Osaka, "the City that Wants to be Loved"

Trip Start Jul 25, 2009
Trip End Mar 29, 2015

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Flag of Japan  , Kinki,
Monday, May 3, 2010

Seen the movie "Blade-Runner".

This is Osaka.

I wish I could have seen more and stayed longer, but there was just a vibe in this city I could not describe. Fun, modern, dangerous, sexy…they even had H&M. Posters the size of buildings, massage parlours within a block of each others…a paradise for the 'ADD at heart'.

I was obliged by Mike and Helene to show me around this neck of the woods, since Mike had English classes there often. They brought me first to Osaka castle, which I think, is my favorite castle. This might bias other viewers over Himeji, which is an amazing castle…but it's the sheer size, stature, and impressiveness of this castle that gets to me. Walking through it's thick boulder-built walls, you get a sense of the power and industry that feudal Japan had, and still can claim since it pours billions into rennovating, maintaining and building up its cultural assets.

When we got to the top, there was a samura-donned showman doing top-spin shows, a powerful (yet very difficult!) traditional Japanese toy. I didn't bother to try, since I would probably end up breaking it. I remember my time-killer at the Tulip Festival…playing with those toys did not get me any better.

When we got to the top, we were treated to a wonderfully talented Taiko group from a local University or college. They were Genki, there was a tall beautiful girl in the back I couldn't stop looking at, and I can respect the amount of work and coriagraphy that goes into preparing those performances. Mike said the inside of the castle wasn't really worth going into. I would have argued, but I've been pushy as it is about my touristy-needs, and I still wanted to see so much of Osaka.

Next up, was Japan's longest market, a 5KM stretch of shops of all sorts. I still can't get over how many times I was tempted to go into the Massage parlors. Let me clarrify something: they are JUST massage parlors. You CAN go into the ones I'm sure all of you are thinking about…they do exist. But these are clean, safe, and have VERY talented workers there. It was very cheap too..and I really wish I had of indulged in a foot massage, since we had been doing a ton of that over this three-day period.

What I DID indulge in was this: arcade-gaming. We found the Gundam pods there (Gundam is a space-machine, map-operated robots, like Transformers with people in them). In the pod, it was almost a complete 180-degree screen around you. You actually felt like you were in this thing. It's all online, so we had to get help from an assistant to set up our account (500-yen), and we got our playing cards. We had to choose a faction too (I chose the bad guys…Zeon side). I think Mike went with E.F.S.F (Earth Federation Space Force). I kicked ass…until I ran out of money.

Eventually we got hungry, and I got an unexpected message from Drew, a friend and former ALT from here in Toyone. So, we decided to meet with him downtown and grab some grubs. On the way, we can into "Mike's Shop". Which is just how it sounds: a store for Mike. It had just about every Marvel hero on a window somewhere, with all sorts of intereting gadgets, that I couldn't go into detail enough if I tried. I should have went in, but I had drinks and I…well, thought we were in a hurry.

After some tasty spicy Thai food and watching some High school girls in plaid skirts do their dance/anime routine to a tiny CD player, we sort of wandered around until it was time to go.

Next day…Nara, Japan's first official capital!
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