Posted by Heliocentrism on April 10, 2015
Sunday, January 4, 2015
This day had an unplanned nautical theme. Originally, we were going to drive through Shikoku, the smallest big Japanese island whose name everyone keeps forgetting, at the end of this trip. We would have entered near Kobe, driven by Naruto, stopped off at Matsuyama to check out the Dogo Onsen, then headed home via a bridge near Fukuyama.
But then, Mark got an email from his boss telling him that he had a company meeting in Hiroshima on the 7th. So, I had to rearrange some of our plans. We went to the Dogo Onsen in early November, instead of during this trip. And, we left Kyoto at 5:00 and drove past Osaka and Kobe, this day, to see a whirlpool then drove back through Kobe and on to Osaka. Madness!
The Naruto Whirlpool
I’ve wanted to see this thing since I found out about its existence a few summers ago. This trip was the closest we have gotten to the whirlpool since then. I know it’s best to go during the summer, but now is when I would be in the area.
The whirlpool didn’t get very whirlpooly and I was forced to take a photo of a photo of the whirlpool taken in the summer. The level of the awkwardness of that last sentence is about the same as the level of disappointment I had looking at the whirlpool that just refused to whirl.
The Floating Garden
I took Mark to see the Floating Garden in the Umeda Sky Building. It’s a misnomer, but the name fits the theme here. We got to the top in time to watch the sunset and to take photos at night.
If you go through Mark’s photos you will see very few pictures of me smiling. It’s not because I don’t smile. It’s because by the time Mark took the photo he actually keeps, I had stopped smiling.
He’ll take a picture and forget to turn off the flash, or turn on the flash. Then he’ll want to try other modes, like cartoon mode or toy mode. Then I’ll hear something like, “Oh, the leaf moved,” or “Stand like this.” I would pose for him for a minute or two and then get bored.
I would tell him that I want to take photos too, but can’t because I’m spending all my time posing for him. Then he’ll complain about how he has no good photos of me smiling. “Learn to take photos more quickly!” I’d yell at him as I storm off to take my own pictures.
Fishing on a boat in a restaurant
Mark found a Zauo Fishing Restaurant in Tokyo. But, when he called to make reservations he found that they would be closed for the duration of our stay in Tokyo.
He then went online and found another Zauo in Osaka. They would be open while we were in town. So this is where we went our first night in Osaka.
We each got a pole, hooks, and bait. We stuck our hooks in the water and waited. People left, right, in front, and behind us pulled fish out the water. Every 5 minutes someone in the restaurant was cheering and laughing because they had caught a fish.
Every time a fish is caught the wait staff beat on some drums. There were no drums for us. We sat there for about 3 hours. I eventually gave up, took out my tablet, and started reading an e-book. I ordered some fries and a drink and let Mark have his fun.
He was having the time of his life even if he wasn’t catching a thing!
The staff moved Mark around to restaurant hoping he would have better luck at some other spot. He must have met everyone on all the boats. When we were leaving several little kids ran up to Mark to say goodbye.
When Mark was still fishless after an hour they gave him a special 4-pointed hook. With this Mark was to try to grab the fish by the chin rather than wait for the fish to bite. On his first few throws Mark just whacked a couple fish on their heads. Then he got a hang of it.
Mark had the fish sushied and tempuraed. The fish was really good! …or maybe we were just half-starved by the time we got our meal.
The whole thing for the both of us, including appetizers, drinks, dessert, and bait cost us about 4,500 JYN. Not bad for dinner and an evening worth of entertainment.
How to get there:
You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.
Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.
- Emergency Numbers:
- Police 110
- Ambulance and Fire 119
- Important phone numbers to know while in Japan
- Comfort Woman
- The Commoner
- Empire of the Sun
- Flyboys: A True Story of Courage
- Geisha, a Life
- Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II’s Most Dramatic Mission
- The Last Concubine
- Memoirs of a Geisha
- Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath
- Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan
- What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
- Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan. Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
- InternationalATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cash and call your bank toaskwhatATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
- ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
- The Post Office bank seems to work with the most international cards.
- You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan; I’ve never been a tourist here.)
(Naruto no Uzushio)
- Coordinates 34°14’21.8″N 134°39’18.9″E
- Uzu no Michi (pdf)
- free – 2,000 yen depending on how you want to look at the whirlpools
- View from the bridge:
- Parking: 420 JYN per day
- Admission to just the bridge: 510 JYN
- Admission to bridge and boring museum: 900 JYN
- Bridge: 9:00 – 18:00
- during bad weather
- 2nd Mondays in March, June, September, and December
- The whirlpools happen about every six hours, once in the morning and once in the afternoon for an hour or two.
- The whirlpools vary in size, depending on the intensity of the tides.
- They tend to be larger in summer than in winter, and are largest during spring tides, which occur every two weeks.
- The name “spring tide” has nothing to do with the season spring. It’s just a name.
- The best places to see the whirlpools is on the coast of the island Awaji or from the bridge.
- You can see the whirlpools
The Umeda Sky Building
(Umeda Sukai Biru)
- Coordinates 34°42’18.5″N 135°29’26.0″E
Kita-ku Osaka, Osaka Prefecture
- but if you visit the cinema in the other building you can get a flier with a 70YEN discount/ person.
- You only need one flier per group to get a discount for each person.
- 10:00 – 22:30
- (Last admittance is at 22:00)
- The “Floating Garden Observatory” is on the 39th floor.
- Be sure to visit the old time Osaka town on the first basement level (B1) of the building. It’s free to view.
- There are many restaurants.
- There are lockers near the elevator to the top. They cost 100YEN to use.
- I recommend going about 15 minutes before sunset.
Zauo Fishing Restaurant
(釣船茶屋 ざうお )
(Tsuribune chaya zauo)
- Coordinates 34°40’06.2″N 135°30’23.9″E
Namba Washington Hotel Plaza B1F, 1-1-13, Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka 542-0073
- bait ¥100-200
- fish prices start from ¥2,000 if you catch the fish
- It’s cheaper to catch the fish yourself.
- Weekdays 17:00-24:00
- Weekends and holidays 11:30-23:30
- What to do
- You can take as long as you need to catch a fish, as long as it is within opening hours.
- If you are having trouble catching a fish, they will give you cheat hooks, where you can basically just claw the fish out the water.
Bonsai Guest House
- Coordinates 34°39’30.9″N 135°31’41.5″E
1-4-13 Momodani, Ikuno-ku, Osaka, 5440034
- from 2,700 JYN
- reception is open~ 8:30 – 22:00
- Check in ~ 16:00 – 21:00
- Check out ~ by 11:00
- It’s a one minute walk from Momodani Station.
- It’s a one minute walk from a shopping area with lots of restaurants.
- It’s about a two minute walk from a grocery store.
- There is paid parking right across the street, but it might be full.
- There is another, cheaper place to park near a little park called Momodani Park.
- Parking Lot: 34°39’40.4″N 135°31’44.7″E
- (I don’t remember exactly, but I think it cost 700 JYN / day to park here.)