Saturday

★Summer Fun★ Akame 48 Waterfalls

Hello all! How is summer so far?? Mother nature has kicked it into high gear here, and now we're down to sittin' butt-naked and sweating in our homes. But I do prefer that to freezing in my home(;^▽^)

So today, I've a prepared a post about fun things to do in Japan during summer as a submission to Loco in Yokohama's Natsu no Tanoshimi (Hot Fun in the Summertime 2011), but also because I meant to share this before but didn't get to it(´_`。) So proactive~

So without much more rabble: Akame's 48 Waterfalls 赤目四十八滝

Access Information:
It's kind of out in the cut, meaning courtyside of kansai (Mie Prefecture, which is technically part of Chuubu, but ask anyone in that part and they'll probably say it's kansai). 
The train stop is Akame Station on the Kintetsu Railway's Osaka Line but if you're coming from Nagoya, you can also use Nabari Station and take a 20 minute taxi ride from there. If you're coming from any of the big cities down here (Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, or Nagoya), it's at least an 1 hour plus by train (Sub-rapid Express from Osaka's Uehonmachi Station can get you there in 1 hour and 5 minutes, anything less and your ride will jump up to 1 hour and 30 minutes plus). But there's lodging right next to the park, so you can make a nice overnight trip out of it( ´ ▽ ` )ノ.
From Akame Station, you do have to take a bus, and they seem to run at about 1 hour apart (even though there's a 2 hour break from 11am to 1pm). It's probably safer to check the website's bus charts and plan your trip accordingly. Don't want to be stuck waiting at the Station for two hours(;´Д). 
Bus fare (from Akame Stn. to Akame Park): 340yen for adults and 170 for children

Akame 48 Waterfalls 赤目四十八滝 
Entrance fee: 300 yen for adults, 150 yen for kids
You can't see me.
  Akame is located in Mie Prefecture, near the cities Nabari and Iga (Ueno). This area is known (or so Shota says) for being the birthplace and training area of ninja. Hence the photo op above I suppose(=^ω゚)ノ. It is well known that ninja came to Akame's waterfalls for training. So well known that the park offers a Ninja Experience that you can enjoy for just just 1700 yen (2800 yen if you want lunch) and includes dressing up and some training. You can check out their Ninja website for more information, but it's only available in Japanese. The staff also have a cute ninja blog.I haven't tried the Ninja Experience (I didn't know about it the two times I went), but I'll definitely try it next time I go. You can reserve it an hour before you arrive, but there have to be at least 2 people.

And of course, the map! They do have English pamphlets but from what I remember, they're pretty limited. There's a lot of history and stories for the different waterfalls, but all that good stuff in only available in Japanese.


Another thing you'll see throughout the trail are small shrines for various deities. If you have an extra yen or two, leave one and maybe they'll toss some luck your way(●´-`●)

 I'm sure you're wondering what makes it such a great place to go in Summer?

Did I mention there are 48 waterfalls?

Akame is also located up in the mountains, where it is much cooler. There's always a gracious breeze to help diffuse some of that summer funk. AND you can get close enough to the falls to get a little spray on you.

There's only one path that goes to all 48 waterfalls (it takes about 3 hours round-trip maybe? I've never finished the whole trail, but I read that somewhereヽ(°▽、°)ノ) but sometimes it meanders off into little nooks for small detours. for photographers, these little paths often offer more photo opportunities. Everytime I've been, I always see a couple photographers.








Check out that peace and quiet. I feel cooler just looking at these pictures(●´-`●)

The waterfalls can range from small 2 foot falls, to large drops. Also, most of the trail is wood floor and rocks. No pavement here so ladies, please don't come here in heels (I've seen them do it though!!(・A・)). It is a little slippery at times too, so if you don't have hiking shoes, bring something with a nice tread so you don't tumble off one of the rocky inclines into the wilderness.

