015

A Day in Kobe

I highly advocate getting lost in new cities. Having said that, it can be rather terrifying with only your wits to rely on recalling whether you passed that similarly shaped tree before as a retraced marker. But whether I'm hopeless with directions or plagued with misfortune, getting lost usually means crucial hours are lost before the sky wrenches itself from day. I was meant to see the sort of European architecture left behind in Kobe, but I ended up instead, at the Herb Garden, no matter, no matter, I'm sure my flora-loving mother would appreciate it - even if they are stark bare in winter.

Purchased my first drink ever from a vending machine, Peach Nectar as endorsed by my sister. It wasn't as fizzy as I was hoping it to be and it's predictably sweet. Check out the prices for those drinks! Not only that but there are some that are heated too!

Cuteness comes in the form of a conqueror of flames!

Everyday I am in awe of this beautiful city 

A sky view of Kobe.

Nailed it. 

I loved this concept the most! As the name implies, everything grown can be utilised in the kitchen. I never thought I'd miss summer this much .. but that was before I've had to trade in my lychees and mangoes and basil for apples and mandarins. 

Every holiday is an occasion to exploit! Although I have to say, it does look very picturesque. 

Spot the potted man, seatedly on guard.

The statues seem to be displaying a more paternal form of love rather than romantic, which is nice that they portray different facets of love.. or perhaps I'm looking too deeply into this

I'm quite relieved that winter didn't sap the entire Garden of its colour. As much as I love the cold, it's a shame that it isn't as picturesque as the other seasons. 

The Port of Kobe Earthquake Memorial Park. It was constructed as a reminder for the calamity that claimed over 40 000 casualties and 200 000 homes and buildings. As is with the case of memorial sites, they serve as reminders for the tragedies of the past and the endurance of the people who were able to move past from such an event. The next set of photos seem almost frivolous to include after such a landmark.

My Japanese isn't that good so forgive me if my descriptions rely solely on a shaky combination of taste and my atrocious memory. What I thought was fish, turned out to be chicken instead. Not complaining - it was delicious. Hearty, and bursting with juicy morsels of mushrooms. I think it was a kind of curry sauce? One more leaning towards Japanese design rather than Indian roots as you could breathe in the spice more than you could feel it skating across your tongue. 

PARFAIITTT! I have no idea what kind of sorcery that they used. I wouldn't be able to understand their explanations anyway. However there was this cream, or maybe panacotta that was marshmallow thick and delectably creamy, dissolving on the tongue .. Curse my lack of fluency. I'm not quite sure what the berries are - I've never seen them on a shelf in Sydney .. possibly cranberry? Well, in addition to that, there was matcha sponge, pieces of yogurt covere muesli and sake poached pears. But of course, I could only feebly make a dent in this following my meal prior to this. How can my dessert mentality desert me now before such a glorious creation? 

Ohhh yess

Of course  I couldn't leave without tasting Kobe's beef! Generally, my tolerance for touristy things are zilch. Basically, I regard them like mouthwash. Withstand it for a few seconds then completely wash my hands clean of it with the full knowledge that I've accomplished it. I fully believe that it completely minimises its initial value after being lauded and praised and insisted that it must be done or you've failed in travelling. So I ordered it with no expectations.

But look at how beautiful that looks. But again, being very cynical, I wasn't expecting anything mindblowing. And good thing I didn't because that made it mindblowing by an extra hundred fold. As soon as my teeth sunk into it, I had to restrain from releasing any guttural sound of shocked pleasure. What? I knew it was intensely fatty but oh god how it just melted on the tongue into this pool of deliciousness that then trickled down my throat. And in that moment was when any pretentiousness I had for typical tourist things soundly and hastily evaporated.

It is my deepest regret that I didn't capture Kobe in its glory at night. Because let me tell you, it is magnificent. The whole city glitters like Christmas lights, and to be a local, completely desensitized to it is a crying shame. Sydney doesn't hold a candle to this.Japan is like Sydney compressed three times over in a tiny space and I've been told that had I seen the view from Mt Rokko, with Osaka combined, that would've truly been a sight to behold.

I apologise for my long absence! I'm actually in Busan, South Korea now! But the reason for my intense radio silence is purely due to the fact that when I was in Tokyo last week (ahaha, yes), I used another Airbnb apartment which provided me with a pocket wifi device that was limited so you can see how I prioritised being able to use Google Maps over Youtube ahaha. In any case, I promise to be more vocal social media wise, especially now that I've been to such beautiful places! So yes, I do intend on bombarding them with visually pleasurable things and food that you can only weep about ahaha. Find me here: Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr - oh and trust me, I have a backlogggg of things to share.



