Aha- time to redress the life/over-obsession with Hanshin Tigers balance with a post about Golden Week!

In spite of the Blues failings, and in addition to the Hanshin successes, I had a really good week and a half- we spent four days in Kyoto, doing a day trip to Nara, then a night of karaoke in Kobe and two days in Hiroshima before a brief tour around my humble Prefecture, Okayama-ken.

Kyoto- Philosophers Path and Trip To Koshien

I met Dad and Robin on the Shink platform last Tuesday in what was billed as an emotional reunion after a year and a half. Thankfully both myself and my good father aren’t prone to excessive over-emotional reunions, so we headed back to the ryokan then out for a lovely izakaya meal in central Kyoto. The next day we visited the wonderful Kinkakuji before heading off to the Hanshin-Yakult game (you knew I couldn’t not mention the Tigers!). Despite being slightly weary thanks to shift-snoring from my Dad and uncle and a lack of food, the beers and Japanese curry propelled me through the amazing 6-5 victory detailed (in detail) below. The next couple of days we spent exploring Kyoto and Nara- visiting Ginkakuji, the Tetsugaku No Michi (Path of Philosophy), and Kiyomizudera. I would describe it all in great detail, except I’ve been to these places several times, and it was more a perfect setting to hang out with my Dad and uncle, and enjoy the nice weather- as well as the excellent Kyoto temples. One thing that did really impress me though was Todaiji, the hall housing the large buddha in Nara. While we were there some serious Buddhist chanting was going on, and a whole host of funky monks in even funkier footwear were present.

Philosophising On the Philosophers Path

Dad and Robin Enjoying The Train Museum

Kiyomizudera Temple

Lanterns in Maruyama Koen

A Bit of Banter With the Umbrella Bearers

That Funky Footwear

A Procession of Monks

The Umbrella Bearers Step In

Kobe- Karaoke Chance Ga Atta!

On Saturday I went off to do some shopping in Osaka and Kobe while my Dad and uncle went to Himeji. We then met in the evening in Kobe. Sadly Robin was feeling unwell, so me and my Dad headed out in search of Kobe beef. The place we aimed for was closed though, so we ended up in at a tiny yakitori bar. After more drinks at Hub, the English pub (advertising cuttlefish fritters as a “Taste of Britain”!), we went to Big Echo for some karaoke-tastic fun! The highlight of a long list of songs was a rendition of Johnny Cash/Bob Dylan’s duet of “Girl From the North Country”, with me taking Bob’s role while my Dad amply filling in Johnny’s deep and vibrant vocals. The least successful was probably Buffalo Soldier. There is video evidence- 6 whole videos in fact- but I think they’re best kept within the family.

Plastic Food Shop in Namba, Osaka- More Expensive Than The Real Thing!

Hiroshima

Next up was Hiroshima- we visiting the A-bomb Museum and Dome, and stayed in a rather plush hotel by the sea, the Grand Prince Hotel. The first night we had a few drinks in a German-style pub before having a snacky feast back at the hotel. The second night I met up with a friend from Hokkaido for a wonderful izakaya meal of assorted salmon sashimi, more yakitori than I had any right to eat, a brilliant cream cheese, avocado, tomato and chicken salad, and some truly tasty tofu. Unfortunately I can’t remember the name of the place. We also had a great daytrip to Miyajima, where I visited Daisho-in Temple for the first time- a fantastic Buddhist temple nestled in the hills of the island, with several large structures, fountains and other exciting Buddhisty things (brightly coloured flags and banners, and turny wheels of good luck reminded me of the temples I visited in Sizuan province in China).

The A-Bomb Dome

Martins At Miyajima

Not Sure What We Were Trying Here

Returning To The Ken

By Tuesday it was finally time to return to Okayama Prefecture. I was fairly hungover, but still managed a walk down to the sea from my apartment, around Kojima, as well as a trip to Washuzan to see the Seto-Ohashi bridge. In the evening we had a tempura set meal in a traditional restaurant, Fukusen, overlooking the sea. On Wednesday I was back at work- unfortunately this felt a bit like the end of the holiday, even though my Dad and uncle were still around. We did go for a great meal and drinks at one of my favourite izakayas, Wabisuke, in Okayama. Thursday night and our “sayonara lunch” on Friday passed quickly- and then it was time to say goodbye.

Kurashiki Beer at the Kojima Hotel

The Seto-Ohashi Hashi

Itadakimasu!

Thoughtful Reflections

Golden Week was really nice- seeing my Dad after a year and a half was a lot like seeing other friends who have come over the visit; nothing much had changed at all! I think my Dad and uncle Robin got to see a good cross-section of Japanese culture, society, and food. In answering their questions about Japan I also realised both how much I had picked up in a year and a half, and how in talking about things I take for granted I could clarify my opinions about the varied and curious nuances of Japanese culture.

Most of all though it was just nice to have a holiday! We had some great meals- izakaya feasts, tempura, tonkatsu, sushi and sashimi, yakitori- and me and my Dad had a great karaoke night out in Kobe. As all holidays do though it went too quickly- now I’m back at work, and thoughts turn once more to my future, more of which at another time.

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