Osaka: Our Japan Food Diary

Osaka: Our Japan Food Diary

We only spent one day in Osaka (not including Universal Studios) but we packed a whole lot of food in. Osaka is known for it’s street food so we had a long list of Osaka food we wanted to try. Here’s what we ate:

Starbucks

While we waited for our hotel check in time to come around, we hung out in a Starbucks with out luggage. I had my first matcha frappuccino and it was everything. Topher got a some form of a chocolate cookie frappuccino.

osaka food - starbucks

Breakfast: Japanese Bakery

osaka food - japanese bakery

For our first morning in Osaka we were on the hunt for a bakery. I watched a lot of Youtube videos before we went so I knew that we definitely had to make it to a Japanese bakery at least once. This one was in an underground shopping mall attached to Nippombashi station.

osaka food - melon pan

We got a couple of pastries each. I had to try some melon pan which I already tried in Tokyo but as part of an ice cream sandwich. This one did not disappoint!

Topher also got this what I’m just going to call “breakfast bread” which he said was perfect for what he needed that morning. It was basically bread with bacon and egg embedded into it which would be ideal for on the go.

osaka food - breakfast bread

Street Food

Our lunch was from a stall we found on the walk to Osaka castle. It sold different meats and seafood on sticks as well as corn on the cob. Topher went for the corn and I got this squid like thing which we weren’t sure what it was exactly. We called it sea bacon and left it at that. Both were tasty!

osaka food - corn
osaka food - sea bacon

Osaka Castle was also the location in which we discovered Bikkle. As we went along our trip we tried many different drinks from the vending machines we found. But none other led us on a hunt that would last the rest of the trip like this drink. Anywhere we saw it after this, we got it.

osaka food - bikkle

If you like Yakult or Actimel, you’ll love Bikkle. It’s like those drinks but with more of a fruity edge to it. If you want to see us try it, check out the Osaka vlog at 18.51.

Uncle Rikuro – Japanese Cheesecake

osaka food - uncle rikuro

A few years ago I saw a photo of a Japanese cheesecake on Pinterest and knew one day I’d have to try it. I pinned it to my board and fast forward to this year I finally got to try it. Uncle Rikuro is a very popular chain for this type of cheesecake and all those people in the photo above are lining up for a fresh one.

osaka food - cheesecake

I read that you could get slices of the cheesecake inside but they weren’t as fresh. We took a gamble and bought a whole one for the two of us hoping we’d like it and be able to finish it. Our hotel was nearby so we ran back to it to try it out.

Look how big it is! Luckily it was light, fluffy and we ate a chunk of it there and then before saving the rest for breakfast the next day. There was a mini fridge in the room.

I wouldn’t recommend trying it if you’re expecting a Western cheesecake because it’s definitely not that. No cheesiness to it in the slightest. I’d heard it described as a sweet omelette but trust me it tasted better than that sounds! In the vlog I linked above, we try this right after Bikkle so keep watching it if you want to see our thoughts on the screen.

osaka food - cheesecake feast

Takoyaki

osaka food - takoyaki

Takoyaki is an Osaka speciality that you must try if you come here. Unless you’re vegetarian! Takoyaki is dough balls with pieces of octopus inside. Tako means octopus and Yaki means fried. Drizzled on top is usually Japanese mayo, takoyaki sauce (kind of like worcestershire sauce tasting) and bonito flakes which are made from dried fish.

They are made all over the place in Osaka and my number one tip when eating is to bite a small air hole in a ball so it can cool down a bit. I’ve watched too many people shove one in their mouth only to get burned. Topher fell victim to this!

Gyoza

osaka food - gyoza

I was unable to try these as they contained pork but Topher said they were delicious! These were on Dotonbori Street. You would be able to find other types elsewhere that don’t contain pork but I just didn’t do too much research into it as there were other kinds of food I was more excited by.

Kobe Beef

osaka food - kobe beef

We didn’t have time on this trip to visit the actual city of Kobe so I was pleased to find this shop that did it in Dotonbori. This beef was expensive but so delicious!

