I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to get around to writing about my recent trip to Ono City (小野市) down in Hyogo prefecture. Me and Brian went there during the 3-day weekend (July 19-21) to visit Nick. He’d made the trek up to Kanto several times after we all moved to Japan in summer 2006, so it was about time we finally headed down to check out his digs. As Nick accurately describes his small town, it is definitely “the scenic (but sedate) Japanese countryside.”
It was pretty fun getting to go down to Kansai again, since I hadn’t been there since the big trip in 06. We left that Saturday morning on the Shinkansen and landed at Shin-Osaka around noon. Met up with Nick and checked out the Umeda Sky Building near Osaka station. The journey to the building this time was much nicer, since they finished some construction since my last visit to Osaka, meaning instead of a 25-30 minute hike to get there from the station, it only took about 10 via a nice tunnel sidewalk. I was very pleased. It also felt like the Sky Building wasn’t as tall as last time, which I know is impossible, but still it was a nice view from the top of the place.
Before I forget, I should mention that Kansai was S U P E R – H O T. The entire region was like an oven baking cookies around the clock. Only instead of cookies, it was people. I didn’t think anything of it when Japanese people told me it would be hotter in the west than the east, but I believe them now! I don’t know what it was, but it felt a lot more brutal than the already painfully hot weather we have here in Chiba and Tokyo. Maybe just because we ended up walking around outside a lot more.
Anyway after grabbing some lunch at a Saint Marc’s bread viking restaurant in the Osaka Yodobashi building, we hopped back on the trains to begin the additional 1.5 hour trek to the land of Ono. We took the express train to Sannnomiya, then from there got on a bus. The bus was very hot, but comfortable enough to catch up on sleep. We arrived in Ono City in the late afternoon, the bus dropping off next to a big lake or water reservoir just a few minutes away from Nick’s place. The town isn’t exactly a farm community or the sticks, but it’s definitely a lot less urban than Tokyo. Not many tall buildings, bigger roads, more “family business” looking places, and even fewer vending machines. But it did seem nice and comfortable, and I could tell Nick liked living there. Also his enormous apartment probably helps a lot, since it’s maybe about 3 times bigger than mine area-wise, has a couch, and is also completely paid for by JET/his city’s Board of Education. I am still very jealous over his apartment, even if it is in a small town.
That night, we went to what Nick called “the best yakiniku restaurant in Ono,” and it was a pretty accurate title. It was way good. Not Kobe beef (Kobe is in Hyogo), but the meat was very high quality, good portions, and a pretty expansive menu complete with the “secret items” that Nick ordered. I think it was some kind of innards. We went there with Nick’s Sidekick and “Yakiniku Girl” which was pretty funny. After that we all went to Nick’s for a while then did karaoke until about 4 or 5AM. We of course slept until the early afternoon on Sunday, followed by a Sushi-ro for lunch where we met the elusive Heian. That night we got kushiage for dinner, which my first time to ever try it. It was good, but something about eating an entire meal of fried food makes you feel terrible the next day. I’m no Patrick Ellison, that’s for sure.
On Monday we checked out Kobe city, seeing the famous Kobe Tower (from across the little bay) and hitting up an arcade. We bought some omiyage and then headed back to Tokyo. It was a short trip, but a very fun reunion for the 伝説の三人.