Adventure 18 Day Two | Bunny Mania

Monday

Left the hostel in the morning and headed to the station.

9:07 am – Depart from Hayashima -> 9:19 Arrive at Okayama station

9:31  – Depart from Okayama -> 11:09 Arrive Mihara station (Rush out of the station to put my luggage in a locker)

11:21 – Depart Mihara station -> 11:44 Arrive Tadanoumi

12:30 – Take the ferry from Tadanoumi port to Okunoshima

Proceed to live out bunny heaven.

Bunny island is a lot of fun and lived up to my expectations. Do be fair, my expectations were a little lower after experiencing the deer in Nara, which are like aggressive squirrels in larger form. The bunnies on the island looked really healthy and were very gentle when approaching and taking food. They were got a little aggressive with each other, dive-bombing and pushing each other out of the way, but overall pleasant interactions all-around. I walked around the island a bit, ate my lunch outside, and hid under a tree when it rained for a bit.

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Some tips for bunny island

  • There is nowhere on the island to buy rabbit food, but you can buy some at Tadanoumi port.
  • The best thing to bring, however, is fresh cabbage or lettuce. I got some bagged greens at the Family Mart near Tadanoumi station which was good, but I discovered there is a small grocery store a block away that has actual heads of fresh cabbage.
  • There is luggage storage at Tadanoumi port for 500 yen.
  • Get in line early for the ferry. I think everyone in line with me got on the ferry but since the ferry is not so frequent it’s best to be safe.

4:13 pm – Take the ferry back to Tadanoumi

5:15 – Depart Tadanoumi station -> 5:40 arrive Mihara

5:52 – Depart Mihara -> 7:09 pm arrive Hiroshima! (And walk to my hostel)

I checked in and met the owner, a really nice guy named Masa. I wanted to try Hiroshima okonomiyaki, which has lots of cabbage and noodles added. I asked him about okonomi-mura which is a big building full of okonomiyaki restaurants. He told me he had a better place and gave me a recommendation for Koshida (お好み焼き越田).  I made my way over there and waited in line for a bit before I got seated. The staff was great and the food was even better. I get why this style of okonomiyaki is popular, the noodles and cabbage give it a nicer texture and another layer of flavour.

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Adventure 18 Day One | Dinopanda

Sunday

5:35 – (They journey begins!) Took the first train of the morning from Toyama Station

6:30 – Arrive in Kanazawa and buy my Seishun 18 ticket

6:57 – Depart from Kanazawa -> 8:23 – Arrive in Fukui. Learn Fukui has a whole dino-theme going on.

9:11 – Depart from Fukui -> 10:01 – Arrive in Tsuruga

10:23 – Depart Tsuruga (on the super sweet JR Special Rapid Service for Himeji!)

12:55 – Arrive in Kobe!

I slept quite a bit on the train and felt pretty good. Luckily the early hours and being one of the first people in line meant I always had a seat. I stored my suitcase in a locker in the station and went walking. Being in a new city with nothing weighing you down is a wonderful feeling. It was great to walk around the city and even better to get some good food in Chinatown.

5:27 – Depart Kobe (don’t get a seat because it’s a really busy station!)

7:31 – Arrive in Okayama

7:42 – Depart Okayama

7:53 – Arrive Hayashima station and walk to hostel

I stayed at Igusa Guest House. The hostel owners were incredibly nice and chatted with me about my trip and where I was going. There hostel is small and very homey- I really felt like I was staying at someone’s place. My original plan was to go to Naoshima the next day but luckily they told me that most things on the island were closed on the Monday.  I rearranged my schedule and decided to go to Okunoshima the next day.

How to use the Seishun 18 Kippu

I’m becoming increasingly aware of how little time left I have in Japan. And while I have done many of the things I want to there are still items on the list that have evaded me so far. Number one on the list was a visit to Hiroshima. While railway transport is very efficient and fast, the frugal me always avoided dishing out the funds it would require (about a $400.00 round trip) to get there. But fate seemed to be calling this March, because I had a lot of nenkyuu (days off) saved up and an urge to travel. So I decided to take the most cost-efficient but time-expensive method of transport there is – the Seishun 18 Kippu (青春18きっぷ)!

How it works (japan-guide.com)

  • 11,850 yen for five days of unlimited train use (the days do not have to be consecutive)
  • You can ride the trains (and leave the station) as much as you like but only local trains.
  • The ticket is valid during the school spring, winter, and fall breaks and valid almost everywhere in the country (one of the places it is not, ironically, is Toyama)seishun-ticket

You can buy the ticket at JR train stations. They’ll give you this ticket (above). Guard this with your life! It is the ticket you will use for your whole five days of travel. When you enter the station you have to show this to station worker at the gate and they will stamp it with the date and station (starting on the bottom right). After that you can exit and enter JR trains as much as you like, just show the ticket to the person working at the gate.

