Japan | Kansai | Day 7 & 8, Koyasan, Arima Town, and Kobe

...previous post on Japan...

Day 7 // Koyasan
/ Kongobuji
/ Kondo Hall
/ Daimon Gate
/ Okunoin
/ Torodo Lantern Hall
/ Shinsaibashi for dinner

My BlogTouch app just crashed on me on my my iPad, and I have to re-type my whole post again. Omg, one hour of researching and typing all gone in one single moment. Why isn’t there a backup copy when you need them?!? Seriously, blogger should create an official stable app. 

Anyway, yes, Mount Koya or AKA Koyasan. It’s 2 hours away from Osaka and it is in Wakayama. I decided to go for a one day trip to Koyasan because I wanted to visit Japan’s largest cemetary and Torodo (Lantern Hall). Funny how a girl from another country would like to visit the dead in Japan. Well, I can’t help it. The cemetary itself is a beauty and the Lantern Hall is just spectacular. Koyasan is actually famous for the temple overnight stays, where you can observe daily life of monks and experience their daily routine. Unfortunately, I didn’t really plan for that as I thought it doesn’t suit our family trip. Maybe the next trip, I will try it. There is also a night tour in the cemetary, which is exciting, me thinks! Unfortunately, the tour is held after 7pm so it was impossible unless we stayed there for a night. 

During the period we went there, the train to Wakayama stopped operation because of some natural disaster that happened (I forgot what about), so we had to take the bus at one of the stations along the way there. Luckily I kind of googled around before the trip and saw the announcement. The shuttle bus is provided for free because of the inconvenience caused. Japan, what a considerate country. 

Despite Koyasan being in a rural area, the map and the bus services are excellent. The guide we got from the station is easy to follow and is very helpful! And it’s in English! So, no problem for foreigners to find their way around. Actually we saw quite a few of Caucasians so no surprise there. But in general, not much tourist in Koyasan, which I really appreciate.

We kind of woke up late so when we reached there it was already 11am. The first thing we did was to search for a restaurant there. There isn’t much of a choice as per se, the particular one we went is nearby a bus stop and it is located above a souvenirs shop. The specialty of Koyasan are Shojin-ryori (vegetarian meal) and Goma-tofu (Sesame Tofu). The sesame tofu is served chilled, it’s really smooth and also have the texture of melting snow which is unique in my opinion. Taste-wise, I don’t remember the aroma. Probably very weak, since there’s no recollection of the taste.

Our first stop is Kongobuji Temple, to visit the largest rock garden in Japan. Entrance fee is 500yen per person and since we have the Kansai Thru pass and coupon, we only need to pay 400yen. 

The monk’s kitchen

Japan longkang part 2. Hahaha.

Next, we walked to the area around Kondo and Konpon Daito. One of the scene there sort of reminds me of Studio Ghibli’s movie somehow. It just feels kind of magical.

If you saw my vlog, you would notice that there are a few visitors looking for something around this big pine tree. Apparently, there’s a legend surrounding it. If you found a fallen pine needle (not twig) which comes in a set of three, it will bring good luck. We also gave it a try too but unfortunately, we didn’t find any. Most probably it was already taken by the visitors before us. It was also raining when we were there so it’s a bit difficult to move around.

Some how, even though it is raining, the road looks beautiful though. Feels like some sort of scene out of an anime. Lol, I associate most of the scene to anime if it is regarding Japan. I should stop that.

Our last stop at Koyasan is the Okunoin Cemetary, I’m saving the best for the last. We started our journey from the Omotesando Ichinohashi (I marked it on my map as well) and walked all the way to the Torodo Hall. Even though we were walking through a cemetery, I felt oddly calm for some reason. There’s also a lot of small monk statues lying around, and some of them wore crocheted capes which I find amusing. I have no idea what it means though. 
The Torodo Hall, house to more than 10, 000 lantern, looks absolutely amazing, but unfortunately, photos and videos are forbidden. I don’t want to be intrusive or disrespectful so I didn’t take any at all. Oddly, I found many pictures on Google, maybe I should have taken some for my personal storage. Hahaha. Anyway, there is also an interesting story behind Kobo Daishi’s Mausoleum. I forgot where I have read this, but I can’t find it anywhere now on the internet, so it might not be accurate! It seems like the believes are that Kobo Daishi is not dead but only meditating in his Mausoleum. So, meals are still sent to his room every single day. 

It was only 4pm when we were finished with the walks, there wasn’t any transportation back to the city in the evening, so we went back as soon as we were finished. It was also getting dark quickly. We went straight to hunt for food in Namba.

We were craving for ramen, so when we saw this particular ramen shop, we went to try it. There are no seats in this ramen stall. Customers simply have to stand and eat at the counter. My mum remembered she came here before in the past and said it was good and it definitely was.
Actually, the chef was kind of angry when someone took photos of his shop and food and waved a hand at her. Luckily when I was taking this photo, I was out of his sight. I think probably it's because the kitchen is quite dirty, but no matter. All the customers saw that, I don't understand why it isn't allowed.

Next stop, Luke's Lobster. Actually I only get to know of this place from Jessica Chaw's blog. Apparently, it's a hype and there's a lot of people queuing. So, we went to try it out. Despite having quite a queue. It didn't take long to be served. 

Taste-wise, just meh... I don't understand the hype. Well, I could say it's cheaper... than usual?? I guess? But worth it or not? For me, I don't think so. I rather spend it on other food. You're better off eating Burger and Lobsters at Genting. D:

We decided to walk around Namba and discovered another hidden like ramen stall. It looked so cool! It kind of reminded me of the shop that Naruto always go to. I sound so nerdy when I say it like this. Lol. But seriously, it looks awesome. It felt very authentic. The food was also really good! 
So, I made an effort to find the exact location from my iPhone photo and store name in Google Maps and I found it! Osaka Bakufu Shinsaibashi, this is it! Technology never ceases to amaze me. 
I've also added it onto my Osaka map.

