Arrived at 関西 (Kansai) airport, 大阪(Osaka). Took a 30-minute ride with the airport bus, followed by a 20-minute train ride to 三田(Sanda).03-Nov-2008
Sore throat; slept long.04-Nov-2008
Again wonderful sunshine and 20°C. Walked 30 minutes through the Sanda suburbs to the nearest home improvement center, while the grandparents were babysitting Hannah. Bought sand paper, handkerchiefs and some tangerines at a department store.05-Nov-2008
Put a (desperately needed) new coat of paint on garden furniture (table, bench, stool). Beforehand, the remainders of the old paint had to be removed with sand paper.06-Nov-2008
Day trip to 丹波篠山 (Tanba-Sasayama). Walked around the old city center, and saw our first temple on the grounds of the rebuilt 大書院 (Oshoin) castle.07 - 10-Nov-2008
Weather not so nice, patches of rain, quite cold inside the house. Almost the entire family has either a sore throat, running nose, or is coughing. So we mostly stay inside, play with Hannah, watch television and eat good and healthy Japanese food.11-Nov-2008
Started early to 大阪 (Osaka); visited the Modern Transportation Museum, which has a nice collection of trains and everything around railroads. Also walked through the shopping malls and quickly browsed through the large department stores located at Osaka central station.12-Nov-2008
Sunny weather again. Had a second breakfast outside, sitting on the recently painted bench with the whole family. For lunch, cooked a traditional German meal: Rinderrouladen for 6 persons. Never used so expensive ingredients before: 600g beef for ¥2000, 2 small glasses of red cabbage for ¥499 each, a small glass of pickles for ¥599. But it was worthwhile, tasted really good, just like home!
Also some bad news: While most of the family has recuperated (only Yuko is still coughing), Hannah has a running nose, and isn't feeling so well. Two nights ago, she moved 90° in her bed, and slept most of the cold night without a blanket. Shouldn't have let that happen…
Despite the sunny weather, we didn't do much because Hannah has high temperature and a running nose, and doesn't feel well. Yuko is still suffering from her sore throat, and went to see the doctor today to get some antibiotics.14-Nov-2008
Resumed painting of two small pieces of garden furniture that had to be left out last time for lack of time, and were low priority because of their poor overall condition. The main paint job consisted of the wooden railing of the terrace.
Luckily, Hannah has recovered very quickly and is very happy and active today.
Finished painting of all garden furniture. (Well, there's much more to paint, but at least the things screaming for paint are now covered.) Good job!
Hannah is very active again, she's been playing on a blanket all day long and is trying to move forwards while lying on her back.
Went to a 回転寿司 (Kaiten Sushi) restaurant in 三田 (Sanda). The Sushi plates moved on a conveyor belt next to the table. Each plate cost ¥100; the two of us ate 17 plates. Despite the low price, the food was very tasty (except for the one plate where the fish was still nearly frozen), and we ate till exhaustion. When one's favorite didn't show up in time, one could order via a touchscreen at the table. Once we figured out how to do that, the feature was very addictive.17-Nov-2008
Mixed weather again. Yuko researched and planned our next journey, while I did some programming.18-Nov-2008
Went by train to 京都 (Kyoto). Visited 南禅寺 (Nanzenji temple) and 永観堂 (Eikando temple). Stayed at a traditional 旅館 (Japanese Ryokan hotel). Accommodation is quite expensive in Kyoto, but this one was relatively inexpensive. In the evening, we walked through the large new shopping center located in the rebuilt central station.19-Nov-2008
More sightseeing in 京都 (Kyoto). Bought some food at a French bakery and took a walk in Palace garden around Imperial Palace. Then, we went to see the world-famous 清水寺 (Kiyomizu temple) (and lots of tourists and tourist shops).
After a late lunch, we took the train to 姫路 (Himeji). It was already dark, so we quickly went to our hotel, which was located in the business district near central station. During a short walk around the adjoining blocks, Yuko bought some prepackaged food in a convenience store. We were able to see lots of small shops and eateries, and experienced the awakening of the flashing lights of the entertainment (and red light) district, though.
Visited 姫路城 (Himeji castle). Many tourists, mostly school classes. Covering the extensive terrain and climbing the five wooden floors of the castle took quite some time. We skipped the zoo next to the castle, but went to the adjoining 好古園 (garden) with our combined ticket. After so much sightseeing, we again had late lunch at a restaurant in a department store, then walked back to our hotel to fetch our luggage, then back to central station.
We took the train back to Kobe; during a brief stop there we bought some sweets. A one-hour bus ride took us right back to 学園 (Gakuen), Sanda.
Stayed at home, washed our laundry.25-Nov-2008
Went to 大阪 (Osaka) on my own. Yuko's parents went to the University's hospital by car, and I started my journey at Yamada station in the north.
