Wednesday, 8th November 2017
It was time to check out from the lovely Toba International Hotel, but not before we devoured copious amounts of their delicious breakfast. We ate more of the same from the previous day, I had Brown Rice Flakes cereal, yoghurt, cinnamon buns and two slices of toast; unfortunately without the Black Cherry Jam. Ben wanted French Toast again but it wasn't on the menu today so he stuck with sausages, bacon, rice, croissants, a Japanese-style omelette, followed by 'breakfast desserts' of Pear Tart and a small cup of set custard.
We packed our bags and left them at the front desk while we continued to visit Toba. It was quite a wet day and we immediately regretted leaving our umbrella with the rest of the luggage.
We took the hotel shuttle bus to the station and then had to leg it over the railway bridge to the other side of the tracks to catch the CanBus to Meoto Iwa. The CanBus is the tourist bus, it travels between all the major tourist attractions in Toba & Ise.
Meoto Iwa are two large rocks in the ocean that are wedded together with a long length of rope.
Near the rocks was Futami Okitama shrine where we could get our shrine book stamped and we bought a votive to hang at the shrine wishing for happiness in marriage. The wall of votives was pretty impressive, this was a popular spot.
Futami Okitama was filled with frogs, though we weren't entirely sure why.
After seeing Mr & Mrs Sea Rock we kept out of the rain with a leisurely stroll through the nearby Ise Paradise shopping centre. The stalls there sold lots of different things and the sales assistants offered small pieces to try; we tried lobster crackers and seaweed crackers. I wasn't a fan of either, especially as I expected it to be sweet; we didn't know it was lobster and were looking at strawberry crackers at the time.
We took the bus back to Toba, but instead of alighting at the station we carried on to Toba Aquarium.
I was slightly wary of going to an aquarium because sometimes the animals aren't cared for correctly but I read online that Toba Aquarium is instrumental in captive breeding of some very difficult and endangered sea creatures such as the dugong and the finless porpoise.
I had a really lovely time and it was a great idea to go because we were out of the rain. The aquarium is a very large building, that seems to be a hodge podge of rooms - except it seems like it was designed that way; probably to accomodate all the different sizes of tanks and enclosures.
The first thing we did was watch the wonderful sea-lion show, he was very clever and performed very dexterous feats. The 'auditorium' was very well designed, lots of seating and it was very easy to see the show. We bought some very tasty hotdogs and chips to eat while watching the show.
A nice Japanese lady sat next to Ben and quizzed us on our holiday, asking if it was a honeymoon and being shocked when we said it was our 5th anniversary. She flattered us by saying we looked 20 after we told her our ages (in Japanese thanks to Sensei Naoko-san).
After the sea-lion show we looked around a few more sections of the aquarium on our way to the other end of the building to see the walrus show.
We found a lot of different animals that looked remarkably like different kinds of Pokemon. Here was Kabuto for example:
The walrus show wasn't in a theatre but in a roped off area with 2 rows of floor level seating and some standing room. The walrus was massive and showed us his many skills kicking a football into a goal (that was less than a foot away), catching thrown rings (when placed gently on his head) and blowing bubbles with a bubble trumpet.
There were lots of school children visiting the aquarium and one of the boys was volunteered to get a kiss from a walrus. His classmates and teacher found it hilarious.
After the show they all lined up to give the walrus a pat on the head or take a photo. We had our photo taken with him when he was back in his enclosure behind his 'Walrustagram' poster.
From the roof of the aquarium we could look across the bay to Mikimoto Pearl Island. We didn't go there, but it's a whole island dedicated to the Mikimoto family business of pearls and pearl manufacture.
Onward to Osaka
We luckily caught the only taxi in the rank of the aquarium on the way out back to the hotel to pick up our bags and managed to convey that we wanted him to wait so he could take us to the station. He got us there in really good time and so we caught our intended train towards Osaka.
It was raining in Osaka too.
Our Osaka hotel was the Richmond Hotel Namba which was a high rise building near a subway station with quite small but comfortable rooms. Since it was dinner time we ventured out soon after check-in to find somewhere to eat. We had ramen again from a chain called Tenkaippin.
I had pork, onions and an egg in a thick chicken broth.
Ben had the same ramen he had before, it's a sort of spicy beef with dumplings.