From Kyoto we took a short train to Osaka and checked into a small (and not that special) hostel, it looked more like someone's flat than a hostel so we didn't hang around and went for a walk in town. Osaka had a bit of a weirdo vibe going on with lots of strange gothic shops and people walking about in the weirdest clothes they could find, it was pretty different to the other places in Japan we'd been to. I wanted to do a bit of shopping for Grants b'day so left Grant chilling in a café and went and found some clothes that would normal people! Luckily I found an H & M :-)
After another quick wander round some strange shops we headed back to check in properly and do some shopping for dinner. We didn't want to hang around hostel for the evening as it was too small and cramped, so went for wander round our area instead which was quite far out of town. There wasn't much going on but we did find 2 different 100 yen shops (about 70p - I loved the 100 yen shops!) and then found a cute little bar for a couple of beers before finally heading back to hostel to cook dinner.
The next day we moved to capsule hotel in Osaka centre, something that was on our list to tick off while in Japan. A capsule hotel basically consists of male and female areas which had capsule like beds in it. As the name suggests the beds were all in separate sleeping cells, made of plastic, with lights and TVs in each one. It was quite cool and no where near as claustrophobic as I was expecting it to be, which was handy! They are pretty popular in Japan but mostly used by businessmen or people that are out late, miss the train home and just need somewhere to crash for the night, so they don't have much personality and wasn't somewhere to hang out for the day. With this in mind we'd planned to get the train to a nearby national park in Nara for the day. The national park was pretty cool, it had loads of 'wild' deer that would eat right out of your hand (or your pockets as one stole my map from my back pocket and ate it!) The national park also had loads of gardens and temples in it which was cool to walk round. The main attraction was a massive Buddha temple, Daibutsu, in a wooden temple todaiji, the Buddha quite impressive, it was huge!! About 10 meters high maybe? I could probably Google it but doubt I'll get round to it!
Once back in Osaka we checked into our capsules and after a quick onsen, a single sex public bath, went out to check out Osaka at night. At night Osaka is full of even more strangely dressed people than in the day! All trying to sport the most unique hairstyles, which actually had the opposite effect of making them all look the same ;-). We walked round the Donbiru area, the strangest area of all with streets was full of tacky, and sometimes mechanical, restaurant signs. There were hundreds of themed restaurants and bars and we found a place lonely planet had recommended to have an Osakan dish okonomyaki, which is sort of a very rich omelette type thing with loads of stuff in it. After dinner we amused ourselves people watching randoms in the street and taking photos of funny love motels. Love motels were more popular in Japan than they were in Korea, but are mainly uses for a 'rests' rather than a 'stays'. They're generally a lot weirder then the Korea version as well and all had hilarious signs outside with the worst translated English like 'Our guests find the room fully tossed' ;-)
The next morning we were back on the train for a short train ride to our next stop Kobe. The train journey was pretty uneventful but we did get totally lost in the pissing down rain trying to find our hostel. Eventually we found an underground walkway which luckily took us all the way and checked into a nice but empty hostel. Once we'd dried off we went for a walk to find some food to make for lunch, and ended up back at the station! It's easy when you know where you're going!
We went to Kobe as we had heard of a Kobe Steak dish that was supposed to be amazing, so for dinner we went to steakland which was recommended by our hostel. The hostel gave us a voucher to get a free wine, which was handy, as the rest of the dinner was so expensive!! It was delicious tho, but was overpriced for what is was I thought. It did come with soup, salad, rice and veg, so the overall 'set' was pretty good. Not exactly backpacker style but had to be done! :-)
As there was no one in the hostel, and not much to do in Kobe, we had a nice lay the next morning and when we eventually got up and out headed to a Sake brewery to learn about the process of making Sake, the best bit though obviously was the tasting at the end. Afterwards we wandered around town half cut trying to find more sake to drink but failed miserably and ended up in English pub! Luckily it was Happy hour so we had a few cocktails before heading back to hostel to cook dinner and played 'wine' monopoly... Drink on passing go, double drink landing on go or going to jail etc etc, the exciting life of a broke backpacker! ;-)
In the morning we caught an early train to Hiroshima, and due to some bad calculations on our part, had a 2 hour wait for a connection so bought a lovely, and massive, deli lunch. (Is it any wonder why I've put on weight since being away! All my stories are about food or drink!) When we finally got to Hiroshima we checked into a J hoppers hostel which was known as a bit of a party hostel, and went for a drink in Columbo, a bar round the corner. When we got back to the hostel we had some stuff to sort out so we chilled in common room on PC's for a bit while a kitchen party started up and when the party moved into common room we got involved. Sadly it was the first real time we had been properly sociable since the China tour! It was really nice chatting to different people and we sat chatting and drinking beers (from the vending machine - there are vending machines that sell beer everywhere in Japan, pretty much on every street corner! Its amazing all Japanese teenagers aren't battered all the time!), we finally got to bed about 2am and despite trying to be quiet, managed to wake up everyone in our dorm with our batterdness, bad us! :-)
They next day was a beautifully hot day and we spent the morning wandering round the peace park and visiting the atom bomb museum. I found the atom bomb museum really sad but really interesting. It was good to learn why USA dropped the bomb and the circumstances that led up to it. It was incredibly sad tho to see how many people lost their lives, not just at the time of the bombing but for years, and generations afterwards.
In the afternoon after a quick stop back at the hostel for lunch and get changed into smaller clothes (it was soooo hot!) We got the tram to Seikken park, supposedly modelled on Hangzhou in China where we'd been, but we couldn't see it. We spent a lovely couple of hours chilling by the lake and watching carp and turtles in the lake.
We had put a sign up the day before in our hostel asking if anyone wanted to join us for a pub crawl, trying to make more effort to be sociable, so headed back to the hostel to get ready in anticipation of a big night out.... which kind of went to pot no one turned up!!! After waiting in the front room for an hour, wondering where the hell we were going to suggest to everyone to go as we didn't know where the pubs were, I had bottled out of the whole idea anyway so was actually quite happy no one was around and we went out just the 2 of us instead. We were up for a bit of a night out but everything was so expensive we could only afford a few drinks, we still managed to be out til 1am tho.
For our final day in Hiroshima we moved to another hostel next to the station, in preparation for an early train we had to get the next day. Once we'd sorted ourselves out we got the train and ferry to Miyajima Island, a national park island. We walked round for a bit and had a picnic lunch by the sea, but in an effort to save some money didn't go into any of the temples and after a while got the ferry back to the mainland and headed for a cheap conveyor belt sushi place we had heard of. Before I went to Japan I thought they would have the spinny spinny conveyor belt sushi places everywhere and although they do like their sushi, the majority of the restaurants weren't conveyor belt ones sadly. They're the best kind!
By the time we got there it was quite late so there wasn't much on the conveyor belt and we had to order what we wanted from the limited English menu. But at least they had an English menu!
After dinner it was back to our tiny cramped 4 bed dorm for an early night ready to move on the next day.