Osaka city limits

Trip Start Apr 25, 2006
Trip End Apr 25, 2007

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Friday, May 12, 2006

Had a bit of a sleep in (let's call it midday), then walked to the train station with Keiko to head into town for a look around. The main arcade and shopping area was similar to most cities in Japan - very long streets (closed to cars of course) with shops lining both sides. They always seem to have a dome-shaped ceiling too...

Keiko had discovered a great tourist deal where a 2000 yen ticket would give me entry to pretty much all the main attractions of Osaka, along with all-you-can-eat rail usage. Obviously I needed a full day to get the most from it, so decided the next sunny day would be my target. Bought the ticket from the train station, and discovered I could hang onto it for up to a month before activating it (automatically happens after the first time I use it). Very strange that the whole deal seemed targeted towards Japanese tourists - no english maps/instructions available!

Probably the first thing I noticed was the abundance of "Pachinko" centres, dodgy DVD stores and special "massage" parlours. I guess they are somewhere in Tokyo, but I just never came across them there! Pachinko is the gambling game of choice in Japan, but it looks just as stupid as the pokies in Oz. You buy a cup of metal balls (like ball bearings) and then feed them into the machines. They drop down, and bounce randomly off a whole bunch of obstacles until they reach the bottom - a bit like pinball but you don't have any paddles to hit the balls with. The goal is for the balls to end up passing through a gate at the centre-bottom of the machine, and I guess the more that go through there means the more points you get. Apparently the only control you have is the time delay between the balls dropping. The REALLY interesting part is that when you win a bucket load of the balls, you don't just go and cash 'em in (that would be too simple). Instead, you exchange the balls for a prize (think stuffed animal) and THEN take them to your friendly neighbourhood mafia shop where they buy the stuffed animal off you for a price that seems quite similar to the cash you would have won! I have no idea what is behind this intricate web of deception, but I imagine it is some sort of legal dodge.

Had 'famous' Osaka Okonomiyaki today - it's sometimes referred to as a Japanese pizza, and involves a sort of pancake mixture, cabbage, nuts, bacon, fish flakes, BBQ sauce and mayonnaise. I was completely sold until the mayo came into the picture, and had to flag the chef down before he put any of it on mine. Surprisingly it all goes together quite well, and has quite a bit of potential as a 2am drunken food source.
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kathulu on

first of all, i really love this blog and i'm very jealous of your travels!

i'm currently residing in tokyo and i can tell you exactly why those strange rules exist- gambling (or gaining real money) in japan is illegal. gaining stuffed animals or the like, however, is completely legal and normal. ofcourse, people don't play this shiz for stuffed animals, so naturally, the solution is to create this little parlors that will take your animal, give you money and put back that animal in the machines. how the parlors make cash, i'm frankly not sure!
(and yes, they're everywhere in tokyo as well, just not centrally ;)

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