Sunday, March 25, 2012

Super Osaka Excursion

For spring break, I didn't make any plans. I haven't had the time in the past few weeks to figure out an elaborate trip like most people the first day of break I made plans to go to Kyushu, which, after a few hours of planning, I decided was too much, so I made plans to go back to Tokyo and visit the sights in Yokohama and Kamakura that I didn't see last time I went. And then I decided that was also too much, so I ultimately didn't go anywhere.

This worked out in the end, since I really needed this week to recharge and it gave me a chance to go to Hanatouro in Kyoto. But even after that, I made plans to go to Kobe, but mainly because of the weather not being so great (and because I spent too much time wondering about whether to save money with a Kansai 3-day Pass or whether I should just spend the money as I went), I ended up not going there either. Even Nara -- I couldn't go on the trip to Asuka last semester because I had caught a cold and wasn't up to it then, but the idea of going there and renting a bike to explore by myself...seemed too lonely (and again, biking in the rain in an unfamiliar area didn't sound too fun either).

So I decided to stay right here, in Osaka, and have a full-out tourist-in-Osaka day. I bought a Keihan-version Osaka Kaiyu Ticket, which, in addition to admission into the aquarium in Osaka, Kaiyukan,  let me ride the Osaka subway and the Keihan trains unlimitedly (it also gave me discounts to a bunch of sightseeing areas, though I only visited one on the list).

My plan was to use the ticket on the subways as much as possible, since that's my biggest problem when I go to Osaka. To even go from Yodoyabashi to Shinsaibashi is 200 yen, so I always have to either pick Shinsaibashi or Umeda because I don't want to pay the subway fee more than I need to (I could walk, I know...but that takes too much time).

This story gets really long, so click below to keep reading. :)

Anyway, first I went to Shitennoji, although I really just stayed long enough to see most of it from the outside. I plan on going to the flea market there next month, so I'm planning on actually paying to go inside then...also there was barely anyone else there, and I was a little creeped out and didn't want to go inside, to be honest.

Next, I went to the Tennoji Zoo...but I also decided not to go inside. It started raining kind of heavily at that point, and while a not-so-crowded zoo would've been nice...there also wouldn't be any animals out. I did, however, go to Tsutenkaku, which I actually really, really liked. I've been to Tokyo Tower and the Sky Building in Umeda before, but Tsutenkaku has the best view, I think. It's not as high up, so it's easier to see things on the ground and in the distance -- people shopping in Shinsekai, construction happening at Spa World, Kyocera Dome, and (my favorite) the zoo. Can you see giraffes and ostriches from Tokyo Tower? I don't think so. :)

Tennoji Zoo
I didn't get a photo of myself with Billiken, though. There was a line for a while, and I kind of just wanted to get going, which I kind of regret now, but hopefully I'll be able to go again. I did, though, get a photo of the random statue of gaNeza from Yume wo Kanaeru Zou that was on the observation floor. (I read part of that book for my reading/writing Japanese class last semester, which is why I recognized it.)

Another Tsutenkaku plus: while I was there, this random Yoshimoto entertainer, Tasuku, was there performing a short magic show, which I got to sit in on. Though I think I confused him by being the only foreigner there (I was there alone, not with friends or anything)...I wonder if he thought I couldn't understand him.  He did ask me where I was from when I was leaving, though. I didn't answer at the beginning of his show, when he asked how far people came from since I would've won that contest...though technically I was coming from Osaka anyway. The best part of his performance was when he stripped out of his suit into the Glico man outfit, screaming as he juggled while balancing on a board on top of a cylinder. People not watching the show from the beginning passed by the room with worried looks on their faces.

After Tsutenkaku, I was going to head over to Shinsaibashi to get something to eat, but since I passed by Nipponbashi on the way, I decided to check it out since I'd never been there before. I guess this part of my adventure really wasn't worth it, though, since I was there for Denden Town, and apparently I wasn't in Denden Town, according to the friend I asked later. My bad. I did hang out (read: use the nice bathroom) in the Bic Camera there, though.

Next I made it to Shinsaibashi purely to stop at the Freshness Burger there. Which was a lucky choice, since they were offering free fries with their burgers! :)

Since it was nearly 4pm by this point, I decided it was about time to finally head to the aquarium, so I went to Osaka-ko. I've been to this area before to get my work permit at Immigration, but being here again really made me think this more and more -- the Osaka Bay Area is almost identical to Odaiba. I mean, both are similar in the ocean-view environment aspect, but the mall near the aquarium in Osaka is just like the one near Fuji TV in Odaiba.