Taiyaki

osaka food - taiyaki

We found this shop on the way back to our hotel and I was so pleased as this was on my list of things to try. Taiyaki is a cake shaped like a fish which is traditionally filled with red bean paste. Though these days there are more things you can find them filled with like custard for example.

I went with the traditional type and it was so nice. I really enjoy red bean paste as it is sweet without being overly rich. It’s great to finish a dessert and not feel sick!

Oden

osaka food - oden

We didn’t actually have this but I took the photo to remind myself to try it next time. We were too full at this point to squeeze anything else in. Oden is popular in the winter and consists of a broth where you can add in any of the items in this photo. Things like fish cakes, boiled eggs, daikon etc.

Tohato – Random snack!

osaka food - tohato

We bought this on the same day but didn’t try until the next day when we got back from Universal Studios. Emma asked us to bring a couple of bags back for her as she loved them when we came to Japan in 2017. We ended up getting a bag for us as well and I’m glad we did.

Tohato Caramel Corn are “crunchy corn bites covered in a super thin caramel glaze (making them sweet, but not overpoweringly sweet), as well as roasted peanuts for a hint of savoury umami flavour.” There seem to be a few different types/flavours but this is the one we tried this time. If you’re ever in Japan pick yourself up a bag, they’re so moreish!

And that’s everything we ate in Osaka.

Stay tuned for my next instalment where we head to Hiroshima.

If you can’t wait for that I’m happy to tell you that all of our Japan vlogs are up on my Youtube channel. Enjoy!

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The Happy Planner: My Planning Journey

The Happy Planner: My Planning Journey

For those who have read my blog for a number of years you will know that I until fairly recently was in love with my bullet journal. Well I’m afraid that love has come to an end as I’ve found something new.

No, scratch that. I’d fallen out of love with bullet journalling and The Happy Planner came along when I didn’t know where to turn to.

It all started when I went back to office work over a year ago now. Actually it probably started a lot earlier than that. I was struggling with the motivation to use my bullet journal but going back to 9-5 work really zapped my want to keep layout out spreads.

I found the whole thing exhausting so I simply gave it up. I did try to restart this year but it fell flat and I didn’t know what to do. It’s obvious that my brain can’t handle everything but where to put everything in an organised fashion?

The hunt began

A Filofax maybe? Nope, I’d tried that a few times but always felt guilty when I didn’t fill it out. And though the covers were always so pretty, the diaries were so boring inside.

Research needed to happen so I looked at all kinds of diaries and planners until I found the one.

Enter…The Happy Planner.

happy planner - mine

I think it was their instagram I stumbled across first. I loved the structure of not having to draw out your own spreads but also the flexibility of being able to move pages around with the disk system. It was perfect for me.

Admittedly I got a little too excited. I bought an 18 month planner. Mainly because it was June of this year and I didn’t want to buy an entire 2019 planner where half of it would go to waste. But yes it was a risk.

I then got giddier and ordered a load of supplies (think stickers, washi tapes, pretty pens and highlighters) which I mainly spent with my birthday money. Even more risky.

happy planner - supplies

But honestly so far it’s paying off. I am having a blast with this planner.

It has a monthly plan section.

happy planner - monthly
happy planner - july
happy planner - august spread

And then there are weekly spreads.

happy planner - weekly spread

Every Sunday (give or take) I sit down and decorate the pages for the week ahead and it is so relaxing and fun.

I’ve also started adding in extra pages like this one for my weight loss journey. The flexibility of this planner is great.

happy planner - weight loss tracker

I wanted both a creative outlet and something to organise me so I don’t forget another birthday again. I don’t know how I survived before. I was definitely more stressed.

Plus it’s getting me out of my shell and planning more activities in my life which is more than I could have dreamed of. The last 6 months of my self employment especially saw me retreating into myself and finding any excuse necessary not to leave the house. Now I feel like I’m having fun again.

I’ll definitely review my planner early next year to see if I’m still loving it but right now I feel great!

How do you keep yourself organised? Do you have a planner of your own?

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Osaka: Our Japan Travel Diary

Osaka: Our Japan Travel Diary

Time for the next instalment of our Japan Travel Diary: Osaka!

If this is the first post you’re seeing please check out:

Tokyo – What we did

Tokyo – What we ate

Kyoto – What we did

Kyoto – What we ate

Our Japan trip vlogs!

Now onto Osaka. We had two days in Osaka – one for the city and one to spend in Universal Studios.

Day 1

We began the day at Umeda Sky Building. It’s a tall building in Osaka that boasts a 360 view of the city. It was the perfect day for it too!

I somehow managed to take no photos of the building but it looks like this.

The escalators were especially cool as they are on the outside of the building.

Then we visited Osaka castle. It was so pretty! You can pay to go inside but we preferred to look at the gorgeous exterior.

Namba Shrine

Namba shrine was a must do for me and not because of the shrine but of the stage that sits next to it. It’s a dragon head! I only saw this in a couple of places online and it was pretty quiet when we visited so a good one to visit for something quirky that’s slightly off the usual tourist track.

Plus the shrine itself is nice to look at too.

I became what’s known as a “drainspotter” while we were in Japan and this one in Osaka of the castle was by far my favourite. Why can’t our drain covers look like this at home?

Shinsekai

This area of Osaka was a must on my list do list as it was very visually appealing to me. Plus Topher’s a big fan of lit up cities at night so this was a perfect location. There was just so much to look at as well as eat but that’s for a whole other blog post!

Dotonbori Street

Dotonbori Street was the last stop of our day and well worth leaving until last. You can go during the day which is ideal for avoiding crowds but crowds is what we were after. When the street is full of people at night time there’s just an amazing atmosphere. Long lines of people, delicious smells and lights everywhere.

When we go on holiday we’re usually back in the hotel room at night after a full day but this had to change our ways. Alive is definitely a word I’d use to describe Dotonbori st.

Day 2

Universal Studios Japan

Up bright and early we headed across the city on the subway to Universal Studios Japan. I’d done my research and it told me that the Japanese tend to queue up early an hour or so before parks open so we managed to get to the gate at 8.30am. It was a good thing we did as they started letting people in at 8.40am. And they were running!

How to describe USJ? It’s like it’s American counter parts but with a distinctive Japanese twist that you can’t replicate. It was fascinating walking around and I especially enjoyed people watching here. Young or old people will wear the merch and I am so down for that. Who says kids get to have all the fun?

And of course we had to visit the Harry Potter section. We both agreed weather wise it was the most accurate of the three we’ve now been to. And it was mainly the same but in Japanese (of course). Only the Japanese merch game is way better. I went nuts for their tins of sweets as the tins were perfection. Check out our haul to see what I mean.

Take me back!

Next up will be everything we ate in Osaka.

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19 for 2019 – An Update

19 for 2019 – An Update

So this year like any other is flying by. How is it almost Halloween? At the beginning of the year instead of traditional goals or resolutions I tried something different and made a 19 for 2019 list.

That’s 19 things to do in the year of 2019. Let’s see how I’ve got on in the first two thirds of the year:

  1. Go trampolining with mum – DONE
  2. Get to target at Slimming World (the happy weight not the super skinny one) – nowhere near. We’ll see how this one goes. I can only hope and try my best.
  3. Finish Florida 2015 scrapbook. Yes you read that right and no I haven’t finished it yet! – DONE – check it out here.
  4. Make and finish wedding & honeymoon scrapbook – Kind of started, nowhere near finished.
  5. Finish Tangled jigsaw – Started, not finished.
  6. Visit York – DONE – Topher and I visited for our 2 year wedding anniversary
  7. Make 5 recipes from Mowgli cook book I got for my birthday this year – not made a single one yet. I think I’m going to have to marathon it.
  8. Get a denim jacket and sew my patch collection onto it – Half done. I have the denim jacket and I have sewn some patches but not my whole collection yet.
  9. Vlog Japan – Currently I just do musical roundups of trips. I partly attempted to vlog our honeymoon but kept chickening out. This time I want to go for it. – DONE – check out my vlogs here. I think we’ve caught the vlogging bug!
  10. Put up a towel rail and fix the towel hook in our ensuite. A niggly job that I’ve been putting off! – Half done. The towel hook is done, the rail is not yet.
  11. See something at the theatre – DONE – We saw The Book of Mormon
  12. Archive and organise my mountain of paperwork – DONE – so much shredding!
  13. Scrapbook and organise the giant box of sentimental bits and bobs I’ve accumulated over the years. – not even a little bit
  14. Take the tape off the walls, polyfill the holes and touch up the paint in the living room. I can finally call the room finished when I’ve done that! – Not yet though I did put up frames and make a gallery wall as well as a shelf so the room looks a lot more done now.
  15. Do a 30 day yoga challenge. Long time readers will know my back/arm/repetitive strain issues so I want to see if yoga will help at all. I’m not doing the gym any more so need to do some kind of activity – DONE
  16. Finally do indoor skydiving – this has been on my list for years – Not yet and honestly I’m not sure if I want to anymore. I think it was a different me who wanted to do it.
  17. Get a savings app to track my spending better – Nope
  18. Rejig blog layout and transfer photos to new storage platform. I’m currently with Flickr and with all the new changes, I have just over a month to get all my 7 years of photos off there. A huge job! Half done. Sorted the photos but haven’t done anything to my blog layout. Not sure if I want to or not.
  19. Open a new savings account and actually have something in there at the end of the year. – Half done – opened one and we’ll see if theres anything in there at the end of the year.

So 9 out of 19 approximately. Not bad but could be better. There’s still just over 100 days until the end of the year so I’ve got time. Interested to see how many more I can squeeze in under the wire! Watch this space.

How are your 2019 goals coming along?

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Kyoto: Our Japan Food Diary

Kyoto: Our Japan Food Diary

So looking back through my photos to put this post together it turns out that we ate basically nothing in Kyoto. So this is going to be a short Kyoto food diary.

We only spent 36 hours in Kyoto so here’s our food diary.

Bento Box

kyoto food diary - bento box

Bento boxes are by definition “a single-portion take-out or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine”. Thank you wikipedia.

So when you take the shinkansen/bullet train it’s practically the law that you get one. At least that’s what I told myself. Getting a 6.30am train from Tokyo to Kyoto meant that Topher and I needed breakfast so this was a both convenient and delicious solution.

I got myself a salmon onigiri (which is a filling like salmon, tuna, etc. surrounded by rice and wrapped in seaweed to make a triangle shape), a milk tea and a bento box. The bento box consisted of deliciously marinated beef on a bed of sticky rice.

One thing to mention is that this bento box was cold. And yet it was so delicious I still dream of it now. Bento boxes can also come hot but I went with this one. If you’re in Japan get one whether you’re riding the shinkansen or not.

Nishiki Market

After a jam packed morning we headed to Nishiki market for lunch.

Salmon Sashimi & Sea Urchin

kyoto food diary - sashimi

As a lover of sushi and seafood, this salmon sashimi was right up my street. Perfection! The sea urchin on the other hand I could take or leave. We just wanted to tick it off our bucket lists. The taste was fine but the texture was…interesting. I’ll leave you with that.

Torched Scallops

kyoto food diary - scallops

I say torched because the guy literally blow torched them there and then before handing them to me on a stick. These were the best things I ate all day. I hadn’t seen them on any blogs or vlogs – I just saw a woman with them that day and hunted the market until I found them. Recommended.

Tako Tamago

kyoto food diary - octopus

Yes indeed that is an octopus you see. And not just an octopus; a glazed octopus. And not just a glazed octopus; a glazed octopus with a quail egg inside its head.

I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this taste-wise as much as I did. It was actually pretty nice. But only if you like seafood. If you don’t then steer clear of this eccentricity.

And unfortunately those are all the photos I have. For dinner and breakfast the next day we went to a convenience store (kombini) which you can actually see on our Kyoto video here.

And the next day for lunch we headed to another branch of our beloved Sukiya which I first spoke about in my Tokyo food diary. And that’s it!

Stay tuned for my next instalment where we head to Osaka.

If you can’t wait for that I’m happy to tell you that all of our Japan vlogs are up on my Youtube channel. Enjoy!

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