I Think I'm Turning Japanese
Hanging out with Auntie Tita is like living in a comedy. This weekend there were endless amounts of quotable moments and video-worthy incidents, including getting attacked by deer. So let's start from the beginning!

Tita came in through KIX from Manila on Friday night. I took the Kansai Airport Limousine to meet her. Sounds fancy, right? It's not. It's a total misnomer. It should be called "Kansai Airport Crapbus." But it got me there quickly, so that's good.

It was already late, but I was hoping things would be open so I could show her some shops and some sights. Santica and Motomachi was closing up by the time we got there, and Chinatown was dead, so we made our way to Harborland and got "hamburgers." In Japan, this means a hamburger patty and rice with some gravy on top, kind of like a Moco Loco minus the Loco. We took in the beautiful view of the harbor all lit up at night, and then we made our way back to Gak to sleep.

Saturday morning we went to check out Tsurukabato Elementary School's music festival. It was really cute! I was a little bummed that we didn't get to tour the classrooms like we did at JHS bunkasai, but it was nice to be able to bring Tita to one of my places of work. Then we headed to the Maya Cable Car to explore Mt. Maya, which I thought was Mt. Rokko, but turns out it's right next to it. Shows what I know. Getting to the cable car required a bit of an uphill walk. It was nothing like my walk up the Hill of Death that leads to my JHS, but it was still some sweaty times. We got on the cable car, which climbs up the really steep part of the mountain. It was really cool to see some of the trees had already started changing into their beautiful fall colors. Though, for the most part, things are still pretty green. Halfway up the mountain, we had to transfer to the ropeway, which is basically like a gondola. The view was amazing! You could see pretty much all of Kobe and some of Osaka. Luckily it was a nice sunny day so visibility was awesome.

Once we were on the top of Mt. Maya, we took a bus to Rokkosan Pasture. It's basically a farm, where sheep run amok. It was a really beautiful landscape, and didn't feel like we were in Japan at all. From some of the hills, when you looked around, it kind of felt like you were in Auburn in the fall. The smell of horses helped, too. We walked around and saw some baby animals and the rabbit area. There I learned that I am really allergic to angora rabbits. I pet some of the fur and my eyes and lips got really puffy and itchy a little bit later. Ew. Well, at least I know now that I don't have to go wasting my money on any expensive angora sweaters! (Always look on the bright side of life!) There were machines everwhere so you could buy pellets to feed the sheep and the goats. Have you ever been up to close to a sheep? They are kind of terrifying. There's a reason why a disturbing movie was named after them. They have these weird bulgey eyes with slits for pupils, and the can be very aggressive (not as aggressive as the deer in Nara... keep reading for that). Plus, even though they have fluffy wool coats, they are really dirty! Have I just become a farm animal snob?

After the goat feeding, we went to this building that was called the Cheese Castle where they make a lot of their own cheese, presumably from the sheep, goats and cows they have on that farm. I got to sample a bunch of the delicious cheeses, but didn't buy any since I knew we would be walking around for a while and warm cheese that's been in your purse all day is just gross! We hung out at the Cheese Castle for a little bit before heading back to the ropeway. The view going down the ropeway and the cable car was awesome! The light had shifted a little bit since it was later in the day, and all the treetops took on a more orange glow.

After Mt. Maya we were pretty tired, but I wanted to take Auntie Tita to some of the shops. We went to Loft and she had a ball at the 4th floor sticker mecca. Seriously, it is a sticker persons' fantasayland come to life! I had gone there a couple months ago, but the stickers must change by season because they had a whole section of Christmas stickers. If I hadn't been strengthening my willpower so much in Japan, I would have bought out the entire store! I managed to walk away with only spending a few hundred yen.

After Loft, I took Auntie Tita to ishi-yaki. I think all ishi-yaki must be about the same, but since I knew Issian was so delicious in Tokyo, I decided to hunt down the Kobe location. We ordered far less than Dan and I did, and since Tita doesn't drink, we stuck to water. Definitely didn't feel as gluttonous this time around! We ordered the chicken skin, chicken breast, maguro, risotto-style rice, seaweed salad, and "supreme beef." The latter was the melty fatty amazingness that I had written about before. It turns out, it was Kobe beef! It's called something else here (I can't remember what and I am too lazy to look it up), though. I have had Kobe beef without even knowing it! Highly recommended.

After Issian, we got some Haagen-Dazs and ate it at Tits Park. I guess I have been getting used to the smaller Japanese portions after Auntie Tita remarked that the scoop was so small! It was still delicious, though, and definitely enough. We were both pretty tired from the day, so we decided to just go home and sleep early.

We woke up after getting to sleep in a little bit. It was kind of a slow morning, but it's not like there was much to rush for. We headed to Deli Bakery Kitchen (I think that's what it's called) for some breakfast, and then we were off to Nara. Nara is about 90 minutes away on the Hanshin line. They are having their 3000th year anniversary (yes, you read that right), and their weird little mascot is Sentokun. Apparently he's kind of offensive to some, as not only is he a cartoon baby Buddha, but he also has deer horns. In Nara you can find Japan's biggest Buddha at Todaiji Temple, which was pretty awesome to see. We saw all sorts of other structures that didn't have any English explanations to them, so I don't know what they were (one being a bell: "Oh, it's like a bong!" "You mean a gong?") Definitely the highlight of the trip, though, was all the deer.

The deer in Nara are aggressive. You can buy little bundles of deer biscuits to feed them, and they are literally EVERYWHERE. You can try to trick them and open your hands and pretend you don't have anymore biscuits, but they will smell them in your bag, and stick their nose in their, or nip at your clothes, and generally follow you around and harrass you endlessly. I was even headbutted in the ass by a male dear whose antlers were just started to come out. It scared the miso out of me! Somehow the deer have even learned to bow to you. The less aggressive deer will approach you hesitantly and bow their heads, and then you give them a biscuit and they bow again and go on to the next person. However, not all of them are as gracious. The funniest was when Tita went to sit down to find her glasses, and two deer surrounded her and almost attacked her. I love that she tried to reason with them using words: "I don't have anything! Go away!" While I was shouting, "Just get up and get away from them!" Instead she just sat there yelping and cowering, which I think spurred the deer on some more. Are deer carnivorous? If so, I'm sure they would have tried to eat her eventually.

The sun started to go down pretty early, so we made our way back to Nara station and took a nap on the train back to Sannomiya. When we got there we found a little restaurant in Center Plaza and had a simple yakitori dinner. We were once again really tired from the day, so we headed back to Gak so Tita could pack called it a night.

Tita woke up really early to catch the bus back to Osaka airport. She left behind a great deal of goodies, though! It was much appreciated. All in all, it was a pretty cool weekend.

I'm looking forward to many more visitors!

11/9/2010 12:00:23 am

Once again, excellent story telling!

12/28/2010 08:45:24 am

I was giggling the whole time. The deer were too much! Glad to be posting a comment while you're in the States!


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