We arrived in Okayama rather exhausted from the day at Miyajima and decided to stay in with a take away and recover. It was then that I realised my plans for the following day may not pan out entirely as I expected. We had intended to travel to the art island Naoshima in the morning, cycle around the island and then return to the hotel for the night. Unfortunately, we discovered that most of the museums on the island are closed on Mondays and even more crucially, the following day was set to have torrential rain all day. With this in mind, we decided not to spend the day soaked and windswept and instead enjoyed a relaxing day at a huge shopping centre, had a lovely lunch out and hit the arcades for some classic Nintendo gaming!
Later on in the day, we boarded a train and headed to our next stop – Osaka. After dropping our bags at our hotel, we decided to head on a walk to the Dotonbori district. We got lost on the way, found a bizarre Christmas themed hotel and some dodgy back streets, but finally arrived. Dotonbori is an entertainment district that runs along a canal and has an electric atmosphere with huge illuminated advertising screens, street food, and Disney style animatronic sea food dancing on the side of buildings. After wondering around and taking some obligatory selfies, we found the restaurant we were looking for – Matsuzakagyu yakiniku M, Hozenji Yokocho. It is a lovely Japanese steakhouse, (albeit overpriced) and we got to sit on traditional matting on the floor and enjoyed some melt in your mouth steak and wine.
The following morning we woke up early and walked to Osaka castle. It was a pleasant walk and worth it for a nice view whilst we enjoyed our usual packed breakfast of granola with yoghurt! Unfortunately, that is all we got to experience of Osaka, because our time was running out in Japan and we needed to move on to our next stop!
At lunchtime, we boarded a very slow train to the rural town of Takayama (the train felt even slower than usual as we were used to the Shinkansen (bullet trains)). Takayama is situated in a mountainous area in Japan, so the train ride did provide us with some beautiful scenery. Phil had decided we should splash out on a ryokan and it was definitely worth it for the experience. Not only did we get to have fun dressing up in kimonos, (way more fun then you would think), sleep in traditional albeit modern Japanese rooms, but we also got to use yet another onsen and have a traditional Japanese dinner and breakfast (it was seven courses including a fillet of salmon – not what you quite want at 7.30am).
I even managed to get over my fear of things between my toes…the kimono outfits came complete with these horrendous socks – anyone who knows me will realise how much this photo and experience disturbed me!
During our short stay, we explored the town of Takayama, visited an old preserved traditional village (Hida Minzoka Mura Folk Village – no more the a couple of hours needed here) and wandered the pretty town centre streets before catching a train back to Tokyo for our final days in Japan.