torsdag den 14. juni 2018

Osaka Tripping

When I booked my tickets to Tokyo, I was pretty certain I only wanted to stay in the Tokyo area - but then I realised just how inexpensive (compared to shinkansen) flights to Osaka was, and decided to go there anyway!

My plane was delayed so I ended up getting to the hostel after the reception was closed, but the staff had put up hundreds of little notes for me, showing the route to my bed. So glad that it worked out!

In the morning I went up to Kyoto to meet with Lucie at the Toei Studios. To get there I had to find my way on the right busses, which I just managed with my broken Japanese - in Kyoto no signs are in English and not many people can communicate with tourists. But I made it (in the tiniest bus I've ever been in)! 
 Inside they had some anime exhibits and outside they had their edo sets. There were so few guests so it felt very quiet and serene - only a few high schoolers walked around.

They had a stunt stage show that we watched and it was super cool! Samurai uniforms, ninja moves and anime moments - but in a very Japanese way, where it didn't feel forced or touristy.

There were so few people around that it felt a little ghost town-y. But it was still lovely and felt kinda good to have it to ourselves. They also had a performance where they made-believed that they were actors and a film crew to show the process of film-making - kinda weird, but the Japanese guests ate it up.

Lovely Lucie and massive train station.

 We left the studio park and headed for Fushimi Inari Taisha, the main attraction of the day. Last time I went to Japan we didn't complete the hike and it has disappointed me ever since - so I had to go back.

It was as gorgeous as I remembered. It was pretty crazy to see how quickly people turned around - the further up you got, the more empty it was.

Lucie ended up turning back at exactly the spot that we did 8 years back, so I just couldn't turn back too. I knew I would be so disappointed in myself! So I kept going. It started raining a bit, so I took shelter in an area with dense trees. 

It stopped quickly though, so I carried on towards the top.

It started to get dark and suddenly I felt like I had entered a different realm. I had not planned on staying til dark because I thought I'd feel scared, but I actually just felt excited - and sometimes I'd run into a few other hikers so I didn't feel completely alone. 
This one Japanese Ojii-san was climbing the hills in the opposite direction as me (the steeper one) and he was wheezing so much. I checked that he was okay, and he assured me that everything was great and went on his way.

The descent was SO fast, it was unreal. Still gorgeous though - I loved the patterns that the lights created on the ground.
I had barely made it out of the shrine when someone punched a hole through the sky and it started pouring. I covered somewhere but ultimately ended up running through the waterfalls to get to the train, since I would get back to Osaka an hour later if I missed it.

So I got to Osaka and met up with Lucie (she moved town that day) and her new friend Lewis from Australia. We had takoyaki and then walked around, passing these weird heads and a ton of love hotels.

The live music bar we were headed for turned out to be closed, so we went into a random one we just walked past. But we ended up getting some live music anyway! And we also found this tiny 5-person bar called Small Light that we spent a few great hours in - a female costumer knew some English so we got a conversation going with my translation.

That one restaurant gave me mad Chihiro feelings.
And then it was my first whole Osaka day! I didn't stress and just went to some vintage shops and Amerika Mura.

Amemura had SO many cool people walking around, but I felt awkward taking their photos - but it really was like 90s/00s fashion on stylish Japanese people (I even saw guys with dreadlocks).

This toilet was too cute??

A snacked on takoyaki alongside everyone else and sketched for hours for the first time in Japan.

It got dark and Lucia and Lewis were getting out of Universal Studios and wanted to grab dinner with me.

I quickly stopped by Shinsaibashi before we ended up at an Izakaya after a hot tip from Rika (an okonomiyaki place) ended up being closed.

Friday was the big day, with tons of activities. I squeezed in going to Osaka castle in the morning. I even connected with another person from the LINE group, and he ended up spending the whole day with us.

It was not amazing, but still worth a look - and the surrounding park was gorgeous and still had some blooms.

It was then aquarium time, so we met up with Lucie and Lewis. The trip was complete with locating a little mermaid replica (?? why are they EVERYwhere??) and finding Nemo.

The aquarium was as gorgeous as I remembered - and they had the most Japanese exhibit about fish with funny faces. Those small winged creatures reminded me of the flying papers in Spirited Away!

We then went for okonomiyaki (my favourite Japanese meal) and I was happy to have introduced the others to it, as they loved it too.
We then took a walk in Dotonbori, since we had not seen it in the daylight and there was some idol group randomly performing. The sun was setting, so we headed north to Umeda Sky building where we made it JUST in time for the sunset (I did take photos, but have somehow lost an hour's worth of footage).

I showed the way to the Gudetama cafe and got my first parfait of the trip! The others were a little bit sceptical, but thought it was pretty hilarious - we also talked about how it was remarkable that it was only adults inside the cafe. Rika finally got off work at Panasomic and joined us at the cafe! We continued on just the two of us, catching up.

In the morning I met up with Rika again and we picked up a car and drove out to Wazuka tea town. It was such a surreal and different kind of landscape and I was so happy to have experienced it with Rika who had also never seen it - and to get out of town a bit. I have this weird love of Japanese mountains, I think they look uniquely beautiful. 
We even found this bamboo grove which was also a thing I had hoped to see during my trip!

The town was so quiet and we only saw a few elderly folks around. It had such a different kind of landscape, even the rocks looked naturally different! One of them had a giant Buddha carving.

We turned back towards Osaka in good time for my flight, but ended up getting severely stuck in traffic. We had planned for me to take a train to the airport from central Osaka, but in the end Rika had to drive me all the way to the airport - which is expensive because of the many toll highways. But at least I made my flight and we had a lovely day!

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