One Week of Travelling – Niimi

The last stop on my way to my research prefecture Tottori was in Niimi, which was about half way from Hiroshima. I went there to visit my former language exchange partner and good friend Yoshino and her family. It was the time of the Hina Matsuri, the doll festival, and throughout the old street of the small town, the shops were decorated with small dolls. I hadn’t seen this festival in Japan before, as it’s usually more of an event within the family as far as I know, but in Niimi, they were even attracting some tourists with it – really interesting!

In addition to this, Yoshino’s mum really is a great cook and prepared extremely delicious Japanese dishes (I even started to like octopus) and the whole family was just very hospitable as always. I definitely hope I’ll be able to visit again some time :)

One Week of Travelling – Hiroshima

For the last big stop on my week of travelling I had planned to go back to Hiroshima, where I had spent my year two years ago. Time definitely flew by since then, but I finally had the chance to meet some really great friends again. The first day was spent in Hiroshima City, where I met with Tadahiko and Manami again, who were bot fellow students at Hiroshima University.

Hiroshima Peace Park

Hiroshima Peace Park

Even though the weather had slowly been getting worse I wanted to see the city center again, so we went for a walk through the Peace Park and the shopping arcades of Hiroshima City. Basically nothing had changed since I had left two years ago, so it was nice to walk on known paths again, that were carrying quite a few good memories for me. Afterwards, we also did some window shopping, before going for a coffee, hot chocolate and parfait respectively.

Tadahiko, Manami and me - Mirror Selfie ;-)

Tadahiko, Manami and me – Mirror Selfie ;-)

As I was going to stay at Tadahiko’s place that evening (again, thanks a lot, man!), we went back to Saijo afterwards and had some ramen noodles together. Still one of my favourite kind of dishes in Japan, especially Hakata Ramen from Fukuoka.

The next day saw me walk a bit through Saijo again, where I went to visit the grounds of Hiroshima University again, as well as the sake area. I spend a nice lunch break at Q, which looks like an american surfer shack from the outside, but is easily one of the very best places to eat Hiroshima style Okonomiyaki. And I also took another break for a nice piece of cake at the Kugurimon café in the sake area. I’m not sure, if the place existed two years ago, but they had a really nice atmosphere in there, so I took my time to write some postcards from there ^^

The evening was spent at Chad’s and Chisaki’s (who are now having an adorable little son, whom I’m definitely going to teach some German vocabulary to annoy Chad a bit next time ;-P) place, who were so nice to host me for two nights and to organise a really awesome dinner with some friends from two years ago. Needless to say, it was a great evening, it became really late and we might have been a liiiittle bit drunk (I still can’t believe we drank all that sake in the end oO). Just like in the old days, basically ;-)

For the following day, despite some remaining hangover, Chad and I went to the sake area in the afternoon, to visit all the breweries again and have a taste of the new sake for this year (early spring is the time when they produce the new sake). Now that might not have been the most ingenious idea we’ve ever had, but we had a great afternoon, that continued seemlessly into a great karaoke session in the evening with Marcelo, Takao and Dmitry.

So miraculously, we still had a bit of a hangover the next day as well, but as it was the day of the spring sake festival, we needed to go to the sake area again, as there were some of the most premium sake brands of the country available to try for free – and warm amazake (甘酒), which is one of the most awesome drinks you can have on a cold late winter’s day. It’s basically sweet sake, with a very low alcohol content, but is still heating you up from the inside nonetheless. Brilliant stuff!

Wit this preparation, we finally set out for a hike up to the mountain behind Saijo station, which allows for a nice view over the city on a good day. On the way, we had barbecue with Takao first, however, who is one of the best equipped campers I have ever met. And one of the best barbeque-ers at the same time! Needless to say, we were really stuffed, when we continued our hike up to the top of the mountain. Also, for some reason, either our stamina wasn’t as good as two years ago or we had chosen the difficult path uphill, as they had extremely high stairs that made us breathe quite heavily extremely fast xD

But in the end we made it, even though the weather was not so much in our favour, concerning the view:

The View over Saijo

The View over Saijo

Still, a climb well worth it and a great memory to our hikes two years ago. I really enjoyed the few days in Hiroshima and will definitely come again in the future!

