Hanging out with family
28.12.2013 - 29.12.2013 6 °C
For our first day we set out early for Iga-Ueno Ninja Museum, home of all things ninja, about and hour or so drive east of Osaka. We watched the ninja show first up, which was kind of like watching Monkey Magic only without the subtitles. After the demonstrations we all then got to do our own ninja training,including throwing some ninja stars which was really cool, though my enemies can rest assured they are not in much danger as I struggled to get the stars anywhere near the target, unlike Luca who was a bit of a gun. The museum also includes a demonstration of a ninja house, complete with hidden staircases, revolving doors and secret cupboards to hide from your enemies.
After the fun of being ninjas for the morning, we had worked up and appetite so stopped off for a lunch of Iga-beef ramen, which was unbelievably good and cheap at ¥1200 for a massive bowl.
We then drove a scenic route through the snow dusted hills to Nara, home of the giant Buddha and deer, lots of deer that roam the park where the Buddha is housed. We only stopped in for a quick hello (he wasn't very talkative), and then back in the car to head home to Osaka.
From here started a lot of "try this Sam" from Kurt. First up was sake with Yuka's parents, but then we headed out for a dinner of Yakitori together. Yakitori is essentially chicken on skewers cooked on a grill. What Sam wasn't counting on was all the different parts of the chicken that come on the skewer. Letting Yuka's parents order for us all, we had your typical thigh fillet, etc, but then came the stomach, heart, skin and then cartilage. I have to admit I wasn't particularly keen to try the stomach or the heart, but then remembered I have eaten tarantula before so really shouldn't wimp out on this one. Fair play to Sam in that she tried everything, and apart from the cartilage, didn't mind all those different bits, though I think the cocktails were helping somewhat.
The next day we stayed in Osaka, heading over to check out the castle briefly, and then playing baseball with Luca in the castle parklands. It was then back to Yuka's parents house, who put on a massive feast of Sukiyaki for lunch, which was most excellent. After lunch Yuka's mum performed a formal tea ceremony for us, then dressed both Sam and I in kimonos. After absorbing some of the traditional Japanese culture, we then dumbed down our cultural experience and headed out for Karaoke. In what is clearly a loss making exercise for when tourists like us arrive, charging about $12 per hour for all you can drink whilst you sing, we had an absolute blast drinking and belting out some tunes for a few hours.
After two fun filled days, its time to start exploring further, so it's onto the Shinkansen this morning, bound for Hiroshima and then Miyajima island where we will be for the next couple of nights.