paikot-ikot ang tugtog sa isip ko

So no, not really, there’s no particular song in my mind. But literally though, with my limited playlist, I’ve been playing the same songs for weeks. Bob Marley, I am Sam OST, 50 First Dates OST, Amy Winehouse, Cardigans, Milagros Dancehall, Coffeebreak Island, Joey Ayala, Rosas ng Digma, etc. I am telling you the list is not extensive.

Good thing, sights to see is not as limited as my playlist. With my city map, courtesy of Mr. Ogawa of NPO LEAF, I’ve been trying to put a list of places to visit and things to see. With Panther to accompany me most of the time, I can literally go anywhere (well, within the city  that is). Although my favorite so far is visiting 100 yen shops (for various reasons), I’ve seen some really “exotic” places. (Note: technically there’s nothing exotic in Japan since most are modernized, but exotic for a foreigner’s point of view)

Akashi – As part of our internship program with NPO LEAF, we visited Hyogo Fisheries Cooperative’s office in Akashi City. Akashi is known for its Tokoyaki, called Akashiyaki. A small piece of octopus is placed inside the ball-shaped mold containing mixture of flour and eggs. The difference with typical takoyaki ball is that akashiyaki is often dipped in a soup before eating. Yum! Yum!

My Akashiyaki (one plate costs around 500 yen) 🙂

Proper way of eating Akashiyaki 🙂

Our cook 🙂

Aside from eating their famous takoyaki, we went around town to see actual auction of harvested fish. When they say we were visiting fishing cooperatives, I was expecting all tanned fisherfolk communities, half-naked men and small fishing boats. But no! Fishing is such a modernized technology that even the concept of illegal fishing does not exist in their minds. I was amazed how civilized the fish harvest auctioned was. There is an actual stage where one man stand to market the catch and the shop’s owner are on one side, betting on every baskets of harvest. They even seem to have uniforms too. The fish markets or shop owner’s stalls are like supermarkets. There were mini-restaurants around with little shopping stores. It does not even smell fishy!

Busy Bee Cafe – Ainul and myself decided to splurge some moolah and went to Busy Bee Cafe to experience “night life” in Nishinomiya Kitaguchi. As much as expected, there was no one around the restaurant besides 2 occupied tables (including ours) and 2 waiters. Haha! It was pretty hilarious. Ainul said that it was probably because it was a Monday. I don’t know about your country, but in the Philippines, it doesn’t matter if its a Monday or a Friday. Bars and cafes are usually packed with students or yuppies. I was quite disappointed, so to speak. But had fun chatting with Ainul, sharing our initial thoughts about the program and the people. Hihihi. The music inside the cafe is another thing. But I don’t want to dwell too much that we have to sit through Michael Jackson’s This is it! Hahaha!

The ambiance I really love. It’s a comfortable space for little drinking (not really a “let’s get drunk” place). The food is good too. A little bit pricey but delicious. We had Margherita pizza, seafood pasta and fries. Yum Yum!  They have an extensive list of international beers. German, Belgian, Cuban, Thai, Malaysian, Filipino, Mexican. You name it, it’s probably there. They even have San Miguel’s Pale Pilsen (600 Yen!!!!). Everything in their menu, including beer, is 600 Yen up. Yikes!

Hachiman Jinja Shrine – Literally just in my backyard, it’s a minute bike away from my apartment. What’s funny was, I got lost looking for it. Heh! Blame Google Maps! It is nothing out of the ordinary, except for the fact that it is surrounded by residential houses. Didn’t get around much because it was already closed when I arrived, so probably will be dropping by next week.

Kyoto Sunday – This is definitely outside the city. Kyoto is an hour train ride from Mondoyakujin Station (nearest station from the apartment). One way ticket costs around 450 Yen. Hitomi-san, a colleague in the ESD program, toured us around the city. Meeting place was over the clock tower in Nishinomiya-Kitaguchi Station. We have to change trains twice. Kyoto’s weather is colder than Nishinomiya. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring any jacket with me. Just my handy pashmina.

First stop was Ginkakuji Temple. The temple is a world heritage site and it charges every adult visitor 500 yen (kashing!) and 300 yen for children. It was amazing, from the hedge going inside the temple, to the zen garden, it was unbelievable. Well kept if I may say. I don’t have any academic or architectural description but wow! Hahahaha!  I can’t stop taking photos, capturing every scene as much as possible. Autumn is just around the corner. I bet this place would look fantastic.

After traversing Ginkakuji Temple, we walk pass through the Philosopher’s Path. There is a story that ages ago, common people would walk this path and gain wisdom. I didn’t gain any but pictures! Hahaha! But I enjoyed cruising along the canals, peeping through residential houses and taking snapshots of bears!

Papa bear with kuya bear and baby bear :p

Big blind bear 😦

Drunk bear 🙂

Casting our shadows over the canal along Philosopher’s Path

We went to other different shrines. Of course take picture, rest a bit. It was a long walk, we didn’t even realized that it was already 2pm, and we hadn’t have lunch yet! No! So we headed off to Kyoto downtown to have a meal. Hitomi asked us if we have any particular Japanese food we wanted to try. Since we can’t think of any, we asked her to decide. She chose to introduced us to okonomiyaki.

Okonomiyaki is Japanese style pizza. Well, it doesn’t really use dough and you don’t need an oven but it was circular and have several toppings so I guess that’s the correlation. But it was delicious and healthy! It was a pretty expensive restaurant but Hitomi-san treated us for lunch. Yay!

My first Okonomiyaki!

After lunch, we went to a supermarket so Hitomi can teach us what’s teriyaki sauce, oyster sauce, okonomiyaki mix, fish paste, etc. It was Japanese supermarket for idiots 101. After going around, I was a bit tired when Hitomi-san said it was time for shopping! I went crazy, lots of things to see and buy. Sorry I didn’t take any pictures. I was too engrossed. But with limited money, I was able to buy a few souvenirs (I’ll be here for 1 year and I’m already buying souvenirs, heh!) and some postcards to write my friends with. I was so happy! Hihihi! I even got myself a new jacket (boo for me because I didn’t bring light jackets from the Philippines, only winter clothes!) from Uniqlo. It’s purple, not exactly my favorite color but it’s close to pink :p

There! So far that’s where I’ve been to these past few days. Of course, not including my usual 100 yen store scouting and discount shops visits. And of course, school :p I still go to school every other day! I’m off to do a speech later in front of the whole college and Nishinomiya residents. And Friday, we’re off to Kyoto again for the festival. I’m so excited. I’ve never been to any festival (well, except Fete de la Musique)!!! Yay!

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