One Week of Travelling – Okayama

After spending a night at Max’s dormitory room in Kyoto, I continued to the next stop on my journey, which was Okayama. Some might remember that Okayama was where I went to for my first trip to Japan in 2010 (wow, that’s already 4 years ago…). As on my earlier stops, I wanted to meet up with friends again, so I met with Saya, who was a student at Hiroshima University while I was doing my year abroad and we went walking around the city, which was a lot of fun.

But of course, I also wanted to meet up with Gen and his family again, so we went to the Shorinji during our walk, where I met him for the first time. I wasn’t able to contact him before that day, so as expected, noone was there. But I left a note and he called me in the evening, so we met up in the city and had a nice evening to catch up with the last two years :)

It was a really nice evening and I have a new contact address for next time as well, so I won’t have to wait in front of the temple in vain :D

One Week of Travelling – Kyoto

The next stop on my journey was Kyoto, where I met with Max, who’s a fellow student at Hamburg University and also preparing his final thesis, as well as Yumiko, who was an exchange student at Hamburg University in… 2010/11, I think. Don’t quote me on the exact year :D We decided to walk through the city for a while and not to do all the regular sightseeing, as we’ve all been there before. But as this is Kyoto, at least one temple has to feature in this post.

Honnō-ji in the heart of Kyoto

Honnō-ji in the heart of Kyoto

A little snippet for fans of Japanese history: Oda Nobunaga committed ritual suicide in this temple, after it was set on fire and he was unable to get out.

After getting in touch with history, we decided to get in touch with the cuisine next and like last time when I was in Kyoto, it was time for macha parfait! We had to wait for about 30 minutes outside of the shop, as everyone seemed to have had the same thought as we did. However, we were finally able to enter after some time. I was in a rather experimental mood and decided to take the parfait with sakura and salt ice cream. The latter one was definitely a bit weird, but still tasty enough, but the sakura cream was amazing (as everything sakura xD).

Matcha Sakura Parfait

Matcha Sakura Parfait

When we were full and our bellies rejoicing in joy, Yumiko had to depart for Nara again and Max and I went to meet up with members of the Kengeki-kai, who are a group of Japanese actors for Samurai-esque films that we met at the Japanese Movie Festival in Hamburg last year. We met at an izakaya (Japanese style bar) and had a super cool evening and caught up with everything that had been happening so far. They’re just an awesome bunch of people – many thanks for taking the time to meet us! :)

Max and me at the izakaya with the members of Kengeki-kai.

Max and me at the izakaya with the members of Kengeki-kai.

Next up: Okayama and Hiroshima!

One week of travelling – Osaka

In the last week, I took the chance to spend some days with friends, whom I haven’t met in a long time and travelled across the country to meet them. The first stop of this journey was Osaka, where a German friend of mine, Lea, from Hamburg University is currently doing some work and travel. I went there by bus from Tokyo and while I was pleasantly surprised by the on-board entertainment system, the most peculiar fact about this bus was its cute design.

Travel BusAfter arriving in Osaka in the evening, we just spent the firstevening chatting, watching movies and doing nothing much. So we had a lot of energy saved for the second day, for which we decided to go to Osaka Castle and into the city for some window shopping. Osaka castle is located fairly in the center of the city and the old castle grounds, except for the main tower are nowadays designed as a huge park area. While we were there, the plum trees were already blossoming quite a lot and some kind of running event was taking place. As the weather was beautiful, many people chose the day to visit the area as well, so we were far from alone. We decided to visit the inner part of the castle as well to have a nice view from the top (and, beeing the stamp collector that I am in Japan, to collect some local stamps as well).

Afterwards we went to Namba, to enjoy some window-shopping and food. We just finished in time to be able to drive to Umeda and enjoy the sunset next to the Umeda Sky Building, which was really beautiful.

Umeda Sky Building SunsetTo top the evening off, we went to a not to be named coffee place, where they served the spring variants of their hot chocolates and milk coffees – with strawberry and sakura cherry blossom taste. Extremely delicious! On the next day, I would continue my journey and go to Kyoto, but that is a story for the next post :)

おいしかった!

おいしかった!