Category: Osaka


Last Day in Osaka

Saturday had arrived.  Tomorrow, I would be heading off early to Tokyo to catch a plane back to Toronto.  Today, was it.  Time to buy souvenirs, finish shopping, and eat my last meal.

I started out the day looking for tea.  I had planned to stop in Kyoto and go to a shop I knew there, but ran out of time – instead, I headed into the shopping area around Shinsaibashi and much further north.  I didn’t know where to find it, so after picking up some food items for the office decided to ask and got pointed in the right direction towards a speciality shop.  Along the way, I tried to locate a couple camera stores I had come across while browsing, and finding two of them took a look – but no luck.

It was a busy shopping day, being a weekend, and the shopping arcades were quite crowded.  Okonomiyaki being a speciality, I decided I should at least try it.  After trying it a few times earlier in my trip, I had decided it wasn’t top of my list – I think mainly because of the yakisoba which generally was piled on.  The local variety was less yakisoba and more pancake texture, which as it turns out is much more to my liking.

On my way towards Nankai Namba station and Den Den Town, I happened upon a small temple with a moss-covered Fudō-myōō statue, Hōzen-ji.  Apparently this is a favourite temple for people involved in “water trade”.

Making my way to Nankai Station, I located a camera store that I had missed my previous trip (bad map), and then headed into the station and up to the roof top garden, with views out over the city.

There were a couple of items I was still looking for in Den Den Town, so I headed there to Melon Books and then took to walking the streets a bit, before heading back to the hotel to pack.  Around one corner I stumbled upon a maid cafe, oddly at ground level.  In Akihabara, they were almost always several floors up, out of view – here, at least two or three could be found at ground level, and in this one case with windows sufficient to provide both privacy and a view.  I have yet to partake, but at least I got a glimpse of what was on offer.

Back at the hotel, I would pack until late – and then rise early on Sunday to pack some more.  As I expected, I had too much stuff – and books are indeed heavy.  It was a gruelling trip back to Tokyo, and I’m surprised my luggage actually made it in one piece.  I left Osaka early – the trip to Tokyo wasn’t long on the Shinkansen, but as it turned out the Narita Express was not running, and getting to the airport was to be delayed over an hour from my planned itinerary.  In the end I arrived in time – 3 hours ahead of my departure.  Just enough time to repack everything – three carry ons were not to be allowed this trip (unlike many other people I saw, of course) – grab some food, and get to the gate.

Thus ends 6 1/2 weeks of travel through Japan, at a time when Japan is still recovering from earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis.  To think that all this occurred while I was there causes one to reflect on things, and perhaps find new perspectives.  All the best.

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Osaka – Time to Shop

With only two more days left in Osaka, I decided to stick around Namba and spend the day shopping.  And primarily that meant searching for manga in nearby Den Den Town.

Not yet able to read Kanji or comprehend a lot, “reading” isn’t exactly straightforward.  Rather than just pick up whatever “looked” good”, I figured I should first spend some time in the morning figuring out what was supposed to be good – make a list, essentially, one that included pictures of covers where possible to help with identification.

It also meant only buying manga that had furigana, allowing me to at least “read” the kanji.  Basically, furigana marks Kanji with its pronunciation, also making it easier to look up in dictionaries.   With this, I’d have at least a fighting chance to read the manga and hopefully pick up things with the effort.  Manga with no furigana didn’t get bought, no matter how good it might have looked – there will always be another trip and chance to purchase, when my japanese skills have improved sufficiently.

I spent the better part of the day wandering through stores looking at new and used manga and related items.  The concept of “will it fit in my luggage” had pretty much gone out the window – I would deal with that later.

That evening, I dropped my stuff off at the hotel and headed out looking for some dinner.  Nearing the end of my trip, and after sampling so much of the local food, I had pretty much settled on my favourites – yakiniku, ramen, and sashimi.  Tonight would be a healthy portion of ramen, done tonkotsu-miso style, at a popular spot along the main street paralleling Dōtombori-gawa.

I wandered around the street and shopping arcade after polishing off dinner, looking for something to point my camera at.

      

A few people were picking up dinner.  A sign over the opening to a bar piqued my interest enough to attempt a photo – no, I didn’t go in.

Heading back to the hotel, I wandered under the streets along Namba Walk which connected into the building my hotel was atop of.  Tomorrow was to be a busy day.

Osaka – Kita (Umeda)

While the Minami area seemed to be the place for manga, electronics, restaurants and nightlife, the Kita (Umeda) area near Osaka JR station seemed to be more the business centre by day, with a few shopping arcades and department stores mixed in.