Thursday, 15 January 2015

A Glimpse into Shinsaibashi, Hep 5, EST and Daimaru

What up! Still breathing! Who would've thought?! The past fortnight has been mentally draining and above all other things, I'm in Japan! Or Kobe to be exact. I booked with Airbnb and I have been so glad to have chosen this place over a hotel. As I'm travelling by myself, during downtime I was aware of the associate loneliness. But staying with someone even just hearing them rustle away in another room is oddly comforting. Not only is the room fantastic for its price, but the hosts are extremely kind and bubbly! Oh and I can get places recommended to be by locals too which is a plus. Anyway! The next photos are of the walk from the apartment to the train station - admittedly as a means of marking each point so that I could find my way, like a solo Gretel but it is much too scenic to keep to myself!

I spent Day 1 familiarising myself with the train system, getting obligatorily lost of course as well as the time difference. Consequently, I arrive at Shinsaibashi - one of Osaka's oldest and busies shopping locations rather late. I only had a few hours to explore before I had to venture back. It's such a stark difference in climate from Sydney! At the moment it is a sweltering 34 degrees whilst here it hovers around.. 7 degrees haha. I'm holding up quite well surprisingly, and layers, yes. Can we please get this kind of winter back in Sydney??

Was that the heavenly chorus of angels I just heard?

 Imagine my surprise when I happened across Spinns! I've been yearning to go due to its umbrella like capacity, on one end it's a very strong street kind of style whilst the other swing precariously into the more feminine kind, pastel, soft.. all at very affordable prices!

Alright, be honest, how many colours of the same skirt are you allowed to possess before it becomes ludicrous?

I may have left my teenage years awhile ago but I may have squealed a bit. 

And to answer your question, yes, Let it Go was played on repeat, LOL. Another popular song choice is Taylor Swift.

The famous Glico Man!.. And the Takoyaki here is superb, effectively ruining Japanese food back in Sydney for me forever, sigh. 

Dotonbori Canal
You can say Japan has ... Frozen over HAHHAHA. 

It;s official, my wallet has been taken hostage and is under the mercy of this street. 

Funky, colourful assault on the eyes! I hope I won't be charged for inappropriateness but the heart cut outs were so interesting!

And that was Shinsaibashi! A very brief, tunnel vision view! Hilariously, I bought few clothes with the fullest intention of building up my wardrobe here, but I ended up leaving with very little.. but I couldn't just buy indiscriminately! So many stores left to explore! More styles daring to push the norm!

Day 2 was spent exploring the department stores in Umeda and overall, indulging in the omestic life. First stop, Hep 5, distinguishable by the great red Ferris wheel atop!

Fur lined anoraks for $60? Madness!

As soon as I saw this, I was resigned to desiring the whole store. 

Sorry, the food displays amused me as they were unrealistically realistic. Entertained my simple mind. 

A whole level dedicated to an arcade, claw machines and purikuras! Also, spot the One Piece figurines as the most desirable prize! If I had any skill, I would wield Brook in victory, yohohoho. 

See that?.. It doesn't end.. it's like a rabbit's burrow!
The tour begins!

Candy Stripper! This is the epitome of adorable with sweetened edgy components.  

An idea of its neverending labyrinth capacity, 

I had only one, and only one objective here. 

Is this too much of a hint?



AHHHH. Ahem. Moment to compose myself. Unfortunately, they only have the more recent Pokemon in addition to the veteran celebrities - my sister was gutted that there was no Flareon or Growlithe haha, At this point, I was laden with extremeeelyyyy, bulky and hefty bags so despite the very youthful day, I had to turn back. Not too downhearted, I was in desperate need of groceries so that I could prepare my dinner on whim without continuing to broach the hospitality of my hosts. Ever been curious about a Japanese supermarket? 

If fish was as afforable as it is here, I will master it like I mastered baking!

 The maximum price the bento goes for is like $4.50AUD. WHAT? MADNESS.

The groceries to tide me over for the week. I finally got to try the Meltykiss chocolate (They are like $5-6 a box at home, what? Here it was like $2.50. And .. oh my god. Cursed, damned, delicious chocolate). Fruits and vegetables are sold singularly in Japan, as it's designed as a 1-2 day usage. Case in point, they sell loaves of breads containing two slices. Ahuh. That's right. But mainly, I was just missing my healthy food.

$4.50 for this sigh. You can't afford any satisfying food for that amount back home. This was lunch as shopping triumphs over sustenance! Sinfully, sweet potato tempura is delicious. 

Andddd this was dinner! I'm so used to having sweet potato pan seared but I've clearly I've been doing it a disservice.

Whew! This was lengthy! But that was my last couple of days! Japan at least Osaka/Kobe is so different from Sydney, it's like if Sydney was compressed three times over in a tiny space. Let me tell you, at night, magic happens and they city looks like an intricate web of twinkling Christmas lights. And, vending machines containing heated and cold drinks for $1 each every 100metres, what? And, and, the trains are heated! And so are the toilet seats! And Shiseido has a drugstore line, and, and, sigh. Japan.