On the third day of my Osaka trip I had breakfast in my hotel room before catching a train to Hikone. My friend Aya and her husband picked me up from the station. Together we drove to Hikone Castle. The castle was busier than normal, according to Aya and Fuji, because Hikonyan (the castle’s mascot) was due to make an appearance, Apparently Hikonyan’s appearance just entails the mascot posing in front of a wall for a while and letting people take pictures. There was no meet and greet, no singing or dancing, nothing that I was expecting. As a result, the ridiculousness of it all was pretty funny.
After watching Hikonyan pose for a while, we headed up to the castle.
Once we were done with the castle, Aya and Fuji took me to lunch. Aya had found a 100% beef patty hamburger restaurant in the city. I was incredibly excited since it is very difficult to find a burger I can eat here.
Then we went for my first official shrine visit of the new year, or hatsumode. Despite how late in the year it was (for the first shrine visit, at least), the shrine was incredibly busy. The line for giving your coin offering and prayers stretched out of the shrine and down the street.
On the way out of the shrine we bought some traditional mochi and sweet red bean paste sweets.
After that we went to a sweets shop that is famous for it’s wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets) and bamkuhen (a German cake that has become very popular in Japan).
Then Fuji and Aya were nice enough to take me shopping at a mall. There were mall-wide sales, so I managed to get almost everything on my shopping list for a fraction of the price.
Then it was unfortunately time for me to head back to Osaka. We made plans for me to come visit Aya and Fuji in September during the long weekend. I’m already looking forward to it.
Once back in Osaka, I was able to meet up with Sakiho. I have not seen her since Jen and I traveled around Japan in the winter of 2013, so it’s been a while. It was really great to catch up and have dinner with her.