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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Breakfast, a festival and the dance of the traffic police

NB. Photos and edits in purple added 30/05/07

Toast, boiled egg and coffee breakfast

OSAKA: We woke up refreshed from our first night's stay in our capsule hotel and headed downstairs for our complimentary breakfast. Two thick slices of semi-sweet pan bread is toasted in the galleyway as you like it, a tub of butter with knife sits to one side. We also receive one boiled egg and unlimited cups of fairly decent coffee.

Fellow hotel guest has breakfast in his yukata house robe

Capsule Inn Namba

This morning we moved to our hotel in Umeda, home for the next two days.

Ticket machines at Namba train station

Certain train carriages are designated female-only during peak hour

Updating the train ads

We were stupidly excited to watch the man changing the ads in the train carriages, hanging paper banners that are cluttered with text and a riot of colours. They almost give you a headache just looking at them all. What always struck me was that the flimsy paper was never damaged. We never saw them torn or defaced. And graffiti? Ha. I don't think anyone would ever dare.


Lunch was at Meshiya, a popular restaurant chain often open 24 hours.

Meal ticket vending machine

Like most cheaper restaurants in Japan, you pay for your meal at the vending machine near the entrance, then present your printed ticket stub to the kitchen. The service is always efficient.

Salmon and agedashi tofu set meal 590 yen

My agedashi tofu was superb- silky soft mouthfuls bathed in the gentle sweetness of dashi and mirin.

Pork set meal 690 yen

Fried chicken, egg and cabbage set meal 620 yen

We obtained our JR pass (unlimited travel on JR trains) and headed to Nozaki in search of the Nozaki-Mairi Festival at Jigenji Temple. There wasn't much of a festival today (perhaps that happens mainly at Jigenji Temple. There wasn't much of a festival today (perhaps that happens mainly on weekends) but the grounds were pleasant and the hundred stone steps we had to climb was definitely a work-out!

Jigenji Temple entrance (Nozakikannon)

Japanese maple leaves

Water trough

Bell pulleys

View of Osaka from the temple, perched high up on the hill

Drinks stall

There were supposed to be 300 street stalls here, but on this weekday we found only one.

The smiling stall holder won me over and I happily handed over 100 yen to quench my thirst.

Green tea drink 100 yen

I couldn't resist trying the other flavour too, which turned out to be ginger. The ginger drink was amazing. Icy cold yet warm in the tummy too.

Ginger drink 100 yen

A wander back to the station took us past a giant supermarket, appropriately named Jumbo. Of course we had to go in.

Jumbo supermarket, Nozaki

Supermarket aisle

Mmm... steak (hellooooo marbling!)

Self-serve fried foods

Self-serve yakitori

Self-serve salads

Self-serve yakitori skewers

Chicken croquettes 32 yen each

Bitter melons at a local greengrocer (so green and spiky!)

Red bridges near Nozaki train station

As always, everything here is clean and efficient. We marvel at how groomed everyone is. The teenagers are all in hip fashions, the girls are immaculate with their makeup and funky hairstyles. Most service people wear blazers - we are dishevelled and sweaty in our t-shirts facing the sticky humidity. They are in crisp shirts and blazers and looking cool as cucumbers.

And yet quirky idiosyncracies like love hotels spring up in the unlikeliest of places. We spotted this bizarre (to us) Christmas-themed love hotel in the restaurant alleys of Umeda.

Special Fantasy Rooms!

Banners outside the Christmas love hotel in Umeda
(the Japlish is hilarious)


Dinner was fried chicken galore at Kitanoya in Umeda.

Fried chicken and cabbage set meal 780 yen

Fried chicken and ebi prawns set 780 yen

Avocado and salmon set with mini chicken dish 780 yen

Veruca and I both had the avocado and salmon set. It was a huge meal, yet somehow I ate all of it, bar a few last mouthfuls of rice.

