Saturday, September 16, 2017

Japan Trip Day 1: Osaka

It is a sign of aging when I feel sian instead of excited for a red eye flight. Not to mention that SQ check in was horrible. If they know that what I experienced is normal for pre-midnight flights then they should do something better. I queued for a total of 1 hour. After 30mins, I was diverted to the business class check-in counters. Another 30mins there becayse the stupid slow lady at the counter who in the end rudely informed me that I can use other counters too.

I was mostly asleep in the flight right from the start. I didn't even realise when the peanuts and amenity kit were distributed. I did not really sleep soundly as I kept 'punching' each other with my neighbour but both of us were too tired anyway.

Upon arrival, I tried my luck to ask my airbnb host for an earlier check in. Sadly there was another occupants on the night before :( No choice but to go to the KIX lounge for shower. I was quite lucky to get the biggest shower cubicle. There is a 15 minutes limit for the shower but the time only starts after the coin is inserted so it is very reasonable. I even had time to take pics inside lol. In the end I spent almost 40 minutes and 1000+ yen for the shower, towel and free drinks (only managed to get 1 glass of calpis and 1 glass of water because I spent too much time taking photos).
I was lucky to be assigned to the biggest shower room. If I wanted, I could even bring my luggage inside to have a change of clothes lol.
The shower cubicle is surprisingly big
There is a special coin to be placed here to start the water and 15 minutes of showering time. I finished in 2.5 minutes. By the time I took photos, the timer showed 9 minutes which means I spent longer to take photos than to shower :p
There was a storm in southern Japan and so suay that it affected my trip. 2 years ago there was a storm in the middle of my trip. This year I chose 2 weeks later and I thought the storm season would be over.. Nope.. it waited for me and worse, when I am travelling solo.

There were a lot of coin lockers at Namba but they were all occupied so no choice I had to find Namba Free Hand Center to put my luggage. It is cheaper (500 yen) than the big locker (700 yen) but it was a challenge to find the place. Miraculously I was somehow able to find it without taking out my map lol: I just remember about finding a brown building Hotel Ichiei at exit 5. The weather was turning bad but I still managed to reach there without umbrella.

After that I just bought umbrella at the nearest shop for almost 700 yen. It was not the cheapest but desperate time called for desperate measure. I was then too hungry and ate carbonara at the nearest cafe after finding exit 25 for my airbnb later. As usual with my luck, it is at total opposite of exit 5 so later I had to walk that distance again.

With full stomach, it was time to travel to my first photo studio. It was near Nippombashi which is walkable from Namba. Given the bad weather, I just took subway. Again miraculously without map and with gut feel, I found the correct exit and the building. I saw the studio name but no door or lift to go to level 5. Suddenly I had an idea to try to the back of the building and there was the entrance.

I had mixed feeling about this photo studio online: the website looks great but the quality of the photos is kinda meh. But for 6000 yen and getting multiple costumes and up to 2 hour session, I just gave it a try. There 2 guys working there and I was the only customer. I have to admit that their customer service was fantastic. They kept saying things like "awesome", "great smile", etc albeit too much that it became quite awkward but it really made me more relaxed. They were very patient in helping to suit me up as well.

There are not a lot of choices for guys.. sad. I tried 3 costumes: normal kimono, Gintama's Gintoki, and Gintama's Shinsengumi. There were a lot of poses at several background but there was only 1 male kimono and that was why I picked Gintama next. I am not a fan of the series but the costumes are the closest to the samurai period. It was my first time cosplaying too lol. Gintoki's black top was too tight for me and I gave up on the wig halfway. I wanted 1 more clothes but they called it the end after 1.5 hours instead of 2 hours mentioned on the website.

Despite all the nice experience, the end product is ultimately what I am paying for and the end product is disappointing. There are 250+ photos but I had difficulty to even choose 2 to be printed. The quality is quite amateurish with poor lighting and bad positioning. Bleah not to mention that my face looked so fat and horrible. Sigh.. wasted to shower in the airport for this. My face looked damn fat and round in Gintoki's wig also. I take if as a money spent to experience cosplaying than photo studio.

It was not 3pm yet but I decided to go to the airbnb yet to make sure I don't lose my way when I had my luggage. The storm was getting worse and although I was happy that the apartment was ready, I could not turn on the aircon and the hot water. It was dreadful having to walk another round to take my luggage and then to return to the airbnb again. Bleah...

I took another shower before going for my second photoshoot. This was actually the reverse of the first one. I got a rather iffy feeling from its website although the photo samples are fantastic. The not so professional name "Japanese Cosplay" doesnt sound convincing too. The experience and the end product are amazing. 5000 yen for 1 costume and 10 shots and I did 2 sets. At the end of the session, the photographer asked me to take a look at the photos to see if there was anything I disliked and I wanted to repeat. She was so skillful that she paid attention to details e.g. angles, positioning of my body and the props and the costume, etc. I had fun playing with the swords (quite heavy to do the Nituryu) and bow and arrow. The quality is so great that I decided to have everything printed and the whole session cost me 19000 yen lol. I am even considering to have another costume on my last day in Osaka.

I then went to Mandarake Grandchaos and the first step in I already saw something to buy: Knight Heero and Angel Princess Relena SD Gundam figure. Luckily that was the only one. I could not find other things that I am hunting especially anime books. Sigh.. I ate dinner at the curry rice restaurant just next to airbnb, had a shower again and did my laundry. That marked my first day.

Honestly my first solo trip experience is not as scary as I was anticipating. I survived even the storm :) I think I will be quite confident for another solo trip... to Japan at least hahaha...

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