I had done some research looking for second hand camera stores to look for some filters and lenses, hoping to find a couple lenses in good shop (at a good price).  Many of the well regarded ones appeared to be located near Osaka Station, rather than in Namba, so I decided to head up and wander about.

Luck would not be on my side – many of the shops that I had rough maps too weren’t where they were supposed to be, either having moved or been closed.  I was able to find a half dozen or so, however, and came close to finding something worth picking up on a couple of occasions.  But the price and selection just wasn’t up to par with Tokyo, and in the end I decided to keep my money to spend on other things.

Much of the streets near the station were lined with either office towers or street level businesses, the later being closed until early evening when the salary men would be done work.  In the middle of the ‘concrete jungle’ I stumbled upon a shrine and hung out for a bit before heading off to find the local Mandarake, located in a nearby shopping arcade.

The Mandarake proved difficult to find, and I ended up wandering far afield through some residential neighbourhoods before making my way back towards the station, and stumbled upon this ferris wheel which appeared to be smack dab in the middle of some downtown mid-rises.

I wonder what the view was like.  And I’m not sure what King Kong and his brother were doing above this hardware store, either.

      

I stumbled into the arcade after getting my bearings again, and finally located the (rather small) Mandarake.  There wasn’t much to do afterwards, and rather than stick around the area to see the sights, I headed back to Namba, dropped my stuff off, and ended the evening with some ramen for dinner.

This morning I decided to head out mid-morning, and see if I could find one of the two Mandarake stores in Osaka.  Oddly, its location wasn’t with the rest of the manga in Den Den Town – rather, it was in the shopping district just north of the hotel called Amerika-Mura (historically where american goods were sold), and Shinsaibashi station.

Most of the shops were still closed – I gathered that some opened at 11am, but most opened at noon, so there wasn’t much to do except wander around.  In so doing, I came across several interesting shop fronts, including some creative graffiti I thought I’d capture and share.

I also came across one that almost blinded me:

Apparently this Pet Salon (store) was sponsored by Donkey Kong?

More interesting store fronts and graffiti:

 

The rest of the day was spent browsing the local Mandarake, Melon Books, and several other similar stores looking for anything interesting to fill up my already overflowing suitcases with.  Books are light, aren’t they?

Nagoya to Osaka

Osaka would be my last stop before heading back to Toronto via Tokyo.  Originally I had planned to spend my last week in Tokyo – not to sight see, but to shop, eat, and visit familiar territory.  With Fukushima still somewhat unresolved, and my plans changed as a result, I decided to push Osaka to the end of my trip and do any shopping I needed/wanted to then.  Osaka, while certainly not as large as Tokyo, has its share to offer both near Osaka station and Namba station, the later being where I decided to get a hotel (the area known as Minami).

The area around Namba has its share of nightlife and restaurants, as well as Den Den Town, which is similar to Akihabara only smaller / less developed.  The hotel I had picked described its location as over Namba JR station, and after arriving at Shin Osaka (the Shinkansen Osaka station from Nagoya), I made the mistake of trying to take JR the whole way there rather than use the subway system.  The route required a couple of transfers, a lot of delay, and probably cost me an hour at a couple of dollar savings.  Lesson learned.

Arriving early afternoon, I checked into the hotel early and decided to crash for a while.  Almost six weeks have passed since I arrived in Japan, and this would be my final leg of the trip.  While Osaka has several sights worth seeing, my focus for the next few days was set on camera shops, comic stores, restaurants, and sleeping in.

Late afternoon arrived and I headed out to get my bearings and eventually take in some dinner and nightlife.  I headed up and down Namba Walk, an underground shopping path that connected several subway/rail stations, checking out the various shops and restaurants on offer before emptying onto the street at Sennichi-mae Arcade and walking towards Dōtombori and Dōtombori-gawa, where most of the restaurants could be found.

As I happened to be in the area, I located the Apple Store and decided to see if I could get my iPhone screen replaced (which I had dropped and shattered in Kobe).  No such luck.  Apparently, in Apples infinite wisdom they decided to essentially glue the screen onto the main assembly board, which meant pretty much the whole phone needed to be replaced just to change the front glass – and since my phone is locked to a carrier in North America, they couldn’t provide me with an ‘unlocked’ replacement.  Even if I was going to pay for it.  My iPhone repairs would have to wait until returning to Canada.

I wandered around exploring for a bit, before deciding to grab some dinner (Yakiniku), and finishing up for the night.

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