No English menu! Only Japanese.

Day 8 // Kobe
/ Arima town and Onsen
/ Kobe beef

For Arima/Kobe day trip, I actually planned quite a lot of places to visit in one day. But unfortunately, it became some sort of a beef hunt trip instead. Hahaha. For those who wish to visit Kobe or Arima, I would advice to focus on one city per day, and not make the same mistake I did. I was too greedy, and I thought we would make it. I think it took an hour or so to reach Arima from Osaka. We changed quite a few stations on the way there. 

If you're planning a trip there, I find this website very helpful. This particular link shows how to reach Arima town via any mean of transportation and the estimated time. The website also shows a directory of the whole Arima town. 

Le famous view of Arima

Walking around Arima town via these small streets feels like an adventure.

My main point of visiting Arima was to try out the Onsen. Unfortunately, I kind of mixed up the Kin-no-yu and Gin-no-yu Onsen place. I wanted to visit the Kin (Gold) onsen which the water has a kind of muddy yellow tint to it but I ended up at the Gin (Silver) onsen which has clear water. 
I was also expecting for an outdoor like onsen place but unfortunately, it was indoor... and it sort of like a very small swimming pool where everybody went in to dip. Sooooooo disappointed and so not what I was expecting. *So much manga and anime influence* I am definitely going back to Japan to have a more authentic ryokan and outdoor onsen experience! 

This was my first time in a public onsen place. As you all know, you have to take everything off at the locker room, then only you can enter the onsen. I will not deny it, it felt kind of awkward, being naked in front of strangers. But there wasn't much people when we went, so it was still okay. And mostly, old people were there.
We had to shower first before we get into the pool. The shower place was exactly how I imagined it. You sit down in a small chair, shampoo and rinse yourself there. The onsen was very warm, I think i stayed for like less than 10 mins then I came out as I was feeling a little dizzy already. 

One very important thing, this public onsen is tattoo friendly. I know it is kind of a big deal in Japan, so I did some researched before hand since I have tattoos. 

And a must to drink Arima Cider after a good dip. I am not a fan of cider, heck, all of us wasn't, but we thought it was good to at least try it. In the end, we didn't manage to finish it. We went to buy milk to drink instead. XD 

If you just want to experience the onsen water but do not want to strip and pay for it, you can opt for a free feet dip outside of Gin-no-yu. Personally, I kind of felt uneasy about dipping my feet into a pool that was shared by a lot of people... and those feet are sweaty and not rinsed beforehand... So yeah........... I rather pay and go inside. Since people have to wash the dirt from themselves first before going into the onsen. #justsaying

Creepy ass pedo face child, which I find amusing and creepy and the same time.

I forgot what this was and how it tasted like.
What a great caption for a photo.

I find this very intriguing, so I decided to try it. When I asked my mum and brother, they didn't want any of it. So, I had to eat everything alone. I know I don't like mochi, but I just want to try the "aged" taste. Turns out, I quite like it. 

After buying some Tansan Senbei, which is the town's speciality, perfect as a souv me thinks, we went on over to Kobe town, it was already late afternoon when we reached there. Right after we walked on to the streets, we immediately smelled cooked beef. No kidding yo, everywhere we went we saw "STEAK"! Well, not exactly "everywhere", seeing we just walked like one street before succumbing to one of the restaurants.  

Me being me, I had to check the ratings on Google Maps first. Our first stop was Ikinari Steak. Which does not serve premium Kobe beef but the wagyu steak was very cheap and tasty! We thought it was a good idea to stuff ourselves with lower grade beef first beforehand since we were famished.

Funny story regarding the picture above. I would assume there's hot water in the Thermos bottle so I tried to pour some to my glass of water... Turns out it was gravy. There goes my water.

Look at that piece of sexy medium rare meat and that beautiful fried garlic flakes. Lovely lovely lovely. I highly recommend this place, they also have set meals during lunch hour which is very cheap (the one we ordered) that comes with rice if you want. 

Next stop! A fancy restaurant name "Mouriya" that serves Premium A5 Kobe beef! We didn't survey much around the area for the price. I think it would be almost the same since there were so many competitors there selling Kobe beef. So, we settled for this one as the rating on this place is very high. There were no seats left at the bar, so we had to just settle for the other seats. 

If you can, I would suggest to make a reservation to sit at the bar, so that you can see how the chef cook that piece of ultra sexiness in front of you. I bet that will be a sight to see. 

some fancy side dish to go along with the steak

Look at that marvelous marbling. This is like the god level of beef marbling.

Cooked and cut to 3 portions for all three of us

and the total damage
The total bill amounted to 29 480 yen, which is around 360 SGD, which is around RM1000+. The price is mind-blowing, but it's okay. Because that first bite of that super premium cut had already done much damage to my brain. We were all high on beef that day. I'm not exaggerating guys, it's like we reached a whole new level of enlightenment.

I can't stop laughing at my own words. 

But seriously though, truly a must try if you're in Kobe. Who in the right mind would pass the chance to eat the highest grade of beef in the world, in the city of origin?! They have the best of the best here. 

Dessert at one of the coffee cafe near Sannomiya station
We went back to Osaka after chilling awhile around the area. My original plan was for us to walk around Kobe more and see the night scenery view from the port. But, we all just felt like going back and retire early to get ready for tomorrow. Since we need to wake up early to go to Universal Studios.

So, that is all for Day 7 and 8! As always, my map and vlog is embedded below.

Day  //  Nov 17 // Osaka

// Bonus Vlog //

Please watch in HD!
***Day 7 & 8 Vlog***

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