Saturday, September 12, 2015

Japan Trip Day 6: Osaka Castle, Dotonbori

Earthquake is a common occurrence in Japan but I experienced none since I arrived here until this morning when one struck and woke me up even before our alarm rang. The shake was quite strong and the sensation is similar to lying on a spring bed mattress when someone is bouncing on the bed. Come to think of it, I think humans have an innate survival instinct. Just a few seconds before the quake, both my friend and I just naturally awaken, we asked each other if the alarm had set off, and then everything shook.

It is going to be another tiring day with the trip to Osaka estimated to be 3 hours. I bought katsu sandwich (again!) and a colourful bento set which I did not like its smell (as I dislike cooked salmon) although I liked its taste better than the beef tongue that I had on the journey to Kyoto. One observation I saw on the journey is Japan is really more workaholic than Singapore as Saturday morning is equally busy as the weekdays with both working adults and students are already out and about. I felt quite poor thing for the boy sitting next to me in the train: carrying big sports bag (looks like going to school for his CCA) and falling asleep after reading less than 1 page of his English text book. That is coming from someone who is used to reading notes on the bus journey and falling asleep even until last year when I part-time studied on top of full-time work. Lol.

At Osaka, my friend's friend became our guide. Yay! We went to a post office first to ship my anime books, except for the super heavy Art of Gundam book. The total weight was about 5kg and it cost 6000 JPY to ship by EMS. It looks like my anime books will be in Singapore even before me. Lol..

Then we went to Osaka Castle. With the typhoon completely dissipated, the heat reminded me of the summer in Europe when I went there in 2013. I think there were some competitions going on as there were groups of students performing Japanese traditional dance and cheering. There should be a term for such thing but I don't know. I find it exciting to watch as we don't have such school activity in Indonesia or in Singapore.
One of the canals surrounding the castle
The back of Osaka Castle where we came from
Osaka Castle is definitely a place I have to visit again. Due to time constraint, we only went to the main castle although the are still other interesting things around the castle complex. I also felt awkward my friend's friend around and I did not camwhore as much as I wanted to :( There is a glass lift at the main face of the castle and it really ruins the facade. We went up to the museum which is smaller than I expected. But the highlight for me is the 300 JPY photo taking opportunity with samurai helmet and vest. Me being a peasant chose the grandest looking helmet with multiple horns (can't find any picture of it online). I don't know what the helmet represents. The helmet is so heavy and I have no idea how people would wear such things in the past. Sadly the picture taken by my friend's friend was bad with my foot being cut. Darn!! I did not know there was such photo taking opportunity and my choice of shirt did not complement the helmet and vest too. Bleah.. Next time.. Anyway I was also handed a real samurai to pose with but I was only allowed to unsheath it halfway. So imagine how boring the poses that I could make with an impractically heavy helmet la.

We had tempura for lunch and I made the right choice not to be so greedy and get the meal with 4 pieces of prawn. I ordered the meal with 2 prawns and the rest were vegetable tempura. Hohoho.. We then went to Dotonbori which is amazing and I really find those giant shop decorations impressive. I already kept my camera and it was too crowded for me to take photos. We passed by the famous Glico board but again because there were too many people, I did not take a photo. On our way back, we passed it again from the other side where it was less crowded but it was getting dark so I did not think I would get a nice picture anyway.

We went to Mandarake which unfortunately did not have Final Fantasy Chrome figures that I was looking for. Their used books sections were also appetising but I kept reminding myself that I still have Disneyland and Mandarake Akiba to shop for the next 2 days.

We had takoyaki dinner before returning to Tokyo. I saw people carrying Tokyo Disneyland plastic bags which made me really excited for tomorrow. Hehe.. And although I thought Japanese are workaholic this morning, it is not as bad as expected as in the evening, there are less people and the train frequency decreases too. These are signs of decreasing human activity as the day comes into a close.

Aaah.. Osaka is definitely a place that I will return and I will definitely have to stay for a few days to experience it fully. I definitely want to return to Dotonbori to see those shop displays in their full neon lighting and I want to explore Osaka Castle surrounding. Osaka feels more touristy than Tokyo as I saw tourists everywhere. That is not exactly a good thing as I hate coming across those noisy inconsiderate tourists from China.

Oh I almost forgot that at Osaka Castle, I got a souvenir coin with Mickey against Osaka Castle background for 500 JPY. It is a similar coin as those available in Europe tourists attractions. Minnie coins, surprisingly, already out of stock. What makes it even more special is that next to it, there is a machine for you to engrave something at the coin for 30 JPY. I engraved my name on the coin. Hehe.. The date is also automatically engraved. Based on what you want to engrave, the machine will adjust the spacing between the letters accordingly. How cool and genius!

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