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So last we left off we had eaten this mediocre dinner in Kyoto and at this point were somewhat dissolutioned by the food in Japan.  I had some recommendations for types of food, the problem was I didn’t know the Japanese symbols for it and couldn’t figure it out.  Sadly it didn’t occur to me until later to ask the front desk person at the hostel to write down the types of food in japanese and make recommendations for places to eat. 

The next morning dawned bright and early and we were up for our usual 7-11 breakfast.  I was intent on trying the random cheeses they had there with some bread.  How very french of me, I know.  But in my defense I love cheese.  Like unhealthy love of cheese.  Don’t know how it’s a defense but I could make it work in court. 

The morning was drizzly so we headed into the market and wow did we see the most random food ever.  It was awesome.  Baby octopus on a stick anyone?  Don’t worry, that’s just an egg in its head.

Apparently this is a favorite among the kiddos.  I have never seen a child eat octopus with such enthusiasm before. 

Stacks of dried fish anyone?

The one thing I have to say is that the cookie and candy places totally made up for the fish.  It smelled so good and the peanut cookies were amazing. 

Unfortunately, as happens in foreign countries so often, I don’t want to buy the goodies there because I don’t want to carry them all trip long, so I hope and pray they sell these things in my final city.  This is why I left South America without the pounds of alfajores I so desperately wanted.  Almost cried over that one.  And why I left Japan without these cookies. 

The rest of the day was uneventful in the eating arena; another twisty coke (I had one a day because it’s vacation and with the time change I allowed myself caffeine which I don’t drink usually), some random treats and for dinner nothing but Ritz and ginger ale since my tummy was having issues.  And that’s without eating the egg-filled octopus.

The next day we decided to head out to Hiroshima.  We took the short train trip over and when we got to the train station the lady at the tourist information booth told us we had to go first to this little island area which we got to take a ferry(!) to get to.  I love the water.  I love boats.  It made me happy.  As did the cookies all around.  Hiroshima has these amazing cookies that are filled with different deliciousness such as bean paste or green tea or chocolate.  Hot off the grill, these things are amazing.  They also make them in air-tight pouches to bring home.  Which I totally did this time! 

Now, these cookies have an amazing story. And by amazing I mean you’ll laugh at how ridiculous I am.  So on the way to the island Melissa is reading the little info guide and on the bottom it says something to the order of: “Beware the deer, they will eat your ticket and any clothes you let them.  Keep your ticket with you as we will not replace due to hungry deer”.  We both laughed for half an hour over that one since, really?  Deer?  We did not understand the abundance of deer.  We did not understand the tame-ness of the deer.  We did not understand their ability to sneak up on you and make you fall because you did not see the curb and you were poised to run when the killer deer came over to be petted.  And when you fall down and you’re an adult what do you do?  You hobble over to the cookie seller guy who is trying his hardest not to laugh at the crazy tourist and you buy a warm cookie to make yourself feel better. 

The deer were amazing over there, and not just in Hiroshima.  All over the countryside as it turns out.  They even are so tame they line up patiently to wait for the restaurant to open where they have reservations.  They are sophisticated like that.  They don’t even mind paying the seating fee.

After wandering the rest of Hiroshima we were starving and all I wanted was this thing called the “original japanese pancake” or “okonomiyaki”.  We wandered all around the city and couldn’t find it.  Finally I accosted some young women near the shopping mall and they brought me over to a restaurant that had the same seating fee, and frankly we didn’t want to wait, so we decided to keep looking.  Thankfully we did or I would never have introduced Melissa to the deliciousness that is a dumpling, or gyoza.

We sat at the counter and I had a flashback to the dumpling man in the east village where Karen and I used to wander to eat the amazing dumplings.  Seeing as he was right downstairs from my apartment when I lived there, it was an easy wander.

I should also mention that this trip was really Melissa’s first time using chopsticks and she did a great job.  Even if the dumplings were kind of falling apart.

We went home sated and happy with our dumpling dinner.

The next morning was our day in Osaka and Nara, and while the days themselves were an adventure, i finally, finally found my okonomiyaki!  We were wandering Osaka and found a food court in a mall.  Along with the subway and McDonalds, they had a number of local japanese places.  But there, tucked in this corner, was a woman giving away samples of my pancakes and they were so good.  She was talking to us about her daughter in LA, and how much she loved the states.  She whipped me up a pancake and I got to eat it looking out on the water.

Basically, it is like a potato pancake (or latke) but with asian flare (and a few fish flakes, ick).  But you can avoid the fish flakes by eating around the edges.  It has a ton of veggies in it and a pancake batter as well.  So interesting and delicious (without the fish flakes).

After that we continued to wander and headed out to Nara to see the world’s biggest Buddha.  And more deer and school children.  Then we went back to Osaka to grab a bite to eat for dinner and had a yummy dessert with warm cookies and strawberry syrup and ice cream.  Which I totally forgot to upload the picture of.  Awesome job me!

Join me for part 3 where I head to Tokyo and discover that yes, Japanese deserts may actually be just as good as french desserts.

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