I am about to check out of the hotel where I have spent the past 9 nights - (minus one on Jo and Rob's couch). I will be staying with a friend in Osaka tonight then heading off to Nara tomorrow to check out an artist residency space.
Yesterday I took myself to Arima and got my gear off with a bunch of random Japanese ladies and took an enjoyable soak in Gin-no-Yu onsen. The town itself is quite small and easy enough to explore in one day. I got to taste some local (both Arima and Kobe) sake at Sake Ichiba, including a delicious premium sake polished to 80%.
Next to cheese and sushi, hot springs are a great sake companion! Provided common sense is used of course.
I was fortunate enough to be the only passenger on the bus back to Umeda and slept the whole way - feeling somewhat rejuvenated on my return.
Last night I met up with John and Celia for a quick bite to eat before heading to a place John was desperate to show us... Known as the 'Submarine Bar', it was definitely worth the visit and I now see why he wanted to share this hidden wonder - located in a most unassuming and incredibly quiet side street, you wouldn't even know it was there as you enter through a very narrow and dark alleyway that one could very easily walk past and not even see.
The interior basically replicates the interior of a submarine. No expense has been spared in creating this place, which is apparently only a 'hobby' for the owner. He does not advertise and asks that if anyone mentions his bar on the internet they do not give directions or provide a map on how to get there. The bar itself only seats about 6-8 people and then there is a kind of a small elevated area, where we sat, that seats about 6. There is no music played at all in this mysterious and curiously cool bar and the toilet is an experience all of its own - you would not want to be desperate as you have to open two doors - one from the floor up and the other opens out. Words cannot provide justification, unfortunately, nor can the photos I took as it was incredibly dark. It was quite a surreal experience.
I spent an enjoyable day in Nara on Monday but will have to save that post for another time as it is nearing 'check out' time.
This country continues to fascinate, frustrate and inspire me.
A few more pics from my day in Arima…