You are allowed to get as close as you'd like to the water. There are no bars or rails (unless they think you'll fall) to keep you out, and I think that's what's really nice about Akame. It really does feel like you're out in the wilderness, following some old trail into some secret ninja hideout. But that might just be me and too much Tenchu(´_`。).




 Here's a small pool about 20 minutes into the trail. A lot of people stop here for a drink or bite to eat (there's a small restaurant to the left), or to dip their toes in the water. Sooo refreshing..!(´∀`)

Montaaaage~
 A collage I made of some of my favorite shots from Akame. I've only been twice, but I already have over 100 photos. But I'm a big tree hugger deep down inside(;’A ’). Sometimes I feel like I stay in the forests for the rest of my days... if my Android and Zune had batteries that lasted forever(●´-`●).

Can't you picture a Ninja meditating right next to this pool???
 I hope you enjoyed this post and perhaps you've found a nice way to spend a muggy summer day in Japan. I think it's one of those places that are off most tourists' radars, so it's rarely ever crowded, and pretty inexpensive. Why not try this small, secret part of Kansai?? I'll be posting some more (unedited) photos on the We ♥ Kansai TUMBLR, so check it out if you like!

★Peaces★ 

Loco in Yokohama's Hot Fun in the Summer 2 is now available for your reading pleasure! Check out the excellent selection of posts, maybe you'll find a great way to spend your summer in Japan.~(´ー`~)
 

Monday

Kansai-ben Update #4

Good Evening!
Hope life is treating everyone well. I'm just mucking along, but noticed that I hadn't updated kansai-ben in a minute. And it's not that I don't want to, but I've exhausted all the obvious things about kansai-ben. Well, obvious to me. Now I have to start listening carefully so I can pick up on nuances. And I think that's what this post is made up mostly, words that are used so often, they just slip by you unnoticed. And Shota has no idea how to speak anything but kansai-ben, so he's no help at all. Everything is normal Japanese to himヽ(=´Д`=)ノ.

 あんな・あのな Anna/Anona - kansai-ben for Eto えと and Ano あの , any of those place holder sounds/words. You'll here those words often used in conversation because it's seen as polite to give a little pause while speaking (unlike English, which your speech professor will tear you down for itヽ(;´Д`)ノ). My babies often use it when they're talking because they usually have no idea what they're talking about. It just becomes a combo set of Anona anona, hondena anona, which basically translates to "Well umm, and then, umm." Luckily they're cuties. Don't think that'll work well in adult conversation though. Here's some ways you can use it that won't leave you sounding like a blabbering 4 year oldヽ(°▽、°)ノ.


Usage Examples:
№1
A: Say, is it alright for me to borrow this? 「あのなこれかりてもいい?」
B: Sure 「ええよ。」
note: ええ is a more masculine way of saying いい (either of which is used in kansai-ben).

№2
A: Hey, did you finish reading that book? 「な、あのほんもうよんだ?」
B: Well.. I haven't read it yet... 「あんな、まだよんでへんわ。」

 ほんで Honde - kansai-ben for そして/それで (soshite/sorede).
This conjunction means and, and then, and now for soshite and thereupon and because of that for sorede. 


Usage Examples:
 №1
A: What happened? 「どうしたん??」
B: Well, we were going out for lunch and then suddenly there was an explosion! 「あのな、どこかにたべにいくつもりあった、ほんできゅうにばくはつあった!」

№2
あしたキャベツかうわ、ほんでおこのみやきつくる。
Tomorrow, I'm buying cabbage, and then I'll make okonomiyaki.


なんぼ・なんぼう Nanbo/Nanbou - kansai-ben for いくら (ikura).
Ikura means how much or what size when discussing clothing. Super easy!(;´▽`)y-~~

Usage Examples:
№1
このコンピューターなんぼうですか?
How much is this computer?

№2
このシャツはなんぼうまでですか?
What's this shirt's largest size?


