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Osaka Part 1

Posted by Shaun

I just got back from a trip to Osaka and Kyoto with one of my friends, so at my family's insistence, and because it's my duty as a blogger, I'm going to attempt to relate the major points of interest.

We stayed at J-Hoppers Osaka near Fukushima station, one stop away/a twenty minute walk from Osaka station and Umeda.

There's a Mister Donuts right by Fukushima station. We patronized it for breakfast twice. I should get to 150 points on my MisDo card before the end of my time in Japan.
J-Hoppers Osaka
J-Hoppers was really nice. Laura and I had a double room for only 3000 yen a night, and they had a kitchen so we could cook breakfast to save some money. They also had free tea and coffee.

We took a highway bus to get from Shinjuku in Tokyo to Osaka, and it took most of the day. The first night, neither of us were really hungry, so we walked around a bit and found a little bar that had takoyaki. I had kimchi, rice, potato salad, and takoyaki, and I think Laura just had rice and takoyaki. But the takoyaki was good.

The next morning, J-Hoppers was holding a tour, led by one of the staff, Mr. Yanno. Mr. Yanno was an interesting character. He spoke "little, little English," but he still wanted to use it as much possible. Which, you know, normally, I'd admire his resolve, but he didn't really listen when he was speaking English. On the tour, it wasn't such a big deal, but that night, we also made the poor decision to go to the Mr. Yanno Party at a nearby izakaya (Japanese pub), and I ended up sitting next to Mr. Yanno who had his elbow in my space the entire time while trying to perform stupid magic tricks and make idiotic puns in English and Japanese. I did get to try hot sake because he bought some for the group, but it wasn't all that great.

The tour was of an area (I think it was called Tenma) that used to be a black market after World War II.

Apparently this wall is like 100 years old.

The black market area

More of the black market area

Stopping at a street stand to eat okonomiyaki. From front to back, Mr. Yanno, Laura, me.

Another stop was the Tenma shopping street, which I think Mr. Yanno said was the longest in Japan.

The group from J-Hoppers, in front of a shrine

And then Mr. Yanno took us to a maid cafe. :/
The maid cafe was bizarre. It was small and sorta creepy. It was more like a bar than a cafe. There was a bar and then there was a square booth set into the corner and that was it. There was karaoke and anime targeted at young girls (Cardcaptor Sakura) on the TV. The bar tender (wearing a maid dress) performed some karaoke and a dance for us, and when she gave us our coffee/tea, she mixed the sugar and cream (I had coffee) into it and said "oishikunare, oishikunare, motto, motto, oishikunare. Moe moe kyun!" and made a heart with her hands (rough translation, make it delicious, make it delicious, more and more and more delicious! Moe moe kyun! "Kyun" is like, a cute noise, and I don't want to have to explain moe so I'll let TV Tropes do it for me.)

The whole thing was honestly a little pathetic, and though she could sing and dance, our maid didn't seem that into her role, which made it really awkward. I kinda felt like she wanted to be somewhere else. Then again, she had to deal with Mr. Yanno every time he gave a tour, so I can understand.

The tour ended there for Mr. Yanno, but he gave us maps of the area, and we decided to do some more exploring as a group instead of splitting up.

We passed the building for one of the TV broadcast stations in Osaka and took this bright and happy picture.

Next stop was Tenmongu Shrine, where the ume (plum) trees were blooming!

After looking around Tenmongu Shrine, we decided to check out Osaka Castle, because Issei, the Japanese guy among us, told us there were more ume blooming there. It was fun getting to talk with everyone from the hostel. Some people were from Australia, one guy was from California, Issei was from Kyuushu, and I can't remember where the other guy was from. But it was a cool group.

Statue of Toyotomi Hideyoshi at Osaka Castle

The J-Hoppers group in front of Osaka Castle. From left to right, Japanese, Australians, Americans.
 Naturally I was extremely hungry this entire part of the day. We grabbed some food when we got to Osaka Castle, but it wasn't enough. My stomach is so expensive to travel with... :/
But it was all worthwhile because Osaka Castle really did have a beautiful ume garden. The trees were all in full bloom, and after a month in snowy Minakami, I was so happy to see signs of spring!

Those are all ume trees.

Osaka Castle overlooking the ume garden.

I tried ume ice cream too. It was kinda sweet but kinda sour. I got to try sakura flavor in Minakami and then again in Kyoto and I liked it better.
We cut through the NHK building on our way back to the subway station.

Inside was a set for the drama "Carnation" which is on for 15 minutes at like 7:30 am. I happened to end up watching it most mornings before work in Minakami.

Laura, Me, Issei, Kevin

"Carnation" is about fashion design, so they had a display of some of the costumes.

And a sign, advertising the Carnation exhibit.

JR train at Fukushima station. They're orange in Osaka! As opposed to grey with a stripe of color on them.
And that was basically the first day in Osaka. Expect more updates soon!

3 Responses so far.

  1. Anonymous says:

    I love your comment about your stomach being expensive to travel with...That is a Warren trait as well! But it is a great excuse to taste your way through a city! Sounds like you had a great time with your 'J-Hopper' group. How fun to travel with other people your age from other parts of the world. It's a great way to meet people and see the country through 'different eyes'.
    I Love you. Aunt Jody

  2. Anonymous says:

    Mr Yanno is a dude. Respect his authority!

  3. Anonymous says:

    A Night in Osaka should be spent with some random walking and bar hoping. Interesting characters abound!

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