The morning was magical.
I had forgotten about the bamboo grove that is near Kyoto. We stopped there on our way to Osaka and my, those trees grow big. At first it was pretty thin and I enjoyed it but thought it was whatever. But when we reached the grove-y part I was speechless. The trees grew so thick you couldn’t see at all to the other side. On all sides, it would be bamboo.
Before leaving the area we stop by a few scenic spots and finish off with the Monkey Park. This part was very fun, more than I expected. I thought we’d be mostly observing monkeys up close, but I didn’t anticipate how close it would feel. We stood in a small building with wire windows that the monkeys would climb about, snatching the snacks we laid at their feet. They climbed really fast and from their interactions we eventually could identify the larger monkeys that the littler ones were scared of. In this setting I thought it was interesting because we the people were inside the cage-y looking part, but we were feeding the animals as per usual.
There was also a pond area where the monkeys took baths. I thought it was interesting when a monkey left the safety of the sides and dog paddled a bit, then was chased off? by the other monkeys, possibly shunned for being wet or for smelling different? I have no idea.
We grab some Japan-style cheesecake (more cake than cheese, light and fluffy) and eat it in the Takoyaki Museum, which is this takoyaki-only food court in Universal Studios Japan. The takoyaki would be made in front of you, which was mesmerizing because the guy only had two chopsticks and would expertly flip the rounds of goodness in a sizzling baking-cup-looking pan. They were warm and savory and delicious.
We bum around the area, playing arcade games and relaxing before our dinner engagement at this all-you-can-eat Japanese bbq place (yakiniku) with wagyu beef.
Let me tell you. T’he beef. Oh my. Dotted with fat in all the right places, sizzled and a little rare, decadent in every bite. We ate and ate and ate. The sides of kimchi and pickles were good, and the dessert of ice cream was also good, but oh! the beef was the highlight. I don’t think I can eat normal beef for awhile now, in hopes of remembering the one and only true beef for a bit longer.
Our after dinner activity was a tour of Osaka Castle at night, with projector art depicting a sci-fi-fantasy world where a girl was trying to find her way home with the help of these characters. The plot was ??? in some ways, but the art was delightful and there would be these blue laser lights everywhere on the ground representing happiness and joy. There were also fog machines in strategically placed locations and hoops pinned to trees that would glow and animate as you walked between them. Each station with the next piece of the story would detect your entry and give you the next bit right at the beginning. All in all, very well orchestrated! Also at one station you fed a machine your smiles and at the end it projected you as a flower smiling on the castle’s stony base. While we watched our flowers twinkle and eventually fade, AC tells us our flowers have died and that it was time to go, lol. And so leave we did.
We finagle with Google Maps for awhile before deciding to forego more evening walking/shopping in favor of getting some rest. KH and I were also suffering from a multitude of bug bites, rip.
And so ended a great evening, and the last evening in Japan for me with my group of pals. So now the solo adventure begins…