[By the way, this was Thursday, November 30th]
In Osaka we stayed at Inn Ishihashi, my first time at a ryokan! This place was inexpensive and conveniently located near Osaka station. The proprietors were so nice and seemed happy to have a western girl stay with them (especially since I had Mayu to teach me how to put on and take off my slippers and such!).
We arrived last night and walked around a bit. We stopped in at Takashimaya and looked over their sake selection. I picked two sparkling sake (shown in the picture) and a nice shop lady noticed and told me that the next day they were expecting their shipment of sparkling Suzune (made by Ichinokura of Miyagi Prefecture), a sake that is made in limited numbers and only available around this time of year. So, today we went back and picked up a bottle (as of today, February 5th, I haven't had a chance to drink it. I'm waiting for my friend Sally who I'm going to share it with. I'll report back.)
We had a really great meal at a small izakaya. They had their own nama sake, which they served out of a giant glass jug. The chef scooped the sake out of the jug into a bowl and then we served ourselves from the bowl.
The sake was extraordinary as was the food. After the meal, the mama-san brought Mayu and me upstairs to see the sake tank. I didn't really understand the setup completely. I think they said that they used to be a sakagura, but they weren't doing enough business, so they opened an izakaya downstairs and an Italian restaurant upstairs. It was a rare opportunity and again, I never would have experienced it without Mayu's help.