Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Osaka: The last stop in Japan

It's our last night in Japan tonight as we're leaving for China tomorrow afternoon and flying to Beijing. Really excited to head to the next country but also super sad to be leaving Japan as we've had a mind-blowingly good time here. We've spent the last few days in Osaka and this has really rounded off our trip nicely.

We arrived here on Sunday and made our way to our hostel- the Bonsai guesthouse. This has been one of the nicest places we've stayed with a huge living area, showers and toilets on all floors, decent air conditioning in all rooms and a bonsai garden on the roof!! The bedroom has an actual BED which has been a welcome break from futons on the floor (the novelty of futons can wear off after a couple of days) and apart from a solitary cockroach (think this is part and parcel of Asia) we haven't had any complaints.

After arriving at the hostel, we stayed local for dinner, and fancying a break from Japanese food we headed to the local cafe. We didn't end up going out until about 9 and as restaurants don't stay open late here, we didn't actually have a huge amount of choice! We did encounter one issue when arriving at the restaurant however which was the menu...

Obviously  with us speaking about 10 words of Japanese and reading precisely none this wasn't great! Between the waitresses very limited English and a lot of gesticulating we ordered some kind of set menu. Was pretty funny when our plates arrived and the waiter pointed at one item and made a 'flap flap' motion (sound effects included) and an open/close hand motion with a shell indicating that we were eating poultry and shellfish of some kind? Was delicious whatever it was......

After a few beerskis we headed back for a good nights sleep! The next morning, we decided to head out to the Osaka Bay Area where there are numerous tourist attractions including the world-famous Osaka Aquarium which we were keen to check out! Getting off the metro, we headed to Osakako where it's based. First stop was the sky wheel which is the largest in the world, and which offered amazing views over the whole Osaka area......

 We also made a new friend in our 'pod'.....

After getting off the wheel, we headed for a quick lunch and did the typical tourist thing of heading to Subway (mainly because it was the cheapest place there). Random fact: subway here is totally different- I had Japanese spicy shrimp on sesame bread, and Rob had chicken teriyaki with basil fries! After being fed and watered we headed to the anticipated aquarium which is the largest in Japan and boasts a huge variety of aquatic creatures. 

After a quick queue and dishing out the most money we have for any attraction (2300yen/£18) we walked in to find.........organised chaos! Granted, if we'd had the choice we would have avoided the day that we went as it was firstly in Japanese school holidays and secondly in the Obon period which is when people traditionally visit their families and take time off work. However, it really ruined our trip as the aquarium admitted far, far too many people so the general view was this.....

Would definitely avoid visiting in mid-August if possible! Mind you, saying that, even if it had been quiet, we still think that the aquarium is VERY over-hyped and it wasn't worth the entrance fee. While there were some really good exhibits (the whale sharks, the giant jellyfish, below, and the Great Barrier Reef section were good) it wasn't any better really than any other aquarium but it was much more expensive. After a while all the tanks blurred into one. 

After the disappointment of the aquarium, we had a wander over to the shopping centre, passing the most LAME street juggler in the world. He seemed to be juggling magnetic, wooden bricks to the absolute AMAZEMENT of the crowd? We went to get an ice cream to combat the heat outside. For me, this wasn't a problem, but Rob has an allergy to nuts and coconuts which makes every trip for food something of a challenge. So far he's been fine taking a bit of paper with the Japanese for 'I can't eat nuts or coconut' and there's been barely anything which he hasn't been able to try (is might change later in our trip). However, rather than just checking the packaging like most people, this ice cream parlour adopted a very extreme anti-nuts policy!!! The server (for some reason having a giggling fit at the time) went to the back, lugged a HUGE new container of ice cream to the front, assembled and sterilised a brand new scoop and made sure nothing was contaminated. Nice of her to go to so much effort for one scoop of mint choc chip!! 

After a wander around the shops we headed back and freshened up then went local again for dinner. We had another typical 'Rebecca and Rob-sized banquet' although in our defence no matter what you order you end up with a banquet, but it was amazing.....this picture says it all...

Sushi, tempura, miso soup, fish, weird fried skin things, a blue Aubergine and some other veg, some sand-like substance, some beef and some cucumber gloop. Yum (no really). 

We were both knackered after such a busy few weeks, which explains the next part of this blog. Basically, we faffed on until dead late last night and were planning on heading to Nara this morning, but when the alarm went off first thing we apparently both turned over and went back to sleep. Woke up far far too late (lets say that when Rob greeted the receptionist with 'Good Morning' it wasn't entirely accurate) so had to give Nara a miss. After a quick rethink, we decided to explore some more of central Osaka and headed to Tenjinbashi-suji Shopping Street which is the longest shopping street in Japan. 

Here, we had our first conveyer belt sushi (more food, shocking) which was scrumptious and super cheap...

....we definitely enjoyed it.....

After a quick mooch about and a rather interesting experience deciphering Japanese labels in an attempt to replenish our toiletries supply, we hopped back on the subway to our next destination- Nippombashi DenDen town which is the biggest district in Osaka for electronics and comic/anime/manga artefacts. Walking up the neon street with the bright shop fronts is an experience in itself, and we both loved trawling the shops for the 'unusual' cartoon wares. We passed a few 'interesting' shops selling some variation of Japanese schoolgirl porn (strange) which happened to be next to 'Super Kidsland' toy shop (disturbing). 

A few surreal experiences of the day....

1) Getting dragged into various grab machine shops by people dressed like this

2) Spending hours hunting for a Godzilla model for Rob

3) Seeing thousands upon thousands of comics and manga/anime models

4) And these

5) Escaping from the madness with huge coke-floats

All in all, it worked out pretty well not going to Nara as we got to see loads more of Osaka than we otherwise would have. 

Tonight we've had a chilled one, sorting our packs out (obsessively in Robs case)

We've also had our last Japanese food (so upsetting) and tomorrow we'll have our last early morning bottle of Milk Tea!! Japan is a fascinating, crazy, surreal country and we would both HIGHLY recommend for anyone looking to explore Asia to make it a definite stop along the way. Not entirely sure how able I'll be to blog from China (could be a blocked website) but I almost definitely won't be on Facebook to share the link when I do. Keep checking here and I'll try and update as much as possible!


No comments:

Post a Comment