As per usual, if you find any issues with my explanations/Japanese/reasoning, just drop me a line in the comment box or by e-mail!(●´-`●) Take care!

Tuesday

Osaka@ Night - Kama Sutra

Kama Sutra
Karaoke/shot bar

Access Info:
Kama Sutra
大阪市中央区東心斎橋2-1-13 大阪屋ジャンボビル5F #5
Osaka City, Chuo-ku, East Shinsaibashi 2-1-13 Osaka-ya Jumbo Bldg. 5F #5
English/Japanese: OK 
Closest Station: Shinsaibashi Station on the Midosuji Line/Nagahori Turumi-ryokuchi Line.
I would suggest leaving near exit 4a-8. After exciting the gates, if you follow the ramp off to the left (next to the entrance to Daimaru I believe), it'll take you up some stairs that come out right in the shopping arcade. Follow the arcade back south, cross two streets (the second street will have a Krispy Kreme Doughnut shop), then turn left (heading east) on Hachiman-suji. You'll cross four streets, and on the block before Sakai-suji, Kama Sutra will be in a nondescript building to your left on the 5th floor, directly across from a nail salon/school. You'll definitely miss if you aren't keen because there aren't any signs, so be careful!

I m p r e s s i o n s
I have to admit that my initial impression when I came in was something like "damn this place is small.." but that must be the American in me, expecting everything to be huuuge. Everything doesn't need to be huge. In fact, by the time I left, I actually quite liked the size and all the people I had spent about 6 hours with.

Yes, we stayed all night. ;D

The people on staff were all really pleasant throughout the night, and it was very easy to fall into light conversations while karaoke-ing and drinking. The karaoke is free but on a slightly dated UGA karaoke system (yeaa.. I'm somewhat of a karaoke geek..), but the collection appears to be updated often since they had Lady Gaga's Judas. Be warned though, the karaoke game they have active is point-based, with higher points revealing nude idol photos. It usually only seems to get as far as the boobs, but it's fun to play along with everyone. =]

They don't make any food in the bar, but have a few demae (delivery) menus that you can pick through, all at nice prices. They don't have a drink menu either, but if you're a bar vet, you know what you like anyway, so who needs a menu?? Anyway, I'm sure the bartenders are happy to make whatever fits your fancy. I ordered a Long Island, Irish Coffee, and CranVodka, all delicious and potent. Most drinks seems to run an average of 600-700 yen, but they time sales like 4 shots from 1000 yen.

We got there pretty early in the evening, so it was empty, but people started dropping in not long afterwards. A lot of regulars it would seem, since the tender greeted most of the patrons by first-names. My personal favorite was Mr. Tanaka. A 65-year-old business man, who has a thing for karaoke and  women. He was kind enough to toss one of my friend's a 'you are bootylicious' comment after we sang Destiny's Child's Bootylicious. Good times :)

We didn't intend to stay the entire night, but we did and we had a lot of fun. The next time we go, we probably won't be there all night, but we'll definitely be stopping by for a drink or two. Check it out if you have the chance! Karaoke and drinking always go well together!

★Peaces★

Saturday

Sweets Sweets in Shinsaibashi OPA

A shop in OPA called HANJIRO. They sell used clothes at a mostly inflated price.
Greetings all! And a warm welcome to the new readers! Hope you enjoy it, find something useful, or perhaps just fancy the photos. I'll take anythingヽ(°▽、°)ノ.