Avocado and salmon

Somehow I missed this scene, but Veruca swears the table behind us included a group of young men, one of whom removed a large mirror from his man-bag to check his appearance. "It was A4 size!" she gasped, half in admiration, half in horror. He spent several minutes checking all angles whilst his friends continued their conversation.

I can certainly attest the presence of man-bags. They are all the rage here with the menfolk.

Traffic police

What we especially love are the traffic police who perform a dance-like show for we pedestrians. The major pedestrian crossings near our hotel have two traffic police who stand guard during peak hour. Heads back, chins pointing to their sun, they have their arms outstretched at ninety degrees to stop us moving forward. When the cars finally stop they chirp merrily in Japanese, stride out to the crossing, and then form a barrier on the side, saving us from the cars. At the end they march back and bow to the new arrivals, their dance ready to start again.

We are eating a feast. Japan is really so affordable. We are eating like kings for so much cheaper than their equivalents in Australia.

We are in heaven. We may never want to return :)

Biggy, Calpis and Pocari Sweat
- it's a late night Pocari Sweat party!

(Calpis is sweet, Biggies are a little sour, and Pocari Sweat tastes just like it sounds - bland but a little salty).

Read the next Japan entry Read the first Japan entry
9 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 5/09/2007 11:59:00 pm


  • At 5/31/2007 1:57 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am truly loving your Japan photos and stories! I lived in Tokyo for a year in 2005 and I agree it is entirely affordable, although I suppose that's easy for me to say since my company paid for my housing . . . still, it is possible to eat well on the cheap. The photos bring back so many wonderful memories, especially the grocery store shots!

  • At 5/31/2007 10:06 am, Blogger susan said…

    I can't believe how good that food looks and how cheap it is! I swear when i went to Japan (about 10 years ago...) everything was way more expensive. I think i might have to make a return trip next year!

  • At 5/31/2007 6:32 pm, Blogger ilingc said…

    I feel like I'm reliving my memories of Japan through your posts. :) I'm so close to figuring out where that intersection in Umeda is where the traffic police did their dance.

    ps. Congrats on being Blogs of Note for the day.

  • At 5/31/2007 11:55 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Anon - Japan is very cheap. It would be a great place to live and work in. And yes, I love Japanese supermarkets. So much fun!

    Hi Susan - It's crazy cheap, and so fresh and tasty too. Hope you make another visit!

    Hi ilingc - The traffic police intersection was in between Hep5 and Osaka station. And thanks :)

  • At 6/02/2007 2:09 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    I am so enjoying your commentary! It makes me hungry to get back to Japan. I also visited Australia last year and enjoyed it thoroughly. Must get back one of these days to try all the places you recommend in Sydney!

  • At 6/02/2007 7:34 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Mariko - Japan is great isn't it? I hope you do make it back to Sydney sometime too :)

  • At 6/07/2007 3:52 am, Blogger Janell said…

    I love your pictures from Japan! My dad is Japanese and we love going back. It made me want to go back soooo bad!

    What kind of camera do you have?

  • At 12/20/2010 2:03 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    I'm considering staying at capsule inn namba after reading ur entries.. just wondering though... do u think capsule inn namba is comfortable enough for a few days stay or is it a one-day-is-enough kinda thing? hows the bathroom n toilet? I loveeee ur japan entries! it helps me plan my vacation. thanks!

  • At 12/27/2010 1:39 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    H Janeli - I was using a Nikon D70s for this trip but have since upgraded to a Nikon D90.

    Hi Levania - Glad you're enjoying the posts. I would suggest you only stay at the capsule hotel for one night unless you are travelling very light. Capsule hotels are mostly used by the businessmen who have had too much to drink and/or office workers who have missed the last train home.

    We had to leave our luggage in the luggage room downstairs. Upstairs you have a locker about the size of a shoe box for your belongings - enough for a toiletry bag and a change of clothes. The bathrooms are shared and very minimalist.

    It's worth staying in for a night as an experience, but not really recommended as a short-term stay.


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