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Mikuni, Osaka, Kawaramachi, Kyoto, and Harajuku, Tokyo

We had a pretty busy weekend on the Worldschool Travel Tour with us seven unschooling young adults: we went to my old little neighborhood of Mikuni, Osaka and to Kawaramachi the bustling center of Kyoto on Saturday. On Sunday we went to Harajuku, Tokyo which is famous for its “cosplay”: people who show off amazing and often bizarre outfits.

My step-mom Tomoko just arrived in Osaka the night before with her daughter, my little sister, Yuni on Friday night. So we visited them Saturday morning and had some tako yaki at my favorite place in the neighborhood I used to live in: Mikuni.

Mikuni is just a few train stops from the center of Osaka, the second largest city in Japan, and it was my home for eight months in 2004. I hadn’t visited since 2006 so it was a trip.

Tako yaki, fried octopus dumplings, being made in my old neighborhood of Mikuni, Osaka, Japan. The finished one are on the right.

Tako yaki, fried octopus dumplings, being made in my old neighborhood of Mikuni, Osaka, Japan. The finished one are on the right.

Rachel showing off the delicious tako yaki covered in mayonnaise and scallions.

Rachel showing off the delicious tako yaki covered in mayonnaise and scallions.

Tako yaki - Becki, Eli, and Rachel eating fried octopus dumplings in Osaka, Kansai, Japan: the capital of tako yaki.

Tako yaki - Becki, Eli, and Rachel eating fried octopus dumplings in Osaka, Kansai, Japan: the capital of tako yaki.

Not everyone was willing to try the strange new food but I was glad many were and a couple liked it! Rachel and Becki really liked them but Hannah was surprised and disappointed she did not like it.

Then we took a walk down the old Mikuni Shoutengai: the hallway market I walked down almost every day when I lived here.

Mikuni Shoutengai front view.

Mikuni Shoutengai front view.

Mikuni Shoutengai view from the other end.

Mikuni Shoutengai view from the other end.

Then we walked from there to Shin-Osaka station and took a short, free, 15 minute Shinkansen “Bullet Train” using our Japan Rail Passes. We went to downtown Kawaramachi to get some late lunch.

Dragonfly that landed, and stayed, on Rachel's elbow in Kyoto, Japan. Tomoko told us that's cosidered good luck.

Dragonfly that landed, and stayed, on Rachel's elbow in Kyoto, Japan. Tomoko told us that's cosidered good luck.

We found this okonomiyaki place: that’s another food this Kansai is known for. “Okonomiyaki” means “fried as you like it”. It’s a pancake with cabbage where you decide what else you want to put into it or put on it: I had mine with beef, others had pork, and some have seafood or soba noodles.

Here are couple okonomiyaki photos I stole from Hannah but check out this post from Hannah’s blog for a whole bunch more from that day:

Okonomiyaki: Eli, Sarah and David had okonomiyaki, Japanese pancakes "fried as you like it" in Kyoto, Japan. David's flipping his over.

Okonomiyaki: Eli, Sarah and David had okonomiyaki, Japanese pancakes "fried as you like it" in Kyoto, Japan. David's flipping his over.

Okonomiyaki finished with Hananh's yaki soba in Kyoto, Japan.

Okonomiyaki finished with Hananh's yaki soba in Kyoto, Japan. Then we ate it all directly off of the grill.

The next day we went to Shibuya and Harajuku: two areas of Tokyo. Shibuya has the Times Square of Tokyo: huge bright intersection with lots of adds and millions of people.

Shibuya intersection - the Times Square of Tokyo, Japan - one view.

Shibuya intersection - the Times Square of Tokyo, Japan - one view.

Shibuya intersection - the Times Square of Tokyo, Japan - another view.

Shibuya intersection - the Times Square of Tokyo, Japan - another view.

Truth is I think most people were kind of disappointed. It’s really just a shopping place. If you’re not actually looking to buy anything there’s not much to do.

But we did find a really good place to eat:

Udon noodles in broth with pork on top and tempura one the side - deep fried squash, squid, lotus root, and fish cake.

Udon noodles in broth with pork on top and tempura one the side - deep fried squash, squid, lotus root, and fish cake.

Then we went to Harajuku, the area of Tokyo known for cosplay people:

Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan - this street is full of cosplay and other clothing shops.

Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan - this street is full of cosplay and other clothing shops.

Sarah in a cosplay shop in Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan. She was the one who really wanted to go to one of these shops but two other people also got outfits!

Sarah in a cosplay shop in Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan. She was the one who really wanted to go to one of these shops but two other people also got outfits. It was fun to look around anyway.

Meiji Jingu Shrine Gate in Harajuku. I managed to make it look like we weren't in the middle of Tokyo, Japan one of the biggest metropolises in the world!

Meiji Jingu Shrine Gate in Harajuku. I managed to make it look like we weren't in the middle of Tokyo, Japan one of the biggest metropolises in the world!

Worldschool Travel Tour: Japan 2009 - the group with Satoru and Yuni in the Harajuku Park.

Worldschool Travel Tour: Japan 2009 - the group with Satoru and Yuni in the Harajuku Park.

After chilling there for a bit we got back on the Shinkansen and went back to Kyoto.

The Shinkansen Bullet Train in Tokyo that took us back to Kyoto in 2.5 hours

The Shinkansen Bullet Train in Tokyo that took us back to Kyoto in 2.5 hours

Eating ramen near Kyoto Station after a long day in Tokyo.

Eating ramen near Kyoto Station after a long day in Tokyo.

Hannah really liking the ramen.

Hannah really liking the ramen.

Ramen with gyoza: fried Chinese style dumplings.

Ramen with gyoza: fried Chinese style dumplings.

Alright, that’s it for now. Will post soon about our adventures around Kyoto: we’re finally seeing the famous temples and gardens in Kyoto.

Thanks for visiting everyone!

6 Responses to “Mikuni, Osaka, Kawaramachi, Kyoto, and Harajuku, Tokyo”

  1. Kendra says:

    Wow, looks like so much fun!

  2. Eli Gerzon says:

    Thanks Kendra! Yeah, we’re having a good time!

  3. Nikowa@KHA says:

    I LOVE gyoza (geoza). I made some just the other day.

    Also, I read somewhere that the dragonfly is also a symbol of strength. I have a dragonfly tattoo for that very reason ūüôā

    GREAT blog. Keep sharing.

    • Eli Gerzon says:

      Thanks Nikowa for the support and the info about dragonflies! Just got back from downtown Osaka and karaoke! Will try to write about it soon….

  4. ERIK says:

    I always loved going to Harajuku every Sunday, of course that was back in 1986 when I was stationed in Yokosuka on the U.S.S. Midway. After learning to speak Japanese, It opened up so many doors for me. Ahh, the good ol’ days.

    I spent a total of 7 years in Japan, and loved every day of it.
    Especially Harajuku, I always dressed in my “Hippie” clothes, so many of the “Goths” didn’t know what to make of me.

    Ja, Matta Ne ?

    • Eli Gerzon says:

      Thanks Erik for the stories! Learning the language definitely opens everything up and is a lot of fun. So cool to hear about things back then. And I didn’t realize that Harajuku has been goth for so long!

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