Fukui station

Fukui station

The pros

  • You save a lot of money. The two days it would take to go to Hiroshima and back to Toyama would cost 4,740 yen (at 2,370 per day of use) compared to the 40,000 yen on shinkansen / express trains.
  • It’s very flexible. No reservations or booked seats means you can change your schedule and leave the stations whenever you want.

The cons

  • TIME. It takes a lot of time to go anywhere, of course. Via the fastest trains it would take 5 hours from Toyama to Hiroshima vs the 12 hours on local trains.
  • No guaranteed seats. If you get in line early enough you can usually get a seat, but often at major stops there are a lot of people. It’s not a huge deal but after a day of walking around sitting down on the train is a huge relief.

 

The hyperdia app (free)

General recommendations

  • Great for if you are on a budget but you have flexible time.
  • If you are going to do a long-haul trip like I did, solo is best. Early hours, long waits, long train rides, and sometimes not sitting can make a person cranky. When you’re alone it’s fine but in a group there might be some hair-pulling.
  • Use hyperdia.com/en to plan your route. Make sure to deselect all the options except “Local Train” and “Japan Railway (JR)”. There is also a very useful app!
  • Take really early trains and get in line early to get seats.
  • Stop in different cities along your route! You can see a bit more of Japan and get a chance to stretch your legs.

I took the long solo trip up to Hiroshima using this ticket. As a person who fixates on schedules, prices, and also loves travel stories I’m putting together a bit of a travel log (for lack of a better title) –  I’m going to post a day-by-day description of my trip. I hope you enjoy it!

Osaka Food Marathon

I went to Osaka for the long weekend and had a great time like I always do. I’ve been to this city so many times and always enjoy myself. It’s big but laid back, with plenty of touristy things to do that never feel overcrowded or unworthy of the hype. I love being able to walk around, eat, chat, and take in the sights. This weekend in particular was full of wonderful company and food. Lots and lots of food.

Day 1: Okonomiyaki in Dotonbori (Fugetsu | 風月)

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Okonomiyaki is one of the most satisfying Japanese foods and an Osaka specialty. It’s chewy and savory in all the right ways. In Dotonbori there are plenty of Okonomiyaki restaurants to choose from. At Fugetsu we ordered four types (I almost remember accurately) from bottom left clockwise – 1) pork, egg, green onion 2) seafood 3) kimchi 4) potato and mochi. All excellent, but there’s something about the spiciness and texture of kimchi in okonomiyaki that I really love. Potato and mochi is also good, it makes it a little sweeter and more chewy.

Day 2: Hokkaido Milk Ice Cream and Takoyaki (Osaka Castle)

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 I went to do hanami at Osaka castle. By “hanami” I mean I went to see if there were actually any flowers. There weren’t but I spent a sunny afternoon sitting outside and trying some of the food vendors nearby. I had some Hokkaido milk ice cream which was very thick and creamy. They served much smaller portions of this than for other ice cream which is good – any more would be too much of a good thing. I also had takoyaki, another Osaka specialty. Usually takoyaki is covered in sauce and mayonnaise but restaurants have a lot of creative toppings to try from. The flavour above is just salt, and skipping the sauces makes it taste entirely different. I really enjoyed it!

 

Kushikatsu (Shinsekai Kushiya | 新世界串や

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It was my first time having kushikatsu and I am hooked. It was also my first time really hanging out in the Shinsekai area which I now know I have to go back to. Kushikatsu is basically just skewers of battered meat and vegetables that you dip into sauce. Generally you can order as you go and try lots of different varieties. We got an all you can drink all you can eat menu (I’m going to miss this) for around 3000 yen. You have an hour and a half to order as much food and drinks as you want! But if you don’t finish the food you have to pay a fee. They also bring continuous raw cabbage that you can munch on while waiting for your next round of food to come. At the place we went we could order up to five different items at a time and they would bring one skewer of each for each person in our group. We tried octopus, lotus root, eggplant, quail egg, chicken, beef, mushrooms, and a few more I can’t remember! The mushrooms and quail egg were my favourite, but they were all good. I left feeling very, very full.

 

Day 3: Pancakes! (Eggs ‘n Things

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… more like whipped cream and things. I was pretty pumped to order pancakes with blueberries and coconut. Little did I know the portions are massive including a tower of whipped cream (aka white cream in Japanese).  I couldn’t finish all of it and got help from other people. At home I  make an effort not to eat any added sugar and this breakfast had me had me on an intense sugar high all day. I have no regrets!! Though if I ever do it again I’ll plan on sharing.

 

Magical Winter Illumination in Roppongi

This winter break I did a bit of traveling around Japan – to Tokyo, Osaka, and then Maibara. I spent Christmas Eve in Tokyo’s Roppongi Hills witnessing a magical illumination. Earlier in the day we went to the Takashi Murakami Exhibit at the Mori Art Museum, and then spent the evening wandering around the lights, eating crepes, and listening to a concert by a Swedish singing group. Definitely the most unique Christmas I’ve ever had, but a perfect because of wonderful company.