Today we woke to the sound of rain on the tin roof which was lovely. The realisation soon sunk in that we would be lugging suitcases around in the rain which was not going to be fun! For breakfast I changed things a little. I had a ham and mayo sandwich with some vege/fruit juice…. and one rice ball (total rice ball count for Japan: 12)
We then grabbed our gear and walked to Yokogama railway station. We went two stops to Hiroshima Station and found the Japan Railway Reception that sold the JR passes (public transport pass for the majority of services including ferries, buses and trains). Last night I added up how much it would cost for paying day by day for public transport compared to the huge cost of a JR pass. JR pass ended up being about $50+ cheaper which was reassuring considering its $600 for two weeks. After the purchase we were told to go to platform one and wait an hour for the bullet train bound for Osaka. On the platform there was a train already waiting and we were ushered on by one of the train conductors. Little did we realise that it was a Mizuho Shinkansen (one of two train we aren't allowed to get on) and soon enough we had taken off. No one asked for our tickets or told us to leave so we relaxed back and watched the country side zoom passed.
Our first stop: Kobe. I just had to try the Kobe beef even if meant wheeling a suitcase in the pouring rain! We jumped off the Shinkansen and boarded a private train line (not part of the JR network so we had to pay) and in Kobe they have women only carriages.
In my Lonely Planet Japan guide, it recommended a place just beyond the train station. We eventually got there but couldn't find the entrance. Jacinta stayed with the baggage undercover whilst I tried to hunt down the front door. I eventually found it, walked in and realised it was closed. Someone from out the back greeted me and reiterated the fact that it was closed. With the use of hand gestures and poor Japanese, I tried asking him if he recommended any places close by - he did and yet again, we couldn't find it.
Drenched and slightly miserable, we came across a restaurant that had the infamous Kobe beef. We agreed to go inside. They had different cuts of beef starting on from ‘Red Meat’ to the multi-prized sirloin. It was very very expensive but I thought “When in Rome, do what the Romans do” so we ordered the prized sirloin. It came with rice and a side salad and I am not just saying this because we were hungry or the $150 AUD price tag but it UNBELIEVABLY BRILLIANT. I've never had any steak melt in the mouth or taste quite like it.
After eating our heavenly steak, we headed back out into the rain and onto a JR train to Osaka (25 minute journey). Once in Osaka, check in was 4pm and it was only 3pm so we went to have a look at the hundreds upon hundreds of stores at the station. In most departments stores in train stations, the basements floors are food halls selling everything from fruits to hot meals. We came across a sandwich place selling kiwi fruit and cream cheese sandwiches, mixed fruit sandwiches and other strange combos. We passed on the offer. We found the Pokemon Centre and were so excited by all the different things you could buy we both had to refrain from spending too much but we bought a few good things.
We were starting to get a bit tired and decided to head for the accommodation. Japan's public transport is not very accessible with suitcases, 90% of the time, there aren't escalators so we have to lift our stuff up 3-4 flights of stairs. It's tiring but at least we are working off all the food!
We found our accommodation very easily and we had someone greet us at the door and then clean our suitcases prior to them being taken upstairs to our room. This accommodation is a traditional ryokan. No shoes are allowed inside, slippers are to be worn on the wooden areas and then only socks in the rooms. We had futons and pillows ready for us to roll out for sleeping.
After a quick rest, we ventured out to Tenjinbashisuji Shotengi which I've translated it into “really long shopping arcade” (3km in length!)to find something to eat. We weren't disappointed by the options available but there weren't any English menus to help us decipher what was actually being served! We found a restaurant that had the plastic dishes in the front window to show what was on offer so we went inside. Jacinta had the tonkatsu with rice and I had sliced beef with egg and spring onions on rice.
We continued to walk along the arcade when we found fish shaped jaffles for dessert! I ordered two red bean fish again. They weren't as nice as Sapporo.
Walking back to the ryokan, the rain was starting to ease so fingers crossed it is better tomorrow! Time for bed on our futons!