I first took the train to 天神橋筋６丁目 (Tenjimbashisuji6-chome), where the subway starts. I had noticed that the train went across a river briefly before stopping, so I went out of the station and tried to walk back to the river, hoping for some nice photos. After walking some 600 meters, I reached a big bridge across Dojo river; I walked halfway across the bridge, and took many photos of the buildings on both shorelines, and the train bridges next to that bridge. Then I went back to the station and took the subway to なんば (Namba) station.
From there, I wanted to go to the electronics district of Denden-Town. I found out that if I had exited the subway one station earlier, I would have been right at the start of Denden-Town. So I walked through an underground shopping passage back to 日本橋 (Nippombashi) station, and started exploring Denden-Town by walking 堺筋 (Sakaisuji) street. I browsed through a shop selling Comic and Anime figures, then browsed through an DVD store, and several electronics and computer shops.
Had lunch at McDonald's, then went back north through a side street. At 15:00, it slightly started raining and I went into Namba City shopping mall, looking for Rocket square. I didn't find the large rocket replica, and just ended up buying a T-Shirt at Uniqlo.
I next went to 本町 (Hommachi) station, and had coffee and chocolate chip cake at Hardrock Cafe Osaka. Then I drove another two stations to 梅田 (Umeda). From there, I would later take the train back home. But I decided to visit 空中庭園 (the Floating Garden Observatory) atop the tallest skyscraper (40th floor, 350m). For that, I had to walk along Hankyu station and the New Hankyu Hotel, then through a long bare underground passage across a large building site.
There was a German Weihnachtsmarkt around the Sky building. I entered the building's rooftop just a the sun began to set, and I took many photos of the Osaka skyline.
After sunset, I quickly walked back to Hankyu Umeda station and took a (cramped) train to 宝塚 (Takarazuka), where I changed to the JR line to 新三田 (Shin-Sanda). I intended to take the bus home, but Yuko had phoned me to take a ride with her father instead, and I didn't hear (because the phone's volume was set to low) that I should go to 広野 (Hirono) station. Thus, after another phone call, I had to take the next train to the next station, where Yuko's father already waited for me.
It's Yuko's father's birthday. For lunch, we went to にり万 (Niriman) fish restaurant in downtown Sanda, where we had 天ぷら (Tempura).27-Nov-2008
Accompanied Yuko's father to fetch Yuko's mother. Wanted to bathe our feet in a hot spring at ぬくもりの湯 (Nukumorinoyu), near 篠山 (Sasayama). But we only encountered a dry well; the spring only operates on the weekend. Briefly visited the adjoining shop, then went home. On the way back, we stopped for some groceries, but Yuko's mother also only encountered a closed supermarket! Apparently not our day…28-Nov-2008
Took the bus to 神戸 (Kobe), a 40-minute drive. Hannah stayed at home with grandma, so that Yuko and I were able to do some shopping and better navigate the crowded walkways and passages of downtown Kobe. In a big book store, I browsed the Learning Japanese section, but it turned out I already have enough material, I just need to find the time to actually start learning! I also didn't buy any CD or DVD; most stores only had the latest (and most expensive, especially with the strong Yen) albums, while I was looking for some cheap, older collections from the discount rack. But we took home many impressions of the Xmas-shopping experience in Japan.29-Nov-2008
Again went to 神戸 (Kobe) by bus, this time with Hannah. We met with Yuko's best friend, her husband and two small children at Harborland, and first walked through a large and family-friendly mall. Then, we boarded a small Disney-themed cruise ship for a tour around the harbor and docklands. After that, we briefly stopped at Earthquake memorial park on our way to Chinatown. In that crowded street, there are many Chinese stores offering souvenirs, finger food and groceries. We had lunch in a small restaurant full of smoke and spent air. Apparently, we hadn't ordered enough food (or the helpings were just too small), because everyone picked up small snacks immediately afterwards. After strolling through a mall (which is much more stressful with two small children; fortunately, Hannah was sleeping in her baby sling as usual), we separated and went home at 17:00, before the buses would fill up with the commuters.30-Nov-2008
Yuko is sifting through her old belongings, dividing things into "keep" and "throw away" piles. She's sending one cardboard box full of clothes, books and audio cassettes to Germany; two more boxes will remain in a shed in the garden.01-Dec-2008
Our last day. We're busy packing our luggage.02-Dec-2008
Departure is early in the morning. Yuko's father is driving us to the airport bus stop, so that we don't have to take the crowded commuter train. In the morning traffic, that's a 70-minute drive.
At the airport, check-in is quick (because of Hannah, an attendant passes us through to the business class counter), and there is almost no queue in front of security.
Ingo Karkat, Dec-2008