For Fumio’s birthday we were invited to a BBQ, which we thought we should attend since we missed Linda’s. We told Fumio we probably wouldn’t eat much (i.e. ANYTHING) but he still made us pay- between the two of us it was $25 and it was the biggest rip off ever. We will never again be going to any kind of BBQ. First of all, we walked about 45 mins (a slow group walk) to the river, Sarah and I talking to Ida and Ayumi. The river itself was nothing spectacular, I was pretty underwhelmed. It was about 30cm deep and you couldn’t even see it from the banks. It did seem to be a popular spot though, as there were other families and groups of friends having their own BBQs. We actually had to pay $10 just to be there. RIP OFF!
^^Fumio, Sarah and I^^
^^ Sarah, Ida and Ayumi^^
Since we had to pay, Ayumi insisted they put food on for us first as we had to leave about 20 mins after we got there! They had “Aussie beef” (cows tongues), Taiwanese meat (intestines) and some other beef in a sauce, which was the stringiest, fattiest, most unappealing “aussie beef” I’ve seen in a while! Sarah and I glanced at each other in horror as everyone waited on our verdict. Our verdict? “Ooishi” meaning delicious (in reality: absolutely horrific). Ida too glanced around in dismay, whispering to us “The last BBQ just had normal stuff, like hot dogs and hamburgers, I thought this one would be the same!”
^^ Ida and I cry tears of horror ^^
^^ Sarah and Ida didn't do anything wrong! Why are they punished?!^^
^^ The sentence: Death penalty ^^
Luckily though, after some BBQ corn (the only nice thing), we bailed, heading to Umeda Sky to see the Mexican Festival. The Mexican festival too was underwhelming, there was a big stage with performances and booths with Mexican food (looked kinda greasy and dodgy to me…) and we left the BBQ so late we got up to Umeda Sky just after dusk rather than just before dusk, but we got up there!
Umeda Sky is two 40 storey buildings with a giant donut shaped “floating observatorium” smacked on the top. It’s very high, and the elevator ride on the way up had me thinking “I really don’t want to die! If the cable snaps….”. I realise heights are not so bad as heights + see through elevators for me!
^^ Umeda Sky from below. The things going across the gap are escalators^^
^^ Comforting to know we were suspended over 39 storeys of NOTHING! ^^
^^ But the view was magnificent! ^^
Anyway, we got up to level 39 and took the “across a giant 39 storey chasm of death” elevators to the other side of the top. Well, the view was awesome, as you’d assume, and there were speckles of glowing paint and black lights on the footpath. At one stage, they turned on a giant white light, and we waited in vain for Batman to appear.
^^ BATMAN! ^^
They also had a platform where couples could take photos in front of a giant, glowing loveheart. It was pretty tacky, but we went with it anyway 'cause that's how we roll.
Then we headed down and grabbed some soft cream (we tried Strawberry- it was quite awful) from a multi-flavour shop. Soft serve is different here, each flavour of ice cream comes in a small tub, and is inserted into the machine that then turns it into soft serve. It’s way cooler than our one-flavour soft serve!
Sumiyoshi Taisha Grand Shrine
On Monday we headed to Sumiyoshi Taisha grand shrine with Yoshida and Noriko. We caught the subway to Tennoji and then a tram. Sumiyoshi Taisha is apparently the number one shrine in Osaka/Kansai. It had great greenery and all the buildings had wicked bright red-orange railings and accents. We washed our hands first (as is common at shrines) then stopped at a table. We paid $2 to shake a box of sticks with a hole in it- then we tipped the box and only one stick can come out of the hole. It has a number on it, and you then take the piece of paper with the number you chose. Sarah pulled 13, which Yoshida and Noriko said was one of the worst and very unlucky! I pulled number one (to anyone who watches Bleach, I sang Ichigo’s “number one” theme song the whole time! OOOOOOOOOHHHHHHH!) which is the luckiest! Yeah! Because of that, Sarah had to tie her bad luck to a tree, but I got to keep my good luck!
^^ "If you want to be the best... something something center OF ATTRACTION..."^^
Then we went to the temples, where you toss a coin, shake a big rope attached to a bell, step back and clap twice, then pray. (Though I have seen people pray and then clap). The shrine was very beautiful and had a river with a very high bridge over it. There were turtles and carp. There was also a sign that I felt strongly was telling me that the water wanted to eat me.
^^ Noriko, Sarah, Rieko/Yoshida ^^
^^ "If you fall in the water... it will eat you." ^^
We then had dinner at a “Japanese Pub” with Yoshida and Noriko. I was lucky they had furido potato and gohan (chips and rice) but we also had Gyoza (dumplins), Tori Karage (fried chicken), yakitori (chicken skewers), some sort of weird eggplant stuff. We also had our drink of choice for summer 2010- Cassis Orange! Then Noriko had us try Umeboshi, a plum that’s sat in salt for a year. It is very, VERY salty. Kind of like eating a salty-plum-lemon. We finished with delicious waffles and ice cream!
^^ Gohan (rice), furido potato, beef, tori karage (chicken). More food came later!^^
^^ This is served with drinks before the meal. It's actually eggplant. Gross! ^^
^^ Noriko and her dessert ^^
Wednesday was Chizuko’s birthday (Happy Birthday!) and we went to Miho’s to give her the present… only we forgot the present! *smacks forehead* We spent the day watching the rest of season 3 of America’s next top model (riveting stuff, I assure you) before heading out to take some pictures and video of Miho’s area. Also, maybe, to get soft cream. Then Chizuko suggested we go out for dinner to celebrate her birthday, and we went to a place around the corner from their house. Despite not having furido potato, the gohan was there and they had prawn crackers! I dislike prawns, but those crackers are oiishi!
^^The three boxes are the accompanying dish for drinks, the other, a PRAWN wrap^^
I also had what I personally think may have been the nicest cocktail I ever had, and can’t wait to try when I get home. It had Strawb and Banana liqueur with pineapple juice! Way cool! There was pizza, but I much preferred the prawn crackers and Miho had something like a chicken schnitzel only with spinach and fish eggs in the middle! Eugh! Sarah had Karage again, and we had the nicest butter corn ever! Plus I think my horrendous chopstick skills may be improving… a little…
Then, we had some of the cake Chizuko’s boss Kelly gave her and it was so nice! It was a chocolate cake with chocolate cream, and it was the first time I’ve ever eaten cake with chopsticks!
^^Saros and I show we can pick up corn with our chopsticks... even if it takes a few tries!^^
^^We eat cake with chopsticks, 'cause we're badass, yo!"
This morning we were woken up by a storm- we didn’t go to Kyoto today because it was forecast to be raining, but the lightening was incredibly bright and lit up the whole sky. The thunder was the loudest I have ever heard! Maybe it’s because of all the tall buildings amplifying the sound? We tried to get the thunder on video but the storm was quite short.
^^ Look at the escalator! ^^
In other news, Happy Birthday Mandy! We would like to wish Sarah’s mum a very happy birthday (23/9) and hope she has a great day (and gets lots of cool presents)!
We miss our friends and family, and are starting to count down the days until we leave Osaka- that sounds weird now, we’ve been here for so long! Coming up on our itinerary are Kyoto again on Sat, Sam n Dave’s on Friday, and Parque Espana on Sunday, whew! Miss you all, and missing pizza,