I’ve always wanted to visited Osaka and take a picture with the famous Glico man. During this trip I did get to visit Osaka, but in a different way than expected—instead of the city I travelled through the mountains and settled down for a night in a village.
Oba-san’s home was surrounded by houses like these that looked like they came right out of Rurouni Kenshin. I’d never seen such traditional Japanese homes before and they were timelessly beautifulA lot of the people living here (including Oji-san) had stayed here for decades since they were born, so the houses have been kept pristine throughout the generations.
We got up at 7am to go to the local mountainside onsen nearby for a morning bath. Since the weather was still cold, a good long soak in the outdoor hot spring was perfect. There were very few guests too (being on a mountain and all) so it was all quiet and peaceful.
After our bath in the onsen, we got to enjoy breakfast al fresco. It was a toasty Japanese set with wild mushroom porridge, vegetables, grilled salmon and soft onsen tamago. According to Oba-san it’s an incredibly healthy combination of home cooked food and one of the best ways to warm the body up in the morning.
Even the resident cat likes it. Or at least, he liked the fish we offered him.
I had a can of Calpis Jelly to drink with breakfastThis is my recommendation! The drink itself is light and a little bit milky, with chunks of jelly inside.
After the onsen trip, Oba-san and Oji-san brought me to a place for strawberry picking! This was a special experience because initially the farm was actually closed for the day. But it seems like everyone in the neighbourhood is friends with each other, so after some chatting over the phone the farm owner kindly opened the strawberry section just for me. I was grateful
These were the reddest, juiciest strawberries I’d ever seen. I love strawberries, so when I saw rows and rows of them hanging and waiting to be picked I went a bit nuts filling my baskets.
When we got home we ate some of the strawberries with a bit of cream. Freshest strawberries I’ve ever had (I did pick them just half an hour ago, after all)These were also really sweet, unlike the slightly sour ones from the supermarket at home I end up with sometimes.
In between the strawberry snack and lunchtime, I got to wear a kimonoOba-san is a professional kimono teacher, so since I was visiting she wanted to let me experience it. The one I wore is a furisode, a formal style of kimono for young women that are usually worn at special occasions like ceremonies. In my opinion they’re the most gorgeous kind of them all because of the long, long sleeves that just flow down from your arms
Like this! It took about thirty minutes (or at least, I lost track after a long while of standing there and getting wrapped up in all that cloth) for Oba-san to put on the furisode for me. One of her specialties is in the tying of the obi (a sash), so she knows how to do a lot of elaborate and decorative styles instead of an ordinary bow.
Since we spent all that time getting the furisode on, we took a walk in the village! The thing about wearing kimono is that you can’t walk more than tiny, barely-there steps at a time, so I spent a good length of time just circling the neighbours’ houses.
It was probably one of my favourite experiences during this trip
Lunch was a smorgasbord of all my favourite home cooked dishes. We drove out to another farm, this time one where they served all their fresh produce of the day for lunch. It was at a buffet price of ¥1,250, which was extremely worth it because there were so many options that were healthy and tasted good tooThere were all sorts of homey Japanese favourites like stewed potato and meat, peas and scrambled eggs and my beloved bamboo shoots.
And then I had dessert for a good end to this comfort meal
The last stop in Osaka was the Kaiyukan, one of Japan’s most popular aquariums. It was definitely impressive, but admittedly I’m not that big a fan of looking at marine life. Though if you like taking a nice stroll around a giant aquarium and wandering between penguin enclosures and shark tanks, this is a good place to visitMy favourite was this giant ray that always looked so happy when it swam above you.
Outside the aquarium we found a shop selling soft serve ice cream by the confectionery company Fujiya! The flavour was Milky candy, represented by their popular mascot Peko-chan. My soft serve came with a Country Ma’am cookie too, which made it ten times better because it’s my favourite.
There was a sweet Peko-chan mascot standing outside the shop too.
After that, it was time to go homeWe’d ended later than expected, so Oba-san and Oji-san had to rush me to the train station to catch the shinkansen back to Tokyo. It was a big hurry, because if I missed this train I’d end up on the next one which would’ve gotten me home way too late at night. But I managed to get on, and the doors closed a minute after I sat down.
Make sure to be on time when you travel, especially for long-distance bullet trains! Japan’s train service is extremely punctual, which is great but also kind of ominous when you’re running to catch it. It’s also a good idea to get there early so you can shop for souvenirsI didn’t have any time to do that, so I had to make do with the extremely limited section at the platform kiosk. And even then I was hastily paying for my things in a panic because the shinkansen had already arrived at the platform
But at least I got to buy a bento for the train ride backI realised that it’s almost exactly the same as the bento I bought three years ago when I went to Kyoto. This one has all the specialty ingredients from the Kansai region!
And so I returned to Tokyo that night. It was only a short trip to Kansai, but it feels like I got to see much, much more than usual thanks to Oba-san and Oji-sanBecause it was their hometown, they knew so much about it and let me experience so many special things I couldn’t have done by myself.
I can’t wait to go back again!