Setting up a home base

Trip Start Dec 30, 2006
Trip End Jul 27, 2007

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Wednesday, July 4, 2007

I ended up staying at a rather cheap place in Osaka (well, cheap for Japan) and stuck around for about six nights.  Because I had a rail pass I used Osaka as a home base and went to visit Kyoto and Nagoya on day trips via the shinkansen, or - as it is better known in North America - the bullet train.

Osaka is a rather big city.  Not too much really going on except for a large castle in a large park in the center of town.  I went one late afternoon to explore and was a bit surprised to see a lot of people in the park playing music.  Not necessarily buskers either.  I think they where just using the large open space to practice or play without worrying about bothering anyone at home.  I stopped to listen to a couple groups but saw no signs of the standard buskers basket to collect tips - nor did I see any of the locals stopping to give a few yen to any of them.

Ended up going out with Paul, another guy from Canada, who I met in Hiroshima one night to check out the nightlife.  After checking in (and out of) a sketchy little bar with a couple cockroaches we found a 'typical' American-style sports bar where I fulfilled a dream by drinking a Zima.  I think I now understand why they aren't that readily available anywhere.  Kinda crap. 

I always thought Zima was supposed to be beer but clear.  Like that old Pepsi Clear drink that was out in the early 90s.  Instead, it kind of tasted like cider (but not really).  Odd.  But, a dream was fulfilled so that was good.  After a few drinks there we found a hole in the wall run by what can only be described as a Japanese hippy.  A tiny bar with only 60s music.  I don't think more than six people could fit into the bar but there where three staff working.  Service was very very good, to say the least.  Despite ending the night pretty drunk and stumbling home just after 4am I think the bill only came to 2400 yen for both of us, or about $20...and that included a drink I bought for a piano teacher.  That was another dream fulfilled...buying a drink for a hot piano teacher.  I never thought the day would come.  Finding a hot piano teacher, that is.

Besides having a decent nightlife Osaka is also home to Universal Studios Japan.  The rather expensive Universal Studios Japan that is.  I was going to go but it was almost $60 for a one day pass.  That was a bit too expensive to visit a theme park so I visited the front gate instead.  Maybe if I can read more about the park and determine if its worth it I'll check it out later in the trip.

I had to grab another memory card for my camera as I was running out of space again.  After a couple days of taking pictures (mostly of Osaka) the card was corrupted.  I'm still not sure what happened.  I was able to exchange it but I did lose most of my pictures of you'll just have to imagine what the city looked like.
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