Kansai, Day 11: Osaka

J and I woke up early to go to Osaka Central Fish Market. We read that ENDO SUSHI is located there, which is considered as one of the best sushi restaurants in Osaka.

Taxi driver dropped us off near an intersection and pointed to the direction towards the fish market. So we walked and avoided some transportation carts in the area… Less busier than Tsukiji but still needed to exercise caution while walking.

MARCH 16, 2017

Last day of our trip!!! T_T

J and I woke up early to go to Osaka Central Fish Market. We read that ENDO SUSHI is located there, which is considered as one of the best sushi restaurants in Osaka.

Taxi driver dropped us off near an intersection and pointed to the direction towards the fish market. So we walked and avoided some transportation carts in the area… Less busier than Tsukiji but still needed to exercise caution while walking. We eventually found the small restaurant and we were immediately assisted to a table. I got the “first plate” (anago, uni, tai, toro, hamachi) plus an extra order of tuna and salmon sushi.

We went back to our Airbnb after breakfast to do final pack up for our remaining luggage. We had some of our bags delivered to KIX the previous day via KURONEKO YAMATO in JR Namba Station (http://www.kuronekoyamato.co.jp/en/hands-freetravel/kinki/index.html#osaka_wrap). And because of this, we had less luggage to bring during this day. We still opted to leave our suitcase for the day in Kuroneko Yamato so that we can explore Dotonbori without worry.

Nothing much to do anymore in Dotonbori so we went to our lunch place and waited for about 30 minutes for its opening time. Behold, MATSUSAKAGYU YAKINIKU M, a restaurant well-known for its Matsusaka beef. This was recommended by my cousin and I am so glad that we followed her.

This was the most expensive meal I had in Japan so far… But every yen was worth it!!! J and I got the premium course which costs ¥7,800 per person. Cute, funny story here was that one of the staff who assisted us during cooking stared at us then eventually asked us if we were at Honke Shibato the previous night. We said yes with puzzled eyes… Turned out that she was the same staff who assisted us in that resto. 😊

 

Started off with these assorted appetizers… Reminded us of omakase style because it was the chef who decided what to serve for this set.

 

Then we got this first set of Matsusaka beef to grill – short rib with garlic sauce…

 

For the rice/noodles option, we both got this garlic rice…… THIS IS DEFINITELY A MUST ORDER!!! I took small bites so that I could savor this longer.

Garlic rice — nakakaiyak sa sarap!

Then we also had Matsusaka beef sushi which piqued our interest – marbled beef sushi and lean beef sushi…

 

The last set we got was composed of 4 different parts of Matsusaka beef – sirloin steak, flap meat, haneshita, kyukyoku.

The highlight of the course!!!

For the dessert, I chose ice cream with yuzu sherbet flavor and it was damn good!

After lunch, J and I bought mini Pablo cheesecakes to bring home. It was convenient for us to leave our luggage in Kuroneko Yamato because the airport limousine bus station is located nearby. We purchased tickets prior to exploring Dotonbori in the morning to make sure that we would not be late in the airport.

That finally concludes our long stay in Japan… Can’t wait to go back this year! 🙂

 

LINKS TO OTHER KANSAI REGION / JAPAN 2017 POSTS:

Japan, Day 0-1: Kyoto (Higashiyama Area)

Japan, Day 2: Kyoto (Arashiyama)

Japan, Day 3: Kyoto (Fushimi, Northern Higashiyama)

Japan, Day 4: Kyoto (Central & Downtown)

Japan, Day 5: Kyoto >> Osaka

Japan, Day 6: Kobe >> Osaka

Japan, Day 7: Himeji >> Osaka

Japan, Day 8: Nara >> Osaka

Japan, Day 9: Universal Studios

Japan, Day 10 (AM): Ise-shima

Japan, Day 10 (PM): Ise-shima

Kansai, Day 10 (PM): Ise-shima

After braving the strong wind, we finally saw the famous MEOTO IWA (“Wedded Rocks”). It is said that the larger rock represents the husband while the smaller one is the wife, and this couple is actually a representation of Izanagi and Izanami, the gods who created Japan.

It may not look as majestic as the ones in photos seen online, but they say that the best time to go here is during high tide and sunrise – get to see the sun rising between the two rocks.

Continuation of our Ise-Shima adventure!

