April 24, 2006

Trip to Osaka

First up, a big thanks to my folks for the care package. It's greatly appreciated, however I'm not sure my waistline shares my gratitude ;) . I'm currently out on my balcony again enjoying a nice cup of English tea (gawd bless it) and a Creme Egg. ありがとう ございました!! ^_^

Anyway, today we had a test of everything we've learnt thus far. Wasn't really anything to get stressed about, however I did get a little flustered and screwed up the speaking part a little.

Hope all of your weekends were clement. I went to Osaka on Saturday with 4 others, which was very cool, and it formed my first experiences of the Japanese Metropolis and the Shinkansen (bullet train).

We started out at about 8:20am getting the regular train from Okazaki to Nagoya (about 1/2 an hour) and from there we boarded the Nozomi Shinkansen (the fastest) which whisked us to Osaka, stopping only once (I think) at Kyoto. The train was very nice (it bloody better be at these prices!) and pretty sexy and the journey took just over an hour; not sure of the distances involved but you can get an idea from this page.

After eventually figuring out how to get a day pass, we got the subway to Osaka Castle, which while a bit tourist-y is very scenic and beautiful (in stark contrast, it seems, to the rest of Osaka, which apparently was bombed heavily during the war and as a result is mostly concrete) and well worth a visit. Have a look at their website for more info and historical gubbins.

We spent a good 3 hours there wandering about and having lunch (takoyaki for me). We also went inside the actual castle building, inside which there is a museum, and from the top of which you can see the entire city (it's 8 stories high; here's a tip - don't take the stairs).

After that it was off to Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium, which was very cool and quite humbling. I would reel off (no pun intended) a big list of everything I saw but that would be boring and I can't remember; so have a look at their website instead.

Like the Castle, the Aquarium was overrun with schoolchridren, who ran about declaring every animal either "kakkoiiii!!" (cool) or "sugoi!" (another word for cool) or "kawaiiiiii!" (cute). Or, in the case of the sea otters and the seals, "chou kawaii!" (very cute). My favorites were Yu-chan the whale shark (damn that sucker's big) and the turtles.

After a brief stop-over in a nearby Sega World we were off to the Minami (sounthern) area to do some shopping. This is partly my fault as Minami is the home of the venerable Japanese independent record label Alchemy Records, and it's shop, which I desperately wanted to visit. However, the Minami area is excellent for shopping, especially of clothes; it is littered with ultra-cool designer stores, "gothic lolita"-type stores, hip, urban 2nd-hand stores, etc etc. I was also interested to come across the official Gloomy Bear store (Wiki), and I really wanted to get some crap from there; however I don't quite believe in paying £30 for a t-shirt. Anyway I hope to go back to Minami one day with a lot more time and money.

We stayed in Minami for dinner and went to an excellent shabu-shabu restaurant (Wikipedia is your friend). Having never eaten shabu-shabu before we were a little worried that we didn't quite know what we were getting ourselves into, but fortuitously enough our waitress was Chinese and one of our party was of Taiwanese origin and as such speaks fluent Mandarin. We got the all-you-can eat deal consisting of beef and vegetables, and it was unbelievably nice.

After that, and feeling very full, we made our way back to the station, hopped on the (slightly slower this time) shinkansen and made it back by about midnight.

I've put all of my pictures on my Flickr page if you want to see them. Sadly my camera battery died in the aquarium so I don't have any pictures of the attractions; however my companions took loads and I should be getting copies of them, so hit me up if you are interested.

1 comments:

Dave,  May 18, 2006 1:42 AM  

Groomy (I realise I typed it with a Japanese accent..) is AWESOME!
I first saw them advertised in FHM Singapore.. They rock and I wish I'd bought one!! :(

Also Shabu-Shabu.. Definitely one of the must-try meals on my list.
Have you been to a bar with a grill built into the table yet?

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