After I left Nara (the place with all the deer), my friend Katie and I parted ways. We left each other in quite a hurry. Her train was leaving in 3 minutes and mine was leaving in 5. I have to say... I was having a seperation anxiety attack, but after realizing I needed to get my ass on a train, reality kicked back in. Katie was heading back to Tokyo and I was heading to the second largest city in Japan, Osaka.
When I tell people I have been to Osaka the first thing they ask me is if I have been to the castle. So after my train arrived in Osaka, I decided to run to the castle before it closed at 5pm. OK ok OK... when you leave a quiet place, like Nara, and thrust yourself into a huge Megalopolis... on tends to freak out a little. I totaly freaked out! However, after finding an english subway map... I was on my way. The subways in Osaka are very easy to figure out. Everything is color coded with romanji. I only wish Tokyo's were that simple! After ariving at the park... I briskly walked to the castle and took my touristy pictures! It was big. It was beautiful and I wish I had time to go inside. Maybe next time.
After taking the long way around the park (trying to avoid the dozens of homeless people living there (first time to see homeless people in Japan)), I was on my way to my hostel. I stayed at the Sumo Backpackers Hostel (Sorry, no web-site). It was a small kitchy place, but for 20 bucks a night, I wasn't about to complain. It was definately nicer than the place I stayed at in Kyoto. However, with all of the liqouir bottles on the mantle... it did remind me of a frat-house, or my sister's first apartment. The staff was pleasant and they were even nice enough to collect me at the subway station.
Since I was only going to be in Osaka for one day, I decided to grab a genki-drink (like an energy drink but less liquid and much more potent) and head out into the city. After looking over my guidebook... I decided to visit the Umeda Sky Building (aka The Floating Garden). 40 stories up in the sky in this beautiful building will give you a breathtaking view of the city. It was a tad creepy going up the glass elevater at night by yourself and the glass escalators that hang 173 meters above an earthquake proned country was a bit terrifing... but I got over it (PLEASE make the nightmares stop!). Once at the top... I got a breathtaking view of the night skyline. This is a great date spot. Take your significant other there for a sunset supper and you will definatly be getting some later that night (I should totaly write for a travel journal.. ok, ok, ok... apart from all the spelling mistakes and sexual overtones... I think I would make a pretty decent travel journalist. anywho...).
After my blood pressure returned to a normal level... I was off in search of dinner. However, I stumbled across this and thought some of you may like it. THIS IS FOR ALL OF MY SORORITY SISTERS! Kappas are japanese mythical creatures who live in water. Although an evil spirit they are depicted as trustworthy. They can be found on sewer drains, buildings, sushi restraunts and other such japanese stuff. However, whenever I see them depicted.. they always look super cute.
Eating in Osaka. Osakans are know for their love of food. If a Tokyo-ite will spend their last Yen on a trendy new handbag (both men and women do this)... then an Osakan will spend theirs on a good meal. There are truckloads of affordable eateries all over the city. Two of the best known Osakan cuisine is...
aka Small Octopus Dumplings
"Tako-yai is made by heating a mixture of flour and water with pieces of boiled octopus, chopped scallions and other things in a pan with circular shapes molds. Served piping hot with a special sauce topping, each bite sized morsel is a tasty snack that Osakans eat at any time of day!"
I have to say that eventhough I did not eat any tako-yaki in Osaka... I have eaten it before and it's not that bad... As long as you can get over the chewyness of the octopus.
This famous dish (which I happen to adore) is made by grilling batter on a hot plate with egg, diced vegtables and a choice of meat or fish. The end result is a delicous pancake-like food wich is toppted with special sauce, mayonnaise, fish flakes and seaweed. YUMMY!!! However... if you happen to finish one of these monstrosities by yourself, you may need to unfasten the top button of your pants. * There is said to be over 4,000 Okonomi-yaki restaurants in Osaka City
Around 10pm I stumbled into a bookstore and by 11 I was starving. I found a Tapas restraunt not 3 blocks from my hostel. Eventhough it wasn't authentic Spanish Tappas, the restraunt was clean the atmosphere was good, the limme-sours were delicious and the cheesy 90's music was excellent! " I know that there is pain, but you hold on for one more day and ya break free, break from the chains" (Willson Phillips Rocked my world!). After eating my self into a coma, I walked my drunk ass home to get some sleep before my next long day of travel ahead.
I wish I had more time to see Osaka. The people are friendlier, more relaxed and just all around really nice. However, even after three weeks, I still can't remember which side of the escalator is for standing and which side is for walking (for some reason Osaka stands on the opposite side as Tokyo!).
Blog to ya again soon. All my love, Jody!