Chamarra’s Logbook #1: Adventures in Osaka and Kyoto

Title: Adventures in Osaka and Kyoto!

Abstract: A short blurb about this article (300 characters):

Planning a trip on your own during your stay in a foreign country is very exciting but also  can make you nervous! I had to look up how to use the trains in Osaka and Kyoto to get to the places we wanted to go without ever having been there. What if we get lost? We do not have internet access! Besides that it is about having fun, having an adventure, and seeing where you end up. Find out about my journey with my friends here!

City: Osaka, Kyoto

Country: Japan

Local Time: EST (Eastern Standard Time)

Year: 2013

Hour: 1:00 pm

How far have I traveled on this journey so far?:

I traveled from Tokyo to Osaka which is about two hours on the bullet train and the bullet train is the fastest train in Japan! However, on this trip we took the night bus from Tokyo which was about nine hours! However, it is a lot cheaper than the shinkansen or the bullet train.

How did I get around this week?:

I took the night bus to Osaka and the train through Osaka and Kyoto. We also did a lot of walking.

What was the most interesting place I visited this week?:

I went to a place called Dotonbori in Osaka which has many restaurants, clothing stores, and various other stores. Many of the restaurants sell Takoyaki which is a pancake ball with octopus inside! It may sound strange, but it is very tasty! Also, Osaka is known for its Okonimiyaki, which is a huge pancake. It is not the kind of pancake you are thinking of though! This pancake is not sweet. It has chives, meat, and can have cheese, squid and many other toppings!

Other Travel News from this week:

I also went to Kyoto which is very close to Osaka. We visited the Phoenix Temple and the Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine. Have you ever heard of the movie called “Memoirs of a Geisha?” In the movie, the main character Chiyo runs through the shrine and I was amazed by the amount of red gates that she ran through. When I found out the place existed in Kyoto I had to go!  This shrine is very long and has over 30,000 torii or gates, and most are donated! My friend and I struggled to get all the way to the top, but once we made it we felt so relieved! It was an amazing experience and truly a great accomplishment!

Number of sunny days this week:

Every day was sunny except for the last day of our trip!

Number of cloudy days this week:

The last day of our trip Saturday April 6th.

Number of rainy days this week:

Saturday April 6th, the last day of our trip.

We were supposed to go to a place called Nara to see the deer that it is famous for. However, we could not go!

Number of snowy days this week:

None!

Number of windy days this week:

I remember all three days of our trip being very windy! 

What is the air temperature right now in Fahrenheit?:

During our trip it was in the high 50’s maybe even low 60’s. It was very warm.

How was the weather this week?:

Besides the rainy day, the weather was beautiful! It was warm, but not too warm! It was perfect and the best weather for looking at the sakura or Cherry Blossoms.

What animals did I see this week?:

When we visited Osaka Castle we saw a crow. It was actually startling. I have never seen a crow so up close before. They are very big and really stick out in a crowd of people with its black feathers.

What was the coolest thing I saw in nature this week?:

The coolest thing I saw was the cherry blossoms near Phoenix Temple! There was a whole town on each side of a river and there were sakura lining the river. People were sitting, eating, talking, and enjoying the beautiful view. It was a lot of fun when the wind would blow and the cherry a whirlwind of blossom petals would fall down on everyone like snow.

Other Nature News from this week:

Near temples there is a lot of nature. It is a very relaxing experience. At temples, Japanese people practice their Shinto beliefs. Shintoism is a type of spirituality that began in Japan. Since it pays a lot of respect to nature, usually temples are surrounded by trees so they feel very isolated from the outside world. Before going into temples, people do temizu or water purification which involves washing your hands with water from a basin using a ladle.

What main languages are spoken here?:

The language spoken here is Japanese, but not common Japanese. In the Kansai prefecture of Japan, there is something called Kansai-ben, in other words, the Kansai regional dialect. People here have such a different dialect than people in the rest of Japan cannot even understand it! On television shows subtitles are given when there are people who speak the Kansai dialect. When I was there, I would hear things like ookini, which means “thank you.” In commonly spoken Japanese “thank you” is arigato.

