Wallace and Gromit bento

17 09 2009

Inspired by my new Japanese bento book I made not one but two bentos tonight (Benno insisted he get one too).

Capybara and the sheep from Wallace and Grommit with some carrot flowers.

Capybara and Shaun the sheep from Wallace and Gromit with some carrot flowers.

Capybara, the world's largest living rodent, made from inari, rice and nori. We saw real capybara at the Osaka aquarium (they weren't in the water with the whale sharks though).

Capybara, the world's largest living rodent, made from inari, rice and nori. We saw real capybara at the Osaka aquarium (they weren't in the water with the whale sharks though).

The sheep from wallace and grommit made from hand-shaped rice, nori and potato.

Shaun the sheep from wallace and gromit made from hand-shaped rice, nori and potato.

Benno's bento featuring another capybara and grommit made from rice, nori, carrot and potato. The chef's hat is totally the wrong shape but...

Benno's bento featuring another capybara and gromit made from rice, nori, carrot and potato. The chef's hat is totally the wrong shape but...

Interestingly enough, the capybara, which looks furry and round like a cute little rodent, is called a fish by the Catholic church, making the eating of it’s meat permitable in a Lenten diet. They are quite popular in Japan as a cute animal, and you can find stuffed toys of Capybara in all sorts of places (Apita, for one). We haven’t seen capybara meat for sale here though, not that we’ve looked.





A hot, busy day in Osaka

13 08 2009

From Nara we caught the train to Osaka, the third largest city in Japan. We didn’t want to be carrying around our heavy luggage so we left it in a locker at the station, but also left our camera in there… duh.

We bought a one-day subway pass and from the JR station we headed via subway to Osaka-Jo. Although it’s a reconstruction, Osaka-Jo has lots of interesting displays. It was so hot and humid that it was an effort wandering around the castle. It’s also quite large- with the observation deck on the 8th floor. Strangely, Osaka-Jo seemed busier than Himeji-Jo.

From the castle we caught the subway to a restaurant for lunch – it was closed for O-bon. So we caught another subway to a second restaurant – it also was closed for O-bon holidays. We thought we’d never find a restaurant… so we had some chips, banana and cooked corn cobs from a convenience store for lunch in desperation.

Then we went to Osaka Aquarium. It was packed – more so than Shinjuku-koen at hanami time. We took ‘waiting tickets’ then wandered through the Tempozan marketplace for an hour while waiting for the time when our ‘waiting ticket’ said we could line up.  After lining up we still had to wait to enter the aquarium, then buy tickets, then join the throngs wandering around looking through tiny windows and the aquarium. I don’t see how it could be a family friendly excursion for the day, but every family in Osaka was there (it seemed).

We saw giant rays, star fish, an octopus, clown fish, otters, dolphins, the famous whale sharks, turtles and scary Japanese deep sea giant crabs. However, the enclosures seemed much too small for the larger creatures (such as the whale shark) and the crowds of people were intense. So, while it was in air-conditioning (a nice relief from the humidity outside) it was not such a peaceful afternoon excursion. However, we did get to see Capybara.

After exiting from the aquarium we called up every restaurant in Osaka that was in the vegan pocket guide. Only one was open for dinner and the rest were shut for O-bon holidays. So we caught the subway, making several changes, and arrived a Natarji, an upmarket vegetarian Indian restaurant. It was a lovely, authentic Indian meal.

After dinner we collected our luggage from Osaka JR station (but it took a little while to retrace our steps and find it). Then we caught the subway again to our indian host’s house but he had given very few directions and even when talking to him on the phone he was unable to give clear directions. So it took a while to find the house, but finally we did and we were able to go to bed.

Photos are from our keitai, so are not the best quality.