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Osaka 2011 – Day 2

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My second day in Osaka began the best way any morning in Japan can – with an amazing Japanese breakfast.  Toby, Esme, Burt, and I enjoyed a delicious traditonal Japanese breakfast on the top floor of the hotel, with a great view of the city across the river.  I was so excited that I forgot to take a real photo of the entire tray of food, but I do have one from my iPod, since we were excited to find fast free WiFi available while we were eating!

After breakfast, we boarded our tour bus and headed out for nearby Kyoto.  I found the ride somewhat disappointing because for much of the journey, the view out the bus window was blocked by a sound barrier that lined the highway, so I had to entertain myself by watching the other vehicles go by instead.  When we finally drove into the old capitol city, I was able to take some photos through the window.

Our first stop on the tour was Kinkaku-ji, the famous Golden Pavilion of Kyoto.  For me, it’s the first thing I think of when I think of Kyoto, so seeing it in person was a great experience.  I was also delighted to see many momiji, or Japanese maple trees, scattered around the temple grounds, as it is my absolute favorite tree.

Our next stop on the tour was lunch!  We parked next to Sanmon, the gigantic gateway into the Chion-in temple grounds (which is the headquarters of Jodo Shu Buddhism), and walked down a path to the restaurant, Kagaribi, for their special yodofu lunch set.  The lunch began with the yudofu simmering in the hot pot, and once it was removed, we cooked bits of meat and vegetables shabu shabu-style.  Along with the most delicious tempura I’ve ever eaten, as well as a bit of fish, miso soup, and tsukemono, it was delicious, healthy, and completely satisfying.

All the delicious food made me a bit sleepy, so I re-energized for our next stop, the Kiyomizu Temple, with the help of some vending machine coffee.

The walk uphill to Kiyomizu from the bus parking lot was difficult in the summer heat, and the shops lining the street tempted me into staying in their shade and air conditioning, but I persevered and made it up to the famous wooden stage. ‘Kiyomizu’ means clear water, named for the streams running through the temple complex, though I didn’t manage to hike down to the water below the stage.  The streets below the temple area evoked images of historical Kyoto, and I absolutely loved the atmosphere.

The final stop of the day was the Fushimi Inari-taisha, a shinto shrine that has a 4 kilometer tunnel made of torii gates.  Despite this being the site I’d been most excited to visit, I actually was so tired from the hike uphill (though I stopped to photograph a man grilling unagi on the side of the street) from the bus lot that I let myself be distracted by a stall selling yukata for only a thousand yen! I bought myself a new yukata and obi, and only managed to take a few photos of the torii gates and the fox statues before it was time to head home for the Hawaiian Airlines gala event back at the hotel.

I have to admit, Burt and I only stayed at the gala for about an hour before we joined up with Mari and her friends for a walk through the Tenjinbashisuji shopping arcade (at 2.6 kilometers long, it’s the longest shopping arcade in Japan!) some Osaka insider dining at a restaurant specializing in unagi, and an izakaya at which we sampled sake and many local specialties. I’m sure Mari will have more of the food details up on her blog, but for now, here’s the rest of the photos from that night!

Will post links to everyone else’s posts about Day 2 later, it’s 2:22am and therefore bedtime! (I have one more whirlwind day in Japan tomorrow before I get back on the plane at 9:30pm!)

EDIT: Posts from the others:

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