What type of money is used here?:

The Japanese yen is used here. In Japan, one U.S. dollar is about equivalent to 100 yen. 100 yen is also used as a coin rather than a bill. 500 yen which is about five dollars is also a coin. If 100 yen is about one dollar, can you figure out how much 10 dollars is?

How much does a bottle of water cost?:

The cheapest bottle of water that I have bought is 98 yen which is about 98 cents. It was 7-eleven brand water. The average bottle of water that can be found in all of the convenience stores costs 105 yen.

What was the best meal this week?:

The best meal was Okonomiyaki at a restaurant called “Yukari.” At each table there is a built in hot plate. Once you make your order, they bring out the raw ingredients in bowls. Then, they pour the contents onto the hot plate and let it cook on one side. Then, they flip it and add the special sauce and we added bonito flakes, which is dried fish. The flakes are my favorite part! Then, it is time to eat! It stays hot while you eat it. The tough part is cutting it with the metal spatula they provide. It is definitely one of the most filling foods I have eaten in Japan and one of my favorites!

What music did I listen to this week?:

My friends and I went karaoking twice! It is one of our favorite things to do in Japan. Karaoke is everywhere in Japan! It is a very popular pastime and it is usually very cheap during the day. However, you can pay around 800 yen for an hour at night and that is one of the cheaper places! My friend and I sang a lot of 90’s R&B as well as Mariah Carey to the best of our abilities of course! We also sang Ne-Yo, Lady Gaga, Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles.” If you are not sure what “A Thousand Miles” is you might know it if you heard it! I also tried to sing songs in Japanese. Utada Hikaru is one of my favorite Japanese singers. If you know the game called Kingdom Hearts, you may have heard Utada Hikaru before. She does the theme song for the first and second game. The first game’s song is called “Simple and Clean,” the second game’s song is called “Sanctuary.” The Japanese version of the song “Sanctuary” is called “Passion.” That song has become one of my favorite Japanese songs to sing during karaoke! I was able to sing most of the lyrics and even in front of my host mom and sister which was a bit terrifying at first. I did not want to make any mistakes singing in Japanese in front of native Japanese speakers!

What activity was the most fun this week?:

The most fun thing I did that week was just exploring with my friends! Having an adventure with your friends is the most fun you can have! We worked together to figure out where we had to go. I had a lot of fun walking around Dotonbori with them. It is such a big place and we did a lot of exploring. One of the interesting places we saw was a Turkish ice cream stand. I never even thought about trying Turkish ice cream especially in Japan! So, my friend and I decided we had to try it. The man mixed the ice cream that was inside a large barrel with a ladle that had a long handle. He would pull out a lot of ice cream and then place it on the cone. However, he did not just hand it to me he would snatch it back while the ice cream was still stuck to his ladle as soon as I tried to grab it. Then, I tried to grab it again and this time I was left with only a cone and no ice cream, because he would peel off the ice cream or there would be an extra cone that I did not notice before. Finally, he finally handed me the ice cream and by then I was ready to try it! It was very rich in flavor and delicious!

What did I read this week?:

I read a little bit of a book called “1Q89” by the famous Japanese author Haruki Murakami. I decided that I want to buy the book when I get back home! If I buy it in Japanese it’ll be all in Japanese and I cannot read all Japanese yet. What was cool about reading this book was that the main character wanted to go to Shibuya and I have been there before many times! Now, I can actually visualize these places in Japan!

What games or sports did I play this week?:

I played a game called “Taiko no Tatsujin” which is a game based on Japanese Taiko drums. I love Taiko drums! I have watched two Taiko performances and I love to feel the vibration from the drums. The game has the same idea as “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band.” You have to hit the drum to the rhythm of the music. It is so much fun to play with friends.

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