Anyway first destination was Kobe - where we had a yummy teppanyaki meal courtesy of Sakura before wandering around the city a bit. Had coffee/cake at an Isetan cafe (I think it was Isetan) before heading to China Town for some 肉まん (niku-man; meat bun things)... Unfortunately the place we wanted to go had this ridiculously long queue coming out of it and nobody could be bothered to wait so we didn't end up having any.
Izumi and Aki @ 神戸元町 (Kobe moto-machi; China Town in Kobe)
After that we got ourselves into this:
Possibly the biggest line (if you can call it a line) I've ever seen. Definitely the biggest one I've been in. Spent about 2 hours in there being slowly herded along.
This is what happened to the crowd when we got to where everyone was going
And this is what everyone was lining up to see: ルミネリエ (Ruminerie; some made up word that is possibly meant to be Luminaria if it was in English). It was originally started as a memorial thing for the 1995 Kobe Earthquake and apparently this year is the last year it will be run (but apparently they say that every single year too haha)
Me and Izumi at ルミネリエ (Luminerie)
Next day was Kyoto, where Sakura's friend Hiraga-san kindly drove us all over the place in search of good food - which we did find and eat until evening. No photos of the food so I'll skip over the details. After all the eating we ended up at karaoke where we (well, at least I) drank too much...
Aki showing off her ability to see the world cross-eyed @ Karaoke in Kyoto
Sakura being photo-shy as usual @ Karaoke in Kyoto
After we finished up there, we had some ramen and then headed to a まんが喫茶店 (manga-kissaten; manga cafe which is basically Japan's equivalent of internet cafes except as the name suggests you can also read manga there). I left at about 3am but the rest stayed there until the first train (5.30am-ish)...
Not unexpectedly, the next day which was meant to be spent in Osaka, kind of turned into just an afternoon by the time everyone was feeling like doing anything. Luckily the only thing we really wanted to do there was eat たこ焼き (takoyaki; octopus balls) so that wasn't such a bad thing in the end...
The next day after everyone had had a proper rest we all headed to Nagoya.
Izumi, Akie and myself advertising the 7-Eleven near Izumi's place in Nagoya with our yogurt drinks
Izumi took us around to eat all sorts of different things Nagoya is known for: we started with 味噌カツ (miso-katsu; miso-sauce pork cutlets of various sorts), before eventually finding a place that served あんかけスパゲッティ (ankake-supagetti; bean sauce spaghetti) before dinner. Which consisted of, amongst other things, this:
手羽先 (tebasaki - that means chicken wings for those who can't work it out from the photo; Nagoya is quite well known for them. And yes, they were good)
Unfortunately Sakura got kind of sick that night and wasn't really in a state to go out the following day. Aki, Izumi and I ended up having lunch at Izumi's brother's restaurant (which was an Italian restaurant), followed by a nice wander around なごや城 (nagoya-jo; Nagoya Castle).
Sakura joined us in the evening to have dinner where we went to have another Nagoya specialty: ひつまぶし (hitsumabushi). It's basically eel on rice + tea (which you pour over the rice) and some other assorted things (seaweed, wasabi etc) you eat it with. And its sort of a mix and match dish whereby you eat the eel + rice in portions and each time change the flavour by adding different things... Hmm not the best description but it probably doesn't make all that much sense unless you were there anyway haha.
Just before we all ate our ひつまぶし (Hitsumabushi) - another Nagoya specialty.
After dinner we went to have a look at the obligatory tourist attraction: Nagoya's TV Tower which is sort of a mini-Tokyo tower/Eiffel tower thing (although apparently it was the first of its kind built in Japan so Tokyo tower is really the copy)...
テレビ塔 (Terebi-tou; TV Tower) @ Nagoya. That green line shooting out of Izumi's head was this huge laser that came from about 2km away and hit the top of the tower. Still can't work out why it was there but it was pretty cool nonetheless.
All in all a lot of fun (and good food) over the last few days.
And for Akie, Izumi and Sakura: I hope you all enjoyed yourselves as much as I did. Cheers for hanging out (and putting up with me) for the last few days. I'll miss you all next year. See you all (together) back in Melbourne!