Anyway, so I spent a lot of time in the aquarium. I really loved the river and sea otters (so much so that I bought a sea otter clear file from the gift shop), and there was an Egyptian fish exhibit that had some gerbils and hedgehogs, too. There was also a manta ray that, for some  reason, every child called "sensei." Like, unrelated kids would walk by, shout "Sensei!" and leave their parents completely bewildered. I'm wondering if it might be a reference to the manta ray teacher in Finding Nemo or something...if not, those children must all have the strangest looking teachers. I then took a break at the cafe in the middle of the aquarium, which was really peaceful and quiet and also offered a great view of the bay.

After the aquarium I went to the mall for a little bit (and found a Hamtaro gachapon and spent 1000 yen on more Hamtaro figures). Since it was nearly 7pm at this point, I couldn't go to both Shinsaibashi again (wanted to go to my favorite foreign food store and stuff would've been too heavy to carry around if I'd gone earlier) and Umeda, so I decided to go to Umeda for the Pokemon Center.

I made a few new observations since the last time I was in Umeda -- in the Lucua building, there's a Krispy Kreme (though Shinsaibashi's looks roomier) as well as a Soup Stock Tokyo (which I went to a lot when I was in Tokyo since it was right near my hotel). Unfortunately this area's kind of pricey for clothes and other things, which is why I usually stick to Shinsaibashi-suji when I go shopping in Osaka.

I made it to the Pokemon Center at around 7:40, which seems to be the best time to go -- barely any kids and no crowds. On the other hand, that kind of kills the atmosphere in a way. I bought a Emolga cell phone charm, even though I don't put those things on my was just too cute to pass up, though.

I tried finding the Kinokuniya near there after I left the Pokemon Center, but I couldn't remember which station it was near and it was getting too crowded to explore much (plus I was exhausted at this point), so I decided to go home. I got on the West Umeda stop of the Yotsubashi line, intending to switch to the Midosuji line at Honmachi...but the second stop I passed said that you could switch to the Keihan line from it. Since I hadn't been there before, I thought I misheard the announcement, but I looked on the map and since it was indeed a Keihan switch point, I decided to get off the subway.

...However, it was for the Nakanoshima line of the Keihan trains. Which wasn't a big problem, just a few extra stops. But walking from the station I was at to the Keihan station was also an adventure -- it may have been a switch point for the Keihan line, but it was a ten minute walk in the rain to get there.

I made it, though, and took the train intending to go home.

The most deceptive Keihan Station.
Except, I really had wanted cake. I planned on making it back earlier than I did so that I could go to the cake store at Hirakata Station, but since it was late, I thought I could get donuts instead. So (since I did have an unlimited Keihan pass anyway) I stopped at Kuzuha Station's Mister Donuts. Only as soon as I left there, I realized that Kuzuha Station's cake shop (which is the same company as the one at Hirakata Station) was still open. Oh well. I also bought some things for dinner at the grocery store at the Kuzuha Mall and went back to Hirakata Station.

I wish this was the end of my adventure story, but after I got there, was almost home, and got off the bus near the Seminar Houses, some older guy offered to walk me home. I don't know if he was creeping on me or just trying to be nice (since I was struggling with five heavy bags and my backpack and didn't have my umbrella out yet and it was pouring). I insisted I was okay and walked home (kind of following a girl who lives at Seminar House 2 a little too closely just to be safe), but there wasn't any problem after that point; he didn't even go in my direction. I might've actually just been a bit too defensive against a 60-something-year-old Japanese guy who was probably just trying to be helpful, but better safe (and wet) that sorry, I guess.

AND SO ENDS MY SUPER OSAKA EXCURSION. Just typing this up and remembering everything made me really tired.

1 comment:

  1. You know how to make use of your day to the fullest! I'm guessing they didn't have the penguin march at kaiyukan anymore now that it's a little warmer than it was in December. I like the crabs that they have there. They look like they are flashing gang signs all the time.

    Ah... The roll cake and the ice cream look so good. I'm craving sweets so badly but I'm short on money. I need to suppress my cravings until I get more moneys ><

    And yeah, better safe than sorry. He sounds like he could be the kind of an old guy (even if doesn't really do anything bad) who seems all nice and friendly but to the point that's creepy and would come visit you every day if he found out where you live.