We struggled to be up in time for the morning prayers so decided to just wait for the fire ceremony afterwards, which gave us an extra half an hour to wake up. This took place just outside the main entrance and involved chanting, incense and a very impressive fire. The monks chanting away was quite hypnotic and we were quite surprised to see a family with two young children had made the trek here. I always visioned it was a bit of a backpacker place but there was definitely a big variety of people about.
Once this was over we went back to the room to have breakfast and get our things packed. Breakfast was similar to the previous nights meal, but more basic. We mostly stuck to plain rice and we felt even less adventurous at 7.30 in the morning! People were already beginning to check out and we decided to do the same so we could spend the full day in Osaka. The timing was perfect again on our return journey and we rolled from bus to car to train to second train seamlessly. The Japanese sure have public transport down!
The first half of the journey was a pleasure, with an almost empty train so we had plenty of room to stretch out, get comfy and read. The second half was nightmarish – packed full, with three people standing in my face and a guy almost falling asleep in my lap on the right hand side. Chris was also irritating on my other side giggling to himself watching his iPad. What a contrast! Somehow despite all the distractions I managed to eventually zone into my book and get to the dramatic ending.
Before long we pulled into Nankai Namba Station where it was a short walk to our hotel; Monterey Grasmere, the same chain as our Kyoto hotel. It was before 11am so we couldn’t check in for a while yet, so we found our large suitcases which had been delivered safely and left our stuff with them to set out and explore.
Almost immediately we passed a “Partyland” fro-yo place and I couldn’t resist, loading up on cheesecake, banana and rum and raisin flavours. It wasn’t a patch on Yogurtland I discovered in Hawaii but it was good enough and we had the upstairs seating area all to ourselves.
After we had filled our bellies we took a general stroll around Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi, stopping off at Daiso and a few other shops along the way. It wasn’t the most attractive area during the day but it still had that fun city buzz which was nice to come back to. We stumbled across an arcade so it felt only right that we play the Mario Kart and musical drum games. I finally whipped Chris at both games, even with a dodgy controller for Mario Kart. Result!
It’s crazy how seriously they take the games in Japan, and it wasn’t uncommon to see people playing the extreme ‘expert’ or ‘stealth’ levels of games and getting a perfect combo – this would never been seen at home! I do wonder if I was Japanese whether I might have became one of those people when I was a teen. The choices of games to play in the UK are far less exciting anyway.
By now it was time for lunch and we ended up at a little place with an English menu, mostly serving yakitori skewers. We opted for bacon, onion and pork rib skewers alongside chicken tempura, Japanese fried chicken and some cheesy potato grill thing. Still feeling fairly full a lot of my food went in Chris’ direction but I wolfed down most of the tempura – finally a chicken dish made from breast meat! Japanese orange juice also tastes far better than ours and I think I am starting to get addicted.
We paid the bill and continued on our way wondering around the streets. It seems like a lot of this day was full of food! We checked out the Daimaru basement food floor but being so full we (thankfully) didn’t buy anything. After peeking in a few more shops we headed towards the Glico man, stopping off on the way for yet more food! This time crepes were on the menu. I chose the raspberry mill feuille which was layered with custard, cream, biscuits and fruit. Chris went for a caramel ice cream creation, and naturally had half of mine too as my eyes were too big for my belly as usual.
After this we were both feeling super full so took a slow stroll back to the hotel, via a couple of little streets. We relaxed there and let the food coma pass, only to start making dinner plans whilst we watched the sun set from our room. It was a great view from up there, almost comparable to the views from some of the high buildings we’d visited on the trip. At this point we realised we were a little low on funds so set off to find the nearest 7eleven.
Typically, when you need one they are nowhere to be seen! Eventually we found one, collected some cash and ice cream mochi and set off to our dinner spot. Afterward we managed to pass around 8 7elevens within 5 minutes of each other! Dinner was at Yakiniku Rokko, a Japanese barbeque place. It was similar to Chifaya, but without unlimited drinks and desserts. This didn’t matter too much though, the food was great and the beef was of good quality, especially the lean rib eye.
The staff also spoke great English. One good thing about Yakiniku Rokko was that the BBQ had a grill plate meaning the fat dripped off, unlike Chifaya where you had to give it a scrub every so often. We ate a fair bit here, but as it was mostly grilled meat and vegetables we told ourselves it was healthy! Their hamburger was tastier than Chifaya but they were on par with each other for everything else.
Once we could eat no more, it was time for a Don Quijote fix, this time loading up on kit kats in green tea, cinnamon cookie, roasted tea and strawberry flavours. I didn’t expect the green tea flavour to be so tasty and wish I had loaded up on more! The queues to pay were insane, but it was a Japanese holiday today so I assume everyone felt the need to head there and buy funky foods, risqué fancy dress or a robotic hoover.
Thankfully we did eventually make it out of there, and went back to try and see the Glico “man” again, we paid proper attention this time and it was in fact a woman and wasn’t lit up neon at all. This was a bit disappointing, as the street didn’t have the same look without that iconic advert lit up. I’m assuming it was a temporary fix, but unfortunately it remained that way for the duration of our stay.