After lunch in Ebiya, we went back to the Ujiyamada Station to go to Meoto Iwa. When we arrived at the Futamino-Ura Station, we could really feel the rural life. There was no machine for us to insert our ticket as we headed towards the exit. Instead, there was an old man who checked our ticket. After exiting the station, there was no vehicle even on the main road. It was a good thing there was a local who we could ask for directions going to Meoto Iwa. He only spoke Japanese but his directions using his hands (even including Y gesture to signal the fork road) were very clear.

 

We walked for about 20 minutes before we finally arrived by the seaside. I was expecting to enjoy the scenery but the wind was really strong… strong enough to pull up my hoodie!

We went inside Futamiokitama Shrine, which is generously decorated with frogs of different sizes.

 

Ema with Meoto Iwa design

After braving the strong wind, we finally saw the famous MEOTO IWA (“Wedded Rocks”). It is said that the larger rock represents the husband while the smaller one is the wife, and this couple is actually a representation of Izanagi and Izanami, the gods who created Japan.

It may not look as majestic as the ones in photos seen online, but they say that the best time to go here is during high tide and sunrise – get to see the sun rising between the two rocks. These rocks, connected by Shimenawa rope (Shinto sacred rope), are also considered as a symbol of marriage.

If you are into drainspotting, do not miss the manhole cover in this area which showcases Meoto Iwa.

Drainspotting: sunrise at Meoto Iwa

Only saw this map when we were headed back — shows the route from train station to Meoto Iwa

When we got back in Ujiyamada Station, we had to purchase tickets back to Osaka. We did not purchase this beforehand since we were not sure what time we will finish our adventure in Ise-Shima. We somehow regretted it because ticket price per person was around 2,000 or 3,000+ yen. We also made a mistake of boarding the wrong train (1 minute earlier than ours!!) so we had to pay an extra fee.

The train is called Premium Express Shimakaze. It definitely looked and felt premium than the train we rode in the morning – reclining chair, automated window blinds… We even got a boarding certificate to commemorate our ride.

 

Lesson learned: Japanese trains arrive on the dot unless they announce otherwise. Who would have thought that that train which arrived 1 minute earlier is indeed different from the one we should have boarded. Oh well.

For our last dinner during this trip, we decided to go to HONKE SHIBATO, a restaurant famous for its eel dishes. The restaurant is 300+ years old so their quality is definitely something to be trusted. If you are on a budget, definitely skip this place then. We both got the Osaka Mamushi, which costs ¥2,730 per order. It was my first time to eat eel and their unagi definitely did not disappoint.

Even the cover looks premium!

Close up shot of that delicious unagi!

The staff was really nice and they even offered to take our picture outside the shop. 🙂

Next post is our last day in Japan. T_T

 

LINKS TO OTHER KANSAI REGION / JAPAN 2017 POSTS:

Japan, Day 0-1: Kyoto (Higashiyama Area)

Japan, Day 2: Kyoto (Arashiyama)

Japan, Day 3: Kyoto (Fushimi, Northern Higashiyama)

Japan, Day 4: Kyoto (Central & Downtown)

Japan, Day 5: Kyoto >> Osaka

Japan, Day 6: Kobe >> Osaka

Japan, Day 7: Himeji >> Osaka

Japan, Day 8: Nara >> Osaka

Japan, Day 9: Universal Studios

Japan, Day 10 (AM): Ise-shima

Japan, Day 11: Osaka

Kansai, Day 10 (AM): Ise-Shima

Last day trip outside Osaka before we head back to MNL. Our destination is Ise-Shima, mainly because I want to go to Ise Jingu which is dedicated to the sun goddess, Amaterasu. Hence, it is considered as the holiest Shinto shrine in Japan. I read before that locals wish to visit this place at least once before they die.

January weekends were quite busy so I only had the time today to finally post the first half of our Ise-Shima day trip! Here you go…

MARCH 15, 2017

Last day trip outside Osaka before we head back to MNL. Our destination is Ise-Shima, mainly because I want to go to Ise Jingu which is dedicated to the sun goddess, Amaterasu. Hence, it is considered as the holiest Shinto shrine in Japan. I read before that locals wish to visit this place at least once before they die.

I bought our train tickets back in Manila by going to the English website of Kintetsu Japan. Got our Limited Express train ticket for ¥2,640 (2 pax) so we had an early train to catch for this day. The trip was about an hour.

Upon arriving at Ujiyamada Station, we looked for a bus that would take us to GEKU (OUTER SHRINE) of Ise Jingu. It is relatively smaller than Naiku (inner shrine) but nonetheless, a tranquil and breathtaking place. Geku is dedicated to Toyouke Omikami, deity of three essentials of human life: cloth, food and shelter”.