Today will be a short post about a pretty awesome buffet I went to this past Sunday. It's located in on the 9th floor of Shinsaibashi OPA which is an eleven-floor shopping building (? I still don't know what to call these places.. they're not department stores.. or malls.. shopping center..?? That don't seem right either...) that mostly caters to young women. There's a floor or two for menswear, but now I know, that's not what those little groups of guys were running around this building for. They were definitely going after this sweets buffet. Because it's the bomb(゜д゜)ウマー

 Access Information:
The closest stop is probably off of the Osaka subway system. All the JR, Kintetsu and Hanshin rails are about a 15 to 20 minute walk up Midosuji Street. On a weekday, that's probably not so bad, but on weekends and holidays, the sidewalks can be a bit crowded. 
From the Osaka subway system, exit at Shinsaibashi Station from either the Midosuji Line or Nagahori Tsurumi-ryokuchi Line. From exit number 7, you should see a huge sign for OPA on your right that will take you into one of the basement levels of OPA.
To get to Sweets Sweets, it's probably fastest to hop on an elevator and take it to the 9th floor. It'll be on the side of the building facing Daimaru.


Sweets Sweets 
Sweets Sweets is a dessert buffet that also serves some light food in addition to the dessert (which is nice because most dessert buffets don't, or they're just regular buffets with sweets). The nice thing about Sweets Sweets is that it's only 1480 yen! Although, the last dessert buffet I went to was 1380 yen, it only offered five or six types of cakes, one drink and you HAD to eat all of whatever you picked up or they would charge you extra. How lame is that(´_`。).


You have to pay when you go in, but after that, you have 90 minutes to eat as much as you like. They have full-size cakes, mini-cakes, cake rolls, pudding, fruit, real cream, and ice cream (with toppings). There's a drink bar as well, included in the buffet price, that has coffee, latte, capuccino, tea, sodas and water. The food selection I though was pretty nice for not being the main point of the shop. They offered curry, rice, spaghetti pasta, pasta salad, and salad. 


Also! They had some things that I've never seen at any buffets. For one, a fondue fountain! I didn't get to try because it completely slipped my mind while I was there, but I'm definitely diving into that when I go back (and I AM going back(=^ω゚)ノ). They also had a nice bread selection that I missed out on since I stuffed myself with cake. OH! And you can make your own crepe. But crepes look so hard to make, I don't think I would have tried even though it was free(´;ω;`)ウッ…


 The seats are plentiful, but I imagine the queue can get out of hand in the afternoons (They have a tea time special, but I forgot what it was keke). There's still lots of space to walk around with sweets on your plate without worrying about spilling it on someone. Also, unlike another dessert buffet I went to (I'm eyeing you Fujiya), you are NOT required to eat everything on your plate with the threat of having to pay if you don't, but they do have a little notice asking you not to waste food. And I don't even know how you could waste the food, it was really delicious! Some of the best cakes I've had in Japan (but I don't know if that's the price or my taste buds talking..), and they had dish that resembled brownies!! I really want a brownie nowヽ(;´Д`)ノ. I should not blog on an empty stomach...

A view from the large window that covers one wall. The lights on the opposite side are from Daimaru. Nice place to daydream about shopping in Daimaru(;´Д`)ハァハァ.
 Not only is this place cheap and delicious, it's still romantic! (Check out that classy view!) It's on one of the top floors of a great shopping building so after forcing your current significant other through a myriad of fittings and short-term investments, why not treat their wallet and stomach to a small reprieve. Or maybe you're an independent woman so you spend your own money, this place still works too☆~(^д゜).

Hope you enjoyed this small post. I haven't been out so much since I'm saving money for the wedding in November. There's really no fun in saving money, but I guess I'll just try to find free things to do! Is that hard to do here..? I'm thinking so...( ・∀・) Ah well! A Kansai-ben post should be around soon, AND I'll be checking out a bar this Saturday so hopefully I will have that to write about next week!(●´-`●)

★Peaces★

This is my entry for Budget Trouble's Show Me Japan series! Check it out!

Wednesday

Osaka Maritime Museum & Cosmosquare

With all fervor surrounding the release of the newest PotC (totally going to see it when I get the time), why not make a post about Osaka's Maritime museum. Completely appropriateヽ(°▽、°)ノ.

This photo was taken from the boardwalk leading toward to the museum from Cosmosquare Station. The walk from the station isn't so intense, just a few minutes, and you can get a nice look at other waterside sites from it. You can even see Universal City, which is where USJ (Universal Studios Japan) is located.

What's pictured here is the main part of the museum, made from window panes so that you can view the water from anywhere inside the museum. The entrance is located in a normal looking stone building next to this dome, and you have to go under the water to get in. Pretty cool~(´ー`~)

Access Information:
〒559-0034
大阪市住之江区南港北2丁目5番20号
TEL:06-4703-2900
The closest station is Cosmosquare Station on the city subway, Chuo Subway Line or New Tram Nanko Port Town Line. Take Exit 1, and follow the boardwalk straight to the museum.
Hours of Operation: 10:00 - 17:00
It's usually closed on Mondays, or the following working day if Monday is a holiday (so it is open on holidays). It's also written that it's periodically closed for maintenance, but doesn't specify when so... good luck with that( ´ⅴ`) ノ Gotta love Osaka~
The entrance fee is 600 yen for adults (high school students and older), 540 yen with a group of 20 or more, and free for children (junior high and younger).

Starting from top left, going clockwise: 1. gate 2. coin for said gate 3. welcome banner 4. tunnel that leads to world's end.
So you enter through the adjacent building, they give you a little coin (pic. above) which goes into the gate (also pic. above) which then leads you to an elevator you take downstairs, which then leads you to a tunnel that will take you to the world's end. Ah wait.. that's not right..


But you do get to encounter this bad boy once you step off the elevator. I do believe it's an art piece, quite fantastic. After gazing at this for a minute, you can then take the tunnel that'll lead you to world's end (sorry, I just finished watching PotC on TV (´_`。)).

 Actually, the tunnel takes you right into the water. Well, that water is above you, so I guess you would be underwater, but only until you get to the museum. They've also put in these neat little holes in the ceiling so you can see whatever sea life happens to be passing overhead. I didn't see anything though(・_・). The escalator the takes you up to the museum comes up right under a huge Edo Period ship replica.

  Did I mention the walls of the museum were completely transparent. Quite remarkable really, but a cloudy day such as this wasn't able to do it much justice. If I come back on a sunny day, I'll be sure to take more photos. I wonder how hot it gets when all this glass absorbs that intense Japanese summer sun. Let's hope they have a decent AC system(*゚∀゚)=3ハァハァ

 When you enter the museum, you're asked to take another elevator up to the top (4th) floor. From there you follow the exhibits back down to the first floor. Seeing as it's a museum about ships, one of the first exhibits you encounter is about early ship work throughout the world, and devices used during those time and also the items traded. Examples of Chinese porcelain, fine textiles and spices (you can sniff all the spices if you like(ノ゚∀゚)ノ) as well as information on early explorers and traders, and the Age of Discovery (Magellen, Columbus, etc.). And there was this small boat (pictured bottom left) that was available for some virtual sailing game, but it had already ended by the time we'd gotten there. Dang(´д`) Always wanted to try sailing..


After this floor, it becomes more Japan-oriented. There are exhibits on early Japanese ships as well as the development of Osaka as a port city. Pictured left is one of the many creepy video screens they have throughout the museum. I'm sure they're offering something informative on the development of Japanese maritime affairs, but seeing as it was only in Japanese with no English translation offered, I just snapped a photo a moved on. It felt like his eyes were following us though...
I did enjoy the models they had of old Japanese buildings like the lighthouse pictured left. The description next to it said the lighthouse is still up today, just moved 200 meters east of it's original locationヽ(・∀・)ノ.  Neato~

Here's some other photos of the models in the musuem. The top photo is of a port in Osaka during the Edo period, and the model on the bottom shows how deeper harbours were built by hand during the Edo period. That must've been a real pain, but really cool! Who knew you could build a harbour by hand like thatヽ(・∀・)ノ. Not me~~

 
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