Haze in the air and in my head.
17.04.2013 23 °C
All the western style breakfasts we have had in Japan are yucky because they lack good fruit and the bread is insultingly soft white and sweet. Tomorrow morning, Starbucks is looking attractive.....
Today we had a to see list. We eventually got through it. It took a while. Top of the list was to get to the top of the Umeda Sky BUilding. This is an architecturally interesting building and I have pinned it a few times on my Pinterest board in the past, so it was good to see it in person..... However.... It was somewhat pointless. There was a lot of haze and a lot of pushy rude people. Plenty of viewing space though which is great. Secondly, Osaka has no skyline really, but plenty of bridges and roads and rail roads. After having been to Manhattan and being on top of the Rock and the Empire State, this was a bit of a fizzle. BUT, getting to the top is fun via a very rapid external glass lift and then escalators which are in suspended tubes at 45 degree angles suspended about 150m in the air. Not for those with vertigo or afraid of earthquakes!
We wanted to see the basement area afterwards to find possibly the single most kitschy artificial old Japanese alley recreation, composed of alleyways of eateries. Such a plastic place is not complete without an artificial plastic shrine... How bad. How sad.
Getting to the Sky Building was a bit of a navigational challenge. One would think that after seeing a tall building you can just walk towards it. This plan was foiled many times by interruptions from train tracks, major roads, shopping complexes the size of several football fields and the lack of a grid road layout. Paul is navigator extraordinaire, me, I just follow him like a puppy.
Next stop:Osaka Castle. By more trains. Honestly, is it never rush hour here? The trains are always packed and with all types including the ubiquitous salarymen. Pease note that in Osaka there are also salaryWOMEN! They too wear black two piece suits (skirt or trouser) and possess a slightly less intense look. Obviously this subspecies does not roam in packs, but is found amongst the male subspecies, alone or at most, in couples.
Osaka Castle is a marvel even though it is reconstructed. The most impressive part was the height and the fact it's perched on massive boulders with no mortar. It's gilded and has a very imposing presence. We did not have time nor inclination to go inside with the coach loads.....
By now my head was making a haze of its own, but we pushed on to see the next stop: Namba Park shopping complex. Also a place on my Pinterest board so a must see.... A little disappointing but probably because it is best viewed from above. It is a layered hanging garden style mall. The shops were upper end but their names are hilarious: Jesus diamanté, hysteric glamour, car life, balcony, etc.....
I was unable to process the seriousness of shopping in such a place and also having a touch of exhaustion, we decided to head back to the hotel for a little rest and recharge.
After that we tackled stage two of the list in the twilight which is the best time. We walked through Amerika Mura, a godawful teenage infested location for the tragically hip and cool and weird..... But a visit to Dotonburi is a must and how you imagine modern Japan. This is Blade Runner territory being loud, full of neon glare and crowds. It is set alongside a canal so the madness is reflected back at you. We stopped for more takoyaki. They too were deflated so maybe that's how it's done on this side of Japan..... A visit to Den Den Town is supposedly important for those who enjoy an electronic diversion but this was probably the most disappointing place of all. It was dimly lit, scungy, dirty and half the shops were shut. The other half sold DVDs and CDs or anime and comics..... OR kinky stuff. Time to make a swift u turn.
We had dinner in the tiniest Italian restaurant. And the food was delicious.... So incredibly nice to eat tomato pasta sauce! This would count as our 19th wedding anniversary dinner so it's just as well it was a good choice. It wasn't a big expensive dinner, it was all about being cosy and comfortable and happy. It worked. So did the after dinner discovery of the perfect shopping area. Once you find your perfect shopping area (much like water seeks its own level, you find one suiting your own budget and taste), it is very hard to escape.... However closing time rescued me from my perpetual state of indecision. I managed to spend some yen on a few things.
We have tonight left and all of tomorrow. The plane leaves just before midnight. I hope I sleep tonight because it will be another midnight horror flight. I didn't sleep at all last night and today we walked 19 km!!
With that, I am signing off. Not sure if I will be able to access wifi tomorrow. Otherwise it will be finale at Singapore or at home if all else fails.
I hope you have enjoyed sharing my travels to Japan and learnt a little something along the way with me.