Further exploring Geku, I saw a couple going up these stairs and eventually found myself in front of a small shrine. Paid respect before leaving for Naiku…

From Geku, we rode a bus that would take us to Naiku. They said that another option is to walk but that would be too long and it us usually done for pilgrims.

Upon reaching NAIKU (INNER SHRINE), we were greeted by this first torii framing Ujibashi bridge.

Fun fact: Ujibashi bridge is rebuilt every 20 years as part of the Shikinen Sengu. The most recent Shikinen Sengu happened in 2013. All shrine buildings and main bridges in Ise Jingu are rebuilt every 20 years, and they source their wood from the trees grown within the shrine grounds. Through rebuilding, it is said that the power of the deity is renewed.

From the bridge, it was quite a long walk before we reach the area to do temizu. Notice how people only walk along the side and not stepping on the center area. If I remember correctly what our Tokyo tour guide said, this is because the center aisle can only be walked by their deities. It was easy to spot tourists because some kept on walking on the center part.

We reached the area where you could do the usual way of doing temizu but I could not pass up the opportunity to try the traditional way…

Here by the riverbed of the Isuzugawa, you can directly soak your hands in the water and rinse your mouth. Temizu is a must whenever entering shrines and temples as it is said that the gods loathe impurity; hence, the need to cleanse the mind and body through this method.

A little bit of walk from here and I saw the prayer hall, where I bought two types of omamori (Japanese amulet that provides luck or protection) for myself and one for our home.

Naiku is definitely bigger than Geku and the place does not feel like the usual shrine. Think of Meiji Jingu but a lot bigger and with longer walks from one spot to another. I definitely enjoyed walking slowly and taking in the sights here.

We finally reached the Shogu, the main palace. This is the area dedicated to Amaterasu-Omikami, Shinto’s most venerated deity, and her sacred mirror is believed to be enshrined inside. Most people are not allowed to enter here but donors and bigtime people are given special exemptions. Locals still pay their respect by bowing and praying.

After retracing our steps back to the entrance, we walked a bit more and reached OKAGE YOKOCHO. I read that this is part of Oharaimachi, the traditional approach to Naiku. The place is a recreation of how towns looked like from Edo to Meiji period.

An interesting thing here is “tabearuki” (食べ歩き), which means that food/local delicacies can be eaten while walking around the area. This is a big deal because in Japan, eating while walking is considered taboo and disrespectful.

We also passed by this shop which had a long line so we decided to join and see what the fuss is about. Apparently, they were lining up for this mochi-like product made of red beans. There was no English product callout or explanation so I am not sure what it is… But when I took a bite of it when I got home, I understood why. Not a fan of adzuki but this one did not have the overpowering bean taste plus it was not too sticky.

Some more exploration in the area and we found a shop that was selling fried chicken as street food. We bought one serving and we were blown away by the taste. I could not remember though the name of the place. 😦

We made sure that we were able to go around the whole area before we decided to get lunch… I realized that the only activity we did in Okage Yokocho was to eat. Oops! We went inside this restaurant called EBIYA (ebi means shrimp) because we were attracted by their menu outside the restaurant.

We both got the tekonezushi set meal, which included a huge piece of raw abalone. I have always been curious on how it tastes especially after seeing abalone in different Korean variety shows. Proof of its freshness was when I squeezed the lemon over it, the meat-like stuff wriggled for a long time!

Meal set J and I got

Raw abalone (gumagalaw pa!!)

Tekonezushi is also known as “fisherman’s sushi/meal” as it is believed that this originated from a meal that fishermen made while out in the sea. It is a local delicacy in Ise which consists of marinated red-meat fish (usually tuna or skipjack), vinegared rice, and garnish. In our case, we were served tuna with Japanese pickles.

Tekonezushi

Next half of our adventure in Ise-Shima is in the next post. 😊

 

LINKS TO OTHER KANSAI REGION / JAPAN 2017 POSTS:

Japan, Day 0-1: Kyoto (Higashiyama Area)

Japan, Day 2: Kyoto (Arashiyama)

Japan, Day 3: Kyoto (Fushimi, Northern Higashiyama)

Japan, Day 4: Kyoto (Central & Downtown)

Japan, Day 5: Kyoto >> Osaka

Japan, Day 6: Kobe >> Osaka

Japan, Day 7: Himeji >> Osaka

Japan, Day 8: Nara >> Osaka

Japan, Day 9: Universal Studios

Japan, Day 10 (PM): Ise-shima

Japan, Day 11: Osaka