DAY 1, 6th/April Monday: Osaka Castle, Kyoto Imperial Palace Park, Yazaka jinja& Maruyama Koen
After checking out from Osaka Airport, everyone seemed so energetic, despite taking a red eye from Singapore.
This first stop we made was Osaka Castle, one of the 3 biggest Castles in Japan.
Castle and Sakura has always been a beautiful combination.
First glimpse of Sakura( Cherry blossom) was a "WoW!" & followed by more Wows!
We were stunned by the rows of endless Sakura trees blooming with only flowers, not a single leave was seen.
Sakura comes in different shades, colour and patterns.
Click! Click & Click were the only thing I remembered.
"It's like in a dream", many said......
and someone was really dreaming....
Tsih Ern had her first taste of Japanese snack, " Takoyaki" or baked cuttle fish ball, a famous Osaka snack. From her million dollar smile, you can guess the taste ;)
View from top of the castle was breathtaking.........Sakura trees surround the whole Castle.
Apparently, there were 4000 trees in this vicinity!
Lunch at Tonkatsu Ganko was a lot of fun!
We were given a pestle & mortar each to crush some fragrant sesame seeds and mix it in our sauce for Tonkatsu. A first time for everyone. Nice toy! Great fun!
Julie and Kok Yean hard at work.
There was an option for 'HOT' sauce in the red container, while the black pot carried the traditional.
But the Japanese 'Hot' surely made no sense in our Malaysian context. They tasted equally mild.
#8 had never concentrated so much on his food.
He ground it so well that Pit Yean struggled hard to keep up to his standard, while Tsih Ern was looking up to God for help.
The tonkatsu, or fried pork cutlet, came finally.
Before I could snap a shot, #9 had stollen a piece.
One interesting part of our order was that there was an endless refill of raw cabbage. However, our members were mainly meat eaters, and even the original portion served survived!
Our order came with prawns, and as you can easily imagine, none was left ;)
As expected, all love tonkatsu, that's why I put it as our first meal.
After lunch, we headed North towards Kyoto.
The journey took 1 hour+, and some practised Qi-Gong all the way.
The Kyoto Imperial Palace Park was one of the 'sakura viewing sites' recommended.
True enough, it's another eye opener...
There were many big sakura trees.
This sakura hangs down like weeping willows
Many could not resist the temptation of stealing some flowers.
Sometimes, there are things more attractive than sakura ;)
Dinner was early, at the Japanese style Ryokan we stayed.
This was their first Kaiseki dinner experience, served by kimono clad waitresses.
Sitting down with our own little table like in those olden Chinese movies was a surely a good experience.
First we have a problem of seating uncle Looi.
However, the hostess brought a low stool and soon we started to enjoy the dinner. Uncle Looi eventually voted this as the "Best Dinner"
Everyone was fascinated with the set up, however, the sashimi was the one attracted most of the men.
Suddenly#8 shouted "#6, Look! My raw fish just moved ;)"
It was the sake speaking.....
My #6 brother found the ochatsuke a little hard to swallow as there was no meat in the soup.
However, all agreed that the dessert was very nicely presented.
The night was not over yet.
We then took a taxi to Yazaka Jinja, and walked through a yatai (hawker food) lane, to catch a glimpse of something different.
Pit Yean bought from this store and shared with the whole group, and we found the long lost brother of our " Kueh Baulu" :)
At the back of this temple was Maruyama Koen, and this is what we were here for:
To watch a glimpse of the biggest weeping sakura tree, some 350 years old.
Awesome sight with the light shining from below. Many Japanese were seen singing and drinking under the many more smaller sakura trees nearby.
At a closer view, it was pinkish.
We then walked back to the Ryokan.
Some smart guys were lost in translation.
It had been a long